James E. Pepper 1776 American Brown Ale
Georgetown Trading Co.

James E. Pepper 1776 American Brown AleJames E. Pepper 1776 American Brown Ale
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American Brown Ale
Ranked #37
Ranked #5,251
4.06 | pDev: 9.11%
Georgetown Trading Co.
Kentucky, United States
James E. Pepper 1776 American Brown AleJames E. Pepper 1776 American Brown Ale
Notes: Like most whiskey aficionados, we also love a great beer. And in particular we became very fond of barrel aged beers, which from time to time had been aged in our whiskey barrels! So, we decided to have some fun and make our own beer. We partnered with a great brewery (the Beltway Brewing Co. in Sterling, VA) and began "working" with their master brewer to create a unique recipe with a flavor profile that would develop best in barrels that previously held our award winning James E. Pepper 1776 Rye Whiskey. No more than 30 days after our whiskey barrels are dumped in Kentucky, they are at the brewery being filled with beer. This ensures that every batch gets a big, boozy Rye whiskey finish and notes of toffee, chocolate, oak & vanilla.
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Reviews: 48 | Ratings: 199 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Beginner2
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A wonderful ale.
Specifically, I wondered how many ABAs I'd Had that were stronger than this. Answer is: two of 47. Not surprisingly, they are both highly-rated (from Dogfish and Firestone.) These are 2nd Generation masters (grew-up in the 1990s) and were so accomplished that they were bought by larger companies (Boston and Duvel respectively.)

Specifically, Georgetown is recent and is not diversified outside of its two whiskey barrel renditions. Nor does it seem to have a taproom or website presence. But, they are accomplished because Georgetown and 1776 still has matched these two masters in quality.

1776 is one of those handful of beers I have a month that I feel privileged to drink. It pours a syrupy dark brown with an attractive espresso foam. Smells are chocolate, vanilla, bourbon. Tastes are a melange of this, plus just enough alcohol kick to tell me that this is a sipper. It is dessert, also; and one to be appreciated.

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Photo of mmilyko
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Agree with other reviews that it’s great to have a very well done barrel aged brown ale as opposed to another barrel aged stout (not that there’s anything wrong with that)....seems like there’s less competition for what dominates and it really lets the barrel aging take center stage. The fact that the whiskey distillery drove this creation, rather than the brewery, just shouts out “unique” and “different” to me. If you appreciate a good rye (or “whiskey” if you’re not from the East Coast) find this and really, really enjoy.

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Photo of AdmiralOzone
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown with a thin tan cap. Decent legs on the glass when swirled. Aroma is roasted caramel malt and bourbon. Flavor is caramel, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and dark fruit. Feel is thin to medium bodied. Overall a fantastic brown ale.

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Photo of Harrison8
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a dark burgundy with a finger of khaki foam that fizzes away pretty quickly. Aroma is toffee, plum, caramel, whiskey, char, oak, and a little yeast ester. Plum is bright, sweet and apparent. Flavor profile is caramel, toffee and plum to round out the sweet characteristics. Whiskey, char, and oak are a second thought, but linger for a long while. Mouth feel is medium in thickness with a smooth, watery consistency that thins out at the finish. Overall, very sugary and sweet, but still bold.

Served in a 12oz snifter from a 12oz bottle.

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Photo of Tone
3.94/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color. 1/3 inch head of an off-tan color. Decent retention and good lacing. Smells of strong sweet malt, wood, yeast, and alcohol. Fits the style of an American Brown Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of strong sweet malt, wood, alcohol, yeast, hint of liquor, and a hint of spicy hops. Overall, great blend, strong body, simplistic, and weak appearance.

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Photo of Lucular
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap and fresh at the source (Beltway Brewing). Big, boozy brown ale. Really nice vanilla, oak, and whiskey flavors. Nice spicy notes from the rye barrels. I wonder whether any stores in my area carry this? I'll keep an eye out for this one.

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Photo of Rockjocknroll
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Vintage '15.

This beer does not get enough street cred; it smells, tastes and looks like the best out there for BA browns. (Note: 3 years was turning; 2 years is perfect for cellaring).

A: Rich, brown malt with the best subtle fine tan carbonation that lasts forever. Maybe deserves a 5?
S: Caramel and whisky for days. Rich malt with no off-aromas
T: Whiskey tones up front holding on tight through a medium-depth brown. nuff said.
F: The fineness of the carbonation cannot be overstated. Sharpness from the whiskey but overall pleasurable.
O: At 2 years this is up there with the best BA browns on planet earth. Go for it.

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Photo of DavidR_9
4.57/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber (bottled Dec 2016) into snifter on 6/19/17.

Dark brown-black body with a hint of red and a surprising amount of larger particulate already (not something I like seeing not too long after bottling date). Fine bubbly off-white head that recedes to the outer ring of the beer glass, foamless spots in the center. Smells of rich malts, chocolate, oakey rye whiskey, vanilla. Taste includes all the above but with much more toffee. Mouthfeel is pretty nice - decent carbonation for the sytle. I enjoy this brown ale aged in the oak barrel. It's refreshing to have a tasty brown ale instead of a full on stout with the barrel-aged twist.

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Photo of jmasher85
3.73/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm honestly by shocked by some of these reviews that say this beer is "smooth," or that there's little barrel character. Considering I've been cellaring this for over a year, this is one of the most barrel-forward beers I've had, and the rye whiskey smell hit me as soon as my nose was even close to the glass. The flavor too starts with whiskey, and only after does your palate acclimate and begin to pick up notes of vanilla, nutty, brown malts, toffee, licorice, earthy wood, a bit of char. It starts off hot from the booze content, hints at sweetness towards the middle, and finishes with a dry, slightly tannic and oaky bitterness. It's more the whiskey barrel than the malts that follow you into the aftertaste, and lingers hotly enough that this beer is a definite sipper. It's quite strong, more so than many beers of this abv have been for me. It's not super thick in body, but the carbonation definitely lets it fill your mouth nicely, and guarantees each sip of this will be a powerhouse.
Overall, this is a beer for people who like whiskey. If you don't, don't even bother. A bit too intense for me to fairly call great, but it's in the upper echelons of what I'd call a good barrel-aged beer.

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Photo of CMEG
4.37/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Excellent Brown Ale. Clear, moderate brown in color - minimal head on the pour from the bottle. Great aroma. Slightly nutty, hints of date or raisin, with a subtle rye whiskey odor. Mouthfeel is satifying - weightier than most Brown Ales. The alcohol content gives it a nice boozy, rye whiskey barrel taste - exactly what you'd hope for. slightly sweet, but not syrupy. Easy to drink.

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Photo of akolb
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber dated 2015. So roughly 2 years old. 10.4% ABV. 1.5 inch tan head with thin, creamy bubbles. Aroma has toffee, heavy chocolate, raisins, and bourbon. Smells sweet, like a rich chocolate cake. Bourbon, more chocolate, candied sugar, sweet dark fruit, earth, rye spice, and a bit of bitterness underlying all the sweetness. A pleasant alcohol burns begins at the back of the throat early on. The rye whisky really comes through strong in this beer and is balanced by a decadent malt base to make for an unexpectedly wonderful beer.

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Photo of darktronica
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with moderate head that leaves a trace of lacing. Plenty of rye spice on the nose, accompanied by significant bready yeast, caramel, and gummy sweetness. Good rye notes on the flavor profile, but not much barrel character; I wonder how long it's actually aged.

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Photo of REVZEB
4.43/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown pour with a tan head. Whiskey, oak, caramel, chocolate, toffee, nuts, and a hint of rye in the nose. Taste does well to capitalize on what makes a good brown ale, and then adds the whiskey barrel elements seamlessly. The malts and barrel seem destined for each other. Feel is the right amount of boozy, warm, smooth, and surprisingly clean.

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Photo of Rogerlb
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 12/15, enjoyed 2/17, a year later. Pours dark, almost black although I'm seeing light through the edges of the glass. Head is slight, half a finger and moon-scape bubbly.

Aroma is raisins, coffee, chocolate, and a little woody whiskey in the b.g. More stout than brown ale. Taste is the malt ale I expected, with malts, vanilla, candied Barleywine-style sugar. Also tangled up in there is coffee, and the rye whiskey from the barrel is coming through now.

Boozy without being "hot", the 10.2% is pretty well hidden. Smoke and wood the silent partners here that make this unique and worthwhile. I'm even a Belgian spice as it warms. Toffee, or is that the rye? Someone's calling it "nutty." I'll go with that.

This is complex, the sweetness of the whiskey makes it drink close to spirits. Not exactly what I expected. Quite a thing.

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Photo of TruePerception
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

James E Pepper's 1776 Rye-barrel aged Brown Ale. 10.4% ABV.

A: A bit over a finger of tan head. Black in the glass, with a red-brown inner glow. Honey brown in the dimple. Solid sheeting; decent lacing.

S: Rich chocolate cake and rye. Slight oak and faint tobacco. Slight toffee. Not overly complex, but nice.

T/MF: Taste is very different. It's a weird conglomeration of coffee, sweet char, licorice, and a slight graphite note. Toffee backing. Slight chocolate cake. Not I would expect of a brown ale, even rye-barrel aged, but good none the less.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.04/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, bottled December 2015. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours a very dark brown color with about an inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. The brew smells like vanilla, brown sugar, rye whiskey, oak, and some toffee. For the most part I think the taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some dark fruit, smoke and nutty flavors noticeable too. It's a sweeter tasting brown ale for sure. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's creamy and coating with moderate carbonation. It's also smooth and goes down easy enough. I liked this, it's definitely worth buying if you've never had it before. $10.98 a bomber.

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Photo of stortore
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled December 2015.

Pours dark, opaque, fizzy looking. Small head with a good amount of lacing. The smell is malt, whiskey, vanilla, oak, toffee, dates. The taste is lead more by the rye whiskey- and more so as it warms, malt, vanilla, raisins, dates, some oak. Smooth, a bit light bodied, the taste lingers.

This was good, flavorful, enjoyable to drink, but a little thin to support the pretty big barrel presence. But, it was a really nice job of barrel aging a brown ale, and with a decent price point, it's worth a purchase.

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Photo of Specules
3.91/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

I like this one definitely but my main complaint is the thin mouth feel. Imo, a beer of this strength should have the syrupy, thick mouthfeel that you come to expect from +10% beers. Aside from that everything else was pleasant - the smell was of caramel, vanilla, grains, and some brown ale-fitting malts, along with the obligatory whiskey barrel smell. The taste reflected the smell even more so with dark fruits and barleywine-esque burnt candy flavors in there. Did not disappoint on the rye whiskey flavors, but again I wish the mouthfeel was thicker.

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Photo of zeff80
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Poured a semi-opaque, dark brown color with a small, tan head of foam. It smelled of bourbon, oak, chocolate and toffee. Boozy and sweet with toffee, caramel and a mild bitterness.

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Photo of Zorro
3.66/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy brown colored ale with a small tan colored head that doesn't last.

Smells strongly of coconut and caramel. Big scent of vanilla. Strong scent of oak. Smells sweet and has a strong butter scent. Scent of ethanol and whiskey is quite apparent but it doesn't smell boozy.

Starts out sweet and tasting of caramel and vanilla. Coconut and mild toffee flavors. Faint taste of ash and a mild bitterness. Whiskey flavor isn't over powering.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall an OK whiskey beer.

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Photo of Biggiekrock627
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in summer 2014 and opened May 2016. Rye and whiskey notes tie through the deep caramel and roasted malt flavors that hits many areas of the palette and builds as you drink. If you like rye whiskey and brown ales pick up a bomber of this beer

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Photo of Wasatch
4.27/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. Bomber
Bottled In: Dec 2015
ABV: 10.4%

Poured into a chalice a pretty nice dark brown color, very nice carbonation, with a small thick/creamy light tan head, which does leave a very nice big island, and some pretty nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, sweet, lots of chocolate/toffee, slight roasty/nuttyness, nice little touch of whiskey/oak. The taste is pretty nice malty, very nice sweetness, chocolate/toffee, slight roast/nutty, very nice touch of whiskey/oak. Full body, ABV is hidden very well, still a sipper though. Overall, this one is really surprising me, very nicely done. Recommended!

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Photo of rarigney
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle from fall of 2014. Consumed in March 2016. A beautiful cola colored body with a finger of a light tan head that leaves some nice lacing. Poured cold, the aroma is very slight, and nearly all from the whiskey. The taste is of sweet dark fruit, chocolate, malt, and whiskey.
A very nice ale that I would certainly drink again.

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Photo of stevoj
3.96/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle from Cindy’s Spirits. Solid brown with a bit of a kick. Smooth and sugary, but still favoring the brown ale characteristics. Drinkable, with gentle burn

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Photo of ccg
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured aggressively into an Epic Brewing snifter, it has such a deep brown color that it looks almost black in a half-full glass, with a finger of light-tan-colored head. It leaves a nice lacing on the glass, and a thin layer of foam sticks around for several minutes.
The smell, at least when poured cold, it all barrel, but it's subdued, and it subtle enough that I would have a hard time saying it was a rye barrel instead of a bourbon barrel. As it warms, it does have a bit more of a spicy/woody scent.
This beer has a pretty dominant whisky flavor, but it also has flavors of dark fruit and maybe sweetened tobacco in the mix. I would say that it is going for velvety smoothness over opinionated flavor, but because it's aged in rye whisky barrels instead of bourbon, it not just one-note sweetness.
The mouthfeel is creamy smooth but also comes across a little thin.
Overall: Light, creamy, and enjoyable, with a nice subtle spice from the rye. Also, I have to say that it's a great value. Originally, I had to order it online, but this bottle I pulled off the shelf at Wyatt's in Longmont, CO. I think it was $10 or $11 for a whole bomber. That's really hard to beat.

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James E. Pepper 1776 American Brown Ale from Georgetown Trading Co.
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 199 ratings