Today’s Beer 101 focuses on the honorable American Brown Ale.
The American Brown Ale is named, naturally, for its brown color. The color of this ale actually ranges from dark amber to deep copper to almost black. It has medium (usually toasty) maltiness and is usually between 4-6% ABV, 25-60 IBUs, and an original gravity of 1.04-1.055. American Brown Ales have a low to moderate hop flavor and aroma and a medium to high hop bitterness. The malt and hops tend to be well balanced. This ale is dry, and sometimes slightly crisp and citrusy from american hops such as crystal or cascade. The American Brown Ale can be thought of as a hoppier version of a British Brown Ale or a less malty version of the Porter. This is not a porter, though: while it has some similarities with its flavors- including caramel, chocolate or coffee- it is much lighter in mouthfeel and density than it’s porter cousin. It is smoother and easier to drink than the roasty, burnt, bitter characters of porters or stouts.
Spawned from the British Brown Ale, the American Brown Ale differs mainly in that it is made with ingredients originating in America. The north american Brown Ales trace their heritage to American home brewing adaptations of certain northern English beers. London brewers first used the term brown ale in the late 1600’s. This term resurfaced in the late 1800’s with the production of Manns brown ale in England. The American version of this drink style is a bolder expression, but still very approachable by beer novices and experts.
A perfect example of the venerable American Brown Ale is Rogue Brewery’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar. It has an outstanding 93% positive rating from “the bros” on the popular website beeradvocate.com. Hazelnut Brown Nectar has 8 different malts, hazelnut, cocoa, toasted grains and brown sugar sweet notes. Rogue Brewery founder Jack Joyce explains that his beer involves the addition of actual nuts in the brew: “The original nut brown didn’t have nuts in it. The hazelnut is the official nut of Oregon, and we’re the largest hazelnut producing state in the nation.” Hazelnut Brown Nectar pairs very well with food in general, and especially barbecue and aged cheeses like parmesan. Try it with the Times pizza here at the Pizza Press and you will be blown away!