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The Brown Note - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
The Brown NoteThe Brown Note

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

42 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 42
Hads: 231
Avg: 3.81
pDev: 28.35%
Wants: 6
Gots: 55 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse visit their website
Kentucky, United States

Style | ABV
English Brown Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mrfrancis on 04-23-2012

The brown ale to end all brown ales. Enjoy it, because there is no longer any reason to drink another. You’ve reached the pinnacle. A healthy blend of traditional British malts give this popular style a semi-sweet, biscuity, slightly roasted flavor. Oats thicken the mouthfeel, and a handful of specialty malts add complex chocolate, toffee, and caramel notes. The hops are mostly traditional, earthy British hops, but we cocked it up a bit with some Cascade late in the boil just to show those snooty Brits that we don’t approve of that Constitutional Monarchy crap.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 42 | Hads: 231
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a clear honey brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, toffee, and nut aromas. Taste is much the same with toast, nut, and caramel flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth 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 pretty good beer with interesting nutty qualities all around.

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Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear dark brownish red in color (brownish black when viewed from afar) and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger and a half high beige colored head that died down, leaving lots of lacing down the sides of the glass and a thin collar around the edge.
S: Light to moderate aromas of biscuity and nutty malts are present in the nose along with some notes of oats.
T: The taste follows the smell, but is a little nuttier and also has hints of chocolate and roasted malts.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This brown ale is very easy to drink and has a high degree of complexity of flavors in the taste.

Serving type: can

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.69/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

subtracting appearance points for the worst label in beer. i dont care whats in the bottle, can, or keg, you have to take yourself more serious than this. there is something endearing about the cheeky names and all, but this label goes too far for me, its just not appetizing, even if some idiot that laughed at bevis and butthead gets a chuckle, its not cool at all. the beer is better than the label thank goodness, but its not without some flaws in my book. the first one is the price. you cant be serious with bottles and cans this expensive, thats way off, i mean a full order of magnitude. the beer itself isnt bad, a nice chocolate base, eglish on the yeast from, american hoppy, and pleasingly dry for the style. however, it just doesnt warrant such an arrogant price, and the yeast left in it is unflattering too. i think as a brewery, this is one of the most excessive and irrelevant and subpar beers they have done, although i still enjoyed a glass. maybe a testament to their other beers, maybe a commentary on the gimmicks losing their appeal, but save your coin on this one.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.71/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Against the Grain actually goes with the grain while brewing this charming Northern English-style Brown Ale. Covering the bases where beers like Newcastle trail off- the taste captured in this true-to-form ale are playfully bold and surprisingly refreshing.

Like any other Brown Ale, the beer pours in a not-so-shocking brown hue. Cast upon a mild haze, the ale releases a creamy off-white head to top the beer sparingly but with a steady collar of lace. Its dainty foam character is in stark contrast to the masculine beer underneath.

Medium aromatics of toast, light chocolate, roasted nuts, caramel and mild fruit rise from the glass and shows off its slight robust nature. To taste, the sweeter malts greet the front of the mouth with deep caramel, brown sugar, and light chocolate. As the beer traverses across the palate, it leaves behind its initial sweetness and favors a toastier, light coffee, walnut-type earthiness with slight floral and herbal bitterness. Its pleasant taste trails with the taste of malt but not all the residual sweetness that's normally expected from those malts- this yields a semi-dry taste that's as crisp and refreshing as it is bold.

Medium bodied from head to tail, the beer's early but albeit terse carbonation lays on the tongue with cask ale-like effect. But as the bubbles vanish, it leaves the beer thin and waning heading into a woody-toasty finish of mild minty warmth.

The Brown Note is as classic as they come, if we're talking about Brown Ales. Though it's somber in complexity, it more than makes up for it in effortless and ease of consumption.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into pint glass, no bottle dating. Pours fairly crystal clear deep ruby red color with a 2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toffee, toasted oats, brown bread, nuttiness, herbal, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and moderate earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toffee, toasted oats, brown bread, nuttiness, herbal, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Fair amount of earthy herbal/toasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toffee, toasted oats, brown bread, nuttiness, herbal, grass, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt and moderate earthy hop flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a smooth, crisp, and fairly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with zero warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent brown ale style. All around great complexity, balance, and robustness of dark/bready malt and moderate earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of jwc215
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours slightly hazed light brown. A thin, fading tan head leaves some lacing.

The smell is of brown sugar, cocoa powder, caramel/toffee. Robust malty nose.

The taste is of brown sugar, cocoa, nuts, toffee/caramel. Sweet malt balanced by a subtle sour-ish earthy tone in the finish.

Malty smooth. Soft to medium carbonation.

A rich malty brown ale. Pricey (over 15 for the bomber).

I didn't care for the label on the bottle. I really don't want to picture feces as I'm drinking a brown ale.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.59/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright copper color with a white head. The aroma is malty and lightly nutty. The flavor is balanced with tea like hops and a light dry malt finish. Mild and easy drinking brown. Pretty average for the style.

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Photo of biegaman
3.94/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The Brown Note, it relieves me to say, doesn't look at all objectionable. On the contrary, its glistening mahogany highlights and soft pecan colour are attractive and also lend lightness to this relatively dark style. Clarity, however, is quite dim yet the complexion has a smooth gloss to it, like lacquered wood.

This is exactly the aroma I love to find in brown ales. Well attenuated, it has an enticing yet understated nutty sweetness that's dusted over by gentle chocolaty roastiness. This kind of maltiness always captivates my nose. The lack of hoppiness allows one to focus fully on that enchanting grain.

While the crude and cartoonish branding couldn't be more dissimilar from the modest, old-fangled image of England's historic Samuel Smith brewery, the brown ales are similar (in both quality and character). That's a huge compliment. The only thing making this an "American" brown ale is that it's brewed there.

Maltiness ranks first, second and third with flavours of toffee, nut brittle, and mildly coffee-ish roast. Bitterness dries out the finish to be sure, but the hops themselves can't really be tasted outright. Part of that clipping finish is also attributable to a sulfur-y hard water profile, again like that of British ales.

I typically don't care for potty humour but The Brown Note I like. That said, I do not agree that it's "the brown ale to end all brown ales" and contrary to what Against the Grain tells you it won't make you shit yourself. It's not at all that kind of beer. What it is is a solid, spot-on example of the style.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.92/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 16oz tall can into a dimpled mug.

Appearance: rich, dark brown hue with a touch of haze and a thick finger of frothy tan foam. I like it.

Smell: a toasty, nutty malt aroma with some hints of toffee sweetness. Not bad.

Taste: rich and somewhat sweet; there's a toasty quality but enough sweetness to bring out a little caramel and toffee. A nice balance establishes itself after several sips. Quite good.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a decent carbonation and creaminess. Not bad.

Overall: this is a pretty darn good brown ale.

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Photo of barczar
3.62/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Sweet caramel malt, with a nutty and toasty aroma

Very nutty flavor, extremely toasted, and fairly dry in comparison to the promise of the aroma. A little one note.

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Photo of mrfrancis
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear, ruby-tinted mahogany with a tight, clinging beige head.

S: Aromas of dark chocolate, coffee, cocoa powder, roasted nuts, leather, and earthy English hops fill the nose.

T: Notes of roasted almonds, chestnuts, and hazelnuts are apparent upon entry. Notes of dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, cocoa powder, minerals, heather, leather, and earthy English ale hops follow. Hints of lemon, dried black cherry, and orange zest emerge just before the finish. This ale finishes on a decidedly roasty, toasty note, with flavors of coffee, chocolate, leather, and roasted nuts dominating.

M: Medium in body, smooth, firm, and dry. Carbonation is generous, imparting a mineral mouthfeel that I typically associate with English ales. Very drinkable, but slightly too strong to be a true session ale.

O: This is a very nice English-style brown ale that should delight fans of malty ales. While it's a bit pricklier than some of the more established English takes on the style, The Brown Note manages to display a depth of flavor that is admirable. Highly recommended for fans of English ales.

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Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

If the bottle art were less gross this beer's score would jump about fifty points. I mean, seriously guys, it's good to take design risks and I'm not saying you need to focus group this or anything, but do you know a single person who finds poop appetizing?

Anyhow, once you get the glass away from the bottle, you get a nicely sessionable brown. A nutty, lightly sweet start gives way to a finish of more sweet malt balanced out by medium-strength hops. Nice.

Brown ales used to be craft brew staples, but they've become rarer and rarer these last few years. I'd love to see a resurgence, especially my go-to brown (Rogue's Hazelnut) costs 12 bucks a sixer. But why the awful marketing? Are brown somehow not considered edgy enough, and so we have to make them appear more Xtreme by making poop or semen references? A good beer is a good beer, guys.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.43/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

On tap at Brickhouse BBQ in Madison, Wisconsin. Served in a shaker pint glass. Pours a dark brown body, quite dark, nearly black, one finger brown head without much retention. Some lacing. Smells of nutty brown ale aromas, toffee, mild roast, a little bit of chocolate and espresso. Fairly straight-forward brown ale nose. Flavour is fairly robust, with roast, plenty of nuttiness, toffee, caramel, moderate earthy bitterness on the backend. Again, standard, but not weak in terms of the flavour. Mouthfeel is medium-lighter bodied, a bit too bitter for a standard brown ale fare. Overall, it's essentially a slightly ramped up brown ale with a fair bit of bitterness. Certainly not worth the price they charge for this close-to-average beer.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.07/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a perfect pint from a bomber.

4.0 A: Clear copper/ light brown color. Two fingers of creamy/frothy tan head. Retention is very good and a short ring of lacing is left.

4.5 S: This is what a brown ale is supposed to smell like. Big nuttiness, big toastiness. Dry and powdery - maybe a touch of cocoa powder. Unsweetened toffee. Rich and powerful.

3.75 T: Taste is good, but doesn't approach the level of the nose. It has all the flavors mentioned above, but just less powerful. Equal proportions of nuttiness, toastiness, and toffee. Again a hint of cocoa powder. The new flavor that emerges is a dose of tangy caramel.

4.5 M: Medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Really, really velvety creaminess going on. Very nice here.

4.0 D: A very good brown ale. I wish I could find it in a cheaper format.

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Photo of Dope
4.06/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

No bottling date.

A: A medium brown, can just see through it a little. Good-sized and fizzy, frothy light light brown head. Minimal lacing but decent retention at least.

S: Very nutty. Very bready too. Gives it a pretzels and peanut butter aroma. A little caramel sweetness. Lightest hint of cocoa. I really like this aroma.

T: Flavor is surprisingly bold too. Lots of cocoa mixed with lots of nuts. Bread crusts for malt. Just a hint of caramel sweetness sometimes but not much. Finish is dry with light earthiness and more bread crusts.

M: Light bodied, a touch watery and a touch dry.

O: A nice brown ale. Lots of nice nutty and bready malt notes. It's quite light and dry with higher carbonation. Nice drinkability but surprisingly bold flavors for the ABV. I enjoyed this one a lot.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the can a deep mahogany brown with two fingers of sticky dark beige head.

Aroma of chocolate, nuts, and roasted caramel malts.

Tasted of roasted caramel malts, chocolate, nuts and vanilla.

Medium bodied and a touch dry with a moderate carbonation.

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Photo of KYGunner
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The color is less brown and more a dark or brassy copper, thin in the pour, with a relatively thick foam.

Nice strong scent of chocolate malt, barley, grain, some nuttiness, a little smoke, dry cocoa powder and even some light coffee.

The flavor is far more weak than the nose and not nearly as complex. Dry chocolate maltiness, light roasted nut, touch of barley and some mint, anise or carraway.

The feel is overly thin and watery, dry and even a bit flat; despite its freshness and obvious carbonation.

I had this a second time in a can and found it much better.

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Photo of buschbeer
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

650ML bottle
Served in a becker glass

I would call this beer very dark amber in color. It is clear and topped with several inches of tan head that leaves streaks of lacing along the glass.

I get a nutty cocoa aroma from this beer.

The taste is similar to the smell. The nuttiness is there along with the cocoa, but I also get some chocolate and even hints of floral hops from time to time.

A little thin on the mouthfeel, but it is consistent with an English brown.

I only sought this beer for the label art. Inside I found a well crafted English brown ale. I really enjoyed the beer. It was everything I hope for in an English brown with with an awesome label. I may be 40, but I am a sophomore at heart.

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Photo of beergoot
3.53/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark, brownish mahogany hue makes up the body; full, frothy, off-white head. Light nut and roasted grain aroma; notes of toffee. Roasted grain flavors; nutty; brown sugar; fair hop bitterness arising at the finish. Medium body yet it feels weak and thin; gently sweet with a powdery, yeast-y feel at the finish.

A fair brown ale that really does not stand out in any unique way other than its disgusting label art. The beer itself does taste fine and emphasizes quality aspects of dark grain brewing but nothing to set it apart from any other decently brewed brown ale.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.79/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Presumably kegged at IMBC
Bevis Maun is drinking The Brown Note by Against the Grain Brewery & Smokehouse (Kentucky) at Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IMBC) 2015

More a shy coffee porter than a brown nut hey, good stuff any how

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Photo of secondtooth
3.96/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into sample glass a deep, dark, murky brown, with very little hint of ruby highlights around the edges. Pleasant lace.

Nose says malts and roasted nuts. Typical and representative for a brown ale, and hits the nail squarely on the head with me.

Tastes nicely nutty, with a near-perfect balance of earthiness and hazelnut maltiness. Roasty, sessionable, and very enjoyable.

Re-reviewed in August 2015 (rating unchanged):

Appearance: Deep ruby amber with a thick head of off-white suds from the pint can. Attractive spider web lacing.

Aroma: Chocolate, coffee, some caramel. Nice and exemplary brown ale.

Taste: Nicely roasty here, with hints of cocoa and even a little bit of smoke. Body is light, making this a prime session brew for fans of dark malts. Big on flavor, this one’s pretty tasty and I’d revisit again no problem!

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Photo of BeerWithMike
4.03/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ok, WHO comes up with some of these beer names and labels? Seriously? LMAO! :D Anyway, comes in a 16 ounce can and paid $3.49 at the local Hy-Vee. Can chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a .5L "ROCK BOTTOM MUG CLUB" handled-glass stein.

This 'American Brown Ale" style brew pours a deep dark amber brown with ruby-red highlights with a good 3-finger foamy creamy beige head. LOTS of sheet-like lacing is seen which each sip, like a good German brew actually. Aroma is of roasted malts, chocolate with a hint of hazel nuts (?). Bit more going on with the taste besides following the nose there is some dark fruits and caramel also. Very good taste and mix of flavors. Does finish a bit dry with a slight hoppy finish. Medium-bodied with good carbonation. Overall, a decent brew of this style besides the disturbing high school artwork. LOL!

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.99/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from the rather twisted art covered can in a snifter. This fine brown ale pours a medium dark brown with a moderate light tan head of foam that dissipates to a thin ring and light lacing. Nose of medium cocoa, caramel, light coffee, and darkly roasted malts. Flavors follow the nose with rich roasted malt flavors on all sides featuring coffee, caramel, light cocoa flavors and a subtle spicy hop flavor on the back. Solid rather than sitting broken hearted, this ale delivers good flavors and a lightly bitter aftertaste from malt and light hops in a carbonated package.

While the art is warped this is a good example of the American brown ale from a solid brewery.


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Photo of snowmageddon
4.22/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: pours dark brown with a full, off-white head.
S: herbal hops, nuts, chocolate
T: chocolate, nuts, cocoa, raisin, fruity esters. Finishes quite dry with a herbal hop finish.
M: somewhat creamy mouthfeel with moderate carbonation
O: excellent English brown, worth trying.

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Photo of beerme626
3.3/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Well, this lives up to the picture, but not to the can. I liked it better as it went, but still not enough to say it was good. It was just ok. Thin brown flavor and thin brown look. Not impressed.

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The Brown Note from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
85 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.