Considering all the trouble I've had with my last two batches, I thought it would be nice to sit down and enjoy a pint or two (or three) of my recent brown ale and let the malty, English-y goodness wash away all my brewing worries. No more thoughts about off flavors, under-attenuating and non-flocculating yeasts, competition issues, and all the other pointless crap that the brewing obsessed, like me, tend to fret over. Anyways, I kegged this one on 2 October and just started drinking it over the weekend. I brewed this batch thinking it would make for a nice cold weather - book by the fire - type of beer and luckily, it has turned out to be just that. Brown ale, Mmmm.
Ploughman Brown : English Brown Ale Appearance - Pours a nice looking dark brown, mahogany color with a creamy head that settles to a fine ring. Clarity is very good for its color and when held to the light it beams a lovely reddish hue. Head retention could be a little better.
Aroma - Smells quite nice. Lots of sweet, dark caramel with some toasty/coffee-ish roast and light chocolate. I'm having a hard time distinguishing the (light) esters from the malt, though the beer smells distinctly "English." No diacetyl or hops.
Taste - Follows the aroma. Dark fruit and medium caramel with a mellow coffee flavor. There is a bit of roast flavor present, almost as if some roasted barley was hiding in the malt bill - it is undoubtedly from the brown malt. The esters and malt character go together quite well and the beer finishes with a really wonderful dark coffee and cream type of flavor. The balance of flavors is squarely on the malt, although there is just enough bitterness to keep it from being too sweet; the beer finishes adequately dry.
Mouthfeel - Low carbonation really makes a difference here. Smooth and creamy with that 'fullness' one gets when using a good bit of crystal malts.
Drinkability & Notes - I really like this one! To be honest, I was very worried this batch was going to be a dud when I first kegged it, as it had a strong brown-malt character that was a bit overpowering. Luckily, this beer has really mellowed into something very nice. It definitely leans more to the "Southern English Brown" in the style guidelines in terms of flavor, but at 5.6% abv it has enough substance to push it closer to a Brown Porter. For those of you in the Northeast, it reminds me of a bigger, more complex tasting Ithaca Nut Brown. Definitely a beer worth re-brewing.
O.G: 1.053, F.G: 1.010, 5.6% ABV, 24 IBU, Wyeast 1768 English Special Bitter.
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