Brown Session Ale | Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall

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Brown Session AleBrown Session Ale
152 Ratings
Brown Session AleBrown Session Ale

Brewed by:
Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Massachusetts, United States

Style: English Dark Mild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by Jason on 03-03-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 152 |  Reviews: 131
Reviews by JohnL9013:
Photo of JohnL9013
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of SIRIUS2
3.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

A: Deep chestnut brown in color, clear, with about 3/4" of off-white head. Retention was moderate, eventually dissipating to a ring and a few stray bubbles. No lacing to speak of.

S: Moderate malts, nutty, slightly earthy.

T&M: Nutty malty flavors, a touch sweet, with a medium weight in the mouth. The finish is long but soft, malty, with something a bit watery at the end. Carbonation is fine but moderate, accentuating the mild flavors. Overall, just a touch more than average, but enjoyable.

D: I thought this was aptly named as a session ale. There isn't anything overly pronounced about any particular part of this brew but as a whole it is rather tasty, if not much more than average. With a relatively low ABV this would be a nice session brew.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.06/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The label says brown session ale. I would agree. This is one of those easy drinking beers that you can have while watching the ballgame. It is a medium brown color with a small head. A little lacing. Aroma is mostly grainy. It has a grainy/malty/nutty taste. Some hops come in late. a relaxing beer.

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Photo of muffguy4beer
3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: The definition of the color brown, very clean. Light brown head which holds its own throughout the session.

Smell: Fair nose with toasted malts and hops. Nothing to write home about but not unpleasant either.

Taste: Nice balanced flavor. Toasty malts, nice hop bitterness. I tend to taste a bananery off-flavor in American browns (this could be a personal palate issue) but this beer does not seem to have it and its very pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, fairly smooth. Fits the style well.

Drinkability: For my tastes, an appropriately hopped American Brown Ale can be on of the most drinkable styles and Harpoon's interpretation fits that billing.

The only reason this beer doesn't get higher marks with me is that I usually feel a little let down with browns. In terms of taste they do not stand out, there is never that "man this is special" moment when tasting a brown.

This beer, as stated on the label, is a session beer and one hell of one at that. If it makes its way into Boston area restaurants/pubs it will most likely be my local standby beer when out.

It is definitely worth checking out....

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Photo of generallee
3.89/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It's got a sweet dark reddish brown color and excellent clarity. A small head is formed which quickly fades out. The aroma is light with some floral hop notes. Its flavor is a wonderful mix of caramel, maple, brown sugar, with roasted and toasted malts. All of which are tempered with a pleasing hop bitterness that floats around on the tongue. Its medium body and soft carbonation give it a smooth mouth feel that is very drinkable. Well done!

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Photo of Billolick
3.67/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle that pours typical dark honey amber and clear. Slight medium tan head and film. Cozy malty nose, leads to a nice brew based upon an undercoating of maple malts. Low bittering. Its called a session beer and at 4.3% and with soft malt, mellow hops all in boring balance, I suppose you could "enjoy this one all night long"....yawn...

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Photo of nem2006
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Pours clear and brown with good carbonation visible. Had a nice, foamy, slightly tan head.

Smells sweet and nutty. Malts definitely outdo the hops.

This is light to medium bodied with a clean mouthfeel and finish. You can feel the carbonation. Taste a little more mild than I expected after smelling it. Starts off slow, but then you catch a little sweetness before it turns to a subtle and fleeting bitterness. Also can catch a very little bit of nuttiness in the middle. A quick finish.

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Photo of bpfrush
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.11/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appears a clear light caramel brown large off white beige head floats above the body nicely with good retention the head dwindles to form even streaks of lacing with each sip. Aroma has mildly herbal spicy note with roasty mild chocolate and a touch of coffee coming through creamy grains a bit of a tart character in there as well. A blend of dry roastiness from the darker roasts mild tofee, chocolate and coffee notes collide with herbal weak hop flavor mild creamy notes but overall a cereal mix of grainy dark bread. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied carbonation is a bit high tickling the back of the throat the flavor really concentrates and stays on the palate. Drinkability here's the good news highly manageable at 4.3% abv but I'm not that into brown ale, this one continues to keep it a mediocre style.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.47/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Harpoon- Brown

A- Clear amberish brown with a moderate size foamy white head. Light lacing along the top half of the glass.
S- Molasses malt with a dusting of black licorice and cocoa powder.
T- Cola syrup, molasses, & licorice malt. Cocoa powder sprinkled in. Slight pine hop presence as well.
M- Sweet and dry malty start with a sweetened slightly hoppy finish.

Overall- Not bad and, like the name, a Session Ale.

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
2.99/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours out looking like stained mahogony brown color, good activity with an initial 1" foamy, creamy tan colored head that dissipates quick with plenty of clumpy foam left over.

The nose has mild chocolate malt scent with a really nice, tangy, if not sour, hop scent underneath. A whiff of an old Ladies Grandma just got a perm type "off" smell irritates the nose a bit. Roastie nuts and a subtle herb scent are in decent balance.

THe flavor is a mild, nutty but clean malt along with a biting herbal sourness that provides balance. Undertone's of earthy herbs and some slight soapy "off" flavor's are the only bad apspect of the flavor. The hops are pretty bitter in the finish, maybe too bitter in the long run.

This has a medium body but it's crispy enough to call refreshing. clean feel through and through.

It's going to be a short session!

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Photo of mempath
3.82/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into a classic lager glass (with Coke advertising...). looks like a really foamy Coke, but with lighter, fluffier head...good lacing.

deep but not overpowering maltiness in the nose. a swirl releases more of the same, but more intensely. bready, yeasty notes.

though it's not a bock, something here reminds me oddly of Shiner...but this is simply better, thicker, tastier...more dimensionality. not quite the crisp mouthfeel, but this is very drinkable.

not much of an aftertaste. sure, it's a session brew by name and after experiencing it. not sure i'd choose it if there were alot of other choices. but this is a fine example of the brown ale. i think if allowed to warm up over good pub conversation, it would certainly become a great sessioneer!

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Photo of tempest
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is another nice brown ale with nutty flavor. It's kind of in between the lighter English browns and the more chocolate-y American browns. This had a bit of cocoa with the nutty barley taste. The flavor for the most part was on, but it came off a bit grainy. Worth a try if you're into browns.

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Photo of freewill35
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Faulconerbrewing
4.28/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a nice deep brown color with a good clean white frothy head. The head stayed around for a bit and lacing occoured as I drank it down. First taste brings out a slight bitterness that is blended together with some caramel malt sweetness, bread like maltiness. very balanced, and not very hoppy (as others have stated). Slight hop aroma, but not much as it mostly smells of caramel malt. Carbonation was medium to high and serverd the beer well.

Extremely drinkable brown. Will be in my fridge constantly as this beer can be embibed whenever. I'm going to try and make a homebrewed version soon.

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Photo of KOPBeerDrinker
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass. Color is brown with reddish tint. About one finger of head quickly subsided with almost no lacing. Smells of sweet malt with hint of caramel, a little fruity. Biscuity malt taste with earthy, burnt taste. Some hop flavors. Mouthfeel is light and carbonated, very easy to drink.

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Photo of Lnedrive14
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

I don't know that billing yourself as a "Session Ale" is necessarily the way to go. I could make a pretty good session out of some pretty crappy beer. I would hope that breweries care more that people enjoy a single sip of their beer, rather than 20 in a row....but on to the review...

It is a quite average brown ale, with the one notable characteristic that it is very low in alcohol. poured a medium brown with a 1.5" head. caramel malts in the nose as well as some root sugar. taste is similar. as someone mentioned below, body was surprisingly good given the low alcohol. harpoon is correct in saying it is very drinkable....i definitely could polish off a case of these without breaking a sweat.

it's not a bad beer by any means, and would probably be a pretty good option for something called March Madness tomorrow, or a barbecue in the summer...

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Photo of scootny
3.72/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.66/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of Trailmix242
4/5  rDev +11.7%

Photo of puboflyons
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured this from a 12 fl. oz. bottle with a Best by date of 05/15/09 and lot number of 337. It really is a good looking brown ale. It is definitely brown in color and somewhat clear with an off-white head that does not las too long. The aroma has a touch of bitter hops and something vaguely fruity. That's not the best description but I can't put my finger on just what the aroma reminds me of. It does not remind me of nuts. Reasonable body and bitter taste. A nice one from Harpoon.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark brown-cola with a thin off white head.

S: There is some light roasted nuttiness.

T: for flavor, some light brown sugar notes, biscuit, and caramelized malt sweetness along with some nuttiness.

M: light, somewhat slick with the nuttiness coming through better upon warming on the tongue.

D: A good session brown with moderate flavor and bordering on good but falls just a tad short because it just doesn't do enough to stand out flavor wise.

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Photo of bonbini26
2.5/5  rDev -30.2%

Photo of Dibujob
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Brown Session Ale from Harpoon Brewery & Beer Hall
Beer rating: 3.58 out of 5 with 152 ratings