Monday, February 27, 2006

How Now, Brown Ale?

I just figured out that I've NEVER brewed a brown ale. Charlie Papazian's article and recipe for an American Brown Ale in the Mar/Apr edition of Zymurgy has inspired me. I think I'll brew my own version of this for my next "session beer" to have on tap. Session beer is defined by:
"Any beer that contains no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish - a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (Yes, you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk.)"

I've never felt a need to have a brown ale on tap. I absolutely hate the sweeter versions of the style that lots of clone-happy extract brewers love, (like Newcastle). Mine will be crisp and clean, with a twist, (no doubt). I've tasted some very nice versions of this style over the years, but nothing comes to mind as "outstanding" or especially memorable. I would like to at least try to brew a "very decent" tasting beer that some would say is at least memorable.

For the last 2 years or so, my session beer of choice to have on tap has been a Kölsch. Non-beer-snobs who are scared to venture "out of the box" usually like my versions of a Kölsch, so it's a nice beer to have on hand. It's also a nice palate-cleanser between high-gravity beer tastings. It's just always been a decent beer to have around. (I used to have American Pale Ale on tap for the same reasons).

I'll try a brown, for a while, instead. I'll let you all know what I come up with for a recipe. I won't be able to brew it for a couple of weeks, though, due to time constraints. Darn!


headlessbob said...

I think brown ales were the first beer to get me out of the "american yellow beer" style. The thing I like about brewing them is that there is some room to do a little bit of whatever you want.
As for session beers, thats something I've always been concerned about with my homebrew selections in the past... I usually like to make "interesting beers", but some people won't stray from the mainstream. Of course, I'll want to offer something that anybody will enjoy, so I've brewed more "simple" beers for that cause too. Really... we're homebrewing for other people... our friends are our target market :)

Ben, aka BadBen said...

I never thought of it that way, but you're right; our friends are our target market. Luckily, my friends tastes have evolved to enjoy Belgians, Barleywines, and Imperial (Etceteras).

But I also need to have session beers on hand, just so that I can justify (to myself) drinking 2 or 3 beers in a row, I think. The temptation when you're a homebrewer is to make "interesting" beers, and a lot of those are high-gravity brews. (I am refering to homebrewers like you and me, of course; and not the clone-happy brew-out-of-a-kit brewers).