Brains Dark | Brains

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Brains DarkBrains Dark
Very Good
Brains DarkBrains Dark

Brewed by:
Wales, United Kingdom

Style: English Dark Mild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 3.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Once called Red Dragon the famous pint of Dark has always been synonymous with Brains particularly in Cardiff with the dock-workers of old, the male voice choirs and with rugby fans down in the Arms Park. Nowadays its popularity has expanded and is the biggest selling dark mild in Wales, continually winning awards both nationally and internationally.

'Dark' is treacle-coloured with a creamy contrasting head. A velvety smooth pint, Dark has a combination of chocolate, crystal and brown malts providing a clean palate with hints of liquorice and freshly ground coffee.

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User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 21 | Ratings: 42
Photo of Beginner2
4.05/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Spent only one night in Cardiff, so I was glad to find this.
The hops/malt balance reminded of the English and the dryness of the Irish.
Since Wales is westernmost and is across the straits from Ireland, I guess all this makes sense.
I'd buy this again if ever I find it.

Reviewed in Roger Protz' " 300 Beers To Try Before You Die!"
MJ's "Guide" gave it 2.5 of 4 stars, characterized in the Dark Mild style and called it "distinctively toasty." He also noted the brewery's slogan "It's Brain's you want." Something to think about.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep brown color with high long lasting brown head. Aroma of chocolate and caramel. Sweet malty taste with notes of caramel. Very thick and creamy body. Slightly bitter aftertaste

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.5/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled and thankfully contained in dark glass
Pours a cola dark brown body with decent enough foaming tobacco stained head
Aroma of muted coffee with some treacle
Some dark malty flavour

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Photo of sommersb
3.98/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 12-27-2012
Freshness: Best by 06-30-2013
Packaging: 500ml brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Nonic pint
Purchased: Received as a gift

First Welsh brew for me; a gift brought back from the UK by my brother...

A: Big and frothy tan head sits on the beer that is very dark brown, if not black, with some highlights of ruby. Features excellent head retention and a very pronounced lace.

S: Chocolate malts, dark breads and some molasses make up the aroma profile. Gives the impression of a sweetness to follow.

T: The taste starts with dark, roasted malts, with flavors of coffee and also bittersweet chocolate. Not sweet like the aroma hinted at, but is instead balanced between the malt sweetness and the bitterness of dark toasted malts and earthy hops.

M: Body is creamy, with a moderate level of carbonation. The finish has a coffee-like roasted grain bitterness and hints of sweet licorice. Mostly dry in the aftertaste.

O: Overall a clean and light-bodied brew; my bottle says 4.1% ABV, which is slightly higher than the draught version. Even so this has high drinkability and would make a good session or dinner beer.

Thanks to Billy for this one!

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
3.61/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap into a pint glass in a pub in Cardiff.

Pours a black colour with a creamy off white head.

Smells dark and rich.

Tastes weak due to being cold, but is mostly malty and balanced, with a burnt aftertaste.

Overall a decent quaffable ale.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.56/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Feb 2012. ABV stated as 4.1%. The label makes no mention of mild, so I guess they've gone for a spot of rebranding.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A dark reddish-brown colour. Produces a massive head of creamy light-brown foam with great retention; it eventually reduces to a surface layer. Aroma of sweet, dark malt with notes of caramel, chocolate, vanilla and mild diacetyl.

Tastes of sweetish dark malt with a mild, dry finish. Notes of caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla and stewed hops. A subtle, leafy bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, but feels a little thin. Somewhat astringent. Aftertaste of bitter, roasted malt.

Hmmmm, not bad. A pleasing blend of flavours makes this quite drinkable, although it doesn't stand out. Body could be a bit thicker/creamier. A decent dark ale for winter drinking.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

4.10% ABV bottle (500ml), not the 3.50% advertised on BA. This bottle had a whole month of its best before date remaining when I poured in into my Abbot Ale glass tankard, my current favourite tasting vessel.

This beer is called dark for a reason: it's dark! It's very dark actually and with a deep, full head of khaki/dark biege.

The smell was of dark chocolate and bits of coffee, earthy too.

The taste was also chocolate and coffee, no earth though. I also found some liquorice/fennel type flavours as the beer warmed in the mouth.

Easy to drink and on the sweetish side of British beer scene, this isn't a dry, bitter beer at all, just a very pleasant ale.

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Photo of atis
3.97/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle, had it more than year ago and now entering notes from paper

Pours dark brown with large creamy off-white head that leaves patchy lacing. Aroma is rather moderate toasty dark malt.

Taste is rich toasted malt, presence of roasted, slowly drying finish and light hoppy aftertaste, seems to have a small presence of citrus as well. Medium with moderate carbonation, prickly sensation in the beginning of the glass.

It was a prefect brew after a long winter day trip in the Welsh countryside.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.09/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served from a cask into a half pint glass in Cardiff, Wales. Reviewed from notes.

A: Pours a head of slight cream, decent thickness, and bad retention. Colour is a solid black.

Sm: Very light caramel is all I detect.

T: Caramel, chocolate, coffee, and very light roast. A bit simple for the style, decently built, and badly balanced.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Not too complementary of the flavour, unfortunately.

Dr: Drinkable enough, average ABV, great price, and decent quality. Try it, but don't expect much. It would be better if it were on-draught.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: 3/4" mocha coloured head that left some lacing over black liquid.

S: Chocolate malt and yeast.

T: Bitter dark chocolate and coffee up front which transitions to toasted malt, licorice and some caramel. The aftertaste is very pleasant.

M: Thin viscosity and a low level of carbonation.

O: Very drinkable session ale that my father brought back for me on his trip to the UK. Reminds me of a schwarzbier.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours chocolate-ruby with loose root beer type froth that's slow to fade. Big chocolate malt nose with some soil underneath. Chocolate truffle with some toffee and bark then kola and branch hops. Sour coffee grounds hit on the end and surprisingly bitter pine needle linger. Light to medium, fizzy, some stick.

Not many dark milds in bottle, so glad to find a tasty one. A little too lively and could be creamier. I hear Brains has a fiercely loyal following, and this is enough to make me curious about the rest of their range.

Note: Label shows 4.1% ABV

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.64/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours very dark brown with a small tan head.
Nose shows cola, soft roasted malt, oats and toffee. Pretty nice, quite complex for the style!
Flavours show more roasted malt and oats. Again, nice and tasty. Gets a bit light on later, almost watery.
Body is too thin.

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Photo of fullsweep
3.04/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Pure black beer (dark enough to not see through) sits underneath a creamy, rich, ashy-beige head that is very thick. It leaves the inner circle when pouring slowing into the metal of the glass. Very appealing!

S: Smoky, toasty, not a lot else.

T: I was a bit disappointed here, as I was hoping for a nice brown, stout or porter (didn't research it before tasting). Although classified a dark mild, taste-wise it's more in line with a porter--very dark and almost burnt flavor. It's to beer what French Roast is to coffee. If it's done well, there's loads of flavor. If it's done poorly, it just tastes burnt. The latter is more the case here unfortunately.

M: not bad, nothing too special.

D: I'd like to try this on cask if it's available. The burnt taste makes it much less drinkable.

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Photo of rjimlad
3.21/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice looking dark with ochre head. Carbonation was moderate with large bubbles that slowly popped at the top like boiling mud. Strange.
Not much aroma apart from some malt which was nice. Flavour was a bit flat. Not as complex as others but toasty to the point of burnt with little malt to push through this. No sweetness at all and a bit steely as well. I guess this really needs to be off the cask rather than bottled.

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Photo of soulgrowl
3.79/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lovely ale to look at, with a smooth, structured, seemingly everlasting ivory-hazelnut head atop a nearly opaque black body. Soft and mild in the nose, with timid notes of nougat, caramel, and peanuts, plus a faint berry-like fruitiness. The flavor is more upfront, deliciously nutty, full of peanuts and almonds, buckwheat tea, and seedy bread. There is a steely mineral quality in the finish that amplifies the dryness of the beer. Grassy, hay-like hops appear in the beginning, then disappear beneath the malts to resurface as a slight leafy bitterness in the finish. The beer is rollingly soft yet light on the palate, befitting the flavor. In the end it is not that complex or robust, but still an easy quaffer.

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Photo of gentlebubbles
4.45/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

NERAX 2006 (Thu)

Enticing dark caramel with ruby spotlight at the bottom. Low, dense ecru head.

Sweet malty scent with a hit of smoke.

Dark malt with resiny hops. Lots of smoke and butterscotch with a sweet finish.

This is exactly what I hoped a Mild would be!

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Photo of twilight
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oooooh! Tangy.

I hand-carried this one back from my trip to London in Early may, served today into a nonick pint glass. It pours dark, like the name says, with some head, but mostly just a nice swath of tiny bubbles ekeing their way up onto the top of the liquid. The aroma is slightly roasty.

The taste is very tangy, sour, and unexpected. It's as though someone left some beer out to spoil and blended it in. Now, I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but you get the taste of roast malts and sourness, hints of chocolate in the background, with absolutely no sweetness, just that really good tanginess. Lots of lemony flavor without being overly acidic, just good dark roast and tang.

I would so love to try this on cask, but for now, mouthfeel is okay, and drinkability is also okay. I would love to have this as a session ale, given the ABV, but it's a bit sour, and that might undercut its viability as a session beer.

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Photo of wl0307
3.92/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tried this bottle of beer on 27/04/05, with best before date of 29/10/05. Served in a goblet rather than a jug. As I used to have this beer in cask version, this is my first time to try it in a slightly stronger, bottle-conditioned version which comes at 3.9%abv in strength.

Appearance: served in a goblet (rather than a jug as I usually do for dark-beers at my local pubs), it pours a very dark brown to black colour against my desk lamp, with a dense and thick, brownish foamy beerhead which (responsibly) lasted for around one minute.
Smell: at first, I sensed some notes of toffee, lively note of the kind of tartness which some very dark and bitter chocolates have, and pleasantly sweet-smokyness of roasted malts. Overall the nose is quite vertical but not overly complex.
Taste and aftertaste: at first it is a bit spicy, woody and also pleasantly smoky on palate, while slightly sweet flavour of nuttiness and roasted grains only play the second-third fiddle; the palate is accompanied by a quite clean/dryish but mild hoppy aftertaste.
Drinkability: this beer's body is thin to medium to my taste, and the aftertaste is not long enough, either. But in a way the dryish body is a strong point to make it a different mild from other sweeter and more watery versions. I truly enjoy this beer as the first pint after a day's hard work, and I suppose that's exactly the kind of joy and sense of relief this classic beer brought the Welsh miners of old as well~~

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Photo of GreenCard
3.68/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before 30.10.05...

Appearance: deep mahogany (with its full range of browns and reds), great clarity, nice cap of tan foam with good head retention and lace

Aroma: porter-like, dark chocolate, malty sweetness, coffee notes, touch of passion-fruit

Flavor: dryish malt base with a slightly tangy roastiness over it, unsweetened baking chocolate, hint of caramel, grassy hop flavor in the background, finishes dry with a surprisingly clean aftertaste

Mouthfeel: medium body, fair amount of carbonation, smooth texture

Other comments: Another nice "real ale in a bottle". After drinking a lot of pasteurized bottled English ales (I was a Morrison's shopper), it's been a real treat to try these CAMRA-sanctioned bottled ales available at Sainsbury's.

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Photo of francisweizen
4.38/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An awesome Welsh cask beer, on cask in where else but Cardiff? Dark black with crimson edges. The aromas are all chocolate and roasted malts, with some floral hops in the background. The taste is all chocolate, roasty notes, and coffee. The hops are almost MIA, but they are there in the back, cowering. Mouthfeel is super creamy and smooth and the drinkability is very good as well. An awesome dark mild, by a very underated Welsh brewery churning out some fine (and affordable) premium cask ales for all the citizens of Wales.

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Photo of cypressbob
3.83/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle in a gift pack

Pours with a dark black body, foamy tan head with some retention, some lacing

Smell, slight hints of charcoal, some roasted malt, some slight off aromas

Taste, rich and bubbly, not too thick on the palette, chocolatly and hints espresso

A really nice mild, with such a low abv it has alot of flavour

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Brains Dark from Brains
Beer rating: 3.76 out of 5 with 42 ratings