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Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown - Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (No. 2)

Not Rated.
Hook & Ladder Backdraft BrownHook & Ladder Backdraft Brown

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

235 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 235
Reviews: 186
rAvg: 3.58
pDev: 14.25%
Wants: 9
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (No. 2) visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  4.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 01-21-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 235 | Reviews: 186 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Thorpe429
3.08/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a pint glass. Color is a moderately-dark brown with a tan head that persists for a bit before falling. Nose is quite plain with a bit of caramel and bread. The taste is bready with some light sweetness. Decent body with normal carbonation levels. Really just don't have too much to say about this one.

Thorpe429, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +11.7%

nmann08, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.7/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pecan shell brown that becomes dark bronze-dark orange when the pint glass is backlit with indirect sunshine. The crown is a scant two fingers of oatmeal colored foam that is creamy enough to look good and tacky enough to leave a decent amount of lace. No complaints so far.

The nose is too weak. Brown ale would have been my first guess, but there really isn't much to go on. A whiff of cocoa and a miniscule amount of vanilla is about it. It's also impossible to appreciate the Cascade hops that are supposed to be present.

Unfortunately, Backdraft Brown is just as wimpy on the palate. It almost makes me think the brewers are aiming for a light version of the style. If not, then they need to add a whole lot more malty guts to pull this brew up to code. Are ingredients that expensive?

This American brown ale really does taste like a garden variety version cut with distilled water. No lie. My first impression of an average taste score was overly optimistic. Other than watery cocoa and a faint bitterness, there isn't anything to describe. Ummm... Cascade hops? More like Cascade hop.

The mouthfeel feels slightly more full than water as the beer warms. Again, comparisons to a light lager would not be out of line. In addition, the carbonation feels lousy because it's both harsh and short-lived. A low point for sure.

Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown not only didn't set my world ablaze, it left me cold. I think it's great when breweries give a portion of their proceeds to such worthy causes as local fire and rescue teams. It would be even better if they would maximize those charitable contributions by brewing beer that people want to buy a second time.

BuckeyeNation, Nov 01, 2008
Photo of BEERchitect
3.25/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

After drinking and reviewing the Lighter and the Golden Ale, I'm hopping for better from the Backdraft Brown.

Appearance is convincing enough with a crystal clear, dark brown hue and the same, terrific head formation, retention, and lacing found in the previous two beers.

Aroma of caramel, toffee, and barley malts set the tone for pine and orange zest hop scents. No fruitiness, no phenolics... a very clean and simple beer to the nose.

Flavors are much more toasty than the nose suggests and dominate the malt flavors and caramel sweetness that the aroma promises. Lightly acidic taste with low-lying hop flavor. Still no ester or phenols present.

Textures take the lead from the acidic flavors and give a mild astringency in the throat. Quite acrid, powdery, and dry to the palate. Somewhat Schwarzbier-like.

The beer fits the bill for an American brown, but could use some help in the malt flavors and roundness in the body. Still, I like the dry attenuation, but the acidic flavors and feel hurts in the end.

BEERchitect, Dec 16, 2008
Photo of Knapp85
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours out as a clean looking brown color. The head is a shade of tan that doesn't have too much retention. The smell is semi sweet with some roasted nuts in the aroma. The taste is nutty upfront and fades into a light roasted flavor in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is pretty light very drinkable. Overall this is a decent brown ale.

Knapp85, May 23, 2011
Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a clear, brown color with ruby highlights. A small, tan head of foam emerged but left little lacing as it receded.

S - It smelled very nutty with earthy undertones. There was a mild malt nose, too.

T - Upon first sip, I got a good dose of hazelnut. It has a biscuity malt backbone with sweet caramel and toffee flavors.

M - It was relatively crisp and smooth. A light bodied brown ale that goes down easy.

D - A nice tasting brown ale. It certainly is worth a try. Brown ale isn't my favorite style but it is a good one for a session style and Hook & Ladder has a quality brown ale to fit the bill.

zeff80, Jan 12, 2010
Photo of WVbeergeek
2.35/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark ruddy mahogany brown hue with a light beige head that forms thick and dwindles slowly. Chunks of scattered lacing are left clinging to the sides of my glass. Aroma a roasted caramel accent about it with light herbal hops, with a nutty finish to it all. Flavors are a muddled watery mess of roasted malt and weird chocolate caramel coated fruit, no real hops the finish tastes like muddy cocoa. Mouthfeel is watery and pretty thin for a brown, but finishes with the cloying residual sugar muddled mess I tried to describe in the flavor. I'm guessing this is a contract brew by High Falls but I'm not sure. Drinkability overall is pretty weak not something I will ever look for again.

WVbeergeek, Jul 21, 2009
Photo of Jason
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown long neck bottle with no freshness date. No other info on the label.

Appearance: Deep ruddy brown colour with a more than decent off white lace.

Smell: Sweet coffee and toffee mix, more coffee for sure.

Taste: Moderately bodied with a crisp biting mouth feel and carbonation. A fairly dry brew, hop bitterness is sharp but not overboard. Middle of the line roasted malt character defines that this is still a brown ale or a poor man’s porter. The roasted flavour goes a bit nutty and flows into the dry finish with the bitterness.

Notes: I could definitely vision myself sitting down and making this a session brew. Every once in a while a beer comes along and tweaks my fancy ... this is one.

Jason, Mar 21, 2002
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.45/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains roasted malts, maple, caramel, nuts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste is malty with flavors of nuts, maple and caramel. There's a mild hops presence that provides a decent balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth with a little crispness, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is dry.

D: A little tasty, goes down easy, not too filling, mild kick, decent representation of style, this isn't really a bad beer but it certainly wouldn't be the first brown ale that I would select.

TheManiacalOne, Mar 28, 2008
Photo of WesWes
3.25/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a nice brown color with a 1/2" tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a roasted and caramel malt that's a bit sweet, yet dry to the nose. The taste is average. It has a very dry, roasted flavor that is quite thin and watery. It has some caramel flavor as well, but it's faint at best. The mouthfeel is average also. It is a low/medium bodied beer with a little too much CO2. This is an average brown ale. It needs more crystal malt flavor and more body. It's too highly carbonated with little malt character.

WesWes, May 28, 2008
Photo of jwc215
3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours shiny brown with a very thin off-white head that becomes a patch.

The smell is of burnt toast, some brown sugar, husk.

The taste is of caramel, burnt toast - not quite ashy, but close. There's a bit of brown sugar, a hint of nuts, a touch of sour and some non-descript hop touch. Slightly metallic as it progresses. It says "Cascade" - could have fooled me.

Light-bodied and on the fizzy side with a lingering burnt flavor.

Despite its "burnt"character and other small detractors, there is something of a drinkability - maybe its general mildness. Overall, a lackluster brown.

jwc215, Dec 06, 2008
Photo of smcolw
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Great lace on the glass. Proper size head with little shrinkage. Ruby, dark brown color. Light passes through and it appears to be perfectly clear.

Lots of chocolate ice cream aroma. Good hop in the background. Strong caramel and slightly sweet. Very attractive smell; inviting.

This is a solid brown ale offering. Good crystal and chocolate malts are featured in the initial taste. Excellent hop balance. Not as sweet as the smell would suggest, but not exactly dry either. The bitter hop balances the beer during the swallow. The aftertaste is well-balanced with some dry mocha flavors and mild hop. The body is this beer's weak point--it is far thinner than a typical ABA. Good carbonation.

smcolw, May 30, 2008
Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: clear brown in color with reddish highlights. Big 3" head lasts quite a while. Nice lacing paints the glass.

Smell: caramel and a hint of earthiness is mild but pleasant.

Taste: caramel, mild plums, hints of brown sugar, some mild earthiness, and a mellow bitterness. Well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp to start, smoother towards the finish. Medium bodied beer. Aftertaste is short-lived.

Drinkability: nice sessionable brown ale.

Gavage, Jan 30, 2009
Photo of weeare138
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears a semi-transparent dark amber with a small, light tan head that slowly fades. Small streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of brown sugar, caramel, toasty malts, whoppers candy.
Taste is of malty grains, grainy nuts, and brown sugar.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with light bitterness that is outweighed by the overall sweetness of this beer.
Overall, it's decent and drinkable.

weeare138, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of tempest
2.13/5  rDev -40.5%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Man, what's up with these beers? I've tried all three and they reek of minerals and phenols. It's like the brewing water is all out of whack. The flavor has a bitter chocolate flavor and a dry finish, but the medicinal phenol taste throws everything off. It seems like there might be a decent brown ale hidden under the massive phenols.

tempest, Feb 28, 2008
Photo of wrightst
3/5  rDev -16.2%

wrightst, May 22, 2014
Photo of jdhilt
3.43/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a four finger light tan head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Almost black hints of mahogany highlights. The nose is roasted coffee. Light carbonation and medium body. Flavor is roasted coffee with some hoppiness. $1.50 for 12oz bottle from Capitol Convenience, Concord, NH. Label is Hook & Ladder Brewing - contract brewed by Mercury.

jdhilt, Mar 05, 2008
Photo of ejimhof
3/5  rDev -16.2%

ejimhof, Sep 19, 2013
Photo of Stinkypuss
2.55/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle into pint glass. Light brown in color. Alittle lace is found on the glass. Small malty aroma. Taste is watery caramel, toffee and then nothing. Watery feel, brown sugar, little else. Sessionable, if you like watery, barely carbonated beer.

Stinkypuss, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of brandoman63
3.25/5  rDev -9.2%

brandoman63, Nov 29, 2011
Photo of Latarnik
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Latarnik, May 27, 2014
Photo of beerthulhu
4.38/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a rich dark walnut from the bottle. In the glass appeared a warm cola with deep plum highlights. A thin beige colored head, ½ finger in height, sits atop and disperses rather quickly. A fairly good ring lacing encircles the glass.

S: The nose yielded a nice nuttiness with a deep caramel malty sweetness. A nice fruitiness of cherries and dark ripe fruit are also detected.

T: The flavor had a deep caramel and rich nuttiness that stood out tired and true per style. Some ripe dark fruit and cherries that was so dominant in the aroma translates really well into the flavor. The caramel malting was dark and sweet with a touch of dryness. Some rum raisin alcohol and barrel woodiness also contribute to this fine example per style. The malting I thought was really good, warm roasted with a touch of cascade hops which gave this a earthy dry flowery hopping. I really enjoyed this and found it top notch per style.

M: creamy with a smooth consistency. A nice nuttiness and maltiness gracefully coat the tongue. The carbonation was medium-strong in nature bringing things to live, dancing on the tongue. Everything you could ask for per style was here.

D: Probably one of the better browns I can recall. The rating says it all. You certainly cant go wrong here and a case will certainly not go to waste.

beerthulhu, Dec 04, 2008
Photo of Bighuge
3.18/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice looking clear auburn body. Thin beige head. Spotty lace. Pretty weak aroma. Light brown malts and light roasted notes. Toffee based malt flavor gives the beer a nice base. A little roastiness and some light "candied" flavors give this beer a little depth. Unique and decent enough. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated.

Bighuge, Feb 19, 2010
Photo of Tone
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark brown color with a lighter brown along the edges of the glass. 1/2 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of yeast cleanliness, slight sweet malt, hint of hops, and a hint of roasted malt. Fits the style of an English Brown Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with an average carbonation level. Tastes of slight roasted malt, sweet malt, slight grain, hint of hops, and yeast cleanliness in the finish. Overall, good looking beer with a better flavor than aroma.

Tone, Jun 22, 2009
Photo of harpus
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

harpus, Sep 16, 2013
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Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown from Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (No. 2)
81 out of 100 based on 235 ratings.