Founders, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, calls this Imperial Brown Ale “decadent” and that is the perfect way to describe this outstanding beer. The head is thick and creamy. The nose is roasty, with tons of chocolate and coffee. The middle is milky, smooth and sweet with mocha and espresso. The finish is bittering slightly, with the coffee and toasted grain coming to the fore. The body is medium to heavy, the alcohol is an imperial 9.0% ABV. This is the perfect coffee lover’s brew, and every bit as good as Founders’ classic Breakfast Stout.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Georgia Brown Ale is a year-round English-style brown ale from Atlanta brewer SweetWater. The nose is toasty with a little bit of chocolate and fig. The middle is creamy smooth with chocolate and bread sweetening it, but it isn’t overly sweet, as there’s some roasted grain notes that balance it nicely. There is a bit of caramel in the finish along with a hint of orange. The body is medium and the alcohol is reasonable at 5.1% ABV. This is a solid English brown ale with nice full flavor that isn’t overstated or overpowering in any way. For a brown ale, I really like it a lot.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
This is a brown ale I really enjoy. It’s a typically brown ale in that it’s malty, not hoppy or bitter, but it’s also not sweet. It has a very nice dry malty character that I particularly enjoy. It’s a nice rich brown in color, and has a sticky meringue like head that doesn’t dissipate. The nose has some caramel, licorice, and raisins. The middle is grainy and nutty, and has a bit more licorice, but isn’t sweet. The finish really dries out, and has heavy walnut flavor. This is a really nice example of a malty ale that isn’t sweet.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
With Daylight Savings Time in effect, and spring officially only a few days away now, it’s time to review the last of the winter seasonals. The year, honor of the final winter seasonal review goes to Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale. This winter warmer is a malty brown ale with a nose containing toasted grain, a bit of toffee, and some slight orange, and floral notes. The middle has some apple and grape, lemon zest, and well roasted grain. The finish is the same, with a good bit of toffee coming back as it warms. Nothing spectacular here, but a fine beer with which to wish winter a fond farewell for another year.
I give it a 4.1 out of 5.
Dogfish Head being Dogfish Head, Indian Brown Ale is not a typical true-to-the-style brown ale, but a hybrid American Brown Ale, Scotch Ale, and of course, India Pale Ale. The result is a rich, malty brew heavy with the flavors of chocolate, caramel, coffee and scent of baked bread with a dry hopped bite at the end for us IPA aficionados. In the past, I’ve tended to prefer hoppy beers to malty beer, so it’s taken me a while to really appreciate what a fine brew Dogfish Head has developed in Indian Brown Ale. This is a great beer for those who don’t care for the bitterness of IPAs, but with just a hint to remind those those of us who do that we haven’t been forgotten.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Palo Santo Marron is a big, heavy beer more suited to a cold winter’s night that a hot summer eve, but I had one in the fridge, so reviewed in the summer it will be. It’s called as a “malt beverage” rather than a beer due to FDA labelling requirements, but’s in fact it’s a big huge brown ale aged in Palo Santo wood, from whence its name is derived. Given the heaviness, the aging, and its 12% ABV, it is far more similar to a oak-aged imperial stout or porter than a traditional brown ale. The nose is heavy with chocolate and musty wood…It’s rich and full and gives you a hint of what’s to come. The middle has massive amounts of flavor. There’s chocolate, caramel, brown sugar, coffee, and burnt toast. The finish has maple syrup, loads of vanilla, more coffee, a hint of cherry, and plenty of heat from the alcohol. This is a big, bold beer that’s a wonder winter warmer, and good enough to be worth grabbing regardless of the time of year.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.