This week I’ve got a few holiday season or limited-release throwback reviews for Tuesday Tastings—and interestingly enough, two of these three are brown ales, which you don’t find too often these days. Let’s get to it.
Fish Brewing Cousin Eddie’s RV Imperial Brown
Olympia, Washington’s Fish Brewing has been dabbling in licensed-movie themed beers of late; you may remember they had a line of “The Hobbit” beers, and this particular one, Cousin Eddie’s RV, is from their National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation series. It was 7.5% alcohol by volume and fortunately RateBeer has the description:
A warming Imperial Brown Ale loaded with complex malt flavors and balanced to style with subtle hop additions rounding out the brew. Sure to convince Cousin Eddie that this is better than Ellen’s eggnog.
Appearance: Clear brown color with amber highlights. Ample tan head that’s finely bubbled.
Smell: Nutty malts with a hint of roast. A bit of bread and some sweetness that’s maltose/grainy rather than caramel or sugar.
Taste: Pretty classic brown ale, malty and rich, little to no hops, and maybe a touch of alcohol heat. Gets a bit roastier as it warms.
Mouthfeel: Medium- to medium-full bodied, with a somewhat dry finish.
Overall: Nice brown, not particularly “Imperial” but competently brewed.
BridgePort Brewing Stumptown Tart with Marionberries
This was BridgePort’s second Stumptown Tart release for 2015, in their annual tart Belgian-styled ale with fruit series that’s been released every year for some time now. This version was brewed with Oregon marionberries and was 7.7% alcohol by volume. Untappd has the description for this version:
This limited edition Belgian Style Ale is brewed with juicy Marionberries from Marion County, Oregon, where they were first grown, and stands up to its name with a tart, earthy flavor and a trace of sweetness.
Appearance: Reddish color, light berry juice; very minimal head that disappeared quickly.
Smell: Tart berry, sweet with a lactic acid note (crushed aspirin). Hint of bubblegum. Does remind me of fresh tart blackberries.
Taste: Earthy profile reminding me of a strong Belgian golden, with stone fruit, grainy sweetness but really not tart to me. Sticks with that Belgian strong profile as it warms.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with a bit of an earthy finish.
Overall: Drinks fine, but I would like to taste more fruit.
New Belgium teamed up with Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream to produce this collaboration beer late in 2015, and they came up with a brown ale for the base of this concept beer—a good idea, because a good brown could complement this idea of ice cream well. It was 6.25% abv and they say:
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream beer. Our newest collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s brings together two different types of pint-makers for one common goal: To help Protect Our Winters combat climate change. When two foodie B Corps join forces for good, delicious ideas are created. Our Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale scoops the lip-smacking fun of dessert from a bowl right into your pint glass. Brewed with specialty ingredients and a healthy sweet tooth, this beer’s rich chocolaty, salted-caramel, vanilla goodness is worth savoring to the last drop. Reward yourself, and dig in!
Appearance: Deep brown color with ruby highlights. Creamy, fine light tan-colored head with nice legs.
Smell: Chocolate malts, coffee roastiness, a touch of brown sugar and molasses. Bittersweet dark chocolate. Pretty straightforward, brown ale profile.
Taste: Really quite nice brown ale, and while I get hints of cocoa, it’s not the “salted caramel brownie” experience you would expect. Malty, a touch of umami, a touch of roast, coffee sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, well attenuated, finishes with a hint a roasty sweetness.
Overall: A good brown which is rare, but not ice cream-y.