Brown Session Ale
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

Brown Session AleBrown Session Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Mild Ale - English Dark
3.59 | pDev: 11.14%
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Brown Session AleBrown Session Ale
Notes: Harpoon Brown is brewed to accentuate the sweeter, rounder notes derived from six different malts, including a de-husked chocolate malt that adds a hint of chocolate. The blend of these malts produces a beer that is complex and delicious without being heavy. This drinkable beer is perfect as a session beer or paired with foods.
Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 152 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of WJL2112
WJL2112 from Georgia

3.73/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Found one of these in an old case of beer in the basement. Chilled it. Seemed to age well enough. Definitely taste the malt and nut flavors. Enjoyed it!

Jun 23, 2018
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove from South Carolina

4.12/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

medium brown color, with a small tannish head that fades quickly and leaves a light, dark tea color in the glass.

aroma is as earthy as it can get. deep malty nose, hints of leather, oak, nice touches of roasty malts and earthy grains. really just wonderfully balanced and smooth, nothing heavy here at all and this carries over perfectly into the flavor which was nothing short of stellar. smooth, creamy and tea like flavors dominate with hints of oak, earthy and muted hops and a deep resonated earthy grain that really shows itself off.

overall a very nice example of the style

May 29, 2011
Photo of Knapp85
Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

3.13/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This pours out as a clear brown color with a fizzy cream colored head on it. The aroma has some subtle chocolate notes with a handful of roasted nuts in there too. The taste is roasted and kind of dry. Overall the beer is a decent brew to drink with a few friends around a fire or something. I'd drink it again if it was offered to me.

May 29, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
Thorpe429 from Illinois

4.1/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Served in a tulip glass. Pours a moderate brown color with an off-white head. Two fingers of lacing settle down with some nice carbonation bubbles floating on top. The nose is lightly-toasted malt with some chocolate, caramel, toffee, and a bit of yeast. The taste is pretty nice and mellow with toffee and very mild chocolate. Good body and carbonation; a nice, drinkable brew.

Nov 13, 2010
Photo of BeerAdvocate
BeerAdvocate from Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine May 2007.

We'll say it until we come up with something more clever: This year, brown is the new black. But what can brown do for you? It's another choice for a session beer! And a session beer is just what Harpoon has launched here.

A healthy-looking two fingers of head forms after a hard pour. Clarity is there with a stunning mahogany hue. Malty aroma is a little dusty, a little toasty. First and foremost, this beer has that Harpoon-esque flavor from their house yeast: clean with a faint fruitiness and some floral characteris- tics. Very smooth, with an ample crispness and moderate body. There are several layers of malt here--a touch of sweetness up front, with a bready flavor trailed by toasted and finally grainy notes. Clean throughout, with a modest bitterness. Finishes clean with a lingering grain in the back.

Being a Brown Ale (and a session beer at that), let this one warm up a bit. Say to around 50 ̊F--much colder and it won't do the beer justice. Pair this with some cider-marinated turkey tips with Asian slaw and beer-battered onion rings and you'll be good to go.

Sep 27, 2010
Photo of ktrillionaire
ktrillionaire from Florida

3.1/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Harpoon winter multi-pack is a pretty good deal; the beers are all pretty good, though they are mostly similar brown styles.

G - Newcastle pint

A - It pours a slightly hazy mahogany hue, with a pillowy head, good retention, some clingy lace.

S - As with nearly all of Harpoon's winter offerings, this beer has obvious notes of cocoa, along with a rich toffee malt presence.

T - It tastes a bit wimpy; the flavors are there, chocolate, roast, and bitter hop, but they are muted or 'mild', and it doesn't serve this beer well. The Munich-Type Dark from the same sampler has all of the same elements, exploited with much greater success.

M - Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation, a tad slick. The feel and flavor does not mesh.

D - Brown, sessionable, thus it is aptly titled. A bit like a glorified Newcastle. Actually, it is a lot better than Newcastle.

Feb 22, 2010
Photo of grayburn
grayburn from South Carolina

3.68/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Not a bad beer from harpoon. I thought it rather timely, with all the session beer threads we have been bombarded with as of late.

Pours a light brown, rather bright, which I found a little odd. Some Ruby edging and a small collar of light tan foam. The retention and lacing aren't top notch, but they suffice.

Some light toasted notes pair with caramel to comprise the brunt of the nose and the mouth. There could be quite a bit more flavor, more oomph. A bit on the bland side, there is some corn like graininess picking on me from the background. Decent, but not stellar.

The mouthfeel is just too damn thin and bubbly. I wanted a creamy, lightly carbed heavily flavored beer, and this session brown really couldn't deliver.

Not a bad beer, but in need of some tweaking to escape blatant mediocrity.

Feb 21, 2010
Photo of jiggahertz
jiggahertz from New Hampshire

3.75/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: burnt amber beer that passes little light has a quickly dissipating single finger head. Minimal to no lacing.

S: nice brown sugar, molasses, caramel nose

T: more hops up front then expected, sweetness really isn't as much as i expected from the nose. Finish is nice and dry.

M: medium bodied with a thin finish, high carbonation, refreshing

D: Reminds me more of a pale ale from the taste. The finish is a little thin, but overall a nice pour that pairs well with pub food.

Feb 12, 2010
Photo of scootny
scootny from New York

3.72/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A malty full flavored ale. clear brown with a decent head fading to a light film. bits of lace here and there. A lovely roasted grain and deep toffee aroma. Taste follows suit with a yeasty fruitiness and light mocha finish. Earthy hops as well. Feel is light, ( OK ) and a little thin, ( not so OK ). Carbonation is nice however. Easy to kill a few of these as it is quite refreshing and quaffable.

Dec 31, 2009
Photo of stakem
stakem from Pennsylvania

3.78/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle with a best by date of 1/15/10.

Pours a very clear brown color with a slightly tanned head boasting more than a fingers worth of height and a bunch of lacing upon the glassware. Pretty decent retension on the head. Nose has a bit of toasty grain and malt character that is both sweet and a little metallic in the finish of the aroma. Taste includes both malt and grain and has a bit of hop bitterness in the very crisp finish. Medium to higher amount of carb with a light feel. Little bit of metallic taste in the finish that blends with the slight hop bitterness.

At a time when all the buzz and hype seems to be about super double ultra imperial uber this that and the other thing, this fine little beverage is alright with me. It is certainly something I could sit and drink a few of in a session.

Dec 01, 2009
Photo of KTCamm
KTCamm from New Jersey

3.66/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours dark brown with creamy white foam that retains well and laces down the sides. Minimial lightly sweet smell.

Taste is firmer than a typical borwn - more hop than sweet. Some dark chocolate/coffee flavors. Typical smoothness and light carbonation in the mouth.

A drinkable brown, well made, more balanced than others.

Nov 27, 2009
Photo of JamesS
JamesS from Indiana

4.32/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very nice brown color with garnet tones; good head and nice lacing. Nice deep malty scent; sweet and mildly entish. Great taste, a nice deep malt flavor, nice and plain, with just a slight fuggle hop bite at the last. Goes down nice, if a little over carbonated. A very drinkable and wonderful session ale. A nice dark English mild.

Sep 22, 2009
Photo of Andreji
Andreji from Texas

4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Stored since april, i decided to care for myself by drinking this one after a long drive back home from my internship.

Pour is brown-reddish, deeper toned than i expected as it was discretely translucid yet not cloudy at all. tan head is thick and consolidated but dissipates fairly quickly leaving some lacing behind.

smell is sweet and inviting. very soft hoppy, maybe a scent of vanilla there at the end. hardly roasted at all.

taste is very nice. a soft malty feel, a bit watery at times, rather sweet with an immediate hoppy followup, not really all too bitter but rather grassy. well balanced, maybe a bit too soft and watery but it can be expected of a session beer.

And it is a very nice example of a session, all-in-all. wish i'd brought back more.

Sep 10, 2009
Photo of mooseisloose
mooseisloose from Florida

3.79/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle smell is brown sugar and delightful hops a brown sugar hallertau effect. Pours to a deep reddish brown with a nice clingy multi-sized bubble foamy head. Laces like a champ. Taste is hoppy and bitter in the beginning with continuing sweetness enveloped by a nice fading bitterness and a clean finish. Carbonation is there but fades quickly. As they state, this is a session ale, one is only a taste.

Aug 02, 2009
Photo of Dibujob
Dibujob from Illinois

3.68/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Came as part of a beer of the month club, my initial reaction was nothing special. After trying again a few months later I have to say it is better than I thought the first time around.

A-Pours a reddish-brown color with a thick head of foam.
S-smells of toasty/roasty malts. The aroma is very faint though and doesn't come through very strongly.
T-taste is rich and malty, well balanced with a good mouthfeel. All-in-all a very drinkable, sessionable ale.

Jul 28, 2009
Photo of deltatauhobbit
deltatauhobbit from Maine

3.27/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an amber? color, not really the brown that you could expect from the style, with a thin head.

Smell has a decent roasted malt backbone with a slightly hoppy aroma, the hops are actually stronger than I expected.

Taste is a bit thin for a brown ale, mostly roasted malt, medium to high carbonation, mouthfeel is lacking, definitely a session beer as it says, I'd sooner reach for a different local brown ale.

Jul 26, 2009
Photo of jaluria
jaluria from Connecticut

3.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this last week and was eager to give it a try. Overall, I liked the quality and flavor of the beer; it is undoubtedly a session beer. The light, crisp profile allows it to be consumed without harboring deep-rooted intentions.

Poured a soft, translucent brown with an off-white colored head that left behind touches of lacing. The beer had quite a bit of carbonation for the style. The aroma profile was simple; alcohol and malt. The flavor was a mix of fresh bread and ripe fruit, but fleeting. The core of the beer's flavor was soft malt. The mouthfeel was thin and crisp. I enjoyed the beer and could certainly have another, but it is not the end-all for its style nor is it awe-inspiring; just a good session beer.

Jun 10, 2009
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch from Colorado

3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to mikereaser for this one.

Pours a nice clean/clear golden brown color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus off-white fizzy head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, sweet, with some caramel. The taste is malty/sweet, and a nice touch of caramel. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a nice Brown Ale, glad to have had a chance to try it.

Jun 07, 2009
Photo of WanderingFool
WanderingFool from Massachusetts

3.58/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Harpoon Brown pours a clear bronze color into the glass with very few bubbles present. On top, an off white fizzy head about one finger wide forms. The foam fades quickly to a ring around the surface leaving behind some spots and lines of lace on the glass.

The aroma is malty, with sweet notes of caramel malt, some nuttiness and a touch of floral hops.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is dry on the palate with a moderate effervescent fizz on the tongue. To me it felt a bit thin for the style. The flavor is mainly sweet caramel and toasted malt. Some notes of nuts and a hint of ripe fruit (raisin?) are also present. Towards the end some hop bitterness moves in to help balance the sweetness. Once gone the sweet malt flavor lingers on the palate.

This is an easy drinking tasty beer that's pretty well balanced. I think it would go well with a nice cheeseburger cooked over the grill.

May 23, 2009
Photo of jeffthecheff
jeffthecheff from Connecticut

3.81/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best buy 5/16 on the neck. Poured straight down the middle in my shaped pint to a two finger, fluffy head with a great lacing. Color is brown with ruby highlights. Head ends up dying down a bit later.

Smell is delicate, with slight hops, nuts, cocoa, cooked steak.

Taste is mostly malt, but very light malt. Sweet, nutty flavor.

Certainly a session ale, like it says on the label. Doesn't leave much on the palate.

Mouthfeel is light for a malty brew, but very appropriate.

May 17, 2009
Photo of mralphabet
mralphabet from Virginia

3.85/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 Oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Light rusty brown color. 1 finger head, with some retention and good lacing.

S: Mostly toasted malt smell with some caramel, not much more.

T: Taste like it smells, toasted malts with a hit of caramel... maybe a tiny tiny touch of hops.. not much. This is more malty... with little to no aftertaste.... very nice overall.

M: Med bodied... good carbonation, velvet like feel.. very nice.

D: Very drinkable. This is a session beer like the name says, I could down a ton of these.

Not bad, but not the complex Brown... Just a good tasting beer.... Harpoon does not let you down.

May 14, 2009
Photo of PeterLemonjello
PeterLemonjello from Alabama

3.15/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured a crystal clear light brown/amber color with a touch of ruby. A little lighter than I would expect. Nice carbontation, little to no head. First thing I thought of when I looked at this beer in my glass..."looks thin."

S - Not a very aromatic beer. Smells that are present are of sweet malts and fruit.

T - Not a lot of flavor here and certainly nothing complex. I guess "session" can be defined as simplistic as this is just a bland beer. Not a lot going on. Faint flavors of sweet malts but it's just very watery/thin. Certainly nothing offensive exists, but certainly nothing noteworthy either. More flavors are present as reaches cellar temps but this beer needs to be kicked up a notch.

M - Very thin/watery.

D - Scores high here b/c it is very drinkable. I actually feel as though a craft beer newbie could be given this as a sort of transition/gateway beer. Not a bad beer, just not a good one.

May 14, 2009
Photo of Slatetank
Slatetank from Pennsylvania

3.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a blind tasting w/ tenderbranson69. Served chilled in a double walled tumbler.

A - Deep crimson/bronze w/ minuscule pale head. Subtle lace clings + the bead is pin sized

S - fruity and roasted but light roasted aroma w/ hints of caramel

M - Malt up front w/ subtle fruit sweetness and dry in the finish w/ moderate carbonation

T- A mild maltiness slightly chalky w/ a piney hop spice. The taste is biscuit-like w/ a mild yeast flavor and nuts in places. Mild vanilla and stone fruit w/ a mild spice again in the finish

D - A standard brown flavor wise, but drinkability is high since you can session this beer. A good amount of tast for the strength

May 11, 2009
Photo of ATPete
ATPete from New Jersey

3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

Pours a reddish, orange brown color with a small white head that leaves some sticking on the glass. Big hop nose, caramel malt and brown sugar. Good malt structure and excellent balance, this is 3 months after the expiration date, be noted i found this one in the back of the fridge. Crisp carbonation, light in body good flavor, a little cinnamon even. Very nice, a good surprise for sure.

May 09, 2009
Photo of JohnL9013
JohnL9013 from Pennsylvania

3.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Brown, what did you expect?

S: Definitely smells like malt with some hops poking through. Not much here.

T: The taste is a bit watery. I'm understanding this is a session beer, but it's really pretty boring.

M: Quite smooth, actually.

D: This stuff is really drinkable. That's where this beer shines. Otherwise, prepare to be bored.

May 06, 2009
Brown Session Ale from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 152 ratings