Brown Bear Ale | Rock Art Brewery

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Brown Bear AleBrown Bear Ale
17 Ratings
Brown Bear AleBrown Bear Ale

Brewed by:
Rock Art Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beernut7 on 07-21-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 17 |  Reviews: 16
Photo of jaxon53
3.5/5  rDev -2.8%

Photo of WesWes
3.28/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a brwon color with a 1/4" tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a some roasted/caramel notes, but overall quite weak in the nose. The taste is average. It has a very weak malt flavor that goes down easy and finishes crisp with a slight roasted malt flavor. The mouthfeel is average as well. It is a low bodied beer with good carbonation. This is an easy drinker, but it's light in aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel. It's one and done for me.

 479 characters

Photo of cbl2
3.03/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

6/17/2007 $3.25 22 oz. No best by date.


Pours a lovely clear dark brown with some ruby highlights, that is adorned by a quarter inch of tight tan head that is slow to settle.


Roasted malts, with cashew notes and a touch of sweet grape-juice.


Odd flat mouthfeel is coupled with some flavors that never seem to mesh. There is a touch of chocolate and loads of nuttiness alongside an off fruity flavor. Perhaps if the carbonation was there to usher the flavors to your taste buds, this would work, but as I've stated before, it just winds up falling flat. Very disjointed with too many flavor vying for center stage, and none of them truly stepping up. This could have been a good beer, but it just misses the mark.

 770 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.37/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark bronze with a healthy infusion of both red and orange. The sandstone colored cap is softly creamy and lasts long enough to be respectable. Glass coverage is limited to a few small sheets of lace that look like they'll be washed away with the disturbance of drinking.

The nose is quintessential English brown ale. Although it's primarily well-toasted malty, cocoa notes from the chocolate malt are easily appreciated as well. Oven-baked nuts contribute and a whiff of East Kent Goldings rounds things off in fine fashion.

I can't help but feel that Brown Bear is a fraction too light for its own good. The malt bill was well chosen (pale, crystal, carapils, chocolate), the beer simply needs more oomph in that department. I'm pretty sure that this is exactly the beer that Rock Art intended to brew since they gave it a session-friendly ABV of 4.5%. That doesn't stop me from looking for ways to make it even better.

The flavor profile takes after the nose, more or less. Cocoa is at least as prominent on the taste buds. The brewery wasn't kidding when they state that this offering is 'lightly hopped'. Of course, it's 'lightly' everything. In fact, with each passing ounce it's becoming more and more obvious that Brown Bear doesn't have the claws to hang in there throughout an entire mouthful.

Given the style (and keeping in mind that it fits on the lower end of the style spectrum), the mouthfeel is barely acceptable. Unfortunately, there's no hint of creaminess. The flavor simply washes away just before the beer washes down my gullet. Only a 'third bowl of porridge' amount of carbonation keeps things in the average range.

If Rock Art Brewery stole the tagline from UPS and asked 'what can Brown (Bear Ale) do for you?', my answer would be to double the amount of malt. I'm convinced that there's a pretty good English brown in here somewhere.

 1,875 characters

Photo of Foxman
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It pours a somewhat muddy amber, and though there's a reddish tinge at the edges, calling it ruby may be too generous. A finger of light beige head dwindles soon to patches of fine froth. Spare speckles of lacing fleck the inside of the glass.

The aroma is fleeting, but it does give up references to chocolate malt, caramel, a general nuttiness, and even a splinter of wood. A distant hop spiciness is equally cursory.

Upon tasting, the elements blossom a bit, led by a roasted malt earthy sweetness boasting caramel and cocoa, as well as a more rounded presence of hops through the middle, lightly spicy and aromatic. A flighty sourness leads to biscuit and nuts across the tongue. The finish is mildly sweet with a mostly mitigating and lingering crispness. There's no doubt, the flavor redeems the aroma.

North of light bodied but not quite medium, the malt presence is smooth and even a touch creamy, but it doesn't so much slink away as splashes itself gone.

I wasn't across the board impressed by this, but let's face it, sometimes a strong flavor profile can forgive a host of sins, especially when those sins are more venal than mortal. It's a lesson in not judging a book by its cover, I guess. And it's the flavor that makes this worth drinking, with no real reason to stop at just one if you don't have to. So it's more of a teddy bear than a big brown bear, but cuddly is better than nothing sometimes.

 1,431 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
3.73/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a medium amber color with a half finger light tan head the fades without much lacing. Clear but with a trace of effervescence.

S - Subtle malt chocolate with a hint of caramel.

T - Sweet milk chocolate together with nice hop balance.

M - Light but effervescence adds a nice complexity to it.

D - Very drinkable. I'll buy it if I come across it again. A nice session beer.

 393 characters

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

Brown Bear Brown Ale pours a nice looking and crisp ruby/amber colour with a decent sized and somewhat creamy head that quickly moves to a thin lacing that is mildly sticky.

The aroma is sweet, with hints of caramel and perhaps a touch of chocolate in the mix. A bit of rugged malt is present as well along with some nut and wood notes.

Flavour hits on the aromas quite nicely, with sweetness again leading the way. The more earthy, nutty notes don't kick in until the finish, which is much more rugged than you would expect after such a sweet beginning to the flavour. There is a hint of hops in the middle of this one as well. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and could have been a bit more hearty in my opinion, although it's current state is really sufficient.

Overall this was another good one from Rock Art. I would have toned down the sweetness a touch and turned up the earth notes on this one a bit, but that's really personal preference more than anything else, and even that aside, this is still quite and enjoyable brew.

 1,035 characters

Photo of Cadyfatcat
4.07/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks rather uninspiring. Dark brown with a yellowish head that dissipates almost immediately.
Smell is distant, a little sour and certainly some roasted malts present.
Watery at the onset, rather arid. Then you get a little tart toasted malt flavor. Then the beer begins to shine, it develops an almost macadamia nut richness and silkiness as it settles into your tongue. This is accompanied by and gradually defeated by a chalky unsweetened chocolate flavor. Almost no hop character.
A rather subtle and delicate beer, but very good. No potentially cloying characteristics, I will drink this often.

 603 characters

Photo of geexploitation
3.57/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown Bear Ale pours quite dark for a brown ale... I suppose it is kind of bear-colored. The nose on this thing is classic English style brown ale, with some toasted malts, a dusting of cocoa, and some earthy hop notes in there. The taste is also typically English, with a distinct sourness up front; the toasty malt flavors don't really take over until the finish. Mouthfeel is thin and sessionish. Highly drinkable. Overall, this beer is decent but not anything terribly interesting. It's an odd choice to start off Rock Art's bomber series (at least in my state).

 566 characters

Photo of Dewey0603
3.18/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This pours a reddish brown with a decent white head. The smell is slight with some malt,but it's mostly a "bisquity" aroma. The taste has some maltyness to it,but little else. This doesn't have any nut or brown sugar flavors like some many brown ales. The m/f is light,but the aftertaste has a metalic taste to it. This really is average at best, after their stout I was disappointed in this.

 392 characters

Photo of Matthew
3.47/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Grabbed this is Mountgomery. Pours a dark brown and at first has a fizzy tannish head that immediatley disapears. Smells is of nutty roasted malts and a slight hoppiness in the background.
The most prevelant taste is of a walnutty flavor. The malt character I was expecting based on its aroma is much more mellow than I had anticipated. The hop character is also very mellow. I think that this beer is worth picking up but I would suggest it might be better if the flavors came through a bit more pronounced.

 510 characters

Photo of weeare138
3.92/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appears a dark brown with a small off-white head. Leaves small traces of lacing.
Smell is nutty, malty, and of caramel and a wheat like blast with some wood like hops.
Taste is of all the aforementioned smells.
Mouthfeel is tingly on the middle of the tongue with the medium carbonation.
Drinkability is decent for a brown ale.

 331 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.55/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle purchased at Winooski Beverage Warehouse, Winooski, VT.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" light tan head over the dark amber brew. Head settles at about half original height, and heavy foam lacing abounds. Aroma is hearty grain husks, and apparent as soon as the bottle is opened. Taste is upfront with light maltiness, a slight metallic tinge in the middle, and closes with a bit of a sour flavor. Mouthfeel is kind of thin for what the appearance and aroma indicated, with okay drinkability. This was kind of a let down for me.

 561 characters

Photo of Truh
3.3/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ran uphill as fast as humanly possible with this one on 2/18/2005. 1 pt. 6 fl. oz. bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

Initial ΒΌ-inch coat settles quickly to just a glancing blow of mossy white growth and no stick. Copper hue, with a touch of ruby that actually lightens it up; slight haze and a good amount of action. Light smoke, or roast, on nose with some toasted molasses, pleasant malt, and toffee sugar. Buttery initial aspect is quickly overwhelmed by an up-front carbonation that surprises, but does not necessarily detract; bountiful malt profile with only a late hit of hop bite. Drinkable, but pedestrian for style.

 634 characters

Photo of sponberg
3.8/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber, no freshness date.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see? I see an offwhite head - whoops! It's gone! - looking at me. Medium brown in color, with an aroma of cocoa and some nuttiness over English earthy hops.

Very drinkable - pours down very nicely. Interesting mix of flavors in this one - some Fuggle-ish hoppiness, but mostly toasted bready nutty flavors with some dusted cocoa kicking around. Very reserved - nothing stands out, but in that respect it could make a nice session brew. Slightly thin, but otherwise unremarkable mouthfeel. A nice brew - true to style.

 592 characters

Photo of scottum
3.36/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out brown with an off-white head which sits nicely atop the beer. Brown Bear Ale certainly wouldn't have been my next choice for release in 22oz bombers, but I'm not in charge. Thin mouthfeel is almost watery, but not in a bad way. Tastes is very mellow and keeps to itself. A solid drinkable brew, but nothing that will make you say "Wow, Rock Art!" Good to see Rock Art expanding some of their draft only beers to bomber format regardless.

 447 characters

Photo of beernut7
4.3/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This lighter brown ale comes off the tap witha nice foamy head wafting a spicy hop aroma. A medium bodied ale, Brown Bear is complimented with a generous hop blessing making it a tasty unique brown ale for the region.

 218 characters

Brown Bear Ale from Rock Art Brewery
Beer rating: 3.6 out of 5 with 17 ratings