Brown Ales

Joining Us...

The Beer For Today

Mike McDole

Mike was a long time homebrew phenom.

  • One of the co-hosts on The Brewing Network
  • Winner of the Sam Adams Longshot Competition

  • Won the Mayfaire twice (2005, 2006)

  • Janet's Brown Ale has been brewed professionally multiple times.

Some "History"

Brown Ale through the ages

Style?

  • The First Law of Beer History - It's Not
  • The Second Law of Beer History - Styles are a modern thing

History in a Color

  • Beer was largely organized by "city" and color
  • White, Red (Rood), Brown (Brune)
    • Black beers needed black malt first
  • In other words - many different types of beer have fallen under the moniker of "Brown Ale" or "Brown Beer" over the ages.

What That Means For Us

  • In other words - many different types of beer have fallen under the moniker of "Brown Ale" or "Brown Beer" over the ages.
  • Even in singular brewing traditions the term has been applied to disapparate styles of beer.
    • In other words, just because a beer has the word "brown" in the style doesn't mean it's related

Today's Focus

  • Brown Ales as seen in modern British/Commonwealth practice
  • The American Extension to that Tradition

The Waxing and Waning Style

  • Newcastle Brown/Sam Smith Nut Brown attracted a lot of people in the earlier days of craft beer to the idea of beers that had robust flavors.
  • Every brewpub and brewery had a brown ale on tap
    • Dogfish Head Indian Brown 
    • Moose Drool
    • Rogue Hazelnut Brown
    • Pete's Wicked Ale
  • Hard to find them now
    • What's your favorite modern iteration

The Nature of British/American Browns

  • Malt forward focus, but not usually "gloppy" and thick
  • Toffee, nutty, aromas and flavors
  • No roast character - a brown is not a porter
    • yes, we know there's a "brown porter" style, but these aren't them
  • Fruity esters are common
  • Hop levels differ wildly with the usual split on hopping philosophy between UK and US.

A Defense

  • In this day and age of all hops & pils malt, Brown ales seem almost old-fashioned and fuddy duddy
  • Where Hazy IPAs attempt to seduce you with fruity flavors and "juiciness", a brown ale is a warm hug of a beer.
  • They play well with lots of different flavors
    • e.g. Rogue's Hazelnut Brown
  • And they do pretty well as a hop neutralizer, so maybe a refresher course is called for before you drink your next Citra/Galaxy/Mosaic IPA... or was that Mosaic/Citra/Galaxy this time?

The English Styles

*

* - mostly BJCP designated

Before We Dig In

  • These are general categories of beers
  • Many regional differences over different periods of time as the UK Brewing Industry had a number of different practices and needs
    • Wartime and taxes, y'all
    • Go read Ron Pattinson's blog. He went on a tear about regional Brown Ales back in the Spring.

London Brown

A very low alcohol, fairly sweet brown ale.

Low OG (1.032), high FG (1.014). 2.5-3.0% ABV

 

Very rare

Dark Mild

One of the two staple styles of the UK for the first half of the 20th century.

Since the 60's, a slow decline

  • The Term shift
  • Low gravities abound with them falling over time.
  • OG <1.038, 3.0-3.8% ABV, 10-20 IBUs
  • What about Pale Mild?

British Brown

A catch-all category that encompasses a number of different British beers.

  • bigger than the milds but continues the trend of toffee and caramel
  • It's all Double Browns in our minds
  • OG: 1.040-1.052, 4.2-5.4% ABV, 20-30 IBUs, 12-22 SRM

The American Styles

bigger

*

* - mostly BJCP designated

American Brown

The only BJCP recognized for the US. (Texas and Eugene?)

  • Starter beer for many older aficionados
  • Serves as a great introduction beer
  • 1.045 – 1.060 OG, 4.3-6.2% ABV, 20-30 IBUs*, 4.3-6.2% ABV
  • Malty, chewy, toasty with American hops. (The classics)

Brown IPA

A fine line between IPA/Black IPA/Brown Ale

  • Other terms include Texas Brown Ale
  • Malt
    • lower colored crystal (under 10% of grist)
    • Carafa to color
    • amp up the hops, but still in the 50's-60's

Imperial American Brown

As with all things American craft, this is less a style and more of a philosophy.

  • Go big!
  • Aim for 7%+ ABV
  • The malt should still sing!
  • Keep the IBUs in line, you're not trying to make a Double Brown IPA...
    • I think

Let's Taste A Beer

Toast to Tasty!

Russian River Janet's Brown

  • This is the 9th iteration of Janet's Brown brewed by Russian River
  • Changes from Tasty's version
    • Uses Simpson Pale Malt instead of 2-Row
    • Uses Brewer's Gold instead of Northern Brewer
      • After our hop talk back in the summer - Brewer's Gold might be the comeback hop

Thoughts

Don't be Shy....

Ingredient Thoughts

Malt/Mash Front

  • You're trying to build layers of malt flavor
  • Use a solid pale malt as your foundation
  • This is your time to bust out the crystal malts
    • I still prefer lower color malts for their subtleness
  • A touch of roast to give you more color. (more than a red)
  • Traditional British versions would include:
    • Invert syrups
    • Brown sugar
    • Flaked Maize
  • Single infusion mash, all day

Water Front

  • I prefer a more Chloride forward water for a brown ale
  • Don't be afraid of the minerality. 
    • British brewers tend to push much higher levels of minerals than American brewers. 
    • Can lend a particular dry astringency to British beers
  • Looking at Bru'n Water
    • Brown Balanced
      • Ca:50 Mg:10 Na:27 Sulfate:70 Chloride:55
    • London
      • Ca:42 Mg:6 Na:15 Sulfate:40 Chloride:38 
    • Mild Ale -
      • Ca:50 Mg:0 Na:20 Sulfate:40 Chloride:65

Hops Front

  • Don't get too loose with the hops. Remember the malt is still the nominal star of the show!
  • Traditional hop schemes abound - use a firm bittering addition and layer in the hops
  • Varieties? Sky's the limit, though watch for clashing hop phenols into your darker malt characters

Yeast Front

  • Do you want "clean" - use an American yeast like 1056/001 or 1272. (Denny has a preference as well)
  • For fruitier styles, I prefer either the Wyeast Thames Valley or White Labs Essex Ale.
  • Try open fermentation, particularly with the British strains

Additional Flavors

  • So many flavors play well with a brown ale since the malt provides a sturdy base.
  • Things we've seen
    • Fruit - so much fruit 
    • Nuts - hazelnut
    • Chiles
    • Herbs/Spices
    • Vanilla

Let's Tackle Some Recipes

CDJK Mild

For 5.5g, 1.037 OG, 13 IBUs, 16 SRM, 3.5% ABV, 60 minute boil

Grist

6.75 lb. Maris Otter
0.5 lb. Flaked oats
0.25 lb. Crystal 150L
2.0 oz Carafa II Dehusked
2.0 oz Roasted Barley

Mash
Single Infusion 152°F for 60 minutes

Hops
0.25 oz Target 10.6%AA 60 minutes
0.12 oz Challenger 6.5% AA 30 minutes

Yeast:
Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley, White Labs Essex Ale, WLP001 Cal Ale, Wyeast 1056, Wyeast 1318 London Ale

Janet's Brown Ale

For 6g, 1.074 OG, 7.3% ABV, 60 minute boil

Grist

13.75 lb. pale malt
1.5 lb dextrin malt
1.25 lb Crystal 40L

1.0 lb wheat malt
0.5 lb chocolate malt (350L)
0.5 lb corn sugar

Mash
Single Infusion 154°F for 30 minutes. Mash out 170°F

Hops

1.5 oz Northern Brewer 5.1%AA Mash
1.5 oz Northern Brewer 5.1%AA 60 min
1.0 oz Northern Brewer 5.1%AA 15 min
1.5 oz Cascade 5.6%AA 10 min
2.0 oz Cascade 5.6%AA 0 min
2.0 oz Centennial 10.5%AA Dry Hop

Yeast:
WLP001 Cal Ale

Janet's Brown Ale (RR)

55.34% 2 Row Malt (rahr)

15.53% Best Pale Malt (simpson)

8.74% Carapils (briess)

6.80% C-40 (gwm)

7.48% Wheat Malt (gwm)

3.20% Chocolate Malt (simpson)

2.91% Dextrose Sugar

 

Noti Brown

For 8g, 1.064 OG, 50 IBUs, 23 SRM, 6.5% ABV, 90 minute boil

Grist

14.4 lb. 2-Row
2.0 lb. C55L
2.4 lb. Munich
0.8 lb Chocolate Malt
 

Mash
Single Infusion 152°F for 60 minutes

Hops  

1.4oz Willamette 4.8% 90 min
 0.8oz Willamette 4.8% 45 min
 0.4oz Galena 14.5% 45 min
 1.2oz Willamette 4.8% 30 min
 1.2oz Willamette 4.8% 15 min
 0.4oz Chinook 13.0% 0 min

Yeast:
Wyeast 1450 Denny's Favorite, Wyeast 1056

Questions?

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