Beer Review #12 – Brown Ales

Dogfish Head’s ‘Palo Santo Marron’

‘PALO SANTO MARRON’ – DOGFISH HEAD – American Brown Ale – 12.00% ABV (Eye Choir’s Top Choice)

Appearance: Poured very dark, almost opaque amber, with a one-finger, robust mahogany head. Too dark to see any other qualities such as carbonation. 4.5/5

Smell: Immediate hit of potent smoked wood, spicy vanilla, and a background of chocolate or cocoa. Bready caramel malt flavors as well as an array of subtle, booze-filled dark fruits. 5/5

Taste: Sweeter than expected, augmenting brown sugar caramel, chocolate malt, and to some extent, the dark fruit taste which is now quite reminiscent of wine. Very strong, a little overwhelming at first. Tannins add a subtle bitterness as well. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Heavy body, with a syrupy mouthfeel that falls in right in line with the taste. Has a lot of alcoholic heat (as well as taste) but the strong fragrance and commanding flavors help keep it balanced. Carbonation isn’t significant. 4.5/5

Overall: Very thick, heavy and powerful. Gives off the impression of being ‘winey’. Flavors are quite interesting. A face-melter that can not be drank any other way than slowly. 5/5

– – –

BROWN ALE – BROOKLYN – American Brown Ale – 5.60% ABV

Appearance: Poured a dark orange-red with a two-finger, beige head. Though transparent,  it is almost too dark to see what little carbonation there is. 4/5

Smell: Predominantly caramel malt, very sweet and maybe a little toasty, with notes of toffee, and touches of brown sugar, nuts, and even mild spices. Even at a warmer temperature, not very strong, though. 3/5

Taste: Malts are quite sweet, with a limited hop bitterness which comes with a very vague herby, spicy note. Strong caramel and nut flavors, especially almond. Maybe touches of fruit such as plum as well. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, but not in the refreshing sense. Sort of thin mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. A little bit of alcoholic heat at the finish. 3.5/5

Overall: Not very immediately impressive, but has an okay palate, though not particularly strong or distinctive. Would be very sessionable. 3.5/5

– – –

‘EXIT 8 CHESTNUT BROWN ALE’ – FLYING FISH – Belgian Brown Ale brewed with chestnuts and honey – 8.30% ABV

Appearance: Poured a dark, but still slightly transparent, violet brown with a two-finger, light brown head. No carbonation can be seen. 4/5

Smell: Strong backbone of roasted, nutty malt with chestnut and hints of cocoa and honey. Sprinkled generously on top is a selection of overripe dark-fruit aromas as well as some traces of spicy phenols and booziness. 4.5/5

Taste: Soft sweetness couched in moderate to mild tartness which initially enhances the fruit flavors. However, this turns quickly to a mild to moderate honeyed bitterness which leads into the finish, where the malt profile begins to dominate, backed with hints of piney hop. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with even a slightly creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is noticeable in the beginning, but gives way to a smooth, alcohol-warming finish. 4/5

Overall: Oddly successful blend of two styles that manages to stay balanced. A bit crowded at times, with flavors fighting for prominence, but the interesting evolution of the flavor largely attenuates this problem. 4/5

– – –

‘INDIAN BROWN ALE’ – DOGFISH HEAD – American Brown Ale – 7.20% ABV 

Appearance: Poured an extremely dark, nearly opaque brown-red with a two-finger, tan head. Nothing can be seen in the body of the beer. 4/5

Smell: Prominent aromas are nutty/chocolate roasted malt and dark fruit such as figs and raisins. There is also some leafy, almost floral, citrus hops and a slight oakiness. 4.5/5

Taste: Surprising relative lack of sweetness for a brown ale, instead there being a moderate tartness and moderate to heavy bitterness which magnifies the cocoa malt flavors. Perhaps less subtle than optimal. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to high carbonation, though still smooth and even creamy, suiting the style. 4/5

Overall: Balanced with a nice malt profile, but some of the other components are weak in taste. Quite tasty, but certainly not representative of the American brown ale style. 4/5

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