Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie
will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:
How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find
it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer
you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.
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For the longest time, I never liked brown ale because I never liked Newcastle. I thought it was unnecessarily sour, tangy, and funky. I avoided it more than bad lagers. Well, not liking brown ale because I didn't like Newcastle was the same as someone saying they don't like beer because they don't like Budweiser. It was a poor excuse.
All it took to turn me on to brown ale was a taste of the good stuff --
much like all it takes to turn a non-beer drinker into a beer drinker
is a taste of a quality craft brew. I tried beers like Brooklyn Brown Ale, Samuel Smith's Nut Brown, and Abita Turbodog (yes, it's actually a brown ale!). And I found out that I absolutely love the stuff.
Rich, malty, but not overly sweet, brown ales are the possibly some of
the best balanced beers out there when you consider the whole spectrum
of beer making. While some people shy away from dark stouts and porters
(think Guinness), those same people might enjoy the less aggressive,
fruitier, maltier flavors of a good brown. I have a good friend who is
not a big beer drinker by any stretch: he can hardly drink most lagers,
let alone a full-flavored brew like an Imperial IPA or a rich stout.
But brown ales he loves. He can't get enough of them, and I think it's
because they're so accessible.
The most recent brown I've tried is Old Brown Dog from Portsmouth, New Hampshire's Smuttynose Brewing.
It's a full-bodied brown with rich, mildly nutty flavors and a very
balanced dose of hops. It's hardly sweet, but those fruity esters make
themselves known. The head pours thick and foamy but dissipates
quickly, leaving a highly drinkable but potent (6.7 percent alcohol)
Smuttynose is in the process of building a new brewing facility,
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so chances are once that's complete (scheduled in 2011) you'll be able
to find the beer at even more outlets than now. But as is, you can pick
up Smuttynose Old Brown Dog at Total Wine & Spirits and BX Beer
Depot. Even if you dislike Newcastle, give it a try.