The most recent Irish Beer Snob podcast, featuring Brian from Craic Beer Community, included not just a shout-out to our little podcast (cheers, lads! – obviously, ‘lads’ is gender-neutral here – Janice is very much a part of this picture), but also a discussion about how they're Quite Serious about wanting to see more brown ales out and about in the world. I am also very much in this camp, and while I'm thrilled we have two great options here in Ireland, even more would be delightful. I got to thinking about my favo(u)rites in this style, and came up with the following list:
Ballykilcavan Brewing Bambrick's Brown Ale - 5.8%
Happy to have this in my fridge year-round; it goes with everything and it is the perfect antidote to a session of beers that don’t always taste like ‘beer’ – you nerds all know what I mean.
Lough Gill Brewery Mac Nutty - 5.5%
You had me at macadamia nuts, but it’s also a perfectly-balanced brown ale. And speaking of macadamia nuts…
Maui Brewing Company Lahaina Town Brown - 5.1%
Hawai’ian breweries are simply great at dark beers - it's just science. Their Coconut Hiwa Porter is fantastic as well, but this limited release beer is a little bit nutty with just the right amount of roast. Obviously, I won’t be able to get it here in Ireland, but perhaps there will be travel again, some day.
Waikiki Brewing Company English Brown Ale - 5.14%
It's so good I bought the t-shirt. I don't wear the Churchillian-dog-themed t-shirt as much now around town, but what a delightful beer – lots of notes of chocolate that made it a perfect dessert beer in the glorious Hawai’i sun.
Burke-Gilman Brewing Company LoBro London Brown - 3.6%
One of our old local breweries in Seattle - this low-ABV charmer is based on a century-old recipe with the usual necessary tweaks - it's got a lot of body and great flavo(u)r for its strength. We have a beautiful stainless steel growler from Burke-Gilman; someday, post-lockown, I’ll need to show it off to people so they. can see how different an American ‘growler’ is from its Irish counterpart.
Naked City Brewery Betsy's Mountain Brown - 5.4%
Pour one out for Naked City - we used to go here annually to take photos with (Beer) Santa, but they closed back when we still lived in Seattle. Although they regularly brewed a wide variety of styles, this was always my go-to. Ah well.
Populuxe Brewing Beer Snob Brown - 5.1%
Alas, like its semi-neighbor Naked City, Populuxe is gone forever…but this was an outstanding beer from a wonderful little brewery. I loved it and loved Populuxe – they were an underrated stop in the Ballard Brewery District (as I believe we are calling it now); very laid-back, lovely space, fun video games and pinball…but, sadly, no more.
Victory Brewing Company D-Town Brown Ale - 5.4%
Because (most) people on Untappd don't understand brown ales that aren’t adulterated with bourbon/marshmallows/etc, it gets a 'meh' rating, but it's far from a 'meh' beer - you won't get it outside the Philly area, and it's something of a rarity even at the OG Downingtown brewery, but well worth seeking out.
The Kernel Brown Ale – 5.6%
We’ve been getting beers from The Kernel for a few months now here in Ireland; I may not be able to get to London, but at least they can come to us. If we could get some Anspach & Hobday too, this lockdown wouldn’t be so bad…and on the subject of British breweries, now that The Brewery of St Mars of the Desert has revived Jack D’Or, which I adored when it was still Pretty Things, perhaps it’s not too much to hope that St Botolph’s Town Brown Ale could also make a comeback? Pretty please? (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
So, there you have it - a very quick rundown of top-flight brown ales - let's have more!