10 Brown Ales Every Beer Lover Should Try


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Expressions of artful balance, brown ales are a style that is well suited for nearly every drinking situation. Still, it lags in popularity behind other darker colored beers like stout and porter. Those two styles, however, lean more heavily into roasted malt flavor, where brown ales are about nuance and working in harmony with hops.

The style is broken down into several different categories. All are similar but offer subtle differences that may suit some palates over others. As the name suggests, the color of this ale is brown, sometimes tan or chestnut. Garnet highlights can be seen in clear versions around the rim of a glass and the foam is typically off-white or tan.

British versions are light and nutty, showing toffee, caramel and chocolate aromas and flavors. The hop profile leans earthy and sometimes floral. While its popularity has waned in recent years, Newcastle may be the best-known version of this style, thanks to its longevity and large distribution footprint.

American brown ales often have a more pronounced hop content. These typically play into earthy or floral aromas and flavors, but sometimes drive into fruitier expressions.

Overall, the alcohol ranges from 4–6% for brown ales, although imperial or double versions will be higher.

Some brewers are using the style for adjuncts and experimentations, playing into the existing sugary flavors of the malt bill. This yields pie-flavored beers that play up the flavors of cocoa and coffee.

The easy nature of brown ales means it is suitable for any situation. Served cold from the can alongside grilled foods at a midsummer cookout, the malts complement the meal. In a mug on a winter’s night in a cozy tavern, it’s comfortable without being too heavy. The best examples of the style are a combination of traditional ingredients that work in harmony and easily play into the background.

Aslan B'Ham Brown beer
Courtesy Aslan

Aslan B’Ham Brown; $14/12 oz 6 pack. Buy on Drizly Nutty and deep with roasted coffee and easy cocoa notes, this herbal, pleasant, and overall easy drinking ale… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Courtesy Cigar City Brewing

Cigar City Maduro; $10/12 oz 6 pack. Buy on Total Wine & More A well-balanced brown ale that offers nutty accents, toast, red berries, and a kiss of herbal hoppiness… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Courtesy of Edmund’s Oast

Edmund’s Oast Comfy Armchair; $12/16 oz 4 pack. From the first sip until the last this is a proper companion at the bar, even if that bar is at home… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

A can of Jackalope Bearwalker Ale.
Courtesy Jackalope Brewing Co.

Jackalope Bearwalker; $10/12 oz 6 pack. Buy on Drizly A first sip of a well-made brown ale can transport your mind’s eye to a cozy, comfortable pub that suits your style… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Courtesy Maplewood

Maplewood Brownie Points; $10/16 0z 4 Pack. Buy on Total Wine & More Fudgy and welcoming, with caramel sweetness, spiciness, and a bit of vanilla on the finish… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Can of New Holland Cabin Fever brown ale
Courtesy New Holland

New Holland Cabin Fever; $10/12 oz 6 pack. Buy on Drizly With a slightly creamy and full body, this brown ale has some heft to it, but doesn’t weigh down the palate… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Can of Proof Brewing Co. Fantasy Van Brown Ale.
Courtesy of Proof Brewing Co.

Proof Fantasy Van; $10/12 oz 6 pack. Creamy and satisfying, this full-bodied, and strong, brown ale has a nutty, sweet, fruity flavor combination that never gets cloying… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Can of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown ale.
Courtesy of Samuel Smith’s

Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale; $9/12 oz 4 pack. Internationally known, this English brown ale lives up to the reputation in the glass that proceeds it… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

6 pack of Seventh Son's Stone Fort ale.
Courtesy of Seventh Son

Seventh Son Stone Fort; $10/12 oz 6 pack. An intriguing example of the style, that pushes into roasted malt character quickly… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Can of Wormtown Brewery's Blizzard of 78 Brown ale.
Courtesy of Wormtown Brewing

Wormtown Blizzard of ’78; $11/16 oz 4 pack. Buy on Drizly A lovely combination of coffee and berry toastiness mixed with light brown sugar, followed by a floral hop bouquet… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

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