Tag Archives: Brown Ale

Day 13 – Nøgne Ø – Adventurous Brown

It’s a busy time of year, December. Parties to attend, work still to do, and a lot of hustle and bustle. Being the first Christmas with a daughter, it’s adding to the mix. There are so many things you don’t think about before children. Luckily, no matter what happens during the day, I know I’ve got an interesting beer at home to dive into. Today is no different. It’s a brewery we’ve seen in the calendar before bringing us an Oak and Cyprus aged Brown Ale from Nønge Ø called “Adventurous Brown.”

This brewery, located in Grimstad on the southern coast of Norway about 232km from Oslo, is the largest supplier of craft beer in Norway and the first brewer of sake in Europe.  The name, Nønge Ø, means “naked island”, a term used to describe the barren rocky outcroppings visible in the sea.  In 2013 it was acquired by Hansa Borg Bryggerier who own a family of regional breweries in Norway: Hansa, Borg and Christanssand Bryggeri.

While the founder and head brewer, Kjetil Jikiun, who started Nønge Ø in 2003 mainted his position initially, he decided to part ways left Nøgne Ø on July 31. 2015. He still hold shares at Nøgne Ø. It was under his passionate drive and uncompromising mind for quality that allowed this brewery to grow from 300 HL up to 3500 HL in only 7 years.  A dedicated team of 24 employees are carrying on and further developing the initiative made possible by the two founders Gunnar and Kjetil. Today, they produce over 20 different styles of beer and have a brilliant mind for flavor.

Brown ales are a style of beer that get their name from their color, mostly.  The term was first used by brewers in the late 17th century and was used to describe a milder ale.  This term is rather different than how we use it today, but originally these brews were lightly hopped and brewed with 100% brown malt.  Today these beers are brewed in a variety of different regions and are used to describe a few different flavor profiles from sweet, low alcohol beers, medium strength amber beers of moderate bitterness, and malty but hoppy beers.

They range from deep amber to brown in colour and typically have caramel and chocolate flavours evident in their profiles.  This is a North American Brown Ale differ from their English counterparts.  Instead of using exclusively brown malts, American Brown Ales tend to use American Crystal Malt, which gives a sharper edge to the beer, as well as often roasted chocolate or coffee malts.  They are also often hopped, unlike the English ones, which tend to make them drier than their English counterparts and give a citrus accent and medium body due to the American hop varieties.

Appearance – Pours dark brown with no head.
Smell – Smells of oak and the woody, slightly spicy smell of Cyprus. Smells a bit like whiskey with hints of caramel.
Taste – Barrel aged oak flavour comes through right away with subtle sweetness and hints of Caramel and chocolate.
Mouth feel – Medium full body with medium carbonation and subtle oak bitter finish
Overall – Overall a unique brown ale that presents an interesting flavour combinations that go well together. Masking of the 10% alcohol is well done and this beer is fairly drinkable.
Do I like it?
– I did enjoy it. I enjoy oak aged beers and find the flavour to bring a nice sweetness and flavour to the beers.

Day 11 – Grizzly Paw Brewing Company – Ursa Major Brown Ale

Day 11 - Grizzly Paw Brewing Company - Ursa Major Brown Ale

This week has been a pretty hectic week.  I’ve been working as usual but with extra meetings during the day and in the evenings.  I also happen to have a meeting this weekend.  Normally this would not be that bad, it’s pretty common place for me.  Unfortunately, I happen to also be trying to finalize my thesis presentation for my defense, practice this, and come up with questions I might be asked.  This has added a bit of stress to my week.  Luckily, I always have a beer waiting for me to try and so far I’ve been pretty happy with most of them.

On day 11 of the advent calendar I get to try a beer from a brewery I’ve had the opportunity to visit.  It is Grizzly Paw Brewing Company’s Ursa Major Brown Ale.

Grizzly Paw is a brewpub located on Canmore’s Main Street in the Canadian Rockies.  It’s a beautiful location surrounded by the mountains and on a clear day it’s just absolutely spectacular.  I had the opportunity to visit with my brother a few years back and it’s almost surreal to sit amongst the Rockies enjoying a fresh pint of beer right from the brewery itself.

The owner, Niall Fraser, got the idea for opening this brew pub from his frequent visits to “The Rocks” in Sydney, Australia.  While he was living there he frequented this brewery/pub and was impressed by the setup on old granite rocks nestled in the famous historic district between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

When he returned to Canada, he sought a perfect location to open his brewpub and finally found it while on a mini-vacation, Canmore, Alberta.  On April 29th, 1996, the brewery opened its doors for the first time and has been trucking away ever since.  Originally brewing a partial mash and only 200 litres at time, the brewery grew substantially and by 2009 they needed to open a brand new brewery to keep up with demand.  In April, 2013, the new brewery opened up and at 20,000 sq/ft the space is quite large.

Not only does Grizzly Paw brew beers, they also make micro-brewed sodas, make great burgers using Alberta beef, and other foods as well.  Being Canada’s first brewpub, Grizzly Paw offers quite a lot of variety and acts as a tourist attraction.

This beer is an American brown ale.  These ales get their origins from the originally English brown ales.  The term brown ale was first used in the 17th century.  These beers varied in alcohol content but were usually brewed with light hops and brown malt.  They grew to fame in the 1925 with the release of Newcastle Brown Ale which set the stage for the success of future beers in this style. In 1986, craft beer pioneers Pete Slosberg and Mark Bronder released “Pete’s Wicked Ale” which basically set the stage for the American Brown Ale style.

This style includes the dark-brown ales from southern England, reddish-brown ales from northeast England, and even the slightly sour brown ales from Flanders.  American Brown Ales are a recognized member of this spectrum and tend to have more hop bitterness than their English cousins.  The style is also lower on the alcohol spectrum, typically between 3.3% and 5%, has caramel and chocolate malt characteristics, low to medium hop aroma and medium to high hop bitterness.  On to the beer.

 

 

Rating:  71/100

Appearance:  Rich and clear dark brown with very little head even though I poured it somewhat aggressively.
Smell: Caramel, chocolate, roasted malts as well as notes of hop tartness.
Taste:  Malty on the front, but not a very deep richness to the malt flavours, they fade quickly to a mild bitterness from the hops that lingers. Dry on the finish with slight citrus.
Mouthfeel: Soft mouthfeel with very low carbonation, this one is almost flat to me. It is likely due to age or transport. Dry finish with slight citrus notes.
Overall:
American Brown Ale styles should be dominated by the hop bitterness with the malt flavours playing a supporting role. This one certainly has the hop bitterness as the star as the malty sweetness fades quickly to the bitterness from the hops.  It has a dry finish as well as some very soft citrus notes.  Roasted malt is present which compliments the hop bitterness nicely.  The lack of carbonation takes the rest of the flavours down a notch and they don’t taste as full as I would have expected.
Do I like it: It’s not bad. I don’t drink a lot of brown ales and those that I do I prefer of the other various styles of this category, specifically the sour ones from Flanders.  It’s a nice beer that if it wasn’t almost flat I would likely have enjoyed more. It’s one of the risks with this calendar given that the beers tend to sit a while and have to be transported.

Half Pints – Doc Emmett Brown Ale

Half Pints - Doc Emmett Brown Ale

Today’s review comes to us from a local brewery of which I am very proud to be able to support.  Their creativity and attention to detail allows for some really tasty and unique beers to be produced.  The introduction of growlers in Manitoba has only allowed for this creativity to increase and they have gone so far as to produce 50 litre test batches of a beer that they wanted to try out.  Yes folks, I am talking about Half Pints Brewing Co from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

When I first moved here from the maritimes I felt like there was something missing, a creative craft brewery.  There were two local breweries around when I first arrived, Fort Garry and The Agassiz Brewing Company. Both were good, but they produced their beers and didn’t really stray outside that box.  When Half Pints came along I was incredibly happy.  They brought with them some unique brews as well as a penchant for coming up with some fun and seasonal beers as well as some event specific brews (like Peddle Power for example).  This has continued and increased I’d say and I’m always interested to read what they’ve got coming next.

Now, knowing that I will be talking about Half-Pints more than once, I’ll give a bit of a backer on how they got started.The head brew master/president of Half Pints Brewing is David Rudge.  David started his path towards Half Pints in 2000 when he enrolled in the American Brewer’s Guild Craft Brewing Science and Engineering program.  After finishing this program he began searching for a job as a brewer.  He began he career as the Assistant brewer in BC at Backwood Brewing Company (now Dead Frog) where he started learning the practice of brewing at a full scale brewery.  After finding that the lower mainland didn’t agree with them, he packed up and headed to Regina where he worked for 3.5 years as the head brewer for Bushwakker brewing company.  A variety of twists and turns along life’s road brought him to Winnipeg Manitoba in July of 2005.  Having all this experience under his belt the plunge was taken and after A LOT of work Half Pints Brewing Co opened its doors in February 2006 and started selling their delicious brews that July.

I’m always incredibly impressed with the creativity of the brewing coming out of Half Pints as well as their involvement in the local Home Brew scene and willingness to assist others.  I’m hoping to sit down with Mr. Rudge should I get the chance so I can chat with him a bit more, we shall see if I am lucky enough to snag that chance.  The beer I’ll be reviewing is their most recent 1000 litre growler batch, aptly named for 2015 the Doc Emmett Brown Ale.

Brown ales are a style of beer that get their name from their color, mostly.  The term was first used by brewers in the late 17th century and was used to describe a more mild ale.  This term is rather different than how we use it today, but originally these brews were lightly hopped and brewed with 100% brown malt.  Today these beers are brewed in a variety of different regions and are used to describe a few different flavor profiles from sweet, low alcohol beers, medium strength amber beers of moderate bitterness, and malty but hoppy beers.

They range from deep amber to brown in colour and typically have caramel and chocolate flavours evident in their profiles.  This is a North American Brown Ale differ from their English counterparts.  Instead of using exclusively brown malts, American Brown Ales tend to use American Crystal Malt, which gives a sharper edge to the beer, as well as often roasted chocolate or coffee malts.  They are also often hopped, unlike the English ones, which tend to make them drier than their English counterparts and give a citrus accent and medium body due to the American hop varieties.  Let’s get to this particular beer tho and see what we’ve got!

Appearance:  Luscious dark brown with a nail’s width of head that retains well and provides some rimming around the glass.
Smell: Definite chocolate notes right up front with some almost hickory notes hidden away on the back end likely from roasting or perhaps something added I’m not aware of.  Notes of hop are there as well possibly a cascade or Amarillo.
Taste: That chocolate malty flavor comes through right on the first taste which then flows into a slightly bitter dry finish which is really rather nice.  It cuts the initial sweetness and leaves you wanting more. That hickory smell doesn’t come through in flavor but there are some bitter notes from the hops. Not a ton of complexity in there, but it was solid flavor wise.
Mouth feel: A little heavy on the carbonation with a coarse mouthfeel.
Overall: Excellent example of a North American brown ale that seems to almost draw from the bitterness of some of the English folks while still maintaining that North American dry finish.  Described as being made with 1.21 Jigawatts of deliciousness, this Brown ale does not disappoint. My only complaint really was the higher carbonation, though not a huge detractor for me.
Do I like it: I’m not usually a huge fan of brown ales.  This one was pretty good though and I’m not upset to have an entire growler to consume.  The carbonation was a little bit high for me on this one but overall I was really impressed with the flavours brought out in this one, even if I didn’t find huge complexity, it was nice and well-rounded. The bitterness cutting the sweetness from the malt was good making this a beer that is good for those who may not be huge fans of overtly malty beers.  Overall I like it and I’d buy it again.