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what is/was THE standard for brown ale?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by tronto, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Brunite

    Brunite Savant (430) Illinois Sep 21, 2009

    As stated by others; Samuel Smith is the template beer...the classic. Some may be better but this one is still world class. Newcastle? Yeah...the first for many here but BMCish in comparison and hindsight.

    For American versions; Smutty Brown Dog & Avery Ellie's would be my favorites. Fat Squirrel is good but no longer year-around.

    I am hesitant to mention it for fear it gets too popular (I think it is their best seller now), but Tyranena's Rocky's Revenge is a great BA Brown.
    djsmith1174 and tronto like this.
  2. It is interesting to see that there is really not that many browns out there compared to pale ales or IPAs which is probably how Moose Drool does so well . I always compare any brown to Sam Smiths and any NA brown ale to DFH Indian.
  3. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Advocate (635) New Jersey Mar 6, 2008 Subscriber Beer Trader

    Brooklyn Brown Ale
    Thickfreakness and jesskidden like this.
  4. ferillo

    ferillo Savant (410) Massachusetts Sep 12, 2009 Fest Crew Subscriber Beer Trader

    HF George
  5. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,045) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    True, but I was under the impression that was mostly in regards to their cask bitters, and didn't extend to their Taddy Porter, Oatmeal Stout, Nut Brown Ale and whatnot.
  6. LarryAppleton

    LarryAppleton Savant (360) Quebec (Canada) Dec 1, 2012 Beer Trader

    Although no ones mentioning Belgium for Brown Ales, Leffe Brun is my favorite brown, hands down. Factor in the low cost, and it's even better.
  7. codysjb

    codysjb Savant (470) Prince Edward Island (Canada) Jun 16, 2010 Beer Trader

    Moose drool. Its the only one I can actually get through a bottle of... I can't think of a less favorite style than brown ales, id rather drink pbr since at least I don't have to taste it. To me brown ales are a confused mix between a pale and stout that decided to go dark and turned back halfway through but got roasted but not tasty in the process.
  8. MammaGoose

    MammaGoose Aficionado (230) Wyoming Jan 10, 2013

    Browns don't get a lot of love from craft beer drinkers, it seems like. Kind of like ambers. And I agree they are somewhat boring. But I appreciate a good brown. A good brown is an easy beer, subtle, and mellow. I like to drink a brown on an early Fall day.

    I haven't had a lot of the beers mentioned in this thread, but I do agree with Moose Drool and Ellie's Brown. Both are good solid beers with no detracting extra qualities.

    I personally love Rogue's Hazelnut Nectar, it's like dessert, but I wouldn't say it's a classic brown. It's very...well...nectary (hazelnutty honey and molasses is what I think of) which isn't necessarily common in browns.
    Mediczod likes this.
  9. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader

    to a lot of UK beer folks, bottled beer is a distant second choice to begin with, other than for a few specific styles like barleywine.
  10. frazbri

    frazbri Advocate (705) Ohio Oct 29, 2003

    The now defunct Pete's Wicked Ale was the most notable of americanized brown ales and Newcastle has to be the most popular brown ale in the US. I'm not sure either were truly benchmarks of the style.
  11. I think a lot of people are misinterpreting this thread. He isn't asking for your favorite Brown Ale, he's asking for Brown Ales that have become archetypal and/or set the standard for the style.

    In my opinion, four come to mind:

    Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale - It's been around forever and set the tone for the English Brown Ale style.

    Brooklyn Brown Ale - It's been around longer than the craft beer industry, or even the term, "craft beer" and basically set the stage for the American Brown Ale category.

    Avery Ellie's Brown Ale / Smuttynose Old Brown Dog - I think of these as quintessential modern-day Brown Ales that are incredibly delicious, and hit the style guidelines to a T. Ironically, they both involve dogs.
    ESeab and tronto like this.
  12. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (620) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004 Subscriber

    How long is forever? I don't believe it's any older than the 1970's.

    Taddy Brown Ale, on the other hand, which I don't think is brewed any longer, was around in the 1930's. That looks a much more typical English Brown Ale, just 3% ABV.
    jmgrub, tai4ji2x and tronto like this.
  13. rails

    rails Aficionado (215) California Nov 8, 2012 Beer Trader

    Downtown brown from Lost Coast sets the standard the first craft beer I ever had back in 1998
  14. ThirstyFace

    ThirstyFace Initiate (0) New York Jan 11, 2013

    I love Shed Mountain Ale, Anchor Brekles Brown, CCB Maduro, but most of all, Bear Republic Pete Browns Tribute.

    I thought Tumbler got better over last year, but I heard no mention of a recipe change.
  15. nopucophop

    nopucophop Savant (325) New York Mar 6, 2009 Beer Trader

    One that I love is Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan. May not be the end all be all but it is mighty fine.
    tronto likes this.
  16. slander

    slander Site Editor (675) New York Nov 5, 2001 Staff Member

    Pete's Wicked Ale circa 1992
    ThirstyFace likes this.
  17. Rosty

    Rosty Savant (250) California Nov 29, 2006 Beer Trader

    Totally agree. "What Rocks!"
    HoyaSaxa7 likes this.
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Champion (810) New Jersey Aug 10, 2005 Subscriber

    Hindy's book, Beer School, says that Brooklyn Brown Ale was introduced in 1989, by which time what has come to be known as the "craft beer industry" was nearly a decade and half old. The term "craft beer" itself was already being used by then, as well, but was not as common as "microbrew".

    Yeah, I've seen it listed as one of the beers Charles Finkel requested that Samuel Smith brew for the US market for his Merchant du Vin company, along with some others like their Porter and Oatmeal Stout. Smith did brew a brown ale they marketed in the UK (in the '80's, at least) as Old Brewery Strong Brown Ale - with a label/color identical to the US Nut Brown Ale of the same era.
    tai4ji2x likes this.
  19. ESeab

    ESeab Advocate (515) New Jersey Jan 3, 2013

    Definatly not DFH (which both the Palo and IBA are some of my favorite beers, ever)

    Smutty old brown dog (I have a really old brown dog im waiting to try)
    Rogue Brown Nut
    Once upon a time I really liked Brooklyn Brown
    SN Tumbler
  20. I was being hyperbolic. But even so, I stand by the fact that Brooklyn Brown is one of the earlier American-Style Brown Ales in the way that we know the style today.

    Same as above, I'm being hyperbolic. Though through the lens of the modern American brewing industry, 1970's is ancient history. I'm aware that Brown Ales existed long before that, but the OP wasn't asking about historical origins of the style, he was asking about archetypes. I think Sam Smith's Nut Brown is one of the older Brown Ales in reference to the style as we know it today, and certainly the oldest that is still readily available on shelves in the US.
  21. alexipa

    alexipa Advocate (525) Colorado Oct 7, 2011 Beer Trader

    It doesn't fit the criteria for the thread, but I feel like every discussion about brown ales needs to include a mention to Upslope Brown. Just an amazing beer.

    As for the thread, I agree with Samuel Smith overall and Avery Ellie's on the US side.
  22. alexgash

    alexgash Advocate (590) Connecticut Jun 18, 2003

    Hard to argue with Bell's Best Brown, Surly Bender, and Smuttynose Old Brown Dog.
  23. nyyfanatic213

    nyyfanatic213 Advocate (620) New York Aug 24, 2011 Subscriber Beer Trader

    DFH Nut Brown and Smuttynose Old Dog Brown ale are tops for me
  24. Boilerfood

    Boilerfood Savant (445) Indiana Jun 5, 2012

    Sun King
    texasdrugaddict likes this.
  25. Newcastle, Ellie's Brown, Bell's Best, lost coast downtown brown, Moose Drool, Tilburg's Dutch Brown
  26. garuda

    garuda Advocate (525) Pennsylvania Jan 18, 2010

    Smuttynose Old Brown Dog
    Avery Eliie's Brown Ale
    Pretty Things St. Botolph's Town
  27. Danielbt

    Danielbt Savant (380) Texas May 4, 2012

    Moose Drool and Brooklyn Brown and my favorite common browns.
  28. patto1ro

    patto1ro Advocate (620) Netherlands Apr 26, 2004 Subscriber

    How could I have forgotten that? I must be getting old.

    Old Brewery Strong Brown Ale was an obvious Newky Brown ripoff/rival. I can remember it being around in the 1970's.Based on the analyses I have of Sam Smith's beers from the 1930's to the 1950's, I don't think it's any older than that.
  29. coryking

    coryking Savant (330) Missouri Sep 21, 2008 Beer Trader

    A little local brewery here in STL makes the best brown Ive ever had. Civil Life Brown. If you get a chance to have it, try it. Just a super solid, to style, balanced, great brown...

    My second pick would be Bells Best Brown...
  30. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Advocate (730) Iowa Jan 12, 2013 Beer Trader

    I'm in the Hazelnut Brown Nectar camp. Love that beer.
  31. antilite

    antilite Savant (255) Florida Jan 1, 2012

    Bolita, baby.
  32. Maybe, but Indian Brown is an amazing brown ale. I also absolutely LOVE Maduro from Cigar City.

    As for the standard- probably Samuel Smiths Nut Brown. for $3 a pint it doesn't better
  33. St. Botolph's is kick ass.
  34. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader

    i think dann's only offered it on cask once or twice (i had it at deep ellum), but my experience was AWESOME. totally different from the bottle, which is just ok for me.
    Providence likes this.
  35. tai4ji2x

    tai4ji2x Advocate (665) Massachusetts Aug 10, 2007 Beer Trader

    the "retired beers you'd like to see come back" thread has reminded me of: Goose Island Nut Brown

    i'm still holding out hope that AB-inbev will resume bottling this stuff again...
  36. Steamer

    Steamer Aficionado (230) Missouri Dec 13, 2012

    Samuel Smith's Nut Brown gets my vote.
    tronto likes this.
  37. Great divide Hibernation ale is very good. A little too malty, but I love it
  38. DruRho

    DruRho Initiate (0) Maryland Sep 3, 2012

    Beat me to it!
  39. Would LOVE to have it on cask.
  40. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poobah (1,045) New Jersey Jun 3, 2004 Beer Trader

    I still see that around- is it really all old beer?