09 February 2009

Brown Ale

Rating: 7.7
Brewery: Brooklyn (New York, NY)
Glass: Pint
ABV: 5.5%
Seller: The Foodery (Philadelphia, PA)
When Enjoyed: 07 February 2009

Consider this week to be round one in a set of comparative ratings between two breweries that consistently stand in comparison against one another; NYC's Brooklyn Brewery and Delaware's Dogfish Head. This week will pair off reviews of each brewery's brown ale, today, Brooklyn's classic Brown Ale. Harry will be posting later with an assessment of DFH's storied Santo Palo Marron.

Brooklyn Brown may be considered by some to be Brooklyn's flagship ale. Brooklyn, philosophically speaking, strives to create genre defining ales, steering clear of wacky ingredients, extreme techniques and much of the madcap artistry that draws people to DFH. Instead Brooklyn has sought a sobering (see what I did there?) approach, concentrating on getting the right balance of malts, yeast, water, hops and barley so as to conjur a stylistic form. In European terms, they look towards the British and the Germans much more than the Belgians, Dutch or French. All that said, Brown Ale may be Brooklyn's by the book attempt at a classic English style.

This beer starts off great. Poured into a pint glass, it has an embracing dark brown color that toes the line with a porter. It hits you with a smooth, almost creamy malt front end. The hops come through ever so slightly in the middle and it leaves you with hints of chocolate and coffee. Indeed, this is a beer that hits all the right notes on that first sip. The question then is, where does this beer go from here?

That is exactly where this beer trails off. As nice as those particular notes and flavors are, it all seems pretty standard. Brooklyn seems to have gotten so caught up in making a standard bearing classic that it left out some of the muscle this beer should have. I might also point out, this is an incredibly safe beer. Not to doubt the brewing talents of Brooklyn (to be sure, they are some of the brightest American brewing minds), but the degree of difficulty on this type of Brown Ale is quite low. How can you really go wrong with dark malts, coffee, chocolate and a lowish ABV? You can't really, and that is why this beer is eminently enjoyable, but not really all that interesting.