Dirty Helen Brown Ale | Barley Island Brewing Company

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Dirty Helen Brown AleDirty Helen Brown Ale
165 Ratings
Dirty Helen Brown AleDirty Helen Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Barley Island Brewing Company
Indiana, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
STYLE Brown Ale
MALT Pale, Crystal 60, Munich, Carahell, Chocolate
HOP Tettnang, Challenger, Cascade, Glacier
ABV 5.2
IBU 25
SRM 21

Added by zerk on 03-28-2003

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 165 |  Reviews: 80
Reviews by rinhaak:
Photo of rinhaak
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark reddish-brown with a small head. A sweetish nose of ripe fruit-syrup is offset by a mouth with a slightly tart flavor of sour cherries. There is a very nice balance of flavors between sweet caramel/toffee and sour fruit, with only the most subtle of hop flavors in the background.

A very drinkable and sessionable brown ale that is plenty worth tasting, though not necessarily worth seeking out.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Duster72
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

4 oz serving from draft at breewpub. Pours a reddish brown with lovely ruby accents in the glass. Aroma is breads, nuts, and carmel malts. Nice aroma. Taste is on the lighter side for a brown with the typical dark malts and some earthy nuttiness. Mouthfeel is on the watery side which is offputting in this flavor profile. Overall a highly drinkable brown ale.

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Photo of Jason
3.71/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12 oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

Appearance: Thin lacing with a troubled head retention, faint haze on the rusty brown brew.

Smell: Aleish fermentation is apparent with slight fruitiness and nutty yeast. A bit malty in the nose with faint chocolate and caramel notes.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Restrained crispness from a low carbonation and moderate body. Dry toasted malt character throughout, edging on chocolate here and there with a long lingering hop bitterness that sets the palate straight without pushing anything out of balance. A scratch of fruit and yeast in the back, finishes semi-sweet with a semi-rough toasted malt husk.

Notes: A tasty little brown ale, a tad rough around the edges and short on the carbonation. Any easy pick for a lunch time brew with a stacked pastrami on rye.

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Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pours a clear, mahogany brown body with a one finger beige head. Excellent retention and some lavish sheet lacing make for an impressive appearance. Aroma is milk chocolate and hazelnut, with a note of grassy hops. Mouthfeel is light medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Taste mirroes the aroma, with a nutty chocolate maltiness that is balanced well with grassy hops bitterness. Smooth and clean. Very easy to drink. A nice session brown ale.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Cavie for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with a cream-colored head. The aroma is caramel and toffee malt, about what you would expect from a brown ale. The flavor is more of the same, with the addition of some grassy hops which add a slight bit of bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of schoon
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of glid02
3.83/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle via a trade with GCurlow – thanks!

Pours a clear amber-brown color with an off-white head leaving solid lacing.

Smells of equal parts caramel and toasted malts with very light hints of roastiness. Also present are mild light chocolate aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Toasted malts up front are joined quickly by sweeter caramel malts. Midway through the flavor profile dries out with the addition of lightly roasted malts and leafy hops that carry through to a moderately bitter ending. Mouthfeel is OK, with heavy carbonation.

Overall this was a good beer for the style, and could be better with slightly more robust toasted malts and a smoother mouthfeel.

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Photo of Brenden
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer is the standard medium brown, just barely opaque with plenty of light coming in at the outskirts. The light tan head doesn't last long and it leaves just enough bubbly foam on top of the beer to stick moderate spotting to the glass.
In the smell it's malty but with a hint of leaf, mostly nutty and somewhat toasty with a bit of dark fruits tanginess on the end.
Malt-forward but with hops to balance, it's toasty to the point of dryness with plenty of nut before the leaf comes in, maybe with just a little pith. Otherwise, it's got some sweetness from caramel malts, and those dark fruits are there in the finish. Cocoa comes out in the middle and moves into the finish with the dark fruits and stemmy bitterness.
The body is medium and has something to it, but the crisp bite is soft and falls off on the end. Smoothness is moderate, not quite enough to level it out, but keeping the feel from going bland.

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Photo of SMark
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was poured into a pint glass at 48° from a 12 ounce bottle with no date information. One finger of head was produced from the pour with very little lacing. The beer was reddish brown and bright when held up to the light.

There was a nice floral hop bouquet with the first scent. Good malt fragrances hinting at sweetness were later detected.

The beer was swallowed very smoothly and did not impart a lot of detectable flavors as it slid down too quickly. Follow up sips revealed the sweetness that was promised from the aroma. Mild hops balanced out the taste.

The combination of malts and hops started out well but then seemed to fade in a slightly watery aftertaste. There was not enough left in the mouth to consider it cider like but it did seem to come up a little shorter than expected.

This is another one of those beers you could sit and drink without a lot of work. 4.3% alcohol definitely invites you to enjoy at least one more. You could sit and enjoy several of these from the tap over a period of time also and not feel completely worn out. But you need to also remember to drink responsibly.

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Photo of pmcadamis
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice chestnut brown hue that is hazier than a lot of other browns. A two finger head quickly recedes to a collar collar of fine bubbles and a haze. A swirl brings up a finger instantly. Some big arches of lace are left on the glass.

S - Burnt grains, smoke, bark, fire, earth, some really gritty hop notes, and motor oil. I'll be damned if this doesn't smell like a pitch black stout. The only thing "brown" about it is a nice peanut shell aroma...maybe burnt peanut shells? I don't think that I've ever smelled burnt peanut shells, but thats what I think they would smell like.

T - More of the same from the nose...smoke, earth, blackened grains, and a really autumnal and hoppy finish. Some sweetness pervades throughout and balances the bitter blackened roasty-ness. The hop profile especially reminds me of a stout in that it makes me think of fall leaves.

M - Low level of carbonation, medium light body, and a bitter but creamy finish. Feels good.

D - This one really surprised me! Excellent nose, great taste, superb mouthfeel...wow. I'm for sure going to pick up a sixer this fall (seems like leaf raking beer to me). This is a damn tasty and highly drinkable brew!

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Photo of secondtooth
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cloudy ruby, with a fine head of tan suds. Attractive double-finger of lace.

Nose is distinctly caramel with a nutty sweetness.

Taste is sweet and slightly roasty and caramel-nutty. I get a slight hop bite at the finish. A fine and well-balanced brown ale, and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tried the Dirty Helen and a beer tasting party last night. The beer poured a nice dark amber/brown with decent white head that laced. The smell was ok, it had hints of burnt grains, and was deep and sweet. The taste was more bitter than expected....like sour dough bread. The beer also finished kinda acidic. There were hints of peat and bogg. The mouthfeel was lighter than expected with decent carbonation. Overall it was ok.

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Photo of randyw41
4.1/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In Indianapolis, one of the local liquor stores had a free tasting of this micro-breweries products. Out of the 8 or so bottles of different blends, I found this one to be my first choice. Very smooth, with an excellent flavor. Color reminded me of Guinness Draught, though the flavor wasn't as pronounced. We sampled these beers in plastic cups, but this one definitely produced a nice head. I'd like to try this on tap, and as the brewery is not too far from Indianapolis, I'll probably head over that way and try this one on tap. All in all, I enjoyed this beer, and would definitely purchase it again...

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Photo of cclark2
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

A little bitter for my tastes

29 characters

Photo of PirateUlf73
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Hazy, ruby-brown color with a light tan head that simmers down to a quarter-finger layer.

S: Aromas remind me of toasted barley, soft hazelnuts and a pinch of caramel. There's also a pleasant aroma that I can't quite describe. Chocolate-covered fruit perhaps.

T: A semi-dry smack of semi-sweet chocolate and nutty flavors are the first to hit, followed by an earth, slightly spicy hop presence. Possesses a nice, warming, toasty character that rounds out the taste and ties it all together. Could possibly stand to be blended a little better, but quite tasty as is.

M: Lighter side of medium-bodied and lower-than-average, yet still persistent carbonation. Finish is a tad muddy and dry, and the aftertaste is nutty and sweet.

D: A solid, tavern-style brown that warrants sessioning on occasion.

Barley Island definitely has a winner with Dirty Helen. Certainly not the smoothest brown ale ever, but the flavors are delicious and interesting. I'd be quite happy to drink a sixer of this, whilst in the company of good friends, of course!

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Photo of bconsidine
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of freewill35
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of wrentmore
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of connor4835
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of ironwill54
3/5  rDev -17.4%

Photo of beveritt
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Arrived in a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Very little head on mine, less than 1/4 inch of ligth tan foam. Settled quickly into just a ring. Some lacing while drinking the glass. The beer itself is medium brown with a hint of red.

Smell: Light smell, semi-sweet malt with hints of caramel.

Taste: Semi-sweet malts, with earthy undertones. Medium hop bitterness in the finish. Slight roastiness.

Mouthfeel: Average carbonation level. Body is decent.

Drinkability: It is hard to go wrong with a craft beer on the deck when the weather starts to turn nice. Overall, a nice example of the style.

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into pint glass, no freshness date.

A: Pours a cloudy dark reddish brown, with a bubbly tan head that cascades when first poured into a one inch head then bubbles down to a third inch cap. Light lacing.

S: Sweet and syurpy, sweet roasted malt character with a thick layer of bread crust, subtle and balanced like I would imagine.

T/MF: A bit of a faint apple flavor that moves quickly into a nutty toasted malt sweetness that is nicely balanced by a dry hop juicyness that finishes a bit prickly on the tongue.

D: A decent brown ale, but then again I think all brown ales are decent.

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Photo of hotstuff
2.73/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured a large tan head with fine-small sized bubbles.The body of this beer was clear and the hue was red.The nose was malty and hoppy.This beer left an excellent lacing on the sides of my glass.The flavor was very bitter and it left an aftertaste that lingered for some time.The mouthfeel was smooth, but this beer reminded me of a Pale Ale as it was very hoppy.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a reddish/brown color with a big 2 inch frothy off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both very good. It smells like caramel malt, nuts, chocolate and brown sugar. The taste is pretty much the same as the aroma, they're both very malty. Mouthfeel/body is light/medium, it's coating and has good carbonation. Drinkability is good too, it's enjoyable to drink and with the low ABV it's a very good choice as a session beer. I think it's a good brew, but then I've liked everything I've tried from Barley Island so far. If you get a chance, you should pick this up.

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Dirty Helen Brown Ale from Barley Island Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.63 out of 5 with 165 ratings