John Brown Ale | Free State Brewing Co.

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25 Ratings

Brewed by:
Free State Brewing Co.
Kansas, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Named for John Brown, the fiery abolitionist from the U.S. Civil War era. Brown is a well known (though often overly romanticized) figure in Kansas history. His actions in support of the free-staters in the 1850s was quite notable, but also quite violent and vengeful. A religious zealot with a long family history of insanity, one of Brown's favorite maxims was "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins". During his colorful career with the free state militia, Brown made sure that there was no shortage of the remissions of sins.

But on a lighter note, his namesake ale is actually a very mild, pleasant brown ale with a definite emphasis on the malt rather than the hops. Made from a choice selection of malts, this is a bit sweeter than the Ad Astra Ale, but not quite so sweet as a bock beer. (O.G. - 12.9P/1053. Hops - 23.5 IBUs)

Added by beernut7 on 10-13-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 25 |  Reviews: 12
Reviews by 22Blue:
Photo of 22Blue
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

More User Reviews:
Photo of tjthresh
2.84/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I enjoyed this beer on tap at the brewpub. It was served up good with about half an inch of head. This beer is very middle of the road, and non-offending. Not much hop character to talk about. Pretty underwhelming malt character. Not a bad little session beer.

 260 characters

Photo of smc143
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Posted on my blog in December 2007, posted to Beer Advocate in October 2008.

A wonderful beer-friend gifted me a growler full of Free State Brewery beer. I didn't crack it open right away, as I was kind of afraid to without being able to finish it alone, knowing it would go flat before I get through a whole half-gallon. So I opened it the next weekend and was super excited to learn that it contained John Brown Ale. Yummy yummy. I love me some browns.

Because I left my growler unattended for too long, I didn't realize that it was going flat anyway. John Brown Ale usually generates a creamy head, but my growler didn't quite deliver. The smell is sweet, like malted chocolate. A loverly scent for a freezing winter evening! The taste is a bit more coffee/toffee than chocolate, with a medium bodied mouthfeel, and a slightly dry finish. It just brings to mind roasted, toasted, sweet winter warmth, and I was in love all over again.

 940 characters

Photo of Wendt
4.6/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When caught in bloom, very good.

32 characters

Photo of sammo
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of alittlehazy
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Came in the form of a pony keg. Pourned dark brown with a clearness on the edges. Head stayed about 2/3 to halfway down the glass in a nice light brown color.

It tasted pretty darn good, bitterish and malt taste as you swallow. Smooth mouthfeel and I'd recommend this beer wholeheartedly if you're looking for a nice smooth brown ale.

 337 characters

Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of TylerDYoung
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of Hellpop65
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

They just tapped this on the day of KU-MU game. John Brown...a loved figure in Kansas...a hated man in Missouri.

A - Poured into a seidel a dark, dark brown with a creamy, white head that left sticky lace.

S - It smelled of malt and sweet chocolate.

T - It tasted quite sweet. A nice blending of malt, caramel and toffee.

M - It was smooth and soft. A medium-bodied beer.

D - A very good English Brown. Another good offering from the folks at Free State.

 459 characters

Photo of jazappi
4.3/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: On tap pour into a mug.

Appearance: My favorite, a dark beer. Finger worth of head , and lacing that lasted.

Aroma: Coffee/Chocolate, a nice robust smell.

Taste: It was a good brown ale taste, had hints of a nutty taste, and coffee like.

Mouthfeel: A little light/watery, but I really enjoyed it.

Overall: I could drink a lot of these. I like these because you get a lot of flavor, and it is light enough that I could drink several of these and not feel full.

 489 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.33/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A nice brown ale.
Had in a growler although have had it straight from tap as well. Better from the growler as you can take it home and chill it. Freestate uses hot water blasts to clean glasses leaving them warm, which then warms the beers.

Good dark color with malt and earthy aroma

tastes almost like a porter rather than an English ale. Good head from growler, yet a bit thin. A raw bite at the finish but nothing too make a face over.
Could drink the whole growler if given the chance.

 497 characters

Photo of dmb0525
2.24/5  rDev -39%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 2.5

A: dark brown with red when held to light. Good head but quickly dispersed.

S: coffee... And a small amount of nut

Taste: it has an awful initial flavor. It tastes like water with ground coffee stirred in. The flavor develops a bit into a more complex nut flavor. Still, with every sip I am inundated with nasty day old coffee and that is hard to get past.

M: watery.

O: I have had way too many good brown ales to waste my time on this.

 441 characters

Photo of JEdmund
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of beernut7
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of the most aggressively hopped brown ales I have tasted. The color is a deep brown with no real head. The bitterness is right up front in your face followed by a mellow dark malt twang. The malts linger a bit more than the bitterness. Different.

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Photo of Goliath
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown and appears ruby in the light. No head when served to me.

The aroma is full of sweet malt, caramel, and some fruity esters.

Taste is nice. Caramel, bread, and cherry. A touch of chocolate on the finish.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and lightly carbonated.

Drinkability is high. Great flavors, and I assume the ABV was fairly low as I did not notice it.

 369 characters

Photo of Hohnbaum
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of OatherS
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Strong brown color with a nice one finger head even after traveling to the table.

Smell: Hints of coffee beans and chocolate.

Taste: Very similar to the odor with hints of coffee and chocolate. Very good.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy.

Drinkability: Bring me another please!!!

 299 characters

Photo of Mikevicgates
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of Whiskeydeez
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of Boto
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draught @ Free State: This one is dark yet still a clear brown with a hint of ruby to it when held to the light. There was a small tan head with a bit of lacing. The aroma was a touch on the mild side, yet still contained notes of caramel malt and a hint of roastiness. No hops at all. The taste is pretty decent. A decent malt body with a subdued malt sweetness and a hint of biterness in the finish. This goes down real easy.

 427 characters

Photo of Thirstygoat
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of DB85
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of maxpower
3.2/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear brown in color, small white head that doesn't last, light sweet roasty nutty-caremel aroma. Some roasted malty nutty flavors, light to medium body, light yet rough mouthfeel, somewhat bitter finish, not as bland as most light browns, maybe a bit over hopped for the style, I kind of like it.

 297 characters

Photo of Coopersbeer
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

John Brown Ale from Free State Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.67 out of 5 with 25 ratings