Indian Brown Ale - Dogfish Head Brewery

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Indian Brown AleIndian Brown Ale

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5,561 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,561
Reviews: 1,969
rAvg: 4.1
pDev: 10.98%
Wants: 287
Gots: 807 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Brewery visit their website
Delaware, United States

Style | ABV
American Brown Ale |  7.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 08-07-2001

Forget about the car companies, this is the original hybrid. A cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale and an American Brown, Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (It's magical!).

The beer has characteristics of each style that inspired it: the color of an American Brown, the caramel notes of a Scotch Ale, and the hopping regiment of an India Pale Ale. We dry-hop the Indian Brown Ale in a similar fashion to our 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA. This beer is brewed with Aromatic barley and organic brown sugar.

50 IBU
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,561 | Reviews: 1,969
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Non-opaque dark brown that becomes dark reddish copper when backlit. The largish head is toasted cocoa in color and looks dense enough and tacky enough to result in better than average lace. And it does; I see a near contiguous sheet on the glass opposite as I drink.

Indian Brown smells like a porter to me, maybe even a light stout. It's redolent of chocolate with a generous smattering of hops and perhaps a whiff of coffee. Without a doubt, the best brown ale nose that I've run across yet.

Massive flavor profile for a brown ale. There's plenty of dark, roasted malt that results in a bittersweet chocolate flavor, hops that do not want to be assigned a supporting role and a pleasant underlying smokiness. Coffee percolates through each mouthful as well. Thanks to the full body and the soft, smooth mouthfeel, the finish is long and satisfying. Amazingly complex and hearty for the style.

Dogfish Head and I did not get off to a great start (Immort Ale), but I have since been extremely impressed with the brewery. I had a very good brown ale a while back (Bell's Best Brown), but Indian Brown noses it out of the top spot. The DFH website describes it as a cross between a Scotch Ale, an IPA and an APA. I'm not too sure about that, but however one chooses to categorize it, this is one well-crafted, delicious beer. Highly recommended.

Photo of bigone4
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a nice dark brown beer. Very aromatic and smells quite nice with a roasted malty flavor. Has a nice creamy white head and leaves a nice coating of froth around the pint glass. The malt in this beer is balanced out nicely with the other flavors. Almost has hints of fruit or roasted nuts. The first sip sends your mouth on a ride enjoyable taste of that roasted malt followed by a nice clean feeling with a nice hopped finish. Very pleasent to drink. Has a rather high ABV although not a strong alcohol taste like some stronger beers I have had. No way does this compair to a New Castle. It is far superior to the mass production of that brown ale. I was very pleased with my purchase although the Dogfish head sixers run around $8.00 in CT. Good beer but many others are good and cheaper. Well micro brews at that. I would certainly drink this beer again. My girlfriend really enjoyed it as well. I look forward to the Vermont Brew Festival this weekend. Dogfish head Brewery has joined the event this year. Looking forward to what the have to sample. So far the two brews I have had by them are delicious.

Photo of bigbeerdrinka
3.96/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with a slight ruby hue on the edges. A firm offwhite head forms and laces the glass nicely.

Smell: Notes of bittersweet chocolate, roasted malts, and a slight aroma of dark fruits.

Taste: This beer hits up front with strong roasted malts and a slight chocolate tone. Afterwards this beer hits with strong dark fruits and a warm alcohol. Finally this beer finishes up with a nice hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: This beer is well balanced and has a nice almost creamy body.

Drinkability: This beer goes down easy and is very damn tasty. A good beer for the style.

Photo of Redrover
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours a nice coco brown with an off white head. Nice lacing adds to the look of this beer.

Beer has a nice nose of roasted/toasted malt. Also a bit of molasses and fresh bread.

Taste is nice. Lot of roasted malt in the initial tastes. Beer sweetens as it warms., but does stay slightly “dry”. I’m guessing this is due to some decent hopping. The alcohol presence in this beer hovers just below the surface and will occasionally pushes through into the forefront. Hard to pick-up assertive hop characteristic, but they are present as a lightly fruity background taste.

The mouthfeel as mentioned is slightly dry and the carbonation is well calibrated for this beer. Drinkability is solid, but this is not a session beer due to the 7.2% alcohol level. Very enjoyable beer and my first chance to sample the Doghead product line.

Photo of abcsofbeer
4.73/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank two of these at the Dogfish Head Eats. Perfect beer after a long hot day at the beach.

Pours a brown cola color. I don't see many this color and I thought it very unique and pleasing. Tannish thin head was poured of about 11/2 fingers. The aroma is a little sweet smelling as is the taste. Carbonation is perfect and the mouthfeel is fabulous. Goes well with lots of food like pizza and dessert, believe it or not.

Very good beer. Highly recommend.

Photo of heidelbeerg
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a cola color with an large, rich creamy looking head light brown/tan in color. The head reached all the way up to the top of my pint glass. The smell was sweet malt and faint hops. The taste was excellent. Rich,caramel, malt and coffee flavor. Balanced nicely with hops. The mouthfeel was very good. Nice and creamy. This beer is so well balanced and has outstanding drinkability.

Photo of cbl2
3.82/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Deep mahogany brown with little to no head.


Bursting with malts and a hint of chocolate.


Malty sweet at first and then the hops kick in with a nice bitter sensation that lingers throughout the finish; interestingly complex.

Photo of Skidz
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out brown and sits deep mahogony in the glass with a medium sized off-white head. Leaves a good amount of skim on the surface.

Nutty with semi-sweet chocolate and herbal spiciness. Light hop backing, nothing overpowering here. A good aroma, pleasant and inviting.

Taste starts with fruity esters, think raisins. Caramel and nuts soon follow, hazelnuts and walnuts come to mind. Lightly sour alcohol in the finish with a mild bitterness from a nice hoppy accompaniment.

Smooth, creamy with light and easy carbonation. Very easay to manage and even easier to drink. A great brown ale, worthy as a 6-pack beer.

Photo of Sixpack595
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice toasty brown ale with a pretty good punch. Dark copper brown in color with a thin but persistant tan head. For such a small amount of foam the retention is amazing. Aroma is slightly floral and hoppy with a strong toasty malt base. Flavor is very smooth and malty with chocolate, caramel and toasy bread flavors. Quite complex for a brown with a good malt taste profile. I can't believe this beer tops 7%, its very well hidden.

Photo of NEhophead
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Bottled and packaged in June 2004!)

Big, 1" off-white head, dissipating quickly and hanging to the sides of the glass. Very nice lacing.
Bold, dark red/mahogany color. Almost molasses-brown. Moderate carbonation.

Dark, roasted coffee tones on the nose. A combination of sweet toffee and caramel as well.

A well-balanced malt sweetness with a dark coffee flavor. At 7.2% abv there is a warming alcohol presence in the aftertaste, along with the sweet, malted toffee flavors.

An incredibly smooth brown ale considering the abv. The most memorable aspect of this beer, besides the wonderful roasted coffee flavor, is how well-balanced this ale is. Not light, not heavy.

Extremely consumable; not overly sweet which is a huge plus for the style. Very easy drinking. I'd have another or two.

Photo of kennyo
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mahogany brown color with an off white head. Molasses/raisin aroma, sensed slight alcohol o the aroma. Malty taste, the beer has a little sweetness and tastes good, not cloying. balanced beer to hop ratio, nice funkiness on back of tounge. Very nice beer, very drinkable even at 7.2%

Photo of connecticutpoet
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a nice deep red brew with a short head that lasted a long time. It looked like an ideal summertime dark brew.

The aroma was of lightly roasted malt, and nice aromatic hops. A little touch of pine, but not much.

The beer had a light roasted taste with faint caramel notes and was quite bitter. As a lover of bitter beers, it was quite nice.

Photo of coasterfreak75
4.28/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was a dark copper/brown with a good one inch head that quickly dissapated and left a light white lace around the glass. The lace stuck well to the sides of the glass and held on throughout the drink.

The smell was very heavy in malt and light hop spice. Almost hidden coffee overtones, maybe a hint of hazlenut.

The drink started with a sweet malt kick followed by a heavy, but not overpowering hop bite in the middle. The finish was more hops followed by a lingering coffee taste.

All and all a very drinkable and refreshing beer. I will look for this one again.

Photo of andyo
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice beer.

Poured a deep, dark brown, with a very nice frothy head. This beer had a warm roasty smell to it-the malt was very present, even before I drank it!

Upon tasting this beer, I noticed a big malt present, and the hops came through really nice. Nice roasted chocolate flavors with an even bitterness throughout. This is a nice beer to just hold in your mouth and let roll araound on your tongue. Actually reminded me more of a porter than a nut brown. Definately a great beer that I will be enjoying more of. At 7.2, this one has the potential to sneak up on you, however.

Note: I'm not really a big fan of Brown Ales. Too many times I am disappointed by the lack of complexity and the often "watered-down" taste I get. For intstance, Red Hook and Wild Goose make lousy Brown's, in my opinion. The only Brown Ale (up to this point) that I really cared for was Columbus Brewing Nut Brown Ale. This offering from Dogfish Head, however, has given me new hope in this style. Well done.

Photo of beerinator
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very very dark, slight hints of red in the light. Nice bubbly tan head.

Aroma: Malty, slightly sour aroma. Barnyard-y? Interesting smell. Maybe a slight bit of flanders sourness.

Taste: Malt strikes hard. Burned roastyness, with caramel sweetness. Roasty upfront with not too much bitterness in the finish. Tiny tiny bit of sourness in the end. Overall the mouthfeel is very pleasant. Quick finish, the belgiany aromas aren't as obvious in the taste.

Notes: Very solid mouthfeel. Good off-center brown.

Photo of mschofield
4.62/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours brown with red-amber highlights at the edges, topped with a two finger frothy dark tan head that quickly died and left no lacing (same happened as I worked through a 6 pack over about a weeks time).
Caramel, burnt wood, cellar mustyness, flowers, blackstrap molasses, and a fresh laundry/clean linen note (I think thats ozone?).
The taste is still definitely a brown ale, but just punched up, caramel, brown sugar, strong citrus hop note, burnt toffee. Best tasting brown ale I've had.
Medium-full feel, if it wasn't for the ABV, this has the taste and drinkability of a session beer.

Photo of waughbrew
3.91/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This probably ties 90 minute for my DFH favs.

Clear dark brown with black tints. Nice beige head stays for a while and sticks some. Smell is of Englishy hops and molasses. Taste is a fight between malt and hops that don't seem to get along. Like most DFH, this could use some polishing, but the malt/sugar flavors are what I really love about this beer. There is the light caramel in there pretty strong, along with some roastiness and a hint of peat smoke. Molasses and brown sugar add layers to this and leave it on the sweet side. The hops are very present and could definitely be toned down some, as they detract from the nice malt. No real yeast or fermentation flavors left after the hop vs. malt war. Feel is pretty smooth and sweetness does not get cloying to me.

Very nice, but I repeat that it needs polishing. Tone down the flavoring hops to let the malt and brown sugar shine in their glory.

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.32/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured dark brown, with a head made up of med-large sized bubbles. It stayed enough to lace the glass.

It smelled strongly of chocolate and coffee. I wanted to smell it forever.

The taste was of chocolate and coffee as well with med-high hoppiness. Some nice roasted and smokey matlyness was also present.

It started off smooth in the mouth, somewhat oily and it finished with a strong dry finish.

I’d say this beer is definitely one of the better examples of the style.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured clear and dark brown. The head was tan, large, and in charge. It stuck around to lace the glass.

The aroma was chocolate, coffee, caramel and a slight smokiness.

The flavor was chocolate, caramel and coffee. Also a slight smokiness was present in the flavor. The flavor is well done and very nice to drink. Behind the flavors is a substantial hop bittering that dries the flavor out well.

The finish was dry, and chocolate/coffee bitterness into the aftertaste. The body was medium to medium full.

12 ounce bottle. Bottled in 1 on the bottle (this could not have been 2004 since I remember when this beer was purchased)

Photo of HappyHourHero
4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mild yeasty, coco, banana aroma. Big froathy light brown head left a solid coat of lace. Caramel-cola colored beer. Flavors of chocolate and plums with a solid malt base. Coco-coffee bite midway through that mellows in the finish. Light, bubbly smooth mouthfeel on a decently thick body. A brown ale with an IPA finish, I love it!

Photo of kegerator
3.9/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I enjoyed this offering...
Poured a deep brown color, mahogany...
smelled a bit bitter, spicey maybe some coffe notes. A little sweetness comes thru as well
tasted just about like it smelled, but I noted more sweetness in the taste that finished off on the bitter side from that coffeeish note.
mouthfeel was nice, smooth but I did note a slight chalkiness
I liked this brew overall, I most likely would not get it again based on the other much better offerings from Dogfish but It was an enojyable offering.

Photo of scriabin
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a nice reddish brown color and modest yet thick head. Taste is a complex mix of coffee, chocoloate, a bit of caramel, and brown sugar with a hint of bitterness. Some other flavors in there too that will keep me coming back for more. A very good brown ale.

Photo of ppoitras
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12ozer bottle bought as a single from Spirit Haus, Amherst, MA.

Poure dinto an imperial pint glass, formed a small 1/4" light tan head that faded to a layer of foam over the deep reddish-amber brew. Acceptable lacing, and this offering has a hearty grainy aroma tempered with a bit of hops. Taste is a lightly nutty mouthful of malt, with a balancing amount of hops, which while unusual for a brown, is exactly as advertised on the label. Very smooth, and leaves a slight tinge of alcohol on the tongue. Wish it was a bit heartier in makeup, but a joy to behold nonetheless. One of the more sedate style-breaking ales from Dogfish Head.

Photo of IceAce
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Mahogany brown body topped with an off-white two finger collar of tiny bubble foam. The head was slow to dissipate and left a beautiful trail of lace on my beer-clean footed pilsner glass.

AROMA: Deep aroma of Porter-like roasted malt.

TASTE: A superb balance of malt in the foretaste and hops (Liberty & Goldings) on the finish. The follow-through leaves a pleasant hint of milk sugar or lactose coating on the tongue.

MOUTHEEL: The balance and ingredients combine to give this brown an outstanding, full-beer experience.

DRINKABILITY: This baby would be a welcome addition to any great beer-drinking session.

Photo of rajendra82
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of the 12 oz. bottle into the pint glass with reddish brown body with a tan colored 2 inch tall rocky head. Initially the beer had a lot of carbonation streamers which died down shortly taking the head with them. There was quite a bit of lace around the glass. The aroma was very Porter-ish, with tones of dark roasted malt, coffee, and alcohol. The taste was nuttier, sweeter, and drier than a Porter with lots of hop bitterness. There was also a good deal of complexity mid palette with hints of licorice, raisins, rum, and caramel. The aftertaste was very dominated by alcohol. In my opinion this beer defies being shoehorned into any style, with elements of Porter, Barleywine, IPA, and Brown Ale all jumbled together. A very good find at Riverside Beverage in Chattanooga, Tennessee (but Ziggy’s had it too).

Indian Brown Ale from Dogfish Head Brewery
92 out of 100 based on 5,561 ratings.