Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) | Humboldt Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
227 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale)Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale)

Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly called "Hemp Ale".

Added by boatshoes on 04-04-2010

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 227 | Ratings: 598
Photo of Sabtos
3.16/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Dark copper with a moderate tan head.

Almost exclusively spent grain on the nose like walking up to a large lager brewery. There is also some nuttiness.

The taste of this beer is big and heavy on the malt, with some toffee notes as well.

 239 characters

Photo of nicholas2121
4.51/5  rDev +30%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) brewed by Humboldt Brewing Co., with an ABV of 5.70% This brew pour out a deep brown color with a nice small off white head. This brew kinda looks like root beer, not saying that is bad thing. The smell of Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) is rich with roasted sweetness of malt and grains. You also pick up a hit of hops in the smell of this brew. This brew has the look and smell of most American Brown Ales on the market, not saying that is a bad thing. Now for the taste it is bold and rich with flavors. You pick up on roasted grains and malts. There is also a nice smooth sweetness to this brew. The mouthfeel of Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale), is rich bold, clean, and refreshing. I really like the taste of this brew and how smooth it is. There is nothing overpowering about this brew. It has has a real nice balance to it. It is hard to pick up on the 5.70% ABV in this brew. Overall I'm giving Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) a 4.5 out of 5 . I would buy this brew again . Humboldt Brewing Co., did a real nice job with this brew. Thank You.

 1,073 characters

Photo of Caveworm
4.5/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) | Humboldt Brewing Co. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, this beer's head is two fingers thick and light tan, with solid lacing ,and a clear deep reddish brown body.

Smells like not very much "hemp" IMO, but more of a toasted malt complex and full bodied grains. Not very much hop annunciation either.

I taste a very well made brown ale. Nothing more, nothing less. The only remnant of "hemp" flavor comes towards the end and it isn't very noticeable.

The mouthfeel here is medium-light with mild carbonation.

Overall, I'll rate Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) | Humboldt Brewing Co. with a 4.5.

 637 characters

Photo of Beginner2
3.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I like finding under-rated beers... it reminds me that I follow the beat of a different drummer.
Being a California hippie in the 1970s (I was in my twenties, just to date me), I suppose nostalgia makes me like a brew started on the Mendocino Coast (a hippy hot-bed) and then uses the marijuana plant.
But nostalgia is neither a big motivator for me, nor why I like this beer.

It has an interesting history. This modest second generation brewer has gone through a few relationships (Firestone Walker being primary as their current base of operations) and now owned by a beer and wine importer. Breaking the business model of the brewpub, Humboldt has built some healthy relations in the distribution chain. (Experimenting with the business model may be as important as experimenting with recipes in the coming period when America's 3200 craft brewers have to sort themselves out.)

Oh, yes... about the beer...
I like American editions of British styles that stick more closely to the originals (largely that means, "don't go crazy with the hops".) Humboldt Brown actually reminds me of how British Browns blend the malts so the taste buds continue to salivate as the beer warms. The hops and other spicing never take over. I like being left with the taste of malt.

This beer was listed in the "1001 Beers" because of its unique owner and because of the special ingredient (the stuff that gets you high from marijuana actually is not in this beer.) Should this be on the list? Yes, because of its story and its following in what I call the "Anchor tradition" of making minor innovations from the masters instead of extreme leaps.
Let us all praise moderation.

 1,663 characters

Photo of Jaygrant1387
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Good look, had great head retention and nice brown color. Smell of toasty malts. Toasty malts not overpowering but there with a malty finish. great flavor overall and would recommend.

 185 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
3.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Bottle from America on Tap
Deep copper/ brown color with a decent tan head. Rich caramel maltiness with hints of chocolate. Light earthy hop. Decent brown ale, but I can't say what the hemp added.

 196 characters

Photo of Safa1
3.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

No hemp flavor to speak of. Decent enough brown ale. Looks great and taste okay. I drank all 6 over 2 weeks but mostly because I didn't go to the beer store. I actually drank a bud ice before this. If that counts for anything.

 227 characters

Photo of gonzo000
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this in the bottle at a function. Match look score to smell. Beer was creamy, smooth and had an excellent balance of classic brown flavor. Enjoyed this beer very much!

 175 characters

Photo of depechemode1983
3.72/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Deep brown with deep red hues. The head was minimal and disappeared quickly. The nose is grainy, toasty with a bit a caramel sweetness distant metal tinge. Again the taste is grainy with roasted oats and a bitter burnt type caramel finish. Feels good. Smooth with pleasant carbonation. Over all not bad. I really enjoyed this one. Might even pick it up again in the future.

 374 characters

Photo of 513BeerLover
3.57/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Very smooth. Very different from anything I had before. The color looked like a standard brown ale and there wasn't a really distinct smell from what I could gather. Taste wasn't bad, but isn't something I would crave a lot. Good beer to mix it up with, but not something I would consistently buy. Worth buying if you want to try something unique.

 352 characters

Photo of John_Squires
1.93/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

For the most part I'm generally disappointed with American Brown Ales. No exception here, either I really hate the taste of hemp or this is just a bad beer. Bitter with a poor mix of hops and malt.

 198 characters

Photo of mothmanscott
3.44/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear medium brown producing 1.5 fingers of frothy, tan, shortlived head that leaves a slim surface ring & a thin wash of pasty lacing. Aroma dark malt, toast, chocolate, toffee & faint roasted nuts. Taste is fronted by toasted brown bread, a hint of cocoa, roasted nuts, caramel & dark fruity notes at mid-sip & finishing with a note of toffee & bitterness. Aftertaste is burnt malt bitter cocoa & cola caramel. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation, smooth & creamy with a nice prickly bite.

 516 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.53/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium brown color with a white head. The aroma is full of caramelized malts and a bit of herb, The taste is malty but with some herbal, seedy, rooty flavor from the hemp. Bitter and rooty, with a nice nutty malty sweetness. Even a hint of fruit finds way across seed and grain. Medium bodied, well carbonated, enjoyable and drinkable. Overall, a very good ale. Ya Mon!

 381 characters

Photo of ordybill
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. Aroma- Has a malt and barley smell Appearance - Pours a dark brown with a large white head Taste- A bitter tasting beer that has a slight coffee taste. Palate- A medium bodied, moderately carbonated beer. Overall- A fair beer that I would drink again.

 297 characters

Photo of stephens101
3.8/5  rDev +9.5%

A ruby red sea is capped with a foamy, tan froth. Has a caramel, nut, help and medium fruit aroma. Tastes sweet and smooth with some grain, candy and fruits that mingle with a metallic nuttiness. Somewhat mineraly in the aftertaste. Reminds me of Pynchon's Vineland for some reason... A true underdog beer that deserves better than it's lot.

 346 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%

Purchased from the Wolf Stop in Aberdeen, SD. Poured into my new Miller Pilsner glass.

Appearance (4) : Pours a dense, creamy three fingered head with a nice creamy cap on top. Body is dark honey brown with about 70% opacity. Leaves lacing on the glass and a memory foam like appearance complete with a couple of "finger poke tests", on the head.

Aroma (4) : Barley heads, honey, barrel aged malt, a little ginger spice. Some rainforest and/or moss. A very clean and pleasing aroma. Bouquet is light to medium strength.

Taste (3.75) : Coffee bean bitterness hits first, mixed in with some barley malt. Behind that is a grapefruit bitterness, which follows through to the finish. Faint honey and ginger notes float around in there, too. I was not expecting the bitterness that came from this beer - in fact I was expecting a malt-forward brown, but actually the flavor isn't bad at all. It's quite enjoyable. Belches taste like wheat chex.

Mouthfeel (3.75) : Medium bodied, fairly creamy yet still watery, ends grapefruity and dry.

Overall (3.77) : This brown has hop presence, there's no denying that. It's a good beer overall. I don't think I'm swayed enough to buy a six pack, but it is a pretty decent beer. I would have it again if offered.

 1,250 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.03/5  rDev -12.7%

12 oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark burgundy color. The head is a finger high, and off-white in shade, maybe slightly leaning towards mocha. It has a nice texture but low retention. A bit of lacing is left on the glass. (3.5)

Smell: There are a couple of interesting notes to be found. It's decently chocolaty (usually my favorite feature in a brown ale), with some lesser brown sugar. It also has a maltiness similar to an amber ale (i.e.: burnt caramel and toffee) which is a bit more offputting. If I really concentrate, I get hemp seed. It's a *very* subtle addition, though. All in all, there isn't much here that helps it stand out from the pack. (3)

Taste: The initial caramel flavor here is rather sweet, blending with a brown sugar note. Its finish smacks of cola, while there's a gentle biscuit tone throughout. Really, this is all the beer is offering: its advertised adjunct isn't coming through very well at all. Easygoing, just not remotely exciting. (3)

Mouthfeel: If nothing else, it's somewhat light in body. This helps to make it drinkable. The actual texture has a cake-like density to it - if I had to pick my favorite feature of this brew (and it's tough, frankly), that would be it. Carbonation is medium. (3)

Overall: This is pretty damn forgettable. In many ways, it's reminiscent of Fat Tire - which is more or less the most average beer on the planet. Just like Fat Tire, I'll have no trouble drinking this, nor any trouble drinking a free one offered to me. I just won't buy it for myself, that's all. Still, something like this would make a decent gateway beer for BMC drinkers. (3)

3.03/5: If nothing else, a good Fat Tire alternative

 1,690 characters

Photo of Slatetank
3.53/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

I purchased this at Brass Rail Deli in Campbelltown, enjoyed chilled in a goblet from the 12oz brown bottle.

The color is deep brown with translucent clarity with crimson hue at base of the glass...the head comes and goes and leaves a ring of tiny pale tan beads. The smell is very fruity -as in dried fruit with woody raisin type aroma. The smell has a light hint of dark cherry. The feel is thin with moderate carbonation with light sweetness and mild phenolic almost medicinal tinge bt the sweetness hides that and finish is lightly spiced.

The flavor is a mix of woody hops with raisin-like taste from the malt and yeast mixing with a strange herbal element that comes of as nutty and slightly earthy with subtle fig-like aspect which is more like dark toffee but not that sweet. The flavor has a mild yeast taste I can't place or perhaps it is the hemp. Overall I like this but would probably not get this again, there are many brown ales I prefer to this in the same abv range.

 988 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle dated 26 July 2012 served in a snifter. "Brewed and bottled by Nectar Ales" on the label.

Pours clear, deep mahogany in color, with a large and durable tan head and excellent lacing (1st sample had a fragile and small head).

Aroma; a mix of with caramel and toffee malts, with a hint of alcohol infused dark fruits and an off aroma that may indicate I left this in my refrigerator for too long.

Flavor: hmm, a buttery (diacetyl?) component that is not entirely bad. Medium and dark roasted malt base. I believe I can taste the hemp seeds too; at least there’s an unusual nutty-herbal note. Slightly sweet until the balanced finish. Mild malty-toffee aftertaste.

Feel: Very smooth, with excellent, soft medium carbonation.

O: 2012 bottle probably past prime; revisited with fresh bottle in Nov. 2014 -- rating upgraded

 842 characters

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.25/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

Look: Muddy brown, a ruby hue comes through in the light. A cream colored head recedes to a film, little or no lacing.

Aroma: Caramel, toffee, and a really good chocolately fudge nose.
Some earthy, wet grassy notes in the back end.

Taste: This beer really is chocolatey, like Tootsie Rolls. Some toffee can be detected too, with a spicy and dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

Overall: I really enjoyed all of the malts and chocolate notes on this.

 489 characters

Photo of FLima
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown reddish color with a thin beige head with short retention, but leaving laces.
Aroma of caramel, pine, licorice and spices.
Flavor of caramels, bold spices including hemp seeds (don’t ask), some cola and dark fruits, American yeast, nuts, toasted malts, mild coffee and dark chocolate, earthy hops and pine. Dry aftertaste with a mild bitterness.
Light body with appropriate carbonation.
Tasty, but not really a bold Brown Ale, partially due to expectations given the unexpected ingredient. I did like the rounded spicy profile.

 536 characters

Photo of jimmah120
3.54/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with a date on it. I will admit that I bought this because of the pot leaf.

Dark brown-amber, clear, small sudsy head that fades pretty quickly. Smell is very light: faraway nuts and fruit. Taste is crisp and nutty, with oily pine, but is mostly a cloying rose flavor that im not digging. And I don't see the hemp or pot influence at all.

 351 characters

Photo of GrumpyGas
4.07/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Humboldt Brown carries an airy dissipating head over a rich brown body. The smell is fresh and outdoorsy. It has a sweet dark malt flavor that leans more toffee, which I prefer, than coffee. The clean and crisp aftertaste is a nice surprise given the milky, but not clinging, mouth feel.
This is an easy drinking beer with little alcohol burn.

 343 characters

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Humboldt Hemp Ale (Humboldt Brown) has a very thick, soapy, beige head, a straightforward brown appearance, with a bit of haze and some lacing left behind. The aroma is of overriding sweetness, medium-roasted barley malt, and it’s pungent. Taste is of those elements, with a nice, noticeable, but not harsh, hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium and a tad slick, and Humboldt Hemp Ale finishes mostly dry, refreshing, and easy going. No alcohol detected. Also, I did not detect anything that I would associate with the hemp seeds.


 536 characters

Photo of BeerWithMike
3.77/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Sampling right now on 1/26/14. Bottle was chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured into a pilsner '14' pool ball glass.

Pours a hazy deep reddish-brown in color with just a thin off-white head. Some decent lacing was seen with each sip. Average carbonation. Lots going on with the aroma with some roasted malt, caramel, floral and toffee. The taste has even more going on and is hard to describe. A sweet dry aftertaste is noted but isn't harsh. Not bad at all and is a different brew

 502 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) from Humboldt Brewing Co.
3.47 out of 5 based on 598 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!