Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Couple Browns Around Town

Brown Ale is an ancient style of beer, but the Browns we see around now are of a somewhat more recent stock. These beers trace their lineage to just the early 1700s and the malty, often unhopped, ales brewed in Northern England. Jump forward about 300 years and you arrive at the American style of Brown Ale. The American Browns grew out of the homebrew scene of the early 1980s where the beer was brewed bigger in every way. Right now in Oshkosh, we have a couple classic examples of American Brown Ale being poured so let’s have at ‘em.

Bell's Best Brown on tap at Oblios.
This comes from across the lake in Comstock, Michigan and it may be the classic American Brown Ale. Hell, the BJCP even lists it as part of their style guide to Brown Ale. This beer is all about malt flavor. Caramel, chocolate, biscuit; if you like a malt profile that’s slightly sweet without being sticky, here’s the ale for you. It’s a medium bodied beer with a steady stream of mellow, malt flavor and just a hint of hops to clear the way for the next drink. Don’t stop after one, this is a beer made for drinking in multiples.

Dark Horse Boffo Brown Ale on tap at Becket’s
Here’s another Michigan Brown. Dark Horse Brewing of Marshall, Michigan has become known for brewing strong, intensely flavored beer and their Brown Ale certainly fits that profile. The beer pours deep brown and the rich, sweet maltiness of it is immediately apparent in the aroma. As full as the beer is, it still has a nice drinkability due to the slightly grassy hop presence that dries the beer out. Boffo may be a little big to be a true Brown (this makes Newcastle seem like mother’s milk) but it’s still in the sessionable range. If you like Browns, this is a beer to seek out.

By the way, if you stop at Becket’s to try out the Boffo Brown, you might want to give the Moon Man Pale Ale from New Glarus a shot, as well. I haven’t been a fan of the beer from the bottle, but the keg they have on at Becket’s right now seems to be a different animal entirely and substantially better than the packaged version.


  1. Considering I enjoyed the bottled Moon Man, I seriously need to stop at Beckets to try the tap version and taste the difference. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Just kicked the Brown...great suggestion!!! Thanks, Lee!!