Bonfire Brown | Saugatuck Brewing Company

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Bonfire BrownBonfire Brown

Brewed by:
Saugatuck Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by TMoney2591 on 10-03-2012

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Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 202
Photo of JustLikeMyDad
2.12/5  rDev -43%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Was quite disappointed by this.

Pours a dark cola-colour with not much of a foam head to speak.

Smelled lightly of roasted malts, not very strong in aroma.

Tastes of a watered down brown ale with a lightly roasted malts flavor.

Felt thin, watery, not much of a body to it.

Overall, disappointing. I like Brown Ales, Scotch and English ales but this was a downer.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.04/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a cola brown with decent clarity. Aroma of toasted malt and caramel, a hint of bready grain. The taste was malt, faint roast, hop and spent grains. Just a touch of what might be smoke rising to the surface. Thin body but carbonated alright. Overall this is a decent brown nothing special.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
3.22/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Part 2 of 4 on my 4th of July party stragglers.

Here's hoping somebody at least had some decent taste..

A - Pours a clear brown with a finger and a quarters worth of slightly tan head. As the beer goes down the gullet only a bit of lacing remains around the brim of the glass.

S - Smells nutty as is typical of the style. Some toasty malts and a bit of burnt meat

T - Nuts come through moderately and the taste lingers on the tongue with a bit of a nipping sweetness that comes out of a Brown Ale. Bit smoky and ashy in the finish. The sweetness may bother some.

F - Medium-thick bodied with a moderate amount of lightly prickling carbonation.

O - Not too shabby. Will probably be the best of the straggler conquest. Brown Ales have never really big all that big too me, but this is better than the average.

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Photo of Cheeseboo
3.3/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not a bad beer, but not a great one either. The taste was a little too hoppy and bitter for me, and it was not very smooth. I know a lot of people who like their beer to be active on their tongues, but that isn't my thing.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Rusty, ruby, and BBQ brown mix. Faint residual foam after the pour left a small light tan head. The beer is to dark and hazey to see any bubbling.

Roasty, toasty, a little yeasty sweetness, and just a dash of smoke make up this timid aroma.

A little coffee, dark roasted bread crust and biscuits. A little pine needle hop bitterness adds a little twang t this malt brew. The finish has just a hint of lingering smoke. Easy to drink, good carbonation on the palate. This is a flavorful session beer.

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Photo of mchegash
3.43/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - 3.5/5
Pours a nice red, muddy brown, with about a finger of moderate beige head.

Smell - 3/5
Hoppy, roasty, slightly funky/earthy malts.

Taste - 3.5/5
Very nice roasty malts, with notes of caramel, earthy hops, and a tiny bit of smokiness.

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Light amount of medium intensity carbonation, medium-full in body. Fairly crisp.

Overall - 3.5/5
Overall this was an okay beer, not something I plan to get again.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.54/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: a nice brown color. a touch hazy. a bit of a tan head that fades away

Smell: toasty malts, maybe a hint of caramel malts as well

Taste: a touch smokey toasty malts. a hint of sweetness. low complexity

Mouthfeel: slightly bitter and moderate feel

Overall: a decent brown. lacks complexity or much that would make this stand out

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Photo of hackmann
3.56/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: I don’t know it is all foam. One inch of brown liquid and a four finger tan head and that was on a gentle pour. This is one foamy beer – went to pour the last inch of beer from the bottle, once my glass was half done, and wow explosion of foam. All over the table; the foam was pouring out of the glass like lava coming out of a volcano; it just would not stop foaming.

Aroma: toasted grains, mild-medium roast coffee, lightly toasted sugar,

Flavors: medium roast coffee, toasted grains, roasted caramel malt, some dark chocolate likeness, and a little toasted sugar

Mouthfeel: super fizzy carbonation (something is wrong with this ale), very dry finish, toasted grains linger on the palate

To the Point: Toasty is the word to describe this ale. A very nice and toasty brown ale. I just want one with 75% less carbonation. I would try this again. The flavors are nice.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.6/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Looks very good a deep shade of brown. Little head just a 1/4 inch that settles to a mild ring.
S - Caramel, toasted malt, brown malt, and mild smokiness.
T - Well I wouldn't say it's a "bonfire" but it is a decent brown. Semi sweet, toasted malt flavor, and somewhat herbal brown malt profile. Really no smoke though. Disappointing.
M - Light to medium. Somewhat chewy. On par with the style.

Overall I only paid $1.99 for it so I didn't expect much. It's a decent brown but nothing special.

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Photo of SerialHiker
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a deep, smooth brown…light tan head, about 1.5 inches thick…a nice looking and very inviting brown…(4/5)

Smell: A great smell here…it does need some “warming” to get the full aroma, but there is a lively smell going on…dark, roasted and sweet malts are the obvious backbone for this ale…there’s hints of chocolate and cream...a really pleasant aroma…(4/5)

Taste: A pale, smoked malt…has an earthy, nutty, creamy flavor in the middle…tons of smoke and roasted malt flavor throughout the drink…some toffee, chocolate and coffee hints mixed in…there’s a creamy astringent bitterness towards the end…(3.5/5)

Mouthfeel: A very light, medium bodied brew…medium carbonation that does form, but doesn’t linger…smooth and crisp for a brown, not very rich…(3.25/5)

Overall: I often say, “good, not great” and this one fits that bill…the flavor is good, standard brown, but it’s not full bodied enough for my taste…the smell is fantastic, I wish the flavor was more like it, a bit more chocolate and cream…it’s a light, creamy brown that is very drinkable but not outstanding or memorable…I would drink this again and am beginning to get the urges to visit this brewery first hand, as this is now the second Saugatuck beer that was good…(3.5/5)

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.65/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Bruery snifter.

These guys are a relatively new brewery to this area, and I was told there were some smoked malts included here, so why not give it a try? It pours a clear deep ruby-brown topped by finger or so of light tan foam. The nose comprises cocoa, soft coffee, darkly-toasted caramel, and a touch of earthy wood in the background. The taste holds notes of bitter coffee, cocoa, dark chocolate powder, straight charcoal, and that same woody earthiness (or earthy's hard to tell, really) in the background. The taste comes off as kinda muddled, with a bunch of competing toasts and chocolates and coffees that almost meld but can't quite get things completely together (think a long-lasting dysfunctional family or something). The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation, a mildly creamy feel, and a sorta/kinda dry finish. Overall, a mostly solid brew, one that can easily be enjoyed, but one that gets to be a bit too much for its own good. With a little polish, this could have been close to great. As it stands, I'd drink another, but not excitedly in the slightest.

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Photo of tophers
3.66/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I found the aroma to be great with the dark chocolate notes. Head could have been a little but more long lasting but it fit into the style guidelines. I thought this beer could use a more of malt backbone as I would like the malt to shine a little bit more in this beer. Good beer from Saugatuck. Wouldn't be the first choice on my list for an American Brown but not a bad representation of the style.

a: Medium brown with some ruby highlights. Appears to be fairly transparent from what I can tell. Head is quite thin and off-white in color with large bubbles around the side of the glass.

s: Aroma consists of toffee and chocolate primarily. Chocolate smell is of a dark chocolate and is very pleasant. Some bready and coffee notes in the background too. Not detecting any hop aroma. Some fruity esters.

t: More hop forward (bitterness) than malt with this one, although not overwhelming. Malt flavors are of toffee, chocolate, and a bit of coffee. A bit of fruitiness in there too. Moderately bitter with a moderately dry finish. No diacetyl.

m: Medium body with moderate carbonation. No alcohol warmth.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.67/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, from the current Saugatuck mixed-pack.

This beer pours a clear, dark orange-brick brown colour, with two slim fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and mildly bubbly beige head, which leaves some swooping, low-lying hilly lace around the glass as it gently subsides.

It smells of roasted caramel malt, a funky nuttiness, further wet ash, a tame black fruitiness, subtle anise nuances, and earthy, weedy, and kind of musty hops. The taste is semi-sweet bready caramel malt, a toasted graininess, oily and faintly salty nuts, ethereal cold coffee, and more plain earthy, leafy, and kind of straw-like hops.

The carbonation is rather understated in its meek and yet somehow still mirthful frothiness, the body a decent medium weight, and quite smooth, with a small, aspiring creaminess. It finishes well off-dry, the caramel shedding most of the toastiness, and the blithe nuttiness carrying on and on.

An adequate brown ale, lots of sweet malt notes to be had, if that's your thing. Me, I can dig it, but it would be better if there was a more challenging hop off-set, one that could keep the various sugars in check, as the initial smoke falls off the job way too soon. Yeah, not something to settle down and get cozy with for the night, I gotta say.

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Photo of GRPunk
3.68/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a nonic pint

A- A slightly aggressive pour created a 1-1/2 finger, light brown head. The body was a dark brown that was clean, reddish and sportin light-moderate carbonation when held to light. The head sustains at 1/4 finger and leaves really good stick on the glass.

S- Chocolate at first. A further sniff brings out a definite suggestion of smoke, almost like smoked nuts. It all comes together with some warmth to give the impression of some sort of winter/Christmas spiced nut mixture. Really kind of cool.

T- Much as aroma suggests. Strong smoked flavor. Hints of nutty and chocolate component. Nut flavor ducks in and out. I'm not a huge smoked beer fan, so it's a bit much for me (more than a Scotch ale, but nowhere near a rauchbier of full-on smoked beer).

M- Dry, tending toward a little chalky. Light bite I might attribute to carbonation. Moderate body for the style.

O- Pretty good beer. Smoke isn't my cup of tea, but I can appreciate this beer. It seems to be nicely done and what the brewer was aiming for.

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Photo of bwood06
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Reddish brown in color with a 1 finger dark khaki colored head. Head is fairly creamy but dissipates quickly.

S - Chocolate and a roasted malt predominate. Roasted malt has a bit of a roasted marshmallow aroma reflecting a somewhat sweet malt. Somewhat of a wheat bread undertone as well.

T - Very carbonated and acidic. Very earthy and toasty. A hint of soy. Not quite as sweet as I expected based on the aroma. Toasted bread flavor upon swallowing that is somewhat brief but is a nice final flavor. Slight bitterness on the finish that lingers. Bitterness is almost a cocoa powder bitterness.

M - More viscous than it is dry. Nice body without being overly thick or crisp.

O - I feel like this beer leaves something on the table. The aroma and appearance are very good but the taste does not quite live up to what the aroma promises for me. Overall a good beer that I would buy again.

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Photo of breakingbland
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle (marked 130218 749) into a pint glass.

Appearance: Poured with a lively one-finger head of medium coarse bubbles that settled into a layer of foam. The color was a slightly cloudy brown.

Aroma: Bready, malty with some hops -- slightly more than might be expected for this style.

Taste: Black coffee predominates the taste, with some chocolate and hops. As the beer warms-up, the malt comes to the forefront as it should. Grapefruit hops lingers.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation was a little coarse but becomes more pleasant as the beer lingers on the tongue. The body of the beer is medium light.

Overall: A fairly good flavor profile -- not overly complex or terribly interesting, but good. I'll have this one again as it is a very drinkable beer. The taste definitely improves on warming-up: At too cold a temperature, the coffee taste component is rather bitter. (The importance of serving temperature is something I'm learning to appreciate.)

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Photo of Tone
3.74/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear, dark brown color. One inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, slight pale malt, slight caramel malt, hint of nut, and a hint of hops. Fits the style of an American Brown Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of hint of hops, hint of pine, sweet malt, slight caramel malt, and a hint of yeast. Overall, decent appearance, blend, and aroma.

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Photo of Omnium
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Medium brown with a thin finger of fizzy tan head, no real lacing
S - Aroma is there, but its kinda weak, lots of toasted toffee, roasted malt, nuttiness, just a standard kinda aroma.
T - Good flavor, especially reaching around 45, lots of big huge roasted flavors, lots of nutty quality, some burnt woody kinda flavors too, bonfire is an appropriate name.
M - Medium body, not much else to day.
O - Good brown ale, I'd definitely have this again.

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Photo of StoutHunter
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Saugatuck's Bonfire Brown a couple days ago for $1.59 at The Lager Mill. This is a new fall seasonal from Saugatuck I have never tried before but I am a fan of smokey beers so I'm interested to see how it turns out, so lets see how it goes. No visible bottling date, but I'm sure it's fairly fresh. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A- The label is pretty simple, but it looks nice and clean and the custom caps is a nice addition. It poured a nice muddy dark brown color that was really hazy and it took on a slight dark ruby color when held to the light with two fingers worth of tan head that died down to a thick ring that stayed till the end and left some nice sheets of lacing. This is a very good looking beer, the color and head are both very nice, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with some nice dark malts and roasted aromas with a lower amount of medium sweetness and some nice coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa, caramel, and roasted malt aromas. Towards the end I get an earthy and slightly woody aroma with a slight bit of smoke. This beer had a nice aroma, it had some nice complexity to it and was far more roasted then I expected, I liked it.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts of with lots of roasted malts that have a lower amount of medium sweetness and impart lots of nice roasted flavors along with some coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors. After that comes a slightly bitter charred flavor along with an earthy and slightly woody and smokey flavors that shows up towards the end. It had a medium amount of slightly astringent bitterness and a really roasty aftertaste that stays awhile. This was a good tasting beer, it had tons of roasted flavors but I would have like a little more smokey flavors.

M- Pretty smooth, slightly creamy, medium dry finish, on the lighter side of being medium bodied, with a slightly higher amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was ok, but I would have liked it to be just a little thicker with a little less carbonation.

Overall I thought this was a good beer, to me it's much more like a Porter then a Brown Ale so I can't say it's that true to style, but I think the label could easily say Porter instead of Brown and nobody would complain. This beer had pretty good drinkability, I think two would be a good amount with this beer, after that the roasted flavors might become too much, I could for sure drink a couple of these by a Bonfire. What I like the most about this beer was how good this beer looks, from the color to the head this was one great looking beer, and the aroma was pretty nice too. What I liked the least about this beer was the mouthfeel it would be nice if it was a little thicker with a little less carbonation, I also wish their was more smoke in the aroma and flavor. I would buy this beer again, I'll be going back to grab some more to keep in the fridge during the fall, I'll buy this again next year and I recommend this to anyone who likes nice and roasty beers. All in all I was pretty satisfied with this beer, it had tons of great roasted aromas and flavors, but if it had more smokeyness to it, it would take this beer to the next level. Saugatuck does it again with a nice fall seasonal, keep up the good work guys.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed from the bottle in a snifter. This nice brown pours a clear dark mahogany with a nice off white head of foam the dissipates to a thin layer and thick ring with nice lacing. Nose of brown sugar, toasted malts, and roasted nuts. Flavors follow the nose with sweet candied / roasted nuts followed by a touch of smoke that is pleasant. Aftertaste is sweetish and roasted that finishes slightly dry. Very quenching with good carbonation. A very nice brown for those who are not a fan of the standard brown ale and want some more roasted points to it.


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Photo of Suds
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hazy brown color with a tan head...malty, roasted, engaging and enticing. The aroma has a bit of malt, with a bread and earthy, almost woody scent. The taste is balanced, if not a little dry and lots of malt flavor. Roasted and flavorful. Complex and layered. Full in body and enjoyable.

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Photo of 57md
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brown color with about a finger of head. The nose is bready and malty. The flavor and body are pretty basic for the style.

The name led me to believe that there might be some smoke to this offering but that did not pan out. Decently sessionable but nothing to write home about.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.87/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear dark amber body with mahogany tinges, light tan soapy head. Aroma is leaves something to be desired in potency, but contains toasted malt, mild hop bitterness, and an unexpected but perfectly wonderful note of smoke, true to its name. Flavor is great, with lots of toasty caramel and toffee, mild nuttiness, and a crisp bitter finish with more of that smoke observable upon retro olfaction. Feel is full and nearly creamy, but the effervescence is a little harsh.
Solid, deep range of flavors with good balance. Makes me long for a campfire to enjoy it by.

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Photo of superspak
3.93/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best before 3/3/2013. Pours hazy reddish brown color with a nice 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Nice dense soapy lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of caramel, chocolate, toffee, toast, cocoa, light nuttiness, light roast, brown bread, light smoke, and floral hops. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark malty notes, with good strength. Taste of caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, toast, toffee, cocoa, brown bread, smoke, light char, light nuttiness, light coffee, floral, and light pine. Light pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, smoke, light char, toast, brown bread, coffee, and light pine on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance and complexity of robust dark malt flavors; with a nice moderate hop balance; and minimal cloying flavors present after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a creamy and lightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an damn nice brown ale. Nice balance and complexity of robust dark malt flavors; and very smooth to drink. I don’t think I’ve had a smoked brown before, but this was very well done; very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Todob_50
3.94/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Label- I hate labels that just state the name of the beer. C'Mon Saugatuck BR! This beer deserves more! Really struggled here.

Taste- I was not expecting much from this brown ale, but wasn't pleasantly suprised! One of the better brown ales I've had. Great flavor and great malt taste that lingered.

Overall- if you you like brown ales this is a must try. Label blows, but get over it and drink this beer. Liver likey and will continue to enjoy this one for months to come. Well done Saugatuck.

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Bonfire Brown from Saugatuck Brewing Company
3.72 out of 5 based on 202 ratings.
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