Great Lakes Cleveland Brown Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

very good
80 Ratings
Great Lakes Cleveland Brown AleGreat Lakes Cleveland Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-01-2002

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Ratings: 80 |  Reviews: 21
Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

As a tribute to the Cleveland Browns football team, the Great Lakes Brewing Company devises a dark masculine and somewhat strong ale that's sure to win over the taste of burly linemen and yet easy going enough for kickers and punters.

Obviously brown in color, the beer hits the medium shade with fairly bright clarity and deep golden and ruby highlights. Its build up of foam is somewhat light in color and in confidence as a sheet covers the glass retains well and laces lightly. It has a nice cask ale-like appearance.

Nutty aromas are met with toffee, light coffee grounds, cocoa, and toast. Woody hop notes rise as the beer warms, and so do some prevalent alcohols through the dry toast character. Low in fruit notes, the scent seems to be all about the English malts.

Stronger than usual taste meet the tongue with the expected taste of toffee, toasted pecans, caramelized almonds, mild cocoa powder, nutty Kona coffee, and medium grilled toast except in elevated intensity. The dry toast taste allows alcohol to become part of the mainstay in taste and does so like mild vodka and dried cherries. Hop balance is wood tasting at mid palate and grown into a broad earthy bitterness to conclude the taste.

Medium bodied, but the beer seems lighter due to its dry toast textures and thinning alcohols. Despite added strength, the beer doesn't feel heavier than the normal English brown ale. Finishing warm and with a bitter alcohol bite, it's malty dry closure would well accompany a vast array of American burgers.

And if you're still upset about the kicker and punter references in my opening statement, you shouldn't be. To capture what's best about the Browns, the beer should be equally bland, uninteresting, and forgettable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the brewpub gift shop in September, prior to Beer School. Cleveland Brown Ale has been brewed each autumn since 1988, but this is the first year (that I'm aware of) that it's been available in bombers. In order to avoid the fairly obvious association with the Cleveland Browns football team (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), the label features a happy looking bulldog who appears to be licking his lips. He must have just slurped down a Great Lakes beer.

Bright rust orange (darker than the helmets) with perfect clarity. Due to a minimal escape of CO2 on crown cracking, I gave the beer a spirited pour and was rewarded with two fingers of pale almond suffused with orange juice. The dense, bubbly foam is persisting nicely and is beginning to deposit thick sheets of clingy lace.

The nose is classic for the style (whether English brown or American brown, I couldn't say). In addition to well-toasted pecans and cocoa powder, there's an earthiness that makes me think Munich malt is in the house. Hops aren't jumping out of the glass by any means.

Leave it to Great Lakes to brew one of the top few brown ales that I've ever had the pleasure to consume. A quick run through my memory banks tells me that it's somewhere around fourth all-time, behind Surly Bender, DFH Indian Brown and Bell's Best Brown. That's mighty fine company, indeed.

I have no idea why the brewery says that CBA 'is best served at 45 degrees'. At the moment, it's at least 10 degrees higher than that and is improving noticeably with passing each minute, each passing ounce, each passing degree. I love the way the flavor profile is expanding in every direction to uncover flavors that weren't present in the first few mouthfuls.

Sweet and bitter are in perfect balance... if you're a hophead. The hop resins are cumulative and are threatening to become the defining ingredient as I get deeper into the bomber. The remainder of the surprisingly complex flavor profile consists of sugar-crusted chocolate wafers, pumpernickel toast, oven-roasted pecans, black pepper, grapefruit pith and pine needles. I might have to rethink those brown ale rankings and put this gorgeous ale up to second, just behind Bender.

With the wizards at Great Lakes at the controls, how could the mouthfeel be anything other than stupendous? Although it's far from big and is only marginally chewy, it's so incredibly smooth and summer-weight silky that I find myself looking forward to the next mouthful as much for the mouthfeel as for the flavor. The 'eye of the storm' carbonation is pretty close to perfect.

I try not to regret anything in life, but I regret not having brought home a few more bottles of this delicious ale when I had the chance. The $10 price tag had a lot to do with my decision. To be truthful, I wasn't sure that it could live up to the excellence of the rest of the GL lineup. What the hell was I thinking? Cleveland Brown Ale is a smashing success and easily deserves to be a year-round offering. In six-packs please.

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Photo of Jason
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12oz brown with a drink before date clearly marked.

Appearance: Dark brownish amber with a frothy mass of off white lace hovering on top.

Smell: Dark toasted bread ... hint of coffee also.

Taste: Medium to full in body with soft and smooth mouth feel. A bready malt sweetness flows all the way through ... though it gets slowly cut by the roasted / toasted malts and hops. The toasted biscuit malt seems to be dominant and a chocolate flavour comes forth as well as a pinch of sweet oily hop flavour and a ghost like fruitiness. The after taste has a faded yet lingering hop bitterness with a toasted / roasted flavour. A slight warming alcohol is felt about half way down the glass.

Notes: A yummy brown that Great Lakes a given birth to ... a proud beer to have in their seasonal (fall) line up. A real pleasure to drink.

 849 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.55/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a tumbler at Firkin.

Solidarity continues with another random Great Lakes keg that I know Dave's connections helped to secure for this event. It pours a clear sunset amber topped by over a finger of cream foam. The nose comprises straight barley, light biscuit, grass, light orange peel, light maple syrup, and brown sugar. The taste brings in more of the same, though now the grass is a bit stronger and is joined by some mild greens. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly dry finish. Overall, a nice little brown ale, one that doesn't excite or impress, but one that succeeds at providing a generally tasty beverage.

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Photo of tdm168
3.97/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at Busy Bee

A - ruby amber with a thick, off white head that has great retention

S - caramel, nutty, bready

T - big citrusy notes, caramel, faint nuttiness

M - medium bodied, well carbonated

This is a decent brown ale though it is far more citrusy than it is malty. This is clearly a more Americanized version of an English classic. Nonetheless, this is a really nice offering that is both enjoyable and sessionable. It's definitely worth a try.

 457 characters

Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The appearance was a milky brown color with a finger’s worth of eggshell white foamy head that dissipated at a mild pace. Slight lace. The aroma had some roasted nuts, some caramel/toffee malts, light brown sugar. Ends with some earthy hoppy smells. The flavor was sweet with a touch of bitter and allowing the earthy hoppiness to round it out fairly nice. Aftertaste had some of the nuts, somewhat sweet and a mild roast. Light nutty finish. The feel was almost medium bodied, but sat just a tad under. Carbonation felt fine. Pretty smooth all around. Overall, nice brown ale worthy of coming back to if I could get it again.

 628 characters

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%

Photo of pathman
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from growler into a pint glass

Appearance – As suggested by the name of the brew the beer pours a medium brown color with a small tan head. The head fades relatively quickly to leave a light level of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is of roasted malt, sweet smells of caramel and brown sugar as well as some notes of a nutty smell. Mixed with these aromas are some light earthy hop smells which help to round out the malty and sweet smells nicely.

Taste – The taste starts out with a mix of sweet and some bitter. An earthy hop taste mixed with a caramel malt taste is strongest up front. The hop flavors dwindle some toward the middle with roasted malt flavors increasing in intensity. Some nutty flavors soon join the profile along with a slight increase in the sweet brown sugar and caramel tastes. In the end the hop flavors come back with a lighter bitter earthy hop flavor, leaving a still overall sweet, lightly bittered, and roasted flavor at the end.

Mouthfeel- The body of the beer is rather average in terms of its creaminess. The carbonation level is rather average as well, overall creating a very easy drinking brew.

Overall – A fairly sweet, but overall rather well balanced and smooth brown ale. It has nice flavors and transitions making it quite a nice brew to drink.

 1,326 characters

Photo of buschbeer
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of cokes
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unretired, brewpub only special, the new version clock in at 6% ABV.

Amber-glinting brown with a tight ecru foam.
The nose is modest, exuding cocoa, burnt toast, roast, and vague pine traces.
Tastewise, it strikes that delicate Brown Ale toasty/roasty balance between dusty coca powder, burnt grain, and carob. There are sweeter elements here too, more persuasively a trickling hazelnut sweetness and a flash or two of dates. The close strikes another balance between the more acute hoppiness of pine, and a staying herbal dryness.
Medium bodied, with a subdued CO2 level. It teeters towards the filling side for the style, but remains a quaffer.
Exactly what I'd expect a Brown Ale from GLBC would be like, this is an Edmund Fitzgerald for the style...classy and classic.

 775 characters

Photo of JimmyFlatRock
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of nrbw23
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of Tyrawlings
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of misternebbie
4/5  rDev +3.1%

Photo of jsprain1
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of NilocRellim
3.29/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured from the tap a dark clear orange colour. Smells very sweet and malty with a hint of toastiness. Tastes malty and toasty with a hint of burnt and and slight bitter hop finish and aftertaste. Lingering roasted flavour for the finish.

Would I buy this beer again? Maybe.

 275 characters

Photo of TheBrewo
4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew was served from the tap at The Old Toad in Rochester, NY. It arrived in a generic pint glass glowing a golden, reddish amber. It held a one and a half finger head of creamy, tan bubbles, leaving thick and spidery lacing as it receded at a medium pace. A chill haze was noted, but no sediment was seen. Carbonation appeared average. The aroma gave faint booze, red cherry sweetness, caramel roast, dried strawberry sugars, and faint resiny hops. Mineral and muddiness came to the malts as the drink warmed. Our first impression was that the flavoring was rich with caramel sweetness and roast to the malts, and the entire sip was very malt forward. The flavoring opened with caramel and roasted barley. The hops also came quickly, with greenness, and under ripe tree-like bitterness and oiliness. The middle peaked with an enhanced roast of those bready, caramel malts. Yeast and sweeter flashes of cooked caramel sugars mixed in, with a light buttery quality pulling us to the finish. The end was more bittering, with raw walnuts, salt, roast, fusel ethanol, and light phenolic plastic. Again, there were flashes of cloying caramel roast. The aftertaste breathed of light metallics, boozy punch, bready yeast, pumpernickel, sweet caramel, and earthy, oily hops. The body was medium, and the carbonation was medium. There was full, creamy slurp and smack, with nice froth and glug. The mouth was coated with oily slickness and foam, leaving things wet. No real dryness was palpated. The abv was appropriate, and this beer drinks way easy.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this brew was the flavoring. There was such a rich maltiness throughout, with the heartiness of bread and yeast to back it up. There was also a surprising level of oily, green hoppiness for balance and bittering. The nose is comparatively light, but improves with warmth. The aforementioned heartiness lends to great drinkability, and this beer disappears before you know it. This is a great brown ale, and will suit you across any season or occasion.

 2,036 characters

Photo of mikeburd1128
2.75/5  rDev -29.1%

Photo of alleykatking
3.42/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 64oz growler.

A- Pours a brown color with a light red tint to it when held to the light. One finger light tan head shows light retention. Some specks of lace and not much else.

S- Light overall on the nose. Roasted malts with a hint of nutty ending in the front of the aroma. Caramel malts come through a little more toward the middle with some piney/earthy hops in the ending of the aroma.

T- Earthy hops in the front of the beer show this isn't a typical brown ale. Caramel malts with a light toasted character to this end the front end of the flavor. Middle of the beer shows off some nutty like flavors along with some light green apple like flavor. Ending showcases the caramel malts along with earthy hops. Alcohol is light on the ending.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is light for the style. Caramel/toasted malts, nuts, and earthy hops are left on the palate. Aftertaste is mostly light alcohol, caramel malts, hint of toasted malt, and light earthy hops. Flavors were a little underwhelming in the balance..with the hops showing a little more than it should have. No real off flavors although there was a light green apple flavor to this. Light alcohol drying left on the palate.

O- Overall I thought this beer was above average but far from being on top. A typical brown ale with a non-typical hop presence would be how I would describe this beer. ABV is really not there and doesn't really sneak up on you. A nice try for the style and like I said a little above average.

 1,505 characters

Photo of mentor
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a thin layer of tan head over a clear and light brown-orange liquid. Smells chocolate nutty and a bit of fuggles hop aroma. Vanilla, toffee, and just a touch of a sour darker grain. Really quite nice.

Tastes wonderful. Wow, what a brown ale. Chocolate and nut with a nugget creamy character. Woody hop character, not as floral aromatic as I was expecting in flavor, based on the nose. End is dry with some sourish dark grain contribution. Carbonation is a bit too strong, as it cleans the palette and leaves a sting on the tastebuds. Hanging sweet in aftertaste with a bit of rising pine and clean alcohol. Md body and too strong of a carbonation. Creamy thickness to the mouthfeel that helps the beer.

 709 characters

Photo of Squire123
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of whitenads
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%

Photo of adamette
2.6/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

"Rich brown ale with toasted malt notes" according to the board hanging above the bar. ABV 6.0% Poured from tap at the brewery by Steve, afternoon bartender at Great Lakes inside into a clean, clear glass. $4 for the pint glass.

A Generous light brown 2 inch head over a translucent medium brown body. Head took 2 minutes to dissipate down to a trace amount on the top of the beer. 4.0

S Medium roast malt brown ale smell with some muted hops to the nose. 4.0

T Hops dominate in the typical Great Lakes Brewing Company way. Here was a chance at a nice, classic brown ale and the floral hops just come in and ruin the taste spectrum. Really, there might be a nice brown ale in there somewhere but the hops just make all of that less able to be tasted. 2.0

M Bitter hops grapefruit tartness dominates. As mentioned there is the possibility of a nice, rounded brown ale underneath but the hops take over here again, eclipsing the mouthfeel and making it less desireable. I suppose hop heads may like this but could they like hops taking over every beer? 2.0

D I finished the pint but really, would have been more drinkable as a straight ahead Brown Ale. This leaves me wondering what a Brown Ale from Great Lakes could taste like. This one here tastes like too many of their other hop centric offerings. 2.0

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Great Lakes Cleveland Brown Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
3.88 out of 5 based on 80 ratings.
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