Gnarly Brown | MadTree Brewing

very good
30 Reviews
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Gnarly BrownGnarly Brown

Brewed by:
MadTree Brewing
Ohio, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Specialty malts bring intimations of brown sugar and vanilla which meld into the Gnarly's character. Roasted coffee malt flavors and residual sweetness dance in harmony, obscuring the line between brown ale and porter.

32 IBU

Added by meanmutt on 04-24-2013

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Reviews: 30 | Ratings: 209
Photo of ManapuaMan
4.03/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Growler filled five days prior. Nice earthy, malty aroma bursts forth from the glass. Pours an oak-colored brown with a thin head. Aroma of wood, malt, toasted grain and caramel. Taste is toffeee, light roast coffee, caramel, bitter hops and roasted malt. Nice body with an easy drinking profile. Bitter aftertaste with a dry finish. Great beer.

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Photo of brenlinn
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So sad this is being taken off the shelves. I stock up on this brown for when my friends come to visit, as it is their favorite brown ale. Wonderfully done. Bit more hops than a typical brown. Flavorful, beautiful color, smells great

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Photo of secondtooth
3.47/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours from the can a caramel amber, with a medium head of tan suds. Minimal lace.

Aroma: Nutty, caramel, malty, toffee. Fair enough.

Taste: Nutty sweet, with a touch of buttery toffee and a hint of citrus hops at the finish. A solid and very enjoyable brown ale, and a fairly stiff one at that (7%)!

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Photo of goldenbooter
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Easily my favorite brown ale. Dark brown color. Has more head than most browns but goes away quickly. Deep Malty smell. Great out of a can, but draft is superior.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Very dark brown color, dark but transparent, with a light tan head that fades, leaving huge lacing.

S - A strong hit of herbal and grassy hops, combining with a definite malty hit. Smoky dark malts show as it warms.

M - The hops lie in the back, as the big malty bread notes lay out with molasses, doughy wheat, but reasserts with a definite bitter bite in the close.

T - A light, pleasant feel, with just enough presence. Very well done.

O - A delicious, and pleasant brown, that uses snappy hop accents to augment the lovely malt range.

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Photo of TMWeddle
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

We just found this beer. We were looking for a good beer in cans and thought we'd give it a try. It has very interesting favors, feels light in the mouth. Hearty enough it will go with spicy foods.

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Photo of JakerLou
3.96/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown that is slightly translucent. One finger of light tan head. Dissipated quickly some lacing.

Smell is coffee, brown bread, fusel alcohol, nuttiness, caramel, and vanilla.

Taste is coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. There is a nice nuttiness in the finish and some earthy bitterness.

Mouth feel is smooth and creamy.

Overall a very nice take on a brown ale.

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Photo of jds16
3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours deep brownish red with a thick tan head that lasts. Nose is muted a bit, but typical nuttiness. Tastes of caramel, nuts, a little coffee. Just enough hops to cut the sweetness. Alcohol is extremely well hidden.Not mind blowing, but a very solid brown ale.

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Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12 oz can at the Dublin Irish Festival.
This is no ordinary brown ale. Bold and rich with a well hidden ABV. This applies to both the aroma and the flavor.
This malt bomb also has a relatively full and nicely smooth feel.

O: recommended!

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Photo of jp32
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Very good brown ale. Rich, brown color with nice head. Smells malty, sweet, and maybe a bit of alcohol. Taste is very, umm, "gnarly brown". I'm into it. And I especially love that it comes in cans so it can be taken on rafting trips or wherever you choose.

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Photo of madelfonatree
4.43/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Canned 6/10/2015 enjoyed 7/21/2015 in a pint glass.

Look - Light brown almost red body. Lighter tan very very fine bubbled head. Spotty lacing, no rings. It almost looks nitro.

Smell - Sweet, roasted malt. Faint citrus. Faint hops. Earth. Caramel.

Taste - I always say a a hoppy porter or stout is 1/4 IPA. Well, this is 1/5. Light hops. Caramel. Malt. Chocolate. Light coffee.

Feel - So creamy. Not too heavy. No alcohol or bitterness on tongue.

Overall - Up until this point I have gone for the rare MadTree beers. I've had the barrel aged version but not the regular version. I am trying not to be biased but this a really good beer.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.34/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The CANQuest (tm) is barreling along, currently focused on beers from the Queen City, thanks to a great trade earlier this year. I am listening to a couple of baseball games as I drink these beers. Ah, summertime!

From the CAN: "Gnarly By Nature. Gnarly By Choice. CAN You Dig It?"; "Specialty malts bring intimations of brown sugar and vanilla which meld into the Gnarly's character. Roasted coffe malt flavors and residual sweetness dance in harmony, obscuring the line between brown ale and porter."

That last just inspired me, but I'll come back to that idea. In the interim, nothing CAN happen until the Crack! occurs. I had a successful, loud Crack! and celebrated with an inverted Glug. This worked well, producing three fingers of fluffy, light-brown head with modest retention which left some nice lacing as it fell. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity and ruby highlights. Nose was rich with scents of coffee and chocolate. Mmmm. Mouthfeel was medium-to-full, approaching, but not achieving, creaminess. The flavor was more chocolate than coffee, although there was also some of that. Brown sugar? Maybe, although I would not necessarily have said that. Vanilla? CAN't prove it by me. Finish straddled the line between semi-sweet and semi-dry. It was on the extreme finish that I began to pick up notes of vanilla. Allow me to be frank. I am self-avowed hophead, mainly because I eschew sweets. For that reason, Browns and Porters tend to get glossed over by me, but I really liked this one. Warming, I tasted freshly-baked brownies! Oh, my.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is a great brown ale. Nice malty somewhat leafy nose. Great flavor profile. The flavor lingers and evolves long after I put the glass down. Goes from richly malty with a mild tang and then leaves a dried leaf tone with strong wood. Really a superb beer. One of my all-time favorite brown ales. Wish I had grabbed more.

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Photo of Beer_Loving_Brandon
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I live in Mississippi, but I am from Ohio. A guy I work with brought some back from a visit to Ohio and brought me a few of the Madtree beers.

I drank it out of the can so I can't really comment much on the "look" other than the art on the can. To that end, I like it.

The smell is very suppressed in relation to the taste. You smell a beer, but the smell doesn't really indicate the type. I found that to be a bit peculiar, but not a reason to fault the beer.

The taste is quite enjoyable. Notes a coffee and chocolate mixed with some hoppines. As one reviewer mentioned, there is a distinct aftertaste that sticks around. It doesn't compliment the beer and I think further refinement is needed to elevate the beer to at least a quasi-elite status.

With that being said, I would buy this if it were available in my area.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.04/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 ounce can, canned on 11/10/2014. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours a clear brown color with some reddish tints to it. Head retention is good, and there's a lot of lacing. The brew smells like brown sugar, nuts, vanilla and some coffee. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some toasted malt and a light bitter hoppiness noticeable. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. I think this is a good brown ale, I wouldn't mind buying this again. Nice to see the MadTree cans finally come to Columbus! $9.99 a 6-pack.

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Photo of chrismattlin
4.92/5  rDev +21.5%

This is one bad-ass beer! I always have a few on hand, cold and ready to go; it's my go-to.

The best thing about it? Uniqueness.

This beer blurs the lines between Brown Ale, Porter, and Black IPA.
This beer blurs the lines between bitter and sweet. A great balance.

When you drink it, your palate goes for a ride. First, the Cascade and Chinook hops find their way to your sensory, then, all of a sudden, the malts steal the show! 2-Row, Victory, Extra Special Brown, Pale Chocolate, Roasted Barley... wow. A bit of a fuller mouthfeel than most "brown ales", and a hoppy, coffee finish have you thinking it may almost be a Porter. But, wait, at first it tasted like a Black IPA... nah, these malts are dancing perfectly together... that's definitely one gnarly brown ale- a fitting name for a beer, eh?

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Photo of barczar
3.97/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy deep brown with amber highlights and a frothy tan head that slowly dissipates, leaving modest lacing.

Citrusy hops meet nutty, deeply toasted malt, toffee, and a hint of pine in the aroma. Malt dominates, but the citrus presence is substantial.

Flavor reveals more nutty, toasted malt dominance, but adds in chocolate toward the finish. Underpinnings of grapefruit form an interesting contrast. The finish is fairly bitter. Floral notes emerge in the aftertaste.

Body and carbonation are moderate, with light alcohol warmth at the finish.

Didn't expect the chocolate notes. Slightly malt dominant, with anintriguing hop addition. Not overly bitter, thanks to the chocolate adding a perception of sweetness.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 FL. OZ. can
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It pours brown with amber highlights. It is capped with an inch of tan head that quickly dissipates.

S - It has a great nutty, earthy chocolate aroma. It is very aromatic.

T - It has a robust, nutty taste to start. Then some milk chocolate flavor comes in for the finish.

M - Medium leaning towards full.

O - This is a great brown ale. The flavors and aromas are fantastic. I have become a huge MadTree fan and cannot wait for it to enter the northern Ohio market.

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Photo of mothman
3.71/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a thick layer of creamy tan head. Color is a dark caramel brown. Leaves some lace.

Flavor profile: Sweet at first. Kind of like candy and syrup. Chocolate, cocoa, and vanilla. Some roasted notes with hints of coffee. Maybe some brown sugar.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth. Medium bodied. Ends a little dry and roasted.

Overall, a nice drinking brown. It tastes a little bigger than a regular brown ale. Very flavorful.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a perfect pint.

4.5 A: Deep amber brown color. Two and a half fingers of frothy/creamy tan head. Retention is good and lots of lacing is left.

3.75 S: Big toastiness in this right from the start. Dry nuttiness with hints of caramel and ash. Light earthy hoppiness. Quite nice.

3.75 T: Like the nose, this is on the drier side. Lots of nuttiness and toastiness. Dry cacao notes with slight caramel.

3.75 M: Lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Light creaminess and super smooth.

3.75 D: Pretty good well rounded brew.

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Photo of jlindros
3.85/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to crapturds (reddit) for this one, more great canned craft beer.

Pours an off-white creamy semi thick almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace, lots of nice frothy lacing, very dark molasses brown colored beer.

Nose nice toasty brown malts, plenty of caramel and nutty aromas, little toffee and biscuit, almost butterscotch candy and brittle but not super sweet candy like or syrupy, hint of a coffee. Faint touch of an earthy hop.

Taste starts with more toasty brown malts, plenty more caramel and toffee, a little nutty, a little chewy like malt almost, hint of coffee like roast. Hops come through more than I thought, quite bitter with an herbal earthy hop character that even gets a little mineral note. Finish is drier and very bitter, more earthy herbal like hops, little mineral and menthol like notes with hint of booze.

Mouth is med bod, little creamy and chewy, nice fluffy carb, hint of booze.

Overall not bad, I really like the malts, but the hops on the end and finish are a little much for what I was expecting for the delicious malt flavors. Still pretty tasty though.

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Photo of metter98
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On-tap at Parkers Blue Ash Tavern, Cincinnati, OH

A: The beer is clear very dark amber in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high thin head covering the surface that died down, consistently leaving a thin head and lots of lacy rings of bubbles down the sides of the glass.
S: Moderate to strong aromas of nutty malts are present in the nose.
T: Much like the smell, the taste is dominated by flavors of nutty malts. Neither sweetness nor bitterness are perceptible.
M: It feels light-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a bold brown ale that delivers lots of nutty aromas and flavors. This would pair really well with a burger.

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Photo of crewfish
5/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of the best beers in Cincinnati. It is full flavored and has a beautiful dark color. This beer makes the perfect gift for an out of town friend. I recommended stopping by the brewery and filling up a growler to take home. Madtree has an exceptional selection. I celebrate this brewery's entire line-up.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.02/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

With a focus on malt and a not toward the dark, Mad Tree Brewing takes on an ale that's worthy of English entitlement. The beer not only pays homage to its British roots but hits the recipe with authority!

Its appearance is dark bown and carries an mirror-like sheen. Not convinced its simply clear and opaque, it is close. A creamy sandy-stained head floats the ale and trails with intricate Belgian-style lacing. With retention build for the duration, the ale is as handsome with its final sip and it was its first.

Bold aromas are balanced, masculine and refined. Malty chocolate and nuts build at the beginning but then a sweeter greater-than-caramel but not-quite-toffee character creates the allure that you can't quite put your finger on. Perhaps a pep of brown sugar to float, a woodish tone takes hold and gives a glimpse into the broad and earthy hop character to be tasted. Starchy and biscuity, the beer leans coffee but never roast but is always supported by a malted-milk presence.

Its taste is robust with a regal blend of bittersweet chocolate, walnuts, toast, and seared caramel. Its semi-sweet taste is like "Whoppers" candies as it unfolds on the tongue. As the beer crosses the middle palate, it drops its heady sweetness and builds into a dry toast finish and introduces the broadly bitter taste of hops with all its grassy and woody glory.

Creamy and malty-dry to start, there's ample dextrin-type richness for the beer to retain its structure through the session. Yet it prefers to retract as it nears finish for remarkably refreshing finish for such a lush upstart. Medium warmth and a dry toasty tone closes the beer's mouthfeel without ever completely giving up on its brown identity.

Its flawless recipe formulation and seemingly effortless execution gives this ale a classy taste, even if a few yearning English yeast complexities are waning. But if striving for American Brown status, I pep of citrusy hops could really sell its taste. If anything, the beer is simply on the fence of what it wants to be.

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Photo of patpbr
4.14/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark brown with a off-white two finger head.
S - Sweet and roasted with vanilla.
T - Malt and earthy. Roasted coffee and almost a porter flavor. Subtle bitter hops.
M - Light body and not to much carbonation.
O - A pretty good beer. Nice marriage of brown ale and porter. Used a can for my chili and really added to the flavor.

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Gnarly Brown from MadTree Brewing
4.05 out of 5 based on 209 ratings.
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