Farmer Brown Ale | Great River Brewery

very good
25 Reviews
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Farmer Brown AleFarmer Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Great River Brewery
Iowa, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This nut brown ale is mildly hopped to allow dark crystal, chocolate, and biscuit malt to dominate the flavor of this malt brew. A robust, rich, and nutty ale dominated by true malt flavor.

Added by beerdown77 on 06-19-2011

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Reviews: 25 | Ratings: 91
Photo of Suds
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It seems like there was a time when every microbrewery made a worthy brown ale. Lately, it seems like a neglected style. So, it's is nice to see a solid, accessible, and enjoyable example. From a tall can, this brew is deep brown with a cream colored head. The aroma is of roasted malt...backed by fruit. I get toasted wood, dark berries, malt, but limited hop scents. The taste is balanced. It has a finish that is punctuated with malt and a little bitterness. Enjoyable, and I wish that more breweries embraced this style again.

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Photo of Tone
3.5/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black color. 1/4 inch head of an off-tan color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of sweet malt, roasted malt, slight piney hops, slight yeast, and a hint of alcohol. Fits the style of an American Brown Ale. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, roasted malt, slight piney hops, slight yeast, and a hint of alcohol. Overall, average brown that is a decent offering.

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Photo of tone77
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16 oz. can. Has a very dark brown color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is nutty, malty, chocolate. Taste is malts, chocolate, smoke, some nuts, a touch of sweetness,tasty. Feels medium/full bodied in the mouth and overall is a good quality beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

CANQuest review # 999 coming right up! CANned beers have become my life's work and I thank Another6Pack for including this in a mixed box of CANs. I have had a lot of Great River's CANs over the years and I always look forward to Crack!ing open a new one.

From the CAN: "Farmer Brown Ale"; "Chocolately Nummiliciousness"; "Smooth-Rich-Malty-Nutty"; "Legendary Craft Brews Made in the Quad Cities"; "These days, people are more [CAN]cerned about the food and drink they are [CAN]suming, what's in it and what the origins might be. For our Farmer Brown Ale, we use honest, wholesome ingredients like 2-row barley and dark crystal, chocolate and biscuit malt from people we know and trust. The rsult is robust, rich and nutty brown ale dominated by a complex malt flavor."

The Crack! was nice a loud and reveled yet another brimful craft CAN! Have I been getting cheated all of these years? I am just not used to seeing that much liquid in a CAN before the recent craft CAN phenomenon. I employed an inverted Glug and the trick is knowing when to take your foot off of the gas. I got a great pseudo-cascade from the pour, resulting in three-plus fingers of dense, light-tan head with excellent retention. Color was a deep, dark-brown (SRM = 44), allowing zero light penetration. Nose was NOT chocolate - this was fudge! Holy macaroni, Batman! The reaper's scythe may be headed in my direction following this gem. Mouthfeel was full and viscous and the taste was very much dark chocolate with a slight tang. Definitely fudgy with smoke, charcoal and dried, dark fruits in the mix, even a little nuttiness. Wow! Finish was semi-sweet, which is a good thing for me since I usually eschew sweets, especially beers. Once more, the Iowans have found and hit the mark.

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Photo of pmcadamis
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A - Dark brown with a small brown head and a lot of lace. Almost looks like a's that dark.

S - Milk chocolate, charcoal, a hint of campfire.

T - Woody and smoky for the style. Almost like a smoked porter's little brother. A little on the sweet side with some thin and reedy hops off in the distance.

M - Medium bodied due to what seems like a high sugar content. A little cloying at the finish.

O - Smokiness is odd for the style, but really interesting on the nose. Finishes thin and dextriny.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16oz can, 7%abv, pours dark brown with a creamy, beige head, nice retention. Malt forward nose with bread crust, chocolate, biscuit, a little musty. Tastes are bready malt, biscuit malt, rich chocolate, molasses/brown sugar, earthy hop balances nicely. Super creamy mouth-feel ,hops linger a bit on the finish. Overall, good American brown ale, but I probably wouldn't seek it out in the future.

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Photo of tvv375ia
4.07/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured from 16oz can into pint glass

A-very dark brown with some mahogany edges, about 1 finger of head that fades to a partial ring

S-some dark fruit, molasses, brown sugar. A lot more than I was expecting

T-like the smell there is much more complexity than I had anticipated, the aromas follow through in the taste dark fruits like figs and maybe some raisins and dried plums and some sweet malt brown sugar and molasses

M-medium body and carbonation sweet but good clean finish

O-impressive brown ale, much better than I was expecting

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Photo of bnes09
4.52/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown, near black and opaque appearance. Light tan head calms to a serene ring around the glass. Some lacing.

Sweet, dark fruit aromas, raisins primarily, and roasted almonds. Complex and inviting.

Malt flavor is thick and dense with toasty biscuit tones. Dark fruit sweetness of raisins, plums and black cherries creeps in. Roasted coffee bitterness balanced by molasses sweetness. Crisp, herbal, leafy hop bitterness provides the perfect balance.

Delicate medium body with velvety smoothness from beginning to end. Lowish level of carbonation with small bubbles is perfect to allow the drying, grain-like textures to caress the palate.

Exceptional beer overall. Profound complexity with an excellent balance. Drinkability is second to none. More like a porter than a brown ale but I don't care what you call, it's absolutely delicious!

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

16 oz. can, purchased at John's Grocery (Iowa City) a couple weeks ago. Poured to a pint glass.

7.0% Alc/Vol
22 IBUs

Nowhere on the label does it say "Organic" specifically, although the side write-up mentions "wholesome ingredients...from people we know and trust". Around the rim of the can are chains of words: "Smooth - Rich - Malty - Nutty" and the phrase "Chocolatey Nummiliciousness"

A: VERY dark for a brown ale, a deep chocolate that could be mistaken for a porter or stout quite easily. Terrific head, a sturdy 1.5 fingers of mocha-colored foam. Good lace, holding in sticky, draping bands.

S: Husky maltiness, not quite 'burnt' but definitely 'singed'. The nose is dark cocoa and spent grounds and a little brown sugar. Decent strength.

T: True to the label this one is quite chocolate-filled, at first a bit sweeter/fudgier then turning to a darker/drier bitterness. When the 'cocoa' begins to evolve, a little more caramel/toffee creeps in; lasting flavors are bitter coffee roast, mostly. A slight 'tinniness' in the end, too... something I often find in brown ales.

M: Mellow feel, understated carbonation (though my no means lifeless) - but a ticker and chewier body. A slight grainy/starchy film emulates a dusting of cocoa. Flavor seems to last forever.

O: Had I not had BA at my fingertips, I likely would have passed this one by; as is, I bought one and now wish I'd grabbed a couple more. Very good stuff - impressive depth of flavor and feel make for a 'memorable' brown ale... something I can't say happens very often. Good job, Great River!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great River Farmer Brown Ale, Great River Brewery, Quad Cities, USA. AKA Davenport, Iowa.

rich brown, nearly black, with a thin cocoa toned ring of foam, soon gone.

Aroma: ah, lovely stuff: cocoa, nuts, rich malt, little hints of coffee and toffee, sweet and malty.

taste: More of the same, now in the mouth. A little bit of bitterness bumps up into the sweet malt. The ballet continues, with sweet flavors of mocha and caramel in command. Full-bodied, long, malty finish. Rich and complex, satisfying all the way through.

What do they say? "These days, people are more and more concerned about the food and drink they are consuming, what's in it and what the origins might be. For our Farmer Brown Ale, we use honest, wholesome ingredients like 2-row barley and dark crystal, chocolate and biscuit malt rom people we know and trust. The result is robust, rich and nutty brown ale dominated by a complex malty flavor."

Well put. But, does anyone really say "wholesome" anymore?

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Photo of jjanega08
4.52/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

My can says nothing about being Organic... Rather than start a new beer I'm going to assume this is the same beer.

No freshness dating.

A= Pours a deep brown color with a thick two fingers of brown head on it that holds some decent retention at a half finger high and leaves some spotty lacing.

S= Smells really caramely. Lots of caramel and toffee in the nose. Almost smells like one of those sticky toffee puddings. Not much as far as hops or even roasty malt in it is noticed.

T= The taste has a more roast flavor. There is a definite roast character that I noticed first as well as the caramel and toffee sweetness in there making for a little extra complexity. The finish adds yet another layer with a little hop bitterness to finish.

M= The mouth is just about right for a brown... which in my opinion is a little too thin.

O= This is a really good beer! Brown ales are a style that bores me. I rarely find one I like. This one is nice though. It has complexity as well as being super easy drinking. I'll likely be drinking more of this, this upcoming fall.

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Photo of Beerlover
4.71/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours out of can very THICK, with a 2 inch khaki colored creamy head.Dark brown in color,almost black. Smells very heavily of roasted malts and a hint of bittersweet chocolate. Taste is delicious to say the least but very rich and complex, no simplicity here. This beer is very heavey and creamy in body almost like a stout, very unlike your average brown. Not a beer you could easily drink more than one or two of, unless you are used to thick, delicious, rich, gloriousness but the 7% alchohol volume is completly masked which makes it somewhat dangerous! This is my new favorite brown!

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Photo of yamar68
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think this is the right beer? Doesn't say "organic" anywhere and the ABV listed is 7%. Poured from 16oz can to imperial pint glass:

Pours a dark inky brown with a medium, thick brown head - great lacing and low retention.

Nice, soft chocolatey malt presence. Nice and fresh.

Taste is all in order but a bit weak... tons of potential but it just seems dull. I'm doubtful that the ABV is as advertised.

I'll certainly revisit this one after they've got a better rhythm for it.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

reviewed from notes taken 6/23/12.

tallbou can poured into glass stein.

Appearance: lite black bodied beer with a dark brown hue towards the side of the beer stein. 2 fingers of head that leave a heavy lace.

Smell: Its roasty and nutty with a hint of sweetness. You get a hint of the oats also.

Taste: nice balance of roasty and nutty malt flavors. You get the oaty flavor from the oatmeal used to brew the beer. The beer finishes with just a mellow bitter bite from the hops. This beer is all about a nice robust brown ale with really great balance as all the flavors dont overpower each other.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. This beer drinks like it 5% no alchol is sensed. Smooth, slightly creamy, and carbonation is done right.

EDIT- beer advocate lists the ABV as 6.2% when it is written as 7% ABV on the can.

Overall: havent been impressed by a brown ale in a long time, but this beer does! At 7.99 for a 4pk of tall boys; I will be revisting this beer often throughout the entire year. Not only because its a great price point, but also because its a damn tasty brown ale. It would probably pair nicely with a burger right off the grill on a hot summer day. I love Great River Brewery and I am lucky to have them as a solid local beer option!

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Photo of augustgarage
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a pint can into a Central Waters pint glass.

Nearly opaque seal brown liquid with faint ruby highlights is topped by an active desert sand creamy cap. Soapy lacing, good retention.

Roast malt, chocolate, hazlenut, and toast in the nose - smooth and inviting.

Good depth of malt on the palate with layers of malt suggesting light roast coffee, cocoa nibs, and bread crust. Mild clean earthy bitterness adds interest. Finishes with a tangy gentle astringency and a subtle nuttiness.

Creamy, medium-bodied, very well carbonated, and roast-y but not quite puckering. Fairly warming for the ABV.

A decent American brown - balanced and tasty.

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Photo of dbossman
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark, dark brown; nearly black with a large brown foamy head; lacing is good

S: Lots of rich roasted malts: chocolate and coffee especially; some subtle sweet aromas underneath like brown sugar and molasses but the roasted malts dominate

T: Rich roasted malts again especially chocolate and a bit of coffee; some bitterness on the front end that's eventually balanced by the sweet malty breadiness

F: Creamy medium body with good texture overall

O: A very nice roasty and malty brown ale; another solid offering from Great River

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Photo of morimech
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No mention of "Organic" on the can. Not that I care. Also the can lists 7% ABV and 22 IBUs. Pours a dark brown color with a massive tan head that quickly settled to a thick cap. Lacing is not sticky to the glass very well.

Big malty aroma. Rich with caramel and toffee. Hints of chocolate, tree nuts, and earthy/floral hops.

This is a big brown ale. I taste caramel, toffee, a touch of roast, nuts, and finishes with some floral, earthy notes. Brought the malty goodness a lot better than the stout I just had.

Bigger body than what typically is found in brown ales. A little overcarbonated but not much to complain about.

Great River beers are becoming regulars in my fridge. Farmer Brown will get plenty of action as well. I believe I paid $5.99 for this 4-pack of pint cans. A tremendous value when you consider Surly Bender is generally $3-$4 more for the same volume. Great River can really produce well-crafted, affordable beers.

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Photo of rundocrun
4.19/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Body is very dark brown with only slight translucent highlights. A finger of dark tan head forms and dissipates after several minutes. No lacing.

S - Light coffee and toasted bread aroma are most noticeable. Mild hints of cocoa and some faint herbal hop play around in the background. In one word, this beer smells "toasty".

T - Sweet toasted malt and caramel up front. A bit more of the bitter coffee and burnt grains come in through the middle. A mild tanginess hits the sides of the tongue toward the finish. Finishing flavors of cocoa, mild fruity esters and more toasted malt. Overall, very smooth flavors that don't try to one-up each other.

M - Quite a smooth ale. The burnt grains used in the grist lend just enough of an edge to make things interesting, but the generous use of rich, toasted malts makes this quite a smooth-drinking ale.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark cola brown with a full, creamy, sticky, slightly chewy looking, off-white colored head. Nice retention leaving a nice, sticky lace.

S - Plenty of cocoa and nuttiness. Earthy, caramel sweetness. Dark, bittersweet chocolate. A bit of a roasted grain aroma, but not much.

T - Loads of earthy cocoa and nutty flavors. Some caramel and dark chocolate malt with just a hint of toasted/charred malt. Slight bitterness toward the finish. Hints of coffee and maybe vainilla making this lean a bit more toward a porter.

M - Medium to light body. Average or a bit below carbonation. A touch on the thin side and fairly drying on the finish.

D - Nice combination of flavors and fairly balanced. Pretty easy to drink although I don't know if I'd necessarily grab another right away.

Notes: Interesting beer as it definitely leans toward a porter. Nice mix of flavors. Goes down pretty easy although it doesn't inspire me to grab another. Definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of BeerNutz324
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16oz can into an oversized wine glass

Ap- dark brown with a creamy tan head that has OK retention.

Ar- roasted malt, chocolate, caramel

T- really good flavor, chocolate, roasted malt, maybe a touch of molasses.

M- medium bodied, good carbonation

O- a really good brown ale, this is one of the best things to come out of Iowa since I-35. At $5.97 a 4 pack, you can't really go wrong with this stuff. Will be enjoying this one again.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz. can poured into a pint glass. Thanks to GraniteSkunk for this extra.

Appearance - Pours a deep brown with a khaki head. Not too big. I like pouring pint cans into British pint glasses because it leaves room for the head, but this one doesn't use all the extra space. No real lacing.

Smell - Nutty caramel and chocolate. Slight hop presence. Biscuity malts as a base, but the darker malts really stand out.

Taste - Solid nutty caramel and biscuit malt flavor. Light on the bready flavors and much more of an emphasis on the chocolate malts. Hop flavor that transforms to bitterness in the finish. Really nice flavor for a brown.

Mouthfeel - Light, but slick enough to keep the flavors around. I find myself gulping this down. Decent carb, but maybe a little bit lower than average.

Overall - Solid brown ale. I like it. Reminds me that there are plenty of not-so-extreme beers out there that taste great.

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Photo of bennetj17
3.94/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer has a rich brown color, but pours leaving an unimpressive thin foam that is barely a head. The aroma has a robust maltiness, very roasty with a nutty chocolate character. Not alot of hop balance detected, but it there is some nice depth overall.

The taste is less sweet than expected, it's almost like a dry porter with a smokey streak. The charred malt is quite intense and without much sweet balance it gets a bit one dimensional, making the rest of the experience a bit bland. Solid marks for the mouthfeel. Fine, prickly carbonation, with a smooth, moderately thick feel.

Overall a solid beer with alot of potential. Not exactly your typical brown ale, but I like that it's unique and they didn't just go for a boatload more hops to spice things up. Worth a try.

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Photo of TheQuietMan22
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Serving type: 16-ounce can. No freshness date. Booo.

Appearance: Straight pour into a nonic pint glass. The color is surprisingly dark, almost black. It is, I think, extremely dark brown. Tons of thick, tan head developed (do not pour it straight) and produced the same cascading effect as nitro stouts. However, there is no nitro widget in the can. It dissipated unevenly to leave a billowy, thick lacing and trails along the glass. After continuing to fill the glass as the head dissipated, it began to look like what I imagine a proper pint looks like in the UK.

Smell: Lots of roast for brown ale. (Is this their brown ale? Did Great River can their regular stout by mistake?) Coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel. There is also nice nuttiness to it. Very solid aroma.

Taste: The mouthfeel is superb; smooth and creamy but not overly thick. The flavor is much more in line with brown ale, but it is still tilting toward stout. It is dominated by malts β€” chocolate and caramel β€” and offers a nice, roasted coffee bitterness. The nuttiness is much more pronounced, but it does compete with the coffee.

Drinkability: Sol-id, sol-id. This is brown ale to the extreme β€” and I like it.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was served on-tap at Old Capitol Brew Works into a pint glass.

Appearance- Not really any head on this thing, just some beige film. This has a really dark body for a brown, completely opaque with some ruby highlights. There is no carbonation noticeable in the glass.

Smell- This has a bread malt and slight caramel malt note. There is just a little roast poking through.

Taste- Roasted malt pervades the palate. Some vanilla pops out mid-drink. There is also a sweet creamer quality to the drink near the finish. You have to let it warm or it is just too roasted and caustic on the tongue.

Mouth feel- It is not quite medium bodied. The beer could be much creamier, with the smooth factor diminished a little. Just okay.

Overall- This brown's quality comes out a lot better once it warms. Everything is kind of average, and the flavor profile could be much more refined. Need more of that bread malt and vanilla. I like the direction they were going, just did not follow through.

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Photo of beerdown77
3.35/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours almost black and seems a little under carbonated. The taste is slightly hollow, but drinkable. It is very dark and has a caramel smoky and slightly sweet flavor. I shared a growler of this and it just wears on you. It’s smokier and less sweet than most brown ales, but lacks in refinement.

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Farmer Brown Ale from Great River Brewery
3.9 out of 5 based on 91 ratings.
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