Sumatra Mountain Brown | Founders Brewing Company

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Sumatra Mountain BrownSumatra Mountain Brown
1,730 Ratings
Sumatra Mountain BrownSumatra Mountain Brown

Brewed by:
Founders Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This bold, imperial brown ale gets its body from a team of malts including Caramel malt for sweetness, flaked barley for dense foam, a bit of Chocolate malt for its deep color and Aromatic and Munich malts to add even more depth. German and Perle hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. The addition of rich Sumatra coffee takes this perfectly balanced imperial brown ale to a decadent level.

Added by drxandy on 12-19-2010

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,730 |  Reviews: 431
Photo of acurtis
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

i have to confess, i am on a major coffee beer kick right now, so some of these opinions may be a little biased, reflecting my reinvigorated love for coffee and how it interacts with beer. leave it to founders to another awesome coffee beer, this time an imperial type brown ale that really lets the coffee do what the dark grains do in so many others that are stouts or porters as base beers. i think even though the brown has a lot of malt flavor, richness, and complexity, the coffee providing the earthy, the ashy, the bitter, and the roast is a good thing. i like the lighter malts, sort of a european grain complexion here, a little caramelized sweetness, but the coffee does the rest. earthy and strong, i like the bit of exposed alcohol in this context too. toasty and nutty and bready, round and full bodied, the coffee does add just a bit of acidity. i get slight honey and almond here, brown sugar, cold brew concentrate, maybe just the faintest smoke note too. overall a real complex beer that benefits from being a brown ale and not a stout or porter. coffee used in kind of a new way here, and i really like and appreciate this. wish it were a bit more available...

 1,179 characters

Photo of jaydoc
4.34/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.39/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 4/5/16.

Pours an opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of roasted malt, coffee bean, brewed coffee, toasted nut, cocoa powder, earth, and char aromas. Taste is much the same with burnt toast, coffee bean, brewed coffee, cream, and earth flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a fantastic coffee presence that works well with the base beer all around.

Serving type: bottle.

 671 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

Photo of Knapp85
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a deep brown color with a cream colored head on top. The smell of the beer has definite coffee on the nose, some type of subtle spice is coming through as well but not sure what it is. The taste of the beer is very nice, some very nice coffee flavors in there with some toasted malts. The feel of the beer is smooth, medium bodied. Overall it's a solid brown ale. Definitely worth checking out, one of Founders best in recent memory.

 452 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of djrn2
4.16/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of metter98
4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is very dark brown in color and is very close to being near black. It poured with a quarter finger high tan head that died down but consistently left a short head covering the surface.
S: Moderate aromas of chocolate malts and roasted coffee beans are present in the nose.
T: The taste follows the smell and is quite bitter—there are subtle hints of underlying malts and brown sugar with some associated sweetness. Some bits of nutty malts also become noticeable as the beer warms up.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This an intense coffee flavored beer that is quite bitter.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of nmann08
4.19/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Taphouse_Traveler
4.16/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.17/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kojevergas
3.48/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I love Founders' Breakfast Stout and had to pick this up when I saw it on the shelves of my local Whole Paycheck. A 4 pack ran me $16 in NYC (about as cheap as you'll find it in the city).

BOTTLE: 12 fl oz/355ml format. Pry-off crown cap. Straightforward label depicts mountains and has a brown motif for obvious reasons. Bottled 04/05/17.

9.0% ABV. "Imperial brown ale brewed with sumatra coffee." Brewed with caramel malt, flaked barley, chocolate malt, Munich malt, Perle hops, and sumatra coffee. 40 IBUs.

Served chilled into a nonic pint glass and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption.

HEAD: ~1-2cm in height. Pale khaki colour. Fairly creamy and soft in appearance, with a reasonably thick consistency. Coats the sides of the glass with thin lacing as it recedes, which unfortunately happens pretty quickly (definitely within a minute), betraying the high ABV.

BODY: Dark amber. Somewhat translucent but nontransparent. I see no yeast/lees within. Not the brown colour I expected, but generally appealing.

It isn't the most enticing appearance for a brown ale, but there's nothing egregiously wrong here and outside of style conventions it's generally appealing. Carbonation seems appropriate.

AROMA: The first thing I noticed when pouring was the coffee aromatics; they're not extraordinarily pungent but it is a strong enough aroma that it does leap out of the glass when the beer is being poured. Has an earthy character to it, evoking coffee in a more interesting manner than many coffee ales. Hints of roast from the coffee, maybe even a bit of muted's pronounced and anything but common, but I have come across far more aromatically expressive and pungent coffee brews. I don't get much coffee bitterness here at all.

Maltwise, I get the general Munich sweetness and caramel, but I doubt I'd peg this for a brown ale in a blind taste test; there's no overt brown malt character nor is there any of the nuttiness that brown malts combined with English yeast tend to produce.

To style, hops are minimal in presence, offering only a blip of floral character and balancing bitterness.

Aromatic intensity is moderately high - a feat owed entirely to the coffee.

No overt yeast notes or off-notes. It hides its ABV quite well at least aromatically.

Suggests a nontraditional brown ale that eschews the usual nuttiness and plain bread-like malt backbone in favour of a more assertive American-inspired coffee adjunct flavour. I'm intrigued, but I worry it strays too far from brown ale conventions to really be true to the style.

TASTE & TEXTURE: The earthy roasty subtleties of the dominant coffee flavour are underscored nicely by a soft plump presence on the palate derived from its admittedly plain caramel malt and brown malt backbone. Some minor chocolate malt flavour is there as well, though its added sweetness isn't needed (especially given the lack of any concomitant bitterness from the coffee adjunct addition).

Hop bitterness and flavour intensity is minimal, which is true to style. Unlike many brown ales, there's no nuttiness from the yeast (nor any other flavour from the yeast either, including the usual cerevisiae esters).

Mouthfeel is soft, smooth, and wet, nodding more towards a porter influence than a stout influence - and that works against the beer's premise. More dryness and coarseness would really help drag more depth of flavour and expressiveness out of the titular sumatra coffee, and showcasing coffee seems to have been the brewers' aim here. Call it a missed opportunity, but the carbonation is near perfect and in spite of it being billed as an "imperial" brown ale it's merely medium-bodied and not too heavy on the palate, aiding its drinkability; this is surprisingly approachable fare for a 9% ABV brew.

An easy way to get that coarseness and dryness would be ramping up roasted barley in the grain bill, which would also help accentuate the roastiness of the coffee and curb the unbalanced malty sweetness. Unfortunately, there's little if any roasted barley presence here.

Flavour duration is average for the style. Flavour intensity is quite high for a brown ale.

OVERALL: A brown ale for the coffee stout drinker, Sumatra Mountain Brown will cater to those (primarily American) beer drinkers who confuse extra ingredients/adjuncts with added complexity - but not to traditionalist enthusiasts of the style. It's easy to envision a U.S. beer drinker saying something like "I don't usually like brown ales, but I do like Sumatra Mountain Brown" given this beer's substantial departures from style conventions.

Still, it's hard not to be drawn to this over more hum-ho American stabs at the style given its likable coffee flavour, especially with Founders - one of the best at executing coffee ales - at the helm. I'll enjoy polishing off my 4-pack in spite of the beer's shortcomings, and I'd recommend trying this beer at least once.

Witness the brown ale Americanized.

High B- (3.48) / WORTHY

 5,000 characters

Photo of oline73
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BEERchitect
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

For every mood, there's a beer. And in some cases there's a beer for several moods. Looking to wind down? Or gear up? Or for a dark and balanced taste? Or for something strong in stature. Something bitter? Something sweet? Founders covers all these bases with Sumatra Mountain Brown.

The imperial brown ale pours devilishly dark and springs to life with a dense blanket of mocha whipped foam. The high earthen perfume of nutty, butter and soilish coffee rise up but not without a firm followup of chocolate, toffee, walnut and wood. Its taste is sultry with the toasted sweetness of toffee, caramel and candied pecan- all laying on a bed of toast and coffee.

With the Sumatra coffee riding high, its overtones of shaven woods, dried chicory and butter pecan is both delicate but bold. Supporting the coffee well is the chocolaty malt center that registers on the middle palate like candy nougat and malted milk balls. Alas, the dark ale trends beer-like and chases a woodsy hop bitterness, that easily disguises of coffee-derived bitterness, into a deep bittersweet finish.

Full in body, yet there's a lightness that the coffee brings. The beer's gently rolling carbonation is off-cask but light and creamy nevertheless. The light simmering warmth of alcohol allow a kaluha-like flavor to reward the finish like fine coffee liquor.

 1,334 characters

Photo of superspak
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 4/5/2016. Pours fairly hazy/cloudy very dark brown color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big nutty roasted coffee, milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted brown bread, light smoke/dark fruit, herbal, wood, and roast/toasted earthiness. Fantastic aromas with awesome complexity and balance of coffee, dark/roast/bready malt, and light earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big nutty roasted coffee, milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted brown bread, light smoke/dark fruit, herbal, wood, and roast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/woody hop and roasted coffee bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of nutty coffee, milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, toasted brown bread, herbal, wood, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of coffee, dark/roast/bready malt, and light earthy hop flavors; with a great roast/hop bitter/sweet balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness from hop/roast bitterness, that increases through the glass. Light-medium carbonation and full-ish bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an insane imperial brown ale! All around incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of coffee, dark/roast/bready malt, and light earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink for the big ABV. A really amazing offering all around, the coffee presence and complexity is enormous.

 1,786 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Boone757
4.21/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of zeff80
4.48/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. Poured an opaque, dark, dark brown color with a caramel colored head. This one punches you in the face with coffee aroma. The taste doesn't disappoint. Bold coffee flavors with roasted malt and chocolate.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Gagnonsux
4.55/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of dbrauneis
4.29/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours an opaque yet still clear extremely dark brown (approaching jet black) in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and faint dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a three finger tall dense foamy tan head that slowly reduce to a medium to large sized cap of very thick film surrounded by a large patch of medium thick film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer and a thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of rich freshly brewed coffee over the top of moderate aromas of caramel, nutty, and chocolate malts. Light notes of earthy hops.

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of caramel, nutty, roasted, and chocolate malts with a moderate amount of chocolate sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of freshly brewed, slightly sweet, rich coffee. Finally there is a very light flavor of earthy hops which contribute a light amounts of bitterness in the finish which does not linger for long.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with a light to moderate amount of slickness in the finish.

O: A nice complexity and depth of malt flavors from the grain bill in this brew and a wonderful, rich coffee flavor and aroma. Easy to drink and hides the alcohol really well. If you enjoy coffee, definitely consider grabbing this one.

 1,456 characters

Photo of PhineasMcClintock
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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Sumatra Mountain Brown from Founders Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.29 out of 5 with 1,730 ratings