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

184 Reviews
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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Reviews: 184 | Ratings: 236
Photo of tempest
2.08/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Man, what's up with these beers? I've tried all three and they reek of minerals and phenols. It's like the brewing water is all out of whack. The flavor has a bitter chocolate flavor and a dry finish, but the medicinal phenol taste throws everything off. It seems like there might be a decent brown ale hidden under the massive phenols.

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Photo of Jbino34
2.39/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I must say, I am not the least bit impressed with this beer; here's why:

It pours a decent clean brown with reddish browns hues.. actually kinda nice. The head falls quickly but leaves nice lacing along the glass... Thats about all I could as "positive" about this beer.

Smell is week. It smells like bud "dark". Nothing special, not even averagely decent. The bottle mentions cascade hops and specialty malts... I not feelin it.

Taste... are they all this way. Did QC miss this one? my bottle tastes infected... There is a meaty aftertaste, kinda gross if you ask me.

Mouthfeel is weak. Yes it is an "american brown", the roasted specialty malts should smooth it out some and give it a bit more body... It fits with most in the style.. it is average.

The mouthfeel makes it drinkable i guess. I will go ahead and say my bottle was infected (it isn't old Jan 31, stamped on the bottle).

At this point i wouldnt recommend it... Maybe I'll try another. I hate to knock down a local, but this is pretty bad.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
2.41/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark ruddy mahogany brown hue with a light beige head that forms thick and dwindles slowly. Chunks of scattered lacing are left clinging to the sides of my glass. Aroma a roasted caramel accent about it with light herbal hops, with a nutty finish to it all. Flavors are a muddled watery mess of roasted malt and weird chocolate caramel coated fruit, no real hops the finish tastes like muddy cocoa. Mouthfeel is watery and pretty thin for a brown, but finishes with the cloying residual sugar muddled mess I tried to describe in the flavor. I'm guessing this is a contract brew by High Falls but I'm not sure. Drinkability overall is pretty weak not something I will ever look for again.

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Photo of Arithmeticus
2.44/5  rDev -32%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured chilled in ale glass.

A: thin head, little carbonation, no lacing
S: malty, whiffs of caramel
T: the brown ale character is pretty classic, with all the standard tropes (caramel, nut, semisweet profile), but I found it quite thin; that is, a good flavor, but not flavorful
M: watery; not lively

Perhaps I got a bad batch; it seemed to work better in their mixed offering.

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Photo of budgood1
2.45/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

pours out a nearly opaque brown colour with crimson edges. very little head and little lace. subdued aroma...some cocoa notes can be detected. the flavour is equally uninspiring...weak malt flavours, strained hop notes, a watery mouthfeel and light body make for a ho-hum experience. at least there is little of the diacetyl that plagued the other offerings from H&L. drinkability has some seesion aspects to it.

overall i'm glad to get through this sampler pack. although the sale of this beer provides some funding to a local burn foundation, it doesn't make the beer any better.

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Photo of Gyle41386
2.46/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a nonic.

Pours a deep brown color with three fingers of luscious foam. Head retains well, and leaves behind plenty of lacing.

Aroma is sort of weak. Some chocolate, some vanilla, some caramel. No hop aroma.

Very light flavor. Watery. The chocolate is just about the only noticeable flavor, and even that's watery. I'm not impressed. Good looking beer, but it's all downhill after that. Hopefully Ember Amber fares better.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
2.56/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle into pint glass. Light brown in color. Alittle lace is found on the glass. Small malty aroma. Taste is watery caramel, toffee and then nothing. Watery feel, brown sugar, little else. Sessionable, if you like watery, barely carbonated beer.

 252 characters

Photo of dedrinker
2.7/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

deep copper/ brown color with a thin off-white head. Aroma of light caramel and nuts - very light. The taste was some slightly roasty malts, a little more caramel, and a somewhat distracting sour/ acidic note. Perhaps it was the soapy taste from their pale ale that in this instance was masked somewhat by darker malts, but I'm not sure. Medium body and I am sure that I did not care for this beer, and did not finish it.

 421 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.73/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pecan shell brown that becomes dark bronze-dark orange when the pint glass is backlit with indirect sunshine. The crown is a scant two fingers of oatmeal colored foam that is creamy enough to look good and tacky enough to leave a decent amount of lace. No complaints so far.

The nose is too weak. Brown ale would have been my first guess, but there really isn't much to go on. A whiff of cocoa and a miniscule amount of vanilla is about it. It's also impossible to appreciate the Cascade hops that are supposed to be present.

Unfortunately, Backdraft Brown is just as wimpy on the palate. It almost makes me think the brewers are aiming for a light version of the style. If not, then they need to add a whole lot more malty guts to pull this brew up to code. Are ingredients that expensive?

This American brown ale really does taste like a garden variety version cut with distilled water. No lie. My first impression of an average taste score was overly optimistic. Other than watery cocoa and a faint bitterness, there isn't anything to describe. Ummm... Cascade hops? More like Cascade hop.

The mouthfeel feels slightly more full than water as the beer warms. Again, comparisons to a light lager would not be out of line. In addition, the carbonation feels lousy because it's both harsh and short-lived. A low point for sure.

Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown not only didn't set my world ablaze, it left me cold. I think it's great when breweries give a portion of their proceeds to such worthy causes as local fire and rescue teams. It would be even better if they would maximize those charitable contributions by brewing beer that people want to buy a second time.

 1,670 characters

Photo of TheDeuce
2.8/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown..on tap in Philly, PA

Appearance-deep brown with black streaks, tan foamy head.

Smell-sweet and malty, a little bit of coffee and other candy sweetness in the aroma.

Taste/Mouthfeel-underwhelming, malty and sweet, body could be fuller, a little watery, not necessarily unenjoyable but nothing too great.

Drinkable-acceptable brown ale.

Overall-nothing about this beer really wowed me, an ok beer but not great. Disappointed.

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Photo of samie85
2.81/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a dark brown with a quickly dissipating tan head.

S- Smells of chocolate and caramel malt.

T-Tastes pretty roasty, and nutty. Finishes dry.

M- Pretty thin body. Carbonation is a little much for me on this one.

D- Goes down pretty easy but I'm not a fan of the roastiness or thin body of this Brown.

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Photo of BehindtheFinBrew
2.85/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle to Imperial Pint
No freshness date

A: Pours an opaque deep ruby brown with a 2.5 finger tan head that faded quickly to a crown of lace. Some spot lace was present in the early part of the session.

S: Roasted wood and malt dominate the nose. There was an off sweetness that I don't think was intended and may have been the verge of oxidation.

T: Chocolate and toffee with roasted malt dominate the flavor. There is a cloying sweetness over time. The beer advertises Cascade on the label but its not apparent in the taste. Very unbalanced between the roasted and sweet flavors with little to no hop character.

M: Medium bodied and thin but too much carbonation as it became like drinking soda.

D: A light version of the style but overpowering on the flavor from the lack of balance. Could be a long session beer given the low ABV but not for me.

Overall, I thought this beer was average for an English Brown Ale. The unbalanced flavor and overcarbonation make it a tough one to drink.

 1,001 characters

Photo of fosterific
2.89/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep to medium reddish brown color with 2 fingers of tan head.
The rich flavor that quickly diminishes was far more than I expected from the subtle smell, which was a nice surprise.
The mouthfeel was a little watery, but not terrible for a brown ale.
I was not to impressed overall, so I will not go out looking for this beer in the future.

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Photo of barnzy78
2.91/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured brown with some ruby red tints when held to the light. Average tan head that dissipates quickly. Aromas were slightly malty & sweet, but rather faint. Mouth-feel was thin, but average for the style. Flavors were of mild caramel and toasted malts with hints of dry grass. Little hop character, although balance seems ok as far as drinkability goes. This one didn't do much for me - it was drinkable and not at all bad, but it's nothing I could recommend as a good brown ale.

 480 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
3/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber hue, flirting with brown, but when backlit is ruby red. The aroma is strictly caramel with a touch of sweetness. The flavor is also packed with caramel with a dash of buttery toast. It light in body and pretty bland overall. More representative of an English brown having little bitterness, light on hops, and just not enough depth for me.

 358 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.01/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Picked up a six pack from Paradise bar on my vacation to Galena,IL. First time I've ever seen this beer.

Pours a nice, light beige head of over two fingers width. Great sasparilla brown with clear garnet highlights. Good, sticky lacing. Thearoma has good roasted and even faintly smoked malts. Then some very subtle coffee and shitty chocolate notes that would come from an American advent calendar. The taste is pretty bland for any brown ale. Light roasted malts, maybe a touch of coffee grounds. Very watery. The hops are the only flavor that lingers mixed with some burnt malt flavors. Would be sessionable if it had more flavor.

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Photo of pittvkyle7
3.01/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Deep brown with a hint of red on the edges. Big off white head that fades to a ring.

S- roasted malts and cascade aroma

T- a bold malt taste with roasted and nutty flavors. The use of cascades here seem odd to me and the hop taste just tasted wrong for the style.

M- Good mouthfeel, meadium light body.

D- Easy to drink and not very impressive over all. To me it tasted like a old boston lager with cascade hops.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.02/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The third beer out of a four beer brown ale tasting. This one was last place.
The beer pours a medium brownish color, slightly hazy. Head is very small, and what forms on the pours dies after a couple sips.
Aroma is malty, with a very mild roasty character. No hops. Slight notes of toffee and chocolate.
Flavor is malty, with some toffee to it. Roastiness is a little underdone, so this beer comes off a bit too much like a pale ale. The balance is nice, with only light hopping and mild estery flavors, but boring and a little too plain. Body is medium, with rather high carbonation. Not terrible, but not up to par with the others in the tasting.

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Photo of jwc215
3.03/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours shiny brown with a very thin off-white head that becomes a patch.

The smell is of burnt toast, some brown sugar, husk.

The taste is of caramel, burnt toast - not quite ashy, but close. There's a bit of brown sugar, a hint of nuts, a touch of sour and some non-descript hop touch. Slightly metallic as it progresses. It says "Cascade" - could have fooled me.

Light-bodied and on the fizzy side with a lingering burnt flavor.

Despite its "burnt"character and other small detractors, there is something of a drinkability - maybe its general mildness. Overall, a lackluster brown.

 587 characters

Photo of confer
3.03/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- Dark brown with a one finger tan head.

S- Malty and a little smokey

T- The biggest taste is the smokiness although it is not overpowering. No hoppiness at all.

M- medium

D- Not a great beer, but nothing terribly wrong with it either. I would not search for this beer.

 275 characters

Photo of JamesS
3.05/5  rDev -15%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice dark brown, but with no head or lacing to speak of. Nice scent, hints of malt, but no deep earthy aroma or real malt/hop characteristics. Nice taste, malty, very little hint of the citrus hop presence they promised on the label with Cascalde hops; not the deep earthy ent draught I like as a brown ale. Goes down nice and smooth with a tiny sweet finish. Not the best brown ale, although I would never turn one down, either.

 437 characters

Photo of Pleepleus
3.05/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is the second one from the 12 pack sampler for me. Pours from 12 oz. bottle a clear brown with chestnut hues and a creamy foam inch and a half head that reduces to a minimal sheen and clinging lace. It looks Marvelous! Smell is caramel and sweet malts but mild. Tastes a bit stronger than smell led me to expect, same roasted malty caramel flavor with some nuttiness and a sweet finish. Drinks smooth with a medium body clean and crisp with almost no aftertaste. I could definately have a few of these.
If nothing else Hook and Ladder #2 makes a very impressive looking beer.

 580 characters

Photo of hdf561
3.06/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had in bottle at Regional Food and Drink August 21 2011 in Washington DC.

Ill will be the first to admit, Im not typically a darker beer fan, but when you go to place like RFD you want to make it worth your while and this is one of the only Hook and Ladder Beers I have not tried.

Had to tell appearance cause it was in a bottle so I rated it slightly above average, and to be honest appearance means very littel to me anyway when rating a beer.

The smell was not appealing.

The taste it was initally a little harsh, but mellowed out throughout the drink, it did not have a very strong initial aftertaste, but it was a beer a tasted on my tounge the rest of the night, on my Metro and car ride back home.

Overall this is an above average beer, that is worth a try. Again Im not much on beers like this but it was still good, and it supports firefighters which since I am one is always awesome.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.06/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark Brown color, small head. A medium bodied brown ale. Very malty and slightly sweet. Slight hop bitterness. Nicely balanced. Good flavor, nutty. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is nutty and slightly bitter, Nice Nut brown ale.

 265 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.08/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a pint glass. Color is a moderately-dark brown with a tan head that persists for a bit before falling. Nose is quite plain with a bit of caramel and bread. The taste is bready with some light sweetness. Decent body with normal carbonation levels. Really just don't have too much to say about this one.

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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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