Brown ales tend to be malty and sweet on the palate with a full body. Color can range from reddish-brown to dark brown. Roasted malt, caramel and chocolate-like characters should be of medium intensity in both flavor and aroma. They have evident low to medium hop flavor and aroma and medium to high hop bitterness.
Brewers in London, England, first used the term “brown ale” in the late 17th century. Back then, brown ales varied in alcohol strength, were lightly hopped and brewed mostly from brown malt.
In the U.S., homebrewers were inspired by English-style brown ales and porters. It sits in flavor between those British styles and is more bitter than both. The average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 4.0-8.0%
The designation “brown ale” includes five styles of beer with the word “brown” in the title, and several more that fall into the brown color spectrum.
English-Style Brown Ale: Copper to brown in color. Medium body, ranges from dry to sweet maltiness and very little hop flavor or aroma.
Brown Porter: Medium to dark brown (may have red tint) in color. Light- to medium-bodied, low to medium malt sweetness, caramel and chocolate notes and medium hop bitterness.
Belgian-Style Flanders: Light- to medium-bodied deep copper to brown in color. Characterized by a slight to strong lactic sourness, low to medium bitterness and a cocoa-like character from roast malt. Oak-like or woody characters may be pleasantly integrated into overall palate.
German-Style Brown Ale (Düsseldorf-Style Altbier): Copper to brown in color. Medium body, malty flavor; hop character may be low to medium in the flavor and aroma.
American-Style Brown Ale: Deep copper to brown in color. Medium-roasted malt caramel and chocolate-like characters, low to medium hop flavor and aroma, medium to high hop bitterness and a medium body.
Sir William’s English Brown Ale, Grapevine, Texas: The English do it right, there is no doubt. But Texans do it better. This brown ale is based off of the traditional English-style brown ale, but carries a heartier malt profile and a more balanced approach to the style for the American palette.
With a light to medium body, the Sir William’s is easy drinking but doesn’t lack in complexity from roasted and specialty malts. This beer is hopped with traditional Goldings and Target hops. (IBUs: 21, ABV 4.9%, Body: Medium)
Brown Ale Food Pairings
It may come as a surprise, but brown ales are often heralded by brewers, chefs and beer experts as being one of the most food-friendly styles of beer. The malt and toasty flavors tend to resonate with lots of different foods.
Pair with beef stew, grilled and roasted meats, pork, sausage and barbecue. Also, sharp cheeses like Asiago, Colby, Emmentaler, Gloucester, Gouda and Gruyère.
Asian Pulled Pork Sliders
1 1/2 to 2 lb pork roast, excess fat or silverskin removed
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs sriracha (more or less, to taste)
2 tsp each fresh ginger & garlic, grated
1 pkg of FRESH brioche rolls or hamburger buns
Place the pork and all other ingredients in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or until pork is tender enough to shred with two forks. Taste for seasoning. Serve on hamburger buns or thick white bread.
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