Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) | Humboldt Brewing Co.

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Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale)Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale)

Brewed by:
Humboldt Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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

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Reviews: 227 | Ratings: 598
Photo of JayTheFinn
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had one of these at Alisal Cellars in Solvang, CA USA.

A - Dark, ruby red in the glass. (I missed the head, so I can't say much about that.)
S - Roasty, malty scents.
T - Roasty, malty flavors. Grape or currant, super subtle hemp. Sweetish, but not overbearing.
M - Full.
D - Even with all the flavors, they blend together well and make this quite drinkable.

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Photo of benito
2.33/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

The jokes to be made about this beer are too easy: did you know they sell it for only $4.20 a six pack? Ah, America's most famous pot-producing county puts out a Hemp Ale. Is this brewery run by teenagers?

As for the beer itself, it is a deep amber with aromas of alcohol and and caramel. This seems to be a brown ale flavored with hemp, though the base style isn't indicated anywhere on the bottle. The hemp tries to impart a drying finish to the beer as well as a nice oaky flavor. Overall, it's feel is smooth and creamy, though it doesn't really go anywhere from start to finish. Malts reign king at both the beginning and end, almost
overpowering the hemp presence. By the end of a full pint, the feel is a little tiresome and comes across as heavily viscous.

I'm a big fan of spiced beers and have always defended chile, spruce, and other herb beers in the face of aspersions ("they're made for tourists;" "they're a gimmick"). Humboldt's Hemp Ale hasn't convinced me that those criticisms should be ignored for hemp beers.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.05/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bomber from the Berkeley bowl. Wasn’t sure about this brew but when in Rome…

Pours a pretty dark crimson color with ruby hues. Rapid bubbles, really wicked carbonation but almost no head. What there is of it is white.

Nose is grassy and dull. Taste is malty and nutty, walnuts I think, and reminiscent of an American Brown Ale. Mouthfeel is light because of the carbonation but surprisingly round as the beer warms and flattens.

There are no marijuana flavors to speak of and really not much of any flavor. Pretty dull beer that I will pass on in the future.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.2/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Caramelized bronze in color; near maple. Whispy white head with very noticeable carbonation. A few trails of thin and spotted lacing.

Floral hops and ginseng tea. Slightly sweet caramel malt aroma. Very faint fruity-esters: light raspberry, bay leaves.

A touch of semi-sweet caramel and toffee followed by a bittered-tea and buttered biscuit flavor. Noble, rustic floral hops adding some grittiness. A bit of spice at mid-sip that leads to a bland, unsweetened caramel aftertaste.

Medium bodied; gritty, yet pretty tame and mellow. Unobtrusive is as descriptive as this one gets in terms of mouthfeel.

As bland as a beer gets. I bought it for the novelty, which is all it was worth.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.31/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a deep reddish-brown body that is crystal clear with a strong soda-pop carbonation of fast, big bubbles. The head is a light yellowish-white mousse that turns to a thin even layer floating on top but clinging to the sides.

S- A soft note of brown malt comes through with a note of sweetness.

T- This beer has a smooth brown malt body with some chocolate notes and a dry pale malt hint. The finish has a soft noble hop bitterness but there is no hops aroma of flavor other than the bitterness. There is a slight tangy flavor in the malt that is almost cidery but it is a bit more dry . This might be from the hemp or it might be a slight off flavor.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slight fullness in the texture that is not quite a creamy texture but has some presents.

D- The malt characteristic has some good depth and flavor but the hop component were singular in flavor. It was interesting as a novelty but with a bit more enhancing it has potential to be a good beer.

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Photo of scottoale
3.7/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

With the label depicting weed growing in the hills of Humboldt county, I was preparing to get red-eye stoned. And to think it comes in a 650ml brown bottle...what's up?

It's a rather dark, copper-red colored ale with a finger and a half of quickly deminishing, off-white head. It does however have some nice delicate lacing as you drink.

Caramel malty, nutty nose is about all I get out of this, not even a hint of hops to this one..

Semi-sweet malt with a nutty background with a light, roasty dry finish. Tasty, but in no way impressive. Where's the hemp? Was it thought perhaps that the hemp addition would help take the place of the hops? the bittering is light and this let's the malt flavor dominate. Where's the hemp?

Pretty much fill the mouth, smooth and malty. Medium in body with a mellow, some what dry finish. Perhaps that's the hemp although my eyes aren't getting any red-er.

It's none the less drinkable...just not really flavorful.

 963 characters

Photo of pgroove
3.66/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer is all malts. The hops are almost as indetectable as the hemp. Granted cannibis and hops are genetically related, I suppose the tastes and smells could be confused. Then again, I have never consumed hemp in liquid form so I am not sure what I am looking for. Although there is an aroma slightly reminiscent of aged bongwater (maybe thats where the hempiness comes from).

This brew definitely suffers from a lack of hops balance. Despite the lack of hops present the brew is not terribly sweet either. The malts are tasty however--whisps of roasted and black patent.

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Photo of DogFood11
3.52/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed Sunday July 17th 05. Library Ale house, Santa Monica.

Poured into a pounder glass, Head quickly fades into no-man's land never to be seen again. Surprisingly without a head with each drink it did bubble up and leave some lacing.

I thought it tasted earthy, nutty, wood flavor that ends sweet.

This is one of those beers that I found tasted better as it warmed up a bit. More flavors came out and I thought the complexity actually was in there it was just hiding....reccomend you try it cold and then let it warm up and note the difference.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.63/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark orange-bronze, with orange juicy highlights, beneath an orange-tinted ecru cap that has a quality look about, lasts for a good bit and leaves a smattering of lace in the bargain. Hemp looks like a Scottish ale or a (dark) red ale more than anything else.

There isn't much going on in the nose, either in terms of intensity or personality. It smells most like a garden variety pale ale with weakly fruity, citrusy hops. I can see how 'herbal' might be an appropriate descriptor, but doesn't smell like the herb that the name was obviously meant to reference. As far as hemp goes, I have no earthly idea what it smells like.

The flavor is enjoyable, and still puts me in mind of an APA, but is no great shakes. The beer is acceptably malted, with a minor caramel-crystal presence, and contains a judicious amount of hops that keep things in relative balance. Lightly fruity sweet commingles with lightly bitter, offending no one.

I don't appreciate any unusual flavors that I might be tempted to ascribe to hemp. Although without knowing what that particular plant smells or tastes like, that isn't all that surprising. The mouthfeel is somewhere between light and medium and is neutral in the sense that it doesn't really make an impression in either a positive or a negative direction.

Humboldt Hemp Ale is nothing more and nothing less than an easy drinking, harmless little quaffer that fits squarely into the pale ale style. 'Shock and Awe' it ain't, but it did manage to find its way into my good graces by the second half of the bottle.

 1,558 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at the Library Alehouse, Santa Monica, 12-02-04...with all their great taps, I had to concentrate on new beers, and ended up choosing this...
Dark amber color, nearly brown, very slim head, quickly departing
Aroma is herbal, grassy (heh, heh)...not much else.
Body is thinnish, hollow, malt dominates in the tastes, but nothing really sticks out...not sure where the hemp comes or goes, as a gimmick, it never really shows itself, and is an empty gesture.
Leaves dryly, and ends up feeling dull and disappointing...there were other new beers among their tap line-up, but I went with the one with the marijuana leaf on it...that'll show me.
I didn't have much enthusiasm for it,'s a serviceable ale, though not to hoop and holler about.

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Photo of alexgash
3.83/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Humboldt Brewing Co. Hemp Ale – bottle
Cinnamon-tinged dark copper body. Plenty of bubbles, and a big fluffy, light-tan head.
Smells of weed. Okay, kinda kidding. Solid, fruity-sweet malt base. Resiny, mildly bitter hop aroma.
Starts off with flavors of whiskey-apple malt, and a touch of sweetness. Tinny, resinous hop bite comes in to balance it out. Reminds me of a toned-down Jubelale. So, I like. Medium-bodied feel, coats mouth well—perhaps a little too much carbonation.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed in October 2004 at the Toronado in San Francisco, CA. Came back from the restroom and said to my best friend. "Hey, I thought I told you to get me a Hemp Ale". He said. "I did"?!?! Confused as I looked at the brew and saw a deep dark red brown beer in front of me. Hell, it almost looked like a dark brown ale in front of me. I didn't expect such a dark coloring. I didn't see the pour, but it still had a considerable head on it and some lacing creeping down the side after a few sips. Tasted a bit bitter. Some heavy malt tastes as well as some fruityness and some hops in there too. Nice carbonation. Didn't really stike me as a great beer. Maybe a decent ot good beer. Wouldn't waste my time with a pint of it on tap again, but at the same time, I would think about it if it went on sale for a good price at the local Safeway. Moderate beer that I am glad I tried.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.49/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow - what a nice dark brown ale... On the pour alone this was a very inviting brew - a very dark brown ale with a thick creamy head. The foam was quite long lasting and left a good amount of lacing along my glass.

The nose was pretty typical for an ale - nice malty notes with a little bit of yeast added for measure. No real hop notes at all in the aroma, not even as the ale warmed up.

The taste was pleasant enough - a rich dark malt with plenty of soft hops leading to a dry finish. The beer was quite good on the tongue with plenty of carbonation that lightened the brew considerably.

Except for the label I didn't notice anything 'hempy' about this ale at all - it's just a pleasantly drinkable dark ale. While it wasn't anything near outstanding it was quite tasty and I'd certainly drink it again. Considering how well they've done with this ale, I'd be very interested in trying their "Red Nectar" amber...

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Photo of canucklehead
3.88/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My girlfriend brought this back from Cali and I was interested to see how this would compare with BC's own Hemp beer from Bowen Island brewing.

The beer was very dark, looking a little like a Scottish Ale. The nose is not very noticeable but it looks good. This is a malty beer with a nice bitterness to the aftertaste. I just tasted this after a Road Dog from Flying Dog( a Scottish Ale) so I have to say that this is really a Scottish ale with Hemp. There is a nice balance that almost makes this fall into the Brown Ale category.

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I knew it would come to this. Out of beer, at the local corner store and the only beer I hadn't tried was this. I've been trying to avoid this one for years--the hippy dippy label with its floating "hemp" leaves SCREAMS "shitty stoner gimmick beer." But, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Appearance: HUGE surprise. I expected a thin straw gold. What poured was a deep chestnut brown with mahogony undertones. The head was thin and short lived, but was a rich tan. The carbonation was fine and active. Some lacing.

Smell: Blast of green apple--that must be some yeast they've got there. Otherwise, it's overwhelmingly sweet caramel/malty; there's very little hop spice. I have no idea what hemp smells like, but there doesn't seem to be anything unusual here--and it definitely doesn't smell like pot.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Pretty simple, but not bad; starts out strongly malty with hints of burnt sugar and caramel, perhaps a bit nutty, bitters up and finishes dry and slightly smoky. Mouthfeel is thinner than you might expect, and the carbonation is a bit dead. Still, not the weak, mungy crap I expected by a long shot.

Drinkability: Just fine--tastes good, failrly light, managable ABV. Plus, you can impress your stoner buds: "Dude, this beer's got, like, freakin' WEED in it, bro!"

Let's clear up one thing right now, kids. For those of you who think you're getting a "hemp" (wink wink!) beer, there is zero chance this brew contains any herb and/or THC. For that to happen, the brewery would have to have on hand hundreds of pounds of buds--no one is going to spend 25 years in the federal pen so you can catch a buzz. On the other hand, if you're looking for a suprisingly drinkable brown ale, this is a great choice. Much better than it has to be.

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Photo of watermelonman
3.6/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This poured to a somewhat dark brown with a few other shades in it; it had a puffy head that disappeared quickly. There's no real lacing to speak of.

It's pretty light tasting for the color, with an almost half-dry mouthfeel. The hop content seems somewhat minimal, but what's there is balanced by spice. The overall taste is pretty decent.

It's an interesting beer and it's pretty drinkable.

 398 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear but very dark brown brew.

Smell is very heavy malts with a spicy smell; I guess that is the hemp in this.

Taste is sweet heavy malt with a strong caramel flavor. Finishes with a mild bitterness. I don't know what weed tastes like but unless it tastes like malt it isn't in there.

Mouthfeel is good.

I think this is a gimmick brew, despite that it is a good dark ale.

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Photo of RootedFool
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Arcata, California.

Pours dark, opaque brown until held to the light where a ruby hue shows through. A soapy tan head rises no more than half an inch and collapses into a sudsy film on the surface of the brew.

The smell is a bright malty sweetness -- like blueberries and brownsugar -- and some floral hop notes in the background.

Taste opens with some laid back malt sweetness, cut with a swing of hop bitterness through the middle and hanging on to the finish. Throughout a bready, slightly sweet malt back bone holds it all together. Aftertaste is dryly bitter and quenching.

Mouthfeel -- very carbonated -- body is slightly sticky on my palate.

A simple beer -- not too bad.

 747 characters

Photo of GambrinousIan
3.76/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this one a few years back. I don't think you are allowed to put hemp products in any food or drink now. I could be wrong. This beer was just a great drinking beer. High quality with great ingredients. I've had a few other things from Humbolt and I think that's the point of this beer. To honor all the hard working rebel farmers who make the best there is.

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Photo of Rumrunner
3.31/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle.

This is a well made ale. It is spiced in such a way that it will get a limited group of people who will drink it on a regular basis. For me I had mixed feelings. I liked some things and I did not like some things about this ale.

Pours a nice burnt dark caramel color. A little orange thrown in for good measure. A big fat tan head. Okay lacing and a fomy disc on the top that stays all the way until the finish. Scents are weak. Dry malts. Leafy tobacco and a little bit of hops.

I do not know much about hemp, so I am thinking it has a tea flavor to it. This really is tasting like tea to me. There are some malts, then some hop bitterness. Nothing too hoppy. An acidic tea like finish. It really does taste like spiced tea.

Mouthfeel is slick and oily. Stuck to the inside of my mouth. Not pleasant. As far as drinkability goes, I guess one could drink a few in a session.

Overall I would not drink this on a regular basis. I think it is well made and has some interesting qualities. I would not turn down a free one.

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Photo of RenoZymurgist
3.96/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a frothy white head which didn't last very long. Color is a rich red with a brown tint. Aroma is a creamy malt toastiness with a floral hop balance. Taste is sweet and dark from the malt flavors but there is a nutty character that i believe to be the hemp seeds which is very pleasent. Body is medium which allows the nutty character to come through but the slight hop bitterness leaves a clean finish. Very drinkable and quite pleasent if you are in the mood for a nutty, rich and not roasty dark ale.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.38/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color, medium head. A medium bodied brown ale brewed with hemp seed. Nice and malty mellow hops. Did not notice the hemp, but it does seem a little smoother than most brown ales. Nice flavor. Full taste. Mouthfeel is full and round; there is a slight sharpness to it. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is malty. There is a very slight lingering bitterness. Nice beer.

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Photo of jcalabre
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Originally sampled on 29 December 2001. I am writing this review from my notes. A slightly sweet flavored, light bodied ale that is, as another reviewer noted, a good session beer. Nothing spectacular, not too bad either. If it were offered to me, I'd drink it, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of mickeymac
3.63/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The lack of any detectable sound upon opening the bottle was a bit disconcerting. Fortunately, a nice, healthy tan head appeared when it was poured into the glass. It's clear brown. The smell is malty with a fair amount of hop and a bit of spice. The flavor was an enjoyable mix of malt and hops, but it has a fairly strong flavor that is close to tea, leaving me with the feeling that I was drinking a glass of carbonated iced tea with a little hop kick. It's not bad, but it's nothing spectacular.

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Photo of BeerManDan
3.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice color of medium dark amber brown when poured with very little foam and not lace. The smell of roasted malts was pleasant to the nose. The taste was of mild roasted malts and hops. Little on the bitter side. Wish I knew what hemp tasted like so I could pick up the hemp flavor. This beer was just average overall, but still a pleasant all around brew.

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Humboldt Brown (Hemp Ale) from Humboldt Brewing Co.
3.47 out of 5 based on 598 ratings.
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