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Santa Cruz Brown Ale | Epic Brewing Company

very good
30 Reviews
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Santa Cruz Brown AleSanta Cruz Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Epic Brewing Company
Utah, United States | website

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 02-01-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 127
Photo of Jeffreysan
3.08/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

22 ounce bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a very pretty, very dark mahogany color with a quarter of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that partially covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Very hoppy up front, which makes sense, as the beer is supposed to be a hoppy brown ale. I also get some notes of toasted malt and black pepper, mainly I get floral aromas of hops.

Taste: Ok. Very hoppy both up front and in the finish. I gets some malt and brown sugar-like sweetness, but they’re almost completely drowned out/over powered by the hops. Disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied to almost slightly chewy. It has some pretty good carbonation, and with an ABV of 7.2%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: I wanted to like this beer more than I do, as I love brown ales. However, the overly assertive hops that makes up the predominate flavors of this beer just doesn’t do it for me. Any flavors of malt and sweetness are completely overpowered by the hops. As stated, I find the beer disappointing, but hop heads should really like this beer…

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Photo of mactrail
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

One of the most attractive Brown Ales I've poured. Dark umber brown with an amber glow. Big frothy head piled high with great retention. Pleasantly sparkly on the tongue.

There is some malty sweetness to start, but this is all about the hops. Dark notes of roasted barley and a touch of burnt sugar. Lots and lots of bittering hops. In fact this gets quite bitter after a few swigs. It's better with food. Not a beer for the long haul unless you're warming up for a major IPA.

Another interesting and well-made brew from Epic. From the 22 oz bottle bought at Bottleworks in San Diego. Label says Release #3 and 7.2% ABV.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.76/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up tonight at Bier Thirty for $6.50ish... poured into my small Cigar City snifter... creamy looking tannish head atop a clear walnut brown.... nice lacing and retention.

Wow... the nose is pretty damn hoppy... citrus and pine elements play well with a fair amount of crisp brown toast.... light cocoa/roast shows with warmth... a bit of EtOH too.. alcohol is evident.

Flavor mirrors the nose with a pronounced caramel element.... a surprising roasty component that never outweighs the other flavors.. lingering pithy citrus hoppiness.... the sweetness seems magnified by a surprisingly thick body for a beer with this low of an ABV... still finishes sorta dry and lingering.

Nice brew.... Don't know if I will buy another... but certainly respectable.


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Photo of Zorro
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown colored beer with a small tan colored head.

Smells of cocoa and toast grain and faint coffee. Slight sour scent from the patent malt but it smells pretty tame.

Starts out sweet and strong on the patent malt with a smoky after taste. Lots of chocolate and toasted grain with a middle level of bitterness. Some coffee flavor but it is quite mild.

Mouthfeel is thick.

Overall a very tasty brown ale /porter.

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Photo of beergoot
3.79/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Brown-ish red body with a thick, creamy, light tan head; spotty clumps of foam cling to the glass. Spicy, dark roasted malt aroma; cinnamon and mocha. Slightly charred grain flavors; burnt toast; acidic and bitter overtones. Medium body; clean and dry finish.

Nice hodge-podge of flavors with some nuttiness and chocolate tones in there as well. The mouthfeel is slightly weak in the body. Overall, a rather intriguing if slightly uneven brown ale.

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Photo of corby112
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Release #5

Pours a cloudy, dark chestnut brown color that's nearly opaque with mahogany edges and a one finger, frothy beige head that slowly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Streaks and spots of soapy lacing left behind. Nice looking beer.

Slightly smokey, robust aroma with floral hops, lactic cream and sweeter malt notes rounding things out. Some lightly roasted coffee bean along with burnt toast, roasted nut and oatmeal followed by caramel, toffee, and chocolate. Subtle resinous, earthy hops but they don't get in the way of the complex malt presence.

Full bodied and surprisingly hop forward. Much stronger than the nose suggested with a nice balance of dry, earthy hops and light roasted malt notes. Actually not as complex as the aroma because the hop flavors are really strong and the malt presence is slightly one dimensional. Dank, earthy and bitter with lots of dry, grassy pine flavor that lingers throughout into a dry, roasty finish. As it warms, the malt flavors really come through with hints of caramel, toffee, hazelnut, chocolate and subtle roast. There's also some subtle lactic creaminess balancing things out. Aggressively hoppy for the style but is decently balanced after the palate adjusts. Could use a bit more roast and is hop pier than I prefer for the style, but this beer is enjoyable and easy to drink. A solid beer in an under appreciated style.

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Photo of tlazaroff
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On the nose I get fresh hops with a chocolate undertone. The hops come through as this earthy, grassy type scent. Very nice if you ask me.

The beer looks phenomenal! My attention is immediately drawn to the head which retains very well! It it a light tan color and laces incredibly well! The beer itself is brown to the naked eye, but when held to a light source ruby highlights shine through.

Chocolate with light roast is the first thing I pick up. Midpalate brings some bite from the hops in a floral kind of taste. The finish brings the chocolate back and a slight bitterness rounds out the beer.

Lightly carbonated, and a medium body make this beer pretty easy to drink. It's smooth, and finishes just a tad dry. Overall, I really enjoy this beer.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.89/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a kick butt hoppy brown ale with the hops falling squarely into that pine family we know and love. dark pour, thick too, more like a porter than a brown ale with loads of dark malt, some cloudiness, and only a small off white head. the nose here is real hop forward, like green pine cones, sappy and fresh. the malt is less chocolate than expected and much more towards that dark bitterness of unmalted roast barley. the hops trump the malt bitterness with a unique bitterness of their own very much sprucy and pine forward. the full body may be a little filling for the style, as this is quite a hearty drink, but one that probably works well in three seasons and is nothing short of beautifully executed. we need more india brown ales on the market, especially in this price range. if epic did 6 packs i would nominate this one.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark brown body with one-finger white head and lace ring on top of a malty, earthy aroma with a good balance between hops and malt (something akin to roasted, barley, light caramel). Medium-bodied and sturdy, the taste is one of roasted malt mixed dashes of burnt chocolate or coffee and some minor caramel sweetness. There are traces of citric and fruity hops and while I pleasantly enjoyed this fine sipper I will say that the hops are less for taste and more for balance (which isn't a bad thing). Finishes dry and a little crisp with not much of a backbite or alkie bite either.

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Photo of LeeryLeprechaun
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Beer pours very dark brown, almost black in color. White head that turns into a nice foam rim around the glass. Some stickiness in the head.

Aroma is fairly simple, malt and pine. Despite its simplicity it has depth and is enjoyable.

Lots of roasted flavors, well balanced between malt hops. Crisp finish with a chocolate aftertaste.

Great body, well carbonated, full mouthfeel.

Too bitter for style, but I don't mind that one bit. This is a very enjoyable beer. I am very pleased with the selection. It would be great with meat on a cold night.

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Photo of lovindahops
3.91/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This Santa Cruz brown ale has been staring at my for the last few weeks so I figured I would tap into this

A- a very opaque body that shows mild carbonation coming to the top of the glass. The head of foam is the most impressive aspect about this brew. It's a fluffy mocha head that lingers and creates layers on the side of the glass. Very glossy and impressive with the duration of the brew staying around

S- very hoppy with caramel and piney hoppy flavors becoming present at the forefront. While the scent profile is not intense, it's still fresh and hoppy

T- massive caramel malt that is enrobed in dark piney resinous hops. Very pungent with spicyness cleansing the initial flavors of dank hops. The caramel malt and sweet sugar flavors are at the exit as well

M- very coating and creamy flavors

O- good hoppy brown ale that I wish was more readily available

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.94/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up in Totowa, having never tried this before. Brown Ales are usually easygoing beers for me but given that this came in a 22 oz. bomber, I figured that this would be a bit more aggressive and hoppy. That was indeed the case and even though I hadn't had anything quite like this before, this was one of the nicer surprises that I've had recently and even for it's larger size, I didn't have any trouble getting this down on a cold later Winter night!

Natrually, the pour was brown to this. A thick, tan head accompanied it and held on for a while before clinging nicely to the sides of my glass as I worked my way down. Usual soft aroma of molasses and caramel up front, backed up by more aggressive pine and citrus hop notes underneath. The alcohol was nearly undetectable and the carbonation was light but present throughout my drinking session. Not a lot of stickiness here nor was there any lingering burning or sharp bitterness from start to finish. Instead, this beer was strong enough to feel like an American Pale Ale while maintaining the lighter body and darkness of a Brown Ale, without seeing too complicated of over the top.

As I said before, the alcohol was perfect here and added just a hint of a warming effect once I finally finished this off. While there isn't such thing as a "Brown IPA" or an "Imperial Brown Ale", this would be a good start should those categories ever come to fruition. For now, it's a welcome change from the norm and likely to be enjoyed by most. No question that this was a nice find.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle I brought to share at Skuter's tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, cocoa, and herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild roasty and hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of metter98
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very hazy brown in color. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface, a collar around the edge and some lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of brown and nutty malts are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that it also has flavors of roasted malts and a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels nearly medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is rather easy to drink and seems to be a little happier compared to other beers in the style.

Note: Release #5

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Release #5

A: Pours a clear almost opaque medium to dark brown in color with moderate amounts of visible carbonation and some reddish brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall creamy tan head that slowly reduces to a couple of medium sized thick patch of medium sized bubbles, a thin film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer, and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of caramel and toasted malts along with light to moderate aromas of pine/resin hops.

T: Upfront there is a lot of malt flavors - moderate amounts of caramel malts as well as slightly less amounts of toasted malts. There is a light amount of upfront sweetness that is followed by moderate flavors of pine hops that contribute a light amount of lingering bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Slightly crisp upfront with a touch of creaminess in the finish.

O: Overall this is a nice and enjoyable hoppy brown ale that is easy to drink and available at a reasonable price - I would definitely have this one again... Well constructed with the hops mostly balancing out the sweetness of the malts and being quite complementary to the flavors/aromas.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.04/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber, Release #2,

A: Pours a deep brown with a full light tan head, great head retetnion, thick lace.

S: Piney notes, grapefruit, hint of mocha coffee.

T: Rich nutty flavour with quite a bit of hop bitterness on the back end. Floral character, melon rind, minor dark chocolate undercurrent throughout.

M: Medium-bodied, very creamy and soft, frothy, long bitter aftertaste.

O: A very good ale that is reminiscent of Stone's TBA. The perfect brown for hopheads, this is not bashful, and the hops just keep on coming.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.08/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "bomber" bottle into a standard pint glass.
Cloudy, mud-puddle brown color, with a nice two-inch collar of tan foam.
Aroma-Citrus hops and subtle chocolate notes
Taste-Tangy citrus hops, toasted malt, chocolate notes. Very well-balanced and flavorfull. A Brown IPA that would match well with a loaded cheeseburger or a big slice of meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.

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Photo of arizcards
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%

Picked up a bomber from Total Wine in early June for $6.99. Release #9 was bottled 1-6-2014.

Beer poured cola brown with a nice off white head that is leaving some lacing behind.

Nose has hints of chocolate and citrus.

Taste is chocolate, pine, and citrus all working in a harmonious fashion. Hops and malts balance each other quite well.

Mouthfeel is smoother than expected for a hoppy brown.

Overall this is a delicious brew. Definitely try it if you come across it fresh - good luck with that as release 11 was bottled in early March.

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Photo of russpowell
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up in NC, release#1

Pours a ruby tinged chestnut with 3 fingers of mocha colored head. Astounding lacing & good head retention

S: Brown bread, some toastyness & nuttyness

T: Brown bread, pineyness nutty & woody bitterness along with orange peel up front. Niice nuttyness to this as it warms, a touch of pecan & pecan shell along with more pine notes & slight citric hopyness, mostly orange peel. Finishes nutty, toasty, a little dry with piney & citrus hoppyness

MF: Medium bodied, fairly firm carbonation, super balance

A nice hoppy American Brown ale, another winner from Epic, very drinkable

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Photo of Chaney
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Release no. 3; 7.2% ABV (which is slightly bigger than the record for it here on BA.

Served in a Port City glass.

A: Saturated brown color, pretty much chocolate milk-like, with a slight off-white head and lots of lacing.

S: Sort of a CO2/rye cracker composite. I got a bit of brown sugar, but not much. Is there rye in this?

T: Good stuff. This is definitely not dessert-like, quite the contrary. Lots of hops in this thing, but it never claimed anything to the contrary.

M: Pretty bitter, but not too. The lacing was ridiculous.

O: The best non-dessert brown I've ever tasted.

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Photo of WheelsPSU
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

I found this at Court Liquors in West Long Branch, NJ. It was only $5.99 for a 22 ounce bomber. This was release #5.

It poured a deep brown almost mahogany. The foamy head was uneven and creamy colored.

The smell was faint in my bottle. When I opened it, nothing too distinctive came out except earthy/roasted malt-like scents plus a bit of something floral.

The taste was the best part of this beer. I was simply expecting a typical brown ale but this one had a hint of chocolate to go along with the roasted taste. The kicker was the hops profile that showed up as the beer warmed. A hoppy brown ale indeed. Well done.

The mouthfeel was fine. But the taste was the star of the show. This was my first Epic beer. Count me impressed.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Seattle Beer Week pint glass. Pours a very dark, chestnut brown, appearing nearly opaque in the glass. Fine two finger light brown head with great retention and chunky lacing. Aroma of light caramel and toasted malt and fresh piney hops. Flavor starts with fresh piney and floral hops with mild toasted malt developing to back up the hops. Finishes with distinctly floral hops and a fruit flavor probably most similar to melons and moderate hop bitterness. Medium bodied with light creaminess. A rather distincly flavored brown ale that leans towards light fruit and floral herbal hops. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from tap into std pint glass at Fireworks pizza Leesburg, VA. Pours a deep hazy brown, slight amber. Little head but sticky lacing.
Smells very hoppy, sweet, and malty.
Taste is fantastic. Chocolatey, coffee, hoppy, and malty. Very unique and well balanced. Really a great brown and very unique of the style.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown color with a finger of frothy khaki colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel malts with pine hops with a bit of citrus hops, and some molasses and brown sugar.

T - Starts off with sweet caramel malts with some brown sugar and touch of grapefruit hop. Through the middle, some pine hop and bitterness come through with some molasses and more bready malts. The finish is a mix of sweet caramel and bready malts with some brown sugar and pine hops.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and lightly bitter finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice hoppy brown ale. Good overall balance.

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Photo of Viciousknishs
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a murky chocolate looking color with a tan head. Very hop forward aroma of pungent pine, hop resin and grapefruit peel. Toasty malt aromas blend in with cocoa, kola nut and mocha tones. Finishes with a woody hop character. Very nice nose. Toasty malt hit the palate up front with bakers chocolate, cola and creamy mocha coffee with cream. Pine and woody hop flavor blends in with a great balancing bitterness that lingers throughout the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is slick and bready with a medium body and average carbonation. Good drinkability. Overall a wonderful example of what the American brown ale can be.

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Santa Cruz Brown Ale from Epic Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 30 ratings.