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Bad Penny Brown Ale | Big Boss Brewing

107 Reviews
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Bad Penny Brown AleBad Penny Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Big Boss Brewing
North Carolina, United States | website

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by atsprings on 04-17-2007

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 107 | Ratings: 347
Photo of bmanflyer
4.65/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

I had this beer 1st on draft and then found it in a bottle at HT. I can't understand anyone grading this beer below an A The smell and the taste is just threw the roof. I have already hooked 4 other people on this beer. One of the few beers that I have had on tap and then found in a bottle that was even close to its draft flavor. This has become my new favorite. The only issue so far is I can't drink less than 3 of these in a session AND THIS IS TRULEY A SESSION BEER

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Photo of BierWolff
4.61/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really enjoyed this brew and was lucky to have experienced its malty deliciosness on tap. When I ordered, the server asked if I liked Newcastle, which I do, but this beer is much better. The only similarity is their style. She brought out my pint, and I had to first notice the dark color and limited head. The flavor is what blew me away. It is technically an English brown, but it tasted very American. I say that because of the intense roasted malt flavor and hearty feel. This isn't a thick beer, but it was definitely heartier than a typical brown. I loved it!

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Photo of Walken
4.47/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big Boss: Bad Penny (Bottled 02/10) (Tasted 06/10/10)
12 oz. bottle, poured into a dimple mug.

Appearance: Extremely dark chestnut brown with fiery red highlights. Head is small, a three millimeter cap of off-white, froth and bubbles, exceptional retention and lace.
Odor: Cocoa powder, toasted brown bread, slightly nutty, with a hint of toffee and dark fruit. Full malt background suggesting confectioners sugar. This is likely one of the most pleasant aromas I have ever smelled in a malt-forward brown ale.
Consistency: Light end of medium bodied with a dry, nutty feel from the malt. Carbonation lends a smooth, even creaminess.
Taste: Like perfect. Roasted chestnuts, fresh grain, layered dark and cocoa chocolate flavors with a ghostly smoky roasted background in perfect harmony with a low-riding, non-descript hop bitterness, that balances and stops short of being a presence in and of itself.

Oooo weee.

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Photo of CampusCrew
4.45/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hands down the greatest brown ale I have ever had. Yes i said it. Smooth and easy brown ale. Love it!

appearance: dark brown, creamy head

smell: the way it should smell

taste: light chocolate, malty flavor

mouthfeel: good carbonation and delicious

drinkability: very easy and smooth for a brown ale

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Photo of Naugled
4.39/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A gorgeous beer, dark crystal clear chestnut brown with a thin creamy head.

Fantastic chocolate in the nose along with toasted cereal and malt.

Flavors follow the nose with the chocolate toasted malt notes as well as a lightly sweet vanilla. Very nice.

Medium to full body with a soft mouthfeel.

A very drinkable brown, that is an excellent example of the style. This is a beer I would make a regular in my cooler.

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Photo of goatsgo2hell
4.39/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bad Penny's one of my go-to favorites. The beer pours dark chocolate brown with very little head, and has a malty aroma that smells like chocolate with a slightly nutty undertone. The taste yields the same, and it proves to be a very malty beer -- which is exactly what I like in my browns. All in all, a great beer to try on tap or from the bottle. It's my favorite of the Big Boss offerings.

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Photo of unknownlamer
4.25/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fresh bottle, served in a snifter.

Pours a very dark brown, almost opaque, but clear upon further inspection with a bright light. Very small head, fades immediately to the usual ring of foam around the edges. Doesn't leave anything behind on the glass.

Smells like chocolate, roasted coffee. No hop aroma that I can discern.

Taste is initially a tad bit alcoholic with a strong roasty flavor (no surprises here given the aroma). Smooths out after a few sips. Near the end of the swallow the sweetness comes through and a lightly roasty/sweet flavor lingers for a while after swallowing.

Body is fairly thick for a brown ale. Silky smooth!

Bolder than most other brown ales I've had without taking on the qualities of a porter or stout.

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Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from Bruisin Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours a chestnut brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells very good. Smooth caramel, toffee, and mild toasted malt aromas all hit the nose at once.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Toasted malt flavors hit first with underlying hints of caramel and toffee that are not overly sweet. Midway through the sip a very small amount of earthy hop flavors enter into things before receding for a sweet and crisp ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's a bit on the thin side but with solid carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my bottle fairly quickly and could have a few more.

Overall this is one of the more flavorful English browns - or any brown for that matter - I can remember having. Definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of dpodratsky3
4.21/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Slightly opaque deep chestnut color, not much light gets through, ruby around the edges, head is very small and light, reduces to a thin spotty film

S: Distinct sweet toffee aroma, very sweet caramel malt aroma, but its pleasant

T: Has a big bold malt flavor, very full and deep feeling, has some caramel toffee flavor but also has lighter toasted malt flavor, hints of a deeper roast are barely perceptible, clean spicy, floral hops help cut some of the malt but after a while it does finish a bit sweet, otherwise I would grade this higher

M: Medium dryness, medium-high carb, medium-full body, all help keep the sweetness down since the hops are a little low

O: Delicious, nothing earth-shattering and not going to win a hype contest, but just a good all around beer to sit down and relax with

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Photo of jsprain1
4.2/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Very dark brown, with a one and a half finger frothy head that sticks around pretty well and leaves a couple rings of lacing.
S- Smell is simple but enjoyable toasted bread and cocoa.
T- The cocoa really bursts here, partciularly out front. It finishes more nutty than chocolatey but some milk chocolate is also noted. Just a bit of earthy hoppiness.
M- A bit light for the style but I liked the general smoothness of the carbonation.
O- A good example of the style and one worth seeking out. Easy going down and has all the requirement for a good brown.

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Photo of gruberbeer
4.16/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer with a polish sausage, and that apparently worked. I found it very easy to drink.

It tastes like beer that was grown in the woods and later mixed with some dark chocolate in a building made of old bricks. But that's mostly a good thing. Oh, and it looks like a glass of death it's so damn dark. I love that. But, it was not too over-carbonated for me. In fact, I enjoyed it very much, and it slid down my raspy throat surprisingly easy.

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Photo of jbphoto88
4.13/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The bad penny is the color of dark worn leather. A soft sand colored head rises and falls quickly just to leave an island meandering around the glass. Light passing through the beer shows it to be clear yet dark enough to be almost opaque. Nice ruby copper highlights bleed through on the edges. Very pretty.

The smell is warm sweet and malty but not very big. The nose is subtle but when you get a whiff it's very pleasant.

Taste is where this beer really shines. Sweet yet robust malt dominate this brew. Behind the malts are some great flavors that linger down the path of caramelized pecans, creamed chocolate and even a pinch of coffee. I could drink this all day.

The mouthfeel has a drop of metallic coppery taste to it. Smooth and slightly creamy starting off only to dry out in the finish, altogether this brew is sweet and polished. Easy to drink and easy to want another. A damn fine beer.

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Photo of Vancer
4.1/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer sent by limesmut via a great trade, salud!

Poured a deep oaken brown, nice cap of ivory floating on top. Then, the aroma and quaff takes over - nice li'l pop of chocolate amongst a malt forest. Well balanced with a good dose of hops in the finish.

This is one of the session brews that everyone wants, but then they don't review well. Bull shit - this is a great American brown! I'd take it over the mass produced browns any day.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth."

--Margaret Thatcher

Walnut brown with radiant orange highlights when on the coaster... dark cranberry when backlit with sunshine. Approximately two fingers of khaki colored foam was created on the pour, which allowed the entire bottle to enter the glass in one fell swoop. A thick collar of lace eventually becomes thick rings and scattered sheets.

The nose is classic for the style and is wonderfully aromatic to boot. Three different malts combine to produce a melange of cocoa, dark caramel and baked nuts. No negatives here.

There are no chinks in the armor when it comes to the flavor profile either. Way too many browns are wimpy and don't show off their malts enough. Bad Penny isn't shy at all, which makes sense when you consider the look she's giving from well-done, informative label. It would be great if all breweries included style, ABV and bottled-on date.

BPBA is delicious beer that is exiting the glass almost as fast as it entered. Each sip delivers chocolate-dipped English toffee, sugared pecans, ripe fruits and enough earthy hoppiness to take the edge off the sweetness. Big Boss Brewing has done themselves proud with this well-constructed ale.

Keeping style and ABV in mind, the mouthfeel easily keeps pace. It's no bigger than light-medium, but is aided by an ideal amount of carbonation that inflates the beer to a fluffy, creamy state on contact.

Bad Penny (the woman) may have a tarnished reputation, but purchasing Bad Penny (the beer) makes a lot of cents for those who appreciate a finely crafted English brown. For my money, Bad Penny is definitely Good Beer.

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Photo of tayner
4.06/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz brown bottle with date marked

Pours a very dark porter-like brown color that is only penetrated by light around the edges. There is a foamy off-white head that lasted the entire glass and it coated the glass in sheets of lace. Very impressive for a brown ale and almost more porterlike in quality.

The smell is very mild and i can only pick out some roasted grain notes. This is the weakest part of this beer for me as just by smell it did not impress me.

Taste was a roasted malt and chocolate up front with just the slightest hint of coffee in the background on the finish. There are also hints of raisin and dark fruit sweetness. This has a very bold flavor but nothing overpowering. I like.

This is well carbonated and light to medium body which is expected out of a brown ale, although everything else makes me want to call this a porter.

Brown ales are not usually my cup of tea, but I could session this one all day long, every day. This is a mighty fine brown ale and I cant believe it does not get better scores. If anyone ever wants to send me more of this feel free!

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.05/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, this label is great. The 14 figures seem to be Bad Penny's bedpost notches--even a skirt in there! Ooh, Penny, you are bad. Hopefully this brown ale is not bad. Or maybe it's deliciously bad like the vixen herself. Enough silliness...

Pours a deep brown with a murky dark red tint, and the head is modest, light brown and creamy-looking.

Aroma is nutty, mostly hazelnut, with some fresh cream and even a little coffee coming in.

Flavor mirrors the nose, with excellent nutty notes, caramel/toffee, fresh cream; good roasted qualities without having the over-husky and over-dry elements of other lesser browns.

Slick and round, medium-bodied, good stick, and though I prefer an even bigger, creamier brown, the carbonation isn't too overpowering on this one.

I always say I don't like brown ales and then I realize I've had a lot of really good ones...Bad Penny included. Oddly enough, I got this inside a six-pack of Hell's Belle--someone had either mixed it up or done an opposite switcheroo with a 6 of Bad Penny. Turns out I like Bad Penny better than Hell's Belle. A cool surprise. Definitely check it out if your down with the brown.

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Photo of ncbeermonger
4.05/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a great little beer from big boss
the achohal is not overpowering, leaving it easy to drink

The bartender suggested it knowing my love for porters

It has the chocolate, and caramel of a porter, though it is a brown ale

the mouthfeel is light, and this one is easy to drink

I love this beer from big boss

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Photo of cnjohn19
4.03/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

dark dark dark...consistent throughout but a lack of major head after the pour and carbonation...almost looks like a flat soda

wow...great to the nose...i'm getting roasted cocoa cocoa beans, a sweet cappuccino-like smell...give it a few swirls and you'll get a dark hard candy smell (you know, the old fashioned style candy)

malts dominate the taste...pretty sweet but doesn't distract you from the other characters of the beer...very surprised that i got a distant hop bitterness too...great brew...

medium to light body...enjoyable aftertaste with this brown ale...would prefer over a newcastle (my favorite beer prior to entering the craft beer hobby)...great drink during a cool summer night with friends...

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Photo of daliandragon
4.02/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the latest offering from Big Boss Brewing, the remnants of Edenton Brewing in Raleigh. The folks at Horniblows made some decent beer and now they've reconstituted and are starting over.

Bad Penny pours medium brown with some opaqueness and almost no head after the initial fizzle. The nose hits heavy with coffee malt, not too sweet but tasty.

This is impressive up front, with a dry coffee base with some faint dark fruit and raisin tones . Nice complexity for an English brown. The finish here is velvety smooth and delicious. This one is well on it's way to being an old ale or a porter in character and flavor, just needs an alcohol upgrade.

Probably not for everyone, it's certainly less practical then say, a Newcastle Brown but fans of the style will enjoy this one.

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Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours brilliant brown with ruby highlights under a 1” off-white foam cap that rapidly dissipates.

S: Nutty rich malt aromas with faint chocolate and caramel, grains.

T: Malt caramel, chocolate, nuts. The malt is medium, hops are low, bitterness is low.

F: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: this is a good but not great brown ale.

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Photo of CrazyMacHarris99
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to NCBeernut for suppling this one.

It poured a dark brown with a big off-white head. Quickly dissolved to a small ring that stuck around. Smelled of sweet malty goodness with a hint of toasty nuttiness. Tasted like a typical brown ale. Big sweet malty taste with a minimal nutty taste and very small hop presence. The mouthfeel was creamy and silky and added a lot to the overall experience. This was a great example of the style and one of my favorites as a session beer. I could drink these all night long.

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Photo of joe1510
4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle

Bottled 1/09

Bad Penny comes my way of a generous RustyDiamond as an extra in a recent trade, thanks bud! This brown ale has a burnt caramel body with crimson highlights that won't quit when backlit. A creamy, light beige head rose to two fingers in height on the pour and slowly receded to a thick cap that leaves behind some solid drink lines clinging to the glass.

The nose on Bad Penny shows off a lot of toasted barley with a heavy cream smoothness thrown in for good measure. The lactic quality adds a nice touch. A quick, firm swirl of the glass brings along lightly roasted coffee beans. The aromas work together well in this brew and the backend conjures up some roasted almonds; nice.

The flavor is very similar to the aroma. Toasted barley is front and center with a nice mildly roasted coffee playing a central role. The lactic isn't as noticeable as the nose led me to believe but there is a hint of it on the swallow. The roasted almond is there and very unique. This brown ale manages to come together quite nicely.

Bad Penny shows off a moderate body with carbonation quick enough to keep things moving without ever becoming prickly. The tongue knows it had a carbonated beverage cross it but in the non prickly fashion.

This is an easy drinking brown ale. Very flavorful without being overbearing on the tastebuds and one that could be put away very easily.

I wasn't sure what to expect out of this brew but I'm happy with what I got. This is my second brew from Big Boss and an enjoyable one at that. Thanks for the bottle Rusty!

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Photo of cottonkoozie
3.99/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Good appearance and decent lacing. I would have liked more head on it.

S - Pretty good malt smell. Good for the style.

T - Changes with temperature. Served cold on tap, and a good hop character came out when it was still very cold. As the beer warmed a little, more malts came out. By the end of the class there was a lot of toffee flavor.

M - Good mouthfeel. Great bodied. The type of beer I want on a cold day.

D - Pretty drinkable, had two of these and kinda wanted another but didn't have time.

Overall a good beer. I normally don't care for this style, but this was good. I will be buying this one again sometime.

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Photo of dookieball11
3.97/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I had a pint of Bad Penny (Big Boss)(ABV 5.2) that was on-tap at a local pub down the street in South Charlotte. When the beer was shuffled over to me at the bar I noticed that Bad Penny's appearance showed that the head of the beer was very small. Swishing the beer around showed that the lacing was sparse. The beer is dark brownish amber in color with a muddy body and the particles/ sediments was non-existent.
The Aroma is not very strong but has some light hints of caramel malts. This is not a hoppy beer ( sorry "hop heads") so the hops presence seemed minimal as well as the yeast.
It feels light- to medium-bodied and a bit smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The texture seemed slick, not being too thin or thick.
The overall drinkability and experience of the Bad Penny was a good one. It not a difficult beer to drink. Although the only complaint I have is not picking the more spring/summer Big Boss relative known as Blanco Diablo. Stay tuned for my next review! King Kobra...
Aka. Dookieball

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Photo of dfswan
3.96/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Being in Raleigh, I can get this beer fresh both from local taps, as well as from the bottle. On Tap is not surprisingly smoother than the bottle.

Not too rich
Not light
A bit of hopes, but not too bitter.

All in all, a very good American Brown ale!

If you're in NC, Have a Bad Penny on tap. I think you'll enjoy it.
(Sweet Jose and Old Town are also great local Brown Ale's)


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Bad Penny Brown Ale from Big Boss Brewing
82 out of 100 based on 107 ratings.
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