Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown | Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (No. 2)

236 Ratings
Hook & Ladder Backdraft BrownHook & Ladder Backdraft Brown

Brewed by:
Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (No. 2)
Maryland, 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 Todd on 01-21-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 236 |  Reviews: 184
Photo of theoz49
5/5  rDev +39.3%

Photo of bayinghound
4.9/5  rDev +36.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Nice balance of caramel and coffee notes. Hoppy but not overdone, finished with a pleasing coffee taste. To bad it was only a tasting, I could have had a few of these, mostly due to the fact that it drank nicely and is only 4.5%. I could see this as an anytime of the year beer, but I think I would prefer this in the Fall to Winter. Even at 4.5% it made me feel very comfortable.

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Photo of elvishfarmer
4.79/5  rDev +33.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured into glass from tap at Max's Taphouse in Fells Point, Baltimore, MD.

I've been disappointed with "browns" in the past, notably New Castle. Overbearing, over-carbonated and overpriced. Backdraft Brown shatters all and will leave you begging for more. Has a welcomed nose of coffee and chocolate but is far more palatable than porters with the same aromas. Finish is a light coating on your palate that lingers a bit like Guinness but surprisingly does not compete with any food. Had it with garlic mussels and a burger and fries. The single-handedly best all-purpose compliment to food from a brown.

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Photo of CraftyViki
4.75/5  rDev +32.3%

I am with the Brothers on this one. I sure wish it was still available here in Central FL. This brown ale is scrumptious.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.6/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tasted on-tap 05/22/07 at Bungalo Billiards in Chantilly, VA.

Dark brown (almost black) in color with a nice light brown head. Nice robust hoppy and malty aroma and flavor. A very nicely balanced beer with lots of citrusy hops, roastiness, and some chocolate. Medium bodied and very smooth. Very sessionable.

A very nice Robust American Brown Ale ... seek this one out.

Per H&L website: Cascade hops.

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Photo of jaredtp
4.5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of Bounty628
4.5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In the post 9-11 world that we now live in, it seems as though an added emphasis upon the bravery of firefighters has come to light. Though the profession itself has always been held in high esteem, the risks that firefighters are willing to take every time they enter a burning building is something that all of us should never take too lightly.

Therefore, it is rewarding to see a firefighter giving back to his community and the American community at large by taking another passion of his, brewing beer, and turning it into not only an amazing line of beers but also a vehicle to once again go above the normal call of duty. Rich Fleischer, a fireman from Bethesda, Maryland is founder of Hook & Ladder Brewing . The brewery, which was founded in 1999, is located in Silver Spring, Maryland.

What Fleischer has been able to do is craft a line of beers that all seem to pass the taste test and incorporate a charitable arm of his business into the mix as well. For every pint of beer that Hook & Ladder Brewing pours (whether on draft or in bottle), the brewery donates one cent to the local burn treatment center at a hospital close to where the beer was sold. This, geographically, has allowed for many a penny to be donated across an expansive territory.

The Hook & Ladder Brewing offering Backdraft Brown is a highly well crafted beer that leaves this consumer well pleased. The ability to both support a charitable cause as Hook & Ladder has set out to do and also enjoy an excellent beer is a great combination.

The beer pours a very dark brown to an almost black color and has a visual reminiscence to a stout-like pour. However, as is not the case with most stouts, Backdraft Brown pours with a very minuscule tan head that has rather poor retention.

Backdraft Brown certainly is not for those seeking a weak tasting offering as the taste is rather malty in nature. The smooth texture of the beer is loaded with hints of chocolate and nuts mixed with the roasted malts that are used. For the most part, this beer has a mostly malt taste with a small hops finish coming in right at the end.

Perhaps what was best about this brown ale was that it is a somewhat bitter brown ale as opposed to those that are made too sweet. A common complaint that I have with brown ales is that some of them are too sweet in nature and almost have a too sugary taste to them. Fortunately, Backdraft Brown really has a roasted coffee undertone that is noted throughout that holds together the taste well.

Though some who don't necessarily enjoy dark beers might be hesitant to jump into drinking Backdraft Brown, this beer is a rather crisp sipping bear that is easy to drink. It does not leave the drinker with the "heavy" feel after drinking one of them, as is often times a common complaint that is voiced.

Backdraft Brown is a well crafted in the true American Brown Ale fashion and is brewed year round thanks to the fine folks at Hook & Ladder Brewing. The Backdraft Brown that I had tasted was in a twelve ounce brown bottle available at a local package store that has an excellent craft brew selection. Priced as a weekly sale, I paid $5.99 for a six pack of Backdraft Brown.

For more information about Hook & Ladder Brewing, check out their website at www.hookandladderbeer.com.

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Photo of Bugsey
4.45/5  rDev +24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had a bunch of different beers in the fridge, was busy, and honestly forgot what I had poured. But I like it. And when I was finished I had the most amazing aftertaste and wanted more.

This beer is exceptional in the category of drinkability. It is refreshing and smooth, yet it has amazing flavor too, kindof like nutty sweet coffee. The mouthfeel is fresh, not too carbonated and not at all heavy.

This is a great all around beer.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.35/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a rich dark walnut from the bottle. In the glass appeared a warm cola with deep plum highlights. A thin beige colored head, ½ finger in height, sits atop and disperses rather quickly. A fairly good ring lacing encircles the glass.

S: The nose yielded a nice nuttiness with a deep caramel malty sweetness. A nice fruitiness of cherries and dark ripe fruit are also detected.

T: The flavor had a deep caramel and rich nuttiness that stood out tired and true per style. Some ripe dark fruit and cherries that was so dominant in the aroma translates really well into the flavor. The caramel malting was dark and sweet with a touch of dryness. Some rum raisin alcohol and barrel woodiness also contribute to this fine example per style. The malting I thought was really good, warm roasted with a touch of cascade hops which gave this a earthy dry flowery hopping. I really enjoyed this and found it top notch per style.

M: creamy with a smooth consistency. A nice nuttiness and maltiness gracefully coat the tongue. The carbonation was medium-strong in nature bringing things to live, dancing on the tongue. Everything you could ask for per style was here.

D: Probably one of the better browns I can recall. The rating says it all. You certainly cant go wrong here and a case will certainly not go to waste.

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Photo of BB1313
4.35/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a nice transparent brown w/ an average head and decent lacing. Lots of great aromas! I'm picking up lots of malts, caramel, and a slight amount of chocolate. There's also a nice breadiness to it. Tastes great as well! The caramel and brown sugar come to life, making this a sweet beer in an enjoyable way. Hints of chocolate are in the background. Mouthfeel is great, very light, but rich, smooth, and creamy. Low abv plus great flavors equals great drinkability. It's very hard to just enjoy one!

The first time I had Backdraft Brown, I was blown away. I still am! It's an insanely tasty brown ale. It has all of the characteristics I look for in the style. Highly recommended!

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Photo of billybob
4.35/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours a deep brown in color with a one inch light tan head with some nice rings of lace. smells of roasted malts with a hint of coffee. taste is same rich roasted malt and dry not sweet at all with a slightly lingering bitter after taste. medium bodied with good carbonation. one of my favorite styles of beer this one comes near the top on all counts.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.33/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass the liquid is dark brown with good carbonation. The head is 2 fingers tan and leaves some lace , really a great looking brew.

The smell is lots of roasty toasty malty, with mild hops.

The taste follows and is very good. The dark roasted malt is excellent, it warms nice and is very tasty. The hops come out a bit more as it warms as well to become balances and very enjoyable.

The mouthfeel is smooth creamy, medium body and nice carbonation.

The drinkability is great I will look for more of this and spread the word, Prosit, MK

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Photo of smibroncos
4.33/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Poured a clear dark mohogany brown, with a short tan head. Good lacing on the glass.

S. Carmel, malt, Roasted nuts, leaves

T. Sweet caramel malt, brown sugar, with a bitter middle, aand a soft sweet finish.

M. Medium bodied, lightly carbonated

D. Great brown ale, I like how it starts sweet, then goes slightly bitter, and has a short lasting sweet aftertaste.

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Photo of sloejams
4.3/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am kind of surprised to see the scores so low on this beer. I'm not a huge American Brown guy and I thought this was delicious.

Dark chocolate in color with a thick 2 finger head - this looks a bit creamy, something I really enjoy for this style. It has a pleasant molasses, brown sugar aroma that is match in the mouth. A nice chewy, creamy malt backbone makes each sip a pleasure.

I had with a bowl of chili and enjoyed every second of it.

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Photo of tugdriver7
4.3/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Call me easy to please, but this was one tasty beer. Gorgeous deep brown color with a nice foamy head that left quickly and laced the glass a bit as it emptied. Carmel, roasted malt in the nose with a hint of Cascade hops (smelled like a nice German Dunkel). Taste was roasted malt and a mild bitterness from the hops that balanced the taste nicely. Smooth is the operative word here. Very tasty, a touch sweet (but definitely not too much), rich mouthfeel and a flavor that was consistent throughout. Really a great go-to brown. Drinkable. Would make a nice session beer.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
4.3/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into 16oz Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass.

Appearance: Pours dark cola in color with a medium-sized off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly, but leaves a thick lace and lots of foam on top of the beer.

Smell: Very rich sweet caramel malt along with some nutty aromas.

Taste: Begins very sweet with a molasses-like flavor, finishing with caramel sweetness and a slight herbal hint.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with somewhat sharp carbonation and a sticky finish.

Drinkability: This is an outstanding brown ale, one of the best I've had. Very drinkable, flavorful, and sessionable- I definitely recommend this one.

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Photo of leprechaunandfatman
4.25/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of FickleBeast
4.25/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a Rock Bottom Brewers Choice pint glass

A - pours maple syrup brown with one finger of head that dissipates quickly

S - sweet, with a hint of hops

T - all around solid malt flavor, not overly sweet, tastes like a toned down version of Old Chub. Hops poke though a little bit.

edit - as soon as I reviewed this, it struck me, there is not a big maltiness, but rather a "nutty" flavor - definite nutty flavor

M - lightly carbonated, refreshing

D - refreshing, nice maltiness without overpowering, finishes pretty dry

An all around solid Brown Ale. A sessionable treat.

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Photo of JDK
4.25/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-Poured a nice dark brown amber with a 1/2 inch foam head that lasted quite a while.
-Medium lacing that really stayed hung on
-Dark roasted caramel malts with a touch of coffee
-Could hardly taste the hops, more of the malts came through but very smooth
-Very creamy taste and mouthfeel follows
-enjoyed this very much and think everyone should at least buy a single if available

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Photo of wahhmaster
4.22/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown color with ruby edges. Has a large, frothy, tannish head that dissipates slowly and leaves spotty lacing.

Smell: Smells strongly buttery with hints of toastiness and caramel. Smells pretty damn tasty.

Taste: Pretty bitter taste up front that develops into a strong roasted malt flavor towards the back. Has hints of caramel and nuts as well.

Mouthfeel: Pretty dry with a good amount of body.

Drinkability: This is an extremely drinkable, extremely sessionable beer and one of the better brown ales I've had. I could definitely see myself getting this again and really enjoying it.

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Photo of matjack85
4.18/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I found this single 12oz brown bottle at the Binny's in Plainfield, IL for $1.39. No freshness date.

The beer pours a crayola brown with reddish highlights when held to the light. This one made a 1 finger off-white head that lasted about a minute before fading to a thin rim. It did leave some decent lacing on the glass as I drank it.

Very little smell to this. Just some nuttiness and a hint of toffee.

Nice nutty flavor with a touch of roasted malt and a chocolate-toffee note like you'd find in a Heath Bar. A slight bit of fruit and bitterness in the finish. I liked this one a lot.

Light to medium body with fairly high carbonation keeps it crisp and refreshing.

Low alcohol, good flavor, and really easy to drink. A very nice brown ale.

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.18/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

the color in my crystal beer mug is a deep amber, mahagony. A brownish head builds up to half an inch ut dissipates immedeately.
The smell hints caramel and lots of malt.
The taste is remarkably impressing. Sweet caramel, brown sugar, lots of malt, but kept in check by the right amount of hops. Very simple but powerful. I loved this beer for its simplicity.
good mouthfeel and very drinkable. Would buy this anytime, great job.

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Photo of sraimondi
4.17/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally picked up a sixer of this yesterday. On my second of the day, while watching the Colts-Chargers game.

The appearance is good, dark ruby/brown with a nice long-lasting light tan head with some sheet lacing.

The smell is quite sweet malt with some roast/toasty notes and even a hint of smokiness.

Given the abundant sweet malt smell, I was worried that the taste might be cloying; thankfully it is not. Lotsa stuff going on; the malt predominates but there is definitely some choco character and there is even a bit of a hops kick at the very finish. Quite complex overall.

The mouthfeel is full and rounded, very, very good. The carbonation is just about perfect.

Overall a very drinkable beer. I had one with a ham & cheese sandwich on some artisan bread; it doesn't get much better than this. If you like browns, definitely pick this one up.

PS: The bottle says brewed in Rochester, NY; perhaps at Highfalls?? I also heard from an "industry type" that one of their beers is brewed at Mercury Brewing in MA; does anyone know if this is true? Thanks.


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Photo of cnjohn19
4.16/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours a dark, hazy brown...much foam at first, but it goes away...damn...but excellent lacing...

smells of roasted coffee beans...malts overpower...excellent

as expected from the smells, this beer tastes of roasted malts...like a better version of newcastle in my mind...slightly dry and crisp...

very intersting beer...at first taste i was ready to get rid of it...but it gets exponentially better with the second, third, fourth drink...

i read the beeradvocate review with this beer and agree...very interesting beer...will buy again and spend more time with it....i think hook & ladder are on to something with this one...

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Photo of dmamiano
4.16/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown pour. Huge, thick frthy head lokks like a chocolate milkshake from the top.
Smelss of dark malts, slightly roasted iwth a semi-sweet chocolate note.
Nice, medium mouthfeel with a full on maltiness.Brown malts, chocolate with a mild roastiness, Bitter finish.
Very nice beer. on of my favorite styles.

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Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown from Hook & Ladder Brewing Company (No. 2)
3.59 out of 5 based on 236 ratings.
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