After years of special releases, Shipyard Brewing Company has decided to make their Brown Ale a seasonal regular under the name Shipyard Brewer’s Brown Ale, and they were kind enough to provide me with some samples to review.
Brewer’s Brown Ale is a full-bodied, dark brown ale made with five different malts and three varieties of hops. Pale Ale, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted Barley and Wheat Malts combine to give this beer a nice smoky taste up front and a smooth, full body finishing with a crisp hop bite at the back. Hops used in this brew are English Challenger, Fuggles, and East Kent Goldings at the finish. Brewer’s Brown Ale has 5.4% alcohol by volume.
First off, knowing Shipyard and their brewmaster, Alan Pugsley, Brewer’s Brown is an English variety ale, meaning that it’s milder and less hoppy than some of the browns to recently enter the American craft beer market. If those have turned you off in the past, you might want to give this a try.
Brewer’s Brown is smooth, very malty to the point of being sweet, and very mildly hopped. It is also carbonated like an English ale, meaning quite low. I prefer my beers less fizzy, so I normally pour them pretty rough into a glass to knock down the carbonation, but that actually is a bad idea with this beer, as you’ll end up with a nearly flat beer. Brewer’s Brown is also good slightly chilled but not cold, again, in the English style.
If you do pour this beer gently, and I suggest you do, you will get a lofty tan head, which dissipates rather quickly to a fine ring of bubbles around the glass, leaving some sticky lacing around the edges, but not more than you would expect for the style.
Alright, lets get back to how it tastes. Brewer’s Brown is a dark brown beer, giving you the impression that it will be a heavy beer, but it is quite light — in fact, the roasted flavors are quite mild as well, but enough to give it some good character. The chocolate and/or roasted barley is restrained enough not to dominate the malt profile, but enough to make their presence felt in flavor and color. Shipyard uses the Ringwood yeast, which leaves a very characteristic flavor and taste in the beer. Some like it, some don’t, but this beer works very well with it if you do like it. There are some hops in the finish, but they are very subtle, again, to style. I may be wrong, but my recollection from years past is that the hops may have been slightly more pronounced in the past. I remember this beer being slightly less sweet, but who’s to say without actually hearing if Pugsley changed his recipe.
Brewer’s Brown is be a good session beer, mild enough to allow for hours of enjoyment, but just complex enough to make you want to enjoy another. If you have friends who are resisting trying anything other than yellow American fizz, this might be a good place to start.