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: 40 | Ratings: 213
Photo of biboergosum
3.67/5  rDev -0.8%
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 brentk56
4.17/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrives with a tea brown color capped by a small head; not much lacing

Smell: Roasty, with hints of chocolate, coffee and caramel

Taste: Roasty, up front, with the chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors setting the pace; some nice balancing elements come from char and earthy hop flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Quite a surprise, as I am not normally that fond of a brown ale; this one is a bit more like a Porter

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Photo of superspak
3.93/5  rDev +6.2%
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 TMoney2591
3.65/5  rDev -1.4%
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 woodychandler
4.12/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am now in the Saugatuck B.C. phase on the Bottle Backlog eradication here at Chez Woody. We have recently gotten distro of their beers here in PA, providing me the opportunity to do a horizontal tasting & review of their beers.

From the bottle: "World Beer Cup Gold Award [2014] for American Style Brown Ale"; "Made in Michigan".

Upon Pop!ping the cap, I could think of no reason to be gentle in my pour & so I employed a heavy hand. Man, did the foam rush up! It began with three fingers of foamy, fizzy, light-tan head that dissipated fairly quickly into wisps. Color was Brown to Dark Brown (SRM = > 22, < 27, albeit closer to 22) with NE-quality clarity. Nose had an interesting husky nuttiness, kind of like roasting nuts in their shells, if that makes any sense. It was not exactly smoky, but it was evocative of that sort of scent. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, big in my experience for the style. The taste was malty, very bready, like fresh brown bread, I have not baked bread in a long time, but if you need an example, inquire at your grocery store for B&M Brown Bread. It comes in a CAN, believe it or not! I looked at this site's "Styles" page, but it was kind of light on descriptors. I usually think of Brown Ales as being rather sweet, but this one was tending more towards dry. Warming, it had a maple syrup flavor with a light smokiness, but without being overly sweet. Finish was in the twilight zone between semi-sweet & semi-dry. It retained that breadiness throughout, but the sweetness was held in check while still evoking a maple syrup flavor. I can understand why it was awarded so highly, if it was identified as an American Brown Ale going into the competition. I am not sure that I would have identified it as such on my own. Still, it gives me renewed hope for the style.

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Photo of Tone
3.74/5  rDev +1.1%
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 tone77
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a very dark brown, damn near black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is nutty, dark breads. Taste is dark breads, cocoa, light hints of coffee. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a little different for the style, but a decent beer.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.04/5  rDev -17.8%
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 rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a nonic)
A- This beer pours a slightly dense glowing caramel brown body with a thin light beige head that last for a good bit and a few strands of microbubbles that glide up the sides of the glass.

S- The deep toasted dry malt aroma has some lighter toasted malt notes underneath and a fresh biscuit and grain hint to it.

T- The nice slightly dry lightly toasted malt has some breakfast roasted coffee coming through and a fresh dry grain taste aswell. There is a deeper toasted malt hint in the finish. There are some mellow yet complex malt flavors that linger after each sip aswell.

M- The medium-light mouthfeel has a crisp fizz and no alcohol heat notice.

O- This is a great brown ale with lots of nice complexity and depth aswellas a good freshness. This is a really nice session beer.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.6/5  rDev -2.7%
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 scruffwhor
3.38/5  rDev -8.6%
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 jmdrpi
3.79/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

on draft, in a shaker pint glass

dark brown in color, fairly clear. off-white head. aroma is caramel and bready malts, a little toast. taste is well balanced, not too sweet. medium bodied.

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Photo of Suds
3.8/5  rDev +2.7%
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 StoutHunter
3.78/5  rDev +2.2%
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 mfnmbvp
4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, bottled on 02/23/16 printed on the label. A new one to me from Saugatuck; acquired a single bottle of this stuff as part of a mixed six pack at the local Binny's.

Poured into a Duvel tulip snifter.

A - Pours a tawny dark brown; dark mahogany with ruby highlights when in the glass. One finger of frothy soapy off-white head that lingers as a nice cap. Some good spotty lacing. Appears aptly carbonated. Very nice color on this one. Looks good.

S - Nice aroma on this one: lots of roasty, toasted dark malts. Coffee bean roast, hazelnuts, milk chocolate, mild notes of hops & yeast. Toasty & nutty. Very traditional & nice stuff.

T - Dark, roasty, toasty, chocolatey, & nutty. Very nice malts on this. Semi-burnt / charred, roasty, toasty, nutty, & chocolatey. Again, slight earthy hop note near the end.

M - Feel is smooth, crisp, & creamy. Very easy-drinking, balanced, & true to the style.

Overall, a good example of the style from Saugatuck. I enjoy a good brown ale, and this is one of them.

Saugatuck Brewing Bonfire Brown Ale -----4/5.

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Photo of 57md
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
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 Mitchster
4.27/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

$1.79 for a 12oz bottle @ BevCo. 5.5% ABV, 20 IBU's.

Pours out to a clear walnut, forming a modest light tan head with ok retention and sparse lacing. Moderate carbonation, ~2.25 carbs. The nose is nice...definite walnut and hazelnut (almost like extract was added), vanilla, carob, minimal hop presence, mild dark fruit, and bread crust. When swirled, I get this odd peaty manure smell. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a lightly roasted astringency. Taste is of rye bread crust, walnuts, a surprising herbal hop flavor, medium bitterness, a clean ferment, slight chalkiness, and a leathery/woody finish. No appreciable off flavors or aromas. Some reviewers are mentioning smoke in their reviews, but I get none.

I'm not a huge fan of brown ales, but this is one of the best I've had in a long time. A wonderful example of the style. Complex yet very drinkable. Highly recommended. I'll have to go pick up some more of these.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.25/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My first impression of this beer was, "Wow," but that has subsided more quickly than I expected to a lesser superlative. Its still great.

It initially opens and puts a nice dark brown with loads of nice foamy head. The aroma carries just a tad of some smoke.

The taste is that of a full bodied brown with a little smoke. It's sweet and has almost no hops taste. Just right for the style. The aftertaste liners nicely. It would be nice to see variations on this with more malt and other flavors. I look forward to trying others from this brewer.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.79/5  rDev +2.4%
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 Omnium
3.75/5  rDev +1.4%

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 drdiesel9483
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look - great drown color with a lasting skim sticky head
Smell - toasty cola malts
Taste - just like the smell, toasty cola malts
Feel - medium light body and carb
Overall - easy going but just ok

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.54/5  rDev -4.3%
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 Raime
3.22/5  rDev -13%
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 GRPunk
3.68/5  rDev -0.5%
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 1000lbgrizzly
3.87/5  rDev +4.6%
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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Bonfire Brown from Saugatuck Brewing Company
3.7 out of 5 based on 213 ratings.
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