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10 brilliant brown ales

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If you think brown ales are blasé, these 10 will change your mind: From mellow to megahopped to downright meaty, they’re totally diverse and style-stretching. Even their hues are different!

Calicraft Oak Town | Color: Pumpernickel  Flavor: This 6.7%-ABV beer tastes like wood… in a good way! Barrel-aging gives the brew an earthy oakiness you feel like you can gnaw on. The bitterness of roasted malt connects seamlessly to that of Cascade hops, and the beer only gets more luscious as it warms.

Smuttynose Durty | Color: Pine cone  Flavor: Hops rev up this “hoppy brown ale” so much, you could argue it’s better termed a black IPA. Polaris, Simcoe and Nugget hops shoot citrus and pine through ashy malt; it’s a brown ale made for hopheads. (Drink it along with us, here.)

Figueroa Mountain Davy Brown Ale | Color: Dark chocolate  Flavor: This 6%-ABV easy-drinker is delightfully roasty; it might come close to falling into porter status if Northern Brewer and Cascade hops didn’t swoop in with mellow bitterness.

Uncommon Bacon Brown Ale | Color: Espresso  Flavor: A nut brown brewed with real pork and toasted buckwheat, this organic, 6.8%-ABV can is liquid breakfast. Don’t let the meat turn you off: There’s just a wisp of cooking bacon, and the swallow’s clean and tight.

Tenaya Creek Calico Brown Ale | Color: Nutella  Flavor: Nice nuttiness pervades a laid-back, 5.6%-ABV sip; balanced Chinook hop bitterness lifts up the swallow at the end.

Santa Cruz Mountain Organic Dread Brown Ale | Color: Mulch  Flavor: Roasted organic malts read so dark and earthy, they’re almost tart—think bittersweet chocolate—but even-handed hops bring the 5.4%-ABV drink into balance.

Hawai’i Nui Hapa Brown Ale | Color: Anise  Flavor: Chocolate, molasses and a provocative cinnamon note squeeze tightly into a thin, 5.4%-ABV sip—totally unexpected for an island-made brew.

Sixpoint Brownstone | Color: Leather loafers  Flavor: A beautiful, 6.0%-ABV classic brown: It’s the smoothest, most swallowable of the bunch, with a crazy-amazing profile that’s at once bready/chocolaty/nutty and crisp.

Black Market Anglo-American Brown Ale | Color: Raisin  Flavor: Sweeter and chewier than the rest (but certainly within the style guidelines), Anglo’s texture defies its 5.5% ABV. Citrusy hops give the roasted malts some sweet heft.

Manzanita Gillespie Browne Ale | Color: Cloves  Flavor: Bigger than your average brown, a 9.5% ABV turns the style into a sipper. Big toffee, coffee and chocolate notes conspire with earthy bitterness to conceal the alcohol; let the beer warm to get a whiff of the booze.


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