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 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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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 DerekP
3.72/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Deep, dark brown; almost black. Creamy off-white head recedes to a modest, but worthy remainder.

Smell: Caramel; very malty. Smells like I could chew it. Hints toward milk chocolate.

Taste: Malty, but attenuated. Enough hops to add bitterness & balance the brew. Some alcohol also shows up to tango with the hops.

Mouthfeel: Wet & not interfered with by the body the smell suggests. Medium-heavy body. Pardon my redundancy: attenuated. Mild astringency from the alcohol or hops? Got me.

Drinkability: Wish I could walk into any bar & find this on tap. I'd drink several pints & sleep like a baby.

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Photo of suretolose
3.48/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice dark brown with an 2 inch head that lasts a long time.
The aroma is lighter than I expected but ok. A slight burnt aroma with hops and a hint of carmel.
Taste was pretty good, malt with carmel. Quite a bit of carbonation, almost suprising.
I thought it would be a little heavier in the mouth.
Pretty good, not great.

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Photo of diabecktic
3.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a very dark brown beer with a hint of red which is visible when it's held up to the light. I got ~1 finger of tan/light brown head upon pouring. A thin rim remained throughout the course of the tasting, but I rate both retention and lacing as average.

There isn't too much complexity in the nose. For the most part, you can smell a sweet, roasted malt which has hints of banana, caramel, and coffee. It's a bit of a smoky aroma which lacks spice notes. I find it appealing, but not excellent.

The beer tastes like much of what's in the nose. Malts are most definitely sugary-sweet and smoky; hop flavor becomes apparent towards the end of each sip. There's some nice balance, but there isn't much which sticks out and really grabs me.

With a medium-light body that isn't as sticky as it is sweet, I find this most appealing. There's a slight creaminess to this beer and a subtle dryness which reflects the bite of the hops.

Though the flavors aren't necessarily excellent, the overall mouthfeel compensates for this, yielding a beer which is most drinkable. It features an excellent balance of malt and hops and there aren't any characteristics which are outright offensive. This makes a great session beer.

This isn't a great brown ale, but it's a very good one. For something which is named after a type of fire which is supposed to catch you by surprise (backdraft), I was expecting a bit more from the intensity of the flavors. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both excellent, so that more than compensates for this shortcoming. I would definitely get this beer again even if it isn't an excellent one.

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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 LairdChisholm
3.65/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a deep, deep brown. When held up to light it has a tint of amber. A one finger off white head has decent retention. Very little lacing here.

S - Sweet malts with a touch of dark fruits. Maybe just a little bit of alcohol. Nothing too impressive here.

T - Sweet malts up front. There are hints of caramel, raisins, coco, and toffee. The only thing is that none of the flavors stick out. Maybe a little too balanced. But overall, not bad.

M - A good amount of carbonation with a mouthfeel that is a little on the lighter side. Very pleasent.

D - Goes down smooth and having another one could very easily be done.

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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 tone77
3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a very dark brown color with a small head. Smell is of malts, some toffee. Taste is good, malts, toffee, and nuts. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this makes for a quality brew.

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Photo of Soneast
3.85/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, dark brown color with some hints of amber. Develops a 2-finger thick, light brown colored head, with above average retention and some real nice creamy lace.

The aroma is malt-tastic. Sweet and creamy, just a hint of chocolate, some toffee-like aromas and a touch of biscuit.

The flavor, while similar, seems to be lacking the punch that aroma had. I was expecting more of a creamy mouthfeel and complex flavors but was sadly let down a bit. An overall malty sweetness is there, some biscuity notes and just a touch of chocolate toward the finish...the finish, is well balanced, just enough hop presence to prevent a cloying mess.

Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown is overall pretty tasty. Mouthfeel is lacking, but the flavors are right on, carbonation is complimentary. Not stand out...but what brown ale is. I think they definitely nailed the style.

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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 Lunch
3.88/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from on-tap at Copper Canyon in Silver Spring, Maryland into a 16oz. pint glass that was frosted (why?) (04/10/10).

A: Pours a murky rusty brown capped with 1 finger of an off-white head.

S:Decent malty aroma with a slight roasted caramel character.

T: The flavor here is all malt. Some brown sugar and caramel accompany a slightly roasted malt.

M: Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation and a bit of creaminess.

D: Very easy to drink and not a bad beer to accompany a meal as it is quite mild.

Overall this was a decent brown ale that I would have no problem revisiting in the future.

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Photo of beergod1
3.59/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark/clear with a decent head, aroma I thought smelled like a cleaning solution? and first sip was a little metalic, or soapy, kinda hard to describe, it was a clean glass too. But, once it warmed up a touch, it was a whole new beer. Dark roasted malt, with what seems to be a spicy dark belgian. turned out to be a nice Brown....but wait for a warmer brew, maybe upper 40's.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.46/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Pours a nice ruby to brown color with a nice head that disappates rather quckly but leaves a good trail of lacing behind.
S- Nutty, a little earth, pretty sweet smelling. A normal brown smell but a little sweeter than most.
T- Taste follows the same direction smell in this case. a good bit of nuttiness (hazelnut, maybe some pecan) and a faint bit of chocolate. definitely on the sweet end. I think that i am mildly let down by the bottle advertising cascade hops. the hop presence really isn't there.
M- I would have to say its quite overcarbonated. carbonation dries this out too much.
D- Not a terrible brown by any means. It is certainly a good session brown ale if it strikes your fancy.
I wouldn't go too far out of my far this one. It's not bad at all, just nothing tremendously noteworthy. I have to give the company a nod for their charity concept. This is a more well crafted beer than their golden. Thumbs in the middle for me on this one.

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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.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.14/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice looking clear auburn body. Thin beige head. Spotty lace. Pretty weak aroma. Light brown malts and light roasted notes. Toffee based malt flavor gives the beer a nice base. A little roastiness and some light "candied" flavors give this beer a little depth. Unique and decent enough. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated.

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Photo of Portertime
3.6/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A brown ale is right up my alley but not as dark as I prefer. Poured an iced tea color with a fair head. Smell of faint caramel, nuttiness, and a slight hop pine. Taste is smooth but kind of one dimensional with a nutty sweetness on the tongue and a touch of hops in the back. Certainly a step up from their golden ale.

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Photo of therica
3.62/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A= dark mahogany, dense tan head, tons of lacing throughout slow consumption.

S= burnt chocolate, some hints of roasted dark malts, some liquor scents, light caramel. But after it set for about 15 minutes it had a nice floral bouquet.

T= very up-front dry, and burnt coffee, some caramel. Not much in the way of hops flavor unless the bitters are hidden behind the burnt taste. No liquor taste despite the scent. A bit more carbonation than I would prefer for a brown or darker beer.

M= somewhat astringent, my tongue's squeaking on my clean palate. A little bubble-gummy effect, not quite chewy.

D= well, I'm not blissfully impressed but this will be some decent stuff for the next few days in the absence of any porter's or stout's at our local beer store lately.

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Photo of zeff80
3.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a clear, brown color with ruby highlights. A small, tan head of foam emerged but left little lacing as it receded.

S - It smelled very nutty with earthy undertones. There was a mild malt nose, too.

T - Upon first sip, I got a good dose of hazelnut. It has a biscuity malt backbone with sweet caramel and toffee flavors.

M - It was relatively crisp and smooth. A light bodied brown ale that goes down easy.

D - A nice tasting brown ale. It certainly is worth a try. Brown ale isn't my favorite style but it is a good one for a session style and Hook & Ladder has a quality brown ale to fit the bill.

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Photo of jwhancher
3.88/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark amber, if not holding up your glass to a light you would easily see the brownish appearance. Very nice moderate off-white head that lingers awhile after the pour.

S: I get chocolate & dark malts as well as biscuit & toasty malt characters.

T: Chocolate malt quite evident with hints of toasty, biscuity & caramel malts. Nice dry finish.

M: Even balance between malts & hops. Medium-full body.

D: Nice drinkable beer.

I like this beer. Have only tried it a couple of times, but I could easily see myself revising my rating to boost it up a little. Would make a nice session beer.

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Photo of dbtoe
3.6/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a shaker pint
I got a 6 of these for Xmas. An average brown good but nothing that stands out to me.
Look is a nice dark brown and I got a pretty creamy head with a strong pour.
Smell is mainly roasted malt and maybe a hint of some grassy hops.
Taste is fairly mild for such a dark colored brown. Some roasted malts and mild nut flavor with a little bit of hops to finish.
Feel has good amount of carbonation. Fairly thin bodied.
Drink a very drinkable beer. A good beer if you want to have more than a few.

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Photo of katan
3.23/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into pint

A - Pours a very dark brown color, almost black. Pours a light amount of carbonation, sitting at a film. Regardless of its opaque nature, appears clear and filtered. Carbonation is light.

S - Smoky, roasted malt flavors. Almost stout like in its roasted, burnt nature. That scent overwhelms. Some yeast barely sneaks through.

T - Starts off with a fairly grainy, biting first flavor. Some of those roasted notes come through. Not swee,t not hoppy. Mid-stream does get more bitter, but the beer is certainly dominated by a yeast breadiness. Finishes with a bit of a sour acidic note - could be oxidized. Overall very dry.

M - Carbonation owns this mouthfeel - the beer itself feels almost empty. Leaves behind a dry sense.

D - Low to easy drinking ABV. The flavors are just a bit edgy for me to session. A hair filling. The carbonation bite is bit unpleasant at times.

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Photo of happygnome
3.59/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: pours a dark brown color with about a half inch of tan head that disappears quickly leaving a good bit of sticky lacing around the edge of the glass as well as atop the beer
s: sweet caramel, nutty roasted chocolate malts
t: sweet caramel and chocolate malts initially followed by a hint of hop bitterness to balance
m: light bodied beer with good carbonation

overall, this is a decent brew i enjoyed a lot

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Photo of thekanna
3.98/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a nice dark brown with a thick, frothy tan head and sticky lacing.

S: Saccharine and cloying smell, with roasted malts that betray a certain woodiness.

T: Molasses-like roasted malts with a nice, cloying, sticky sweetness. Slightly bitter finish brings out some nutmeg and spices.

M: I expected a beer with a strongly sweet and sticky aroma/taste to be extremely heavy, but this actually went down pretty light.

D: Delicious English Brown that's oh-so-drinkable. I have to compliment Hook & Ladder on how easy this goes down.

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