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Sunday, March 16, 2014

In Defense of Brown Ales

By Steve Siciliano

I’m sure more than a few eyebrows were raised when we announced that we will be donating the ingredients for a brown ale for May 3rd’s Big Brew at the Calder. “Wait, the recipe is a brown ale??” an incredulous commenter posted on our Facebook page. “Why????”

Any inquiry with that many question marks deserves an answer.

If we were to poll the forty-eight Big Brew teams as to which three beer styles they would least want to brew up at the May 3rd event, chances are good that brown ale would appear on many of the lists. Why then are we supplying the ingredients for what we realize is a decidedly less popular style? Why not an IPA again? Why not a pale ale? Why not a malty scotch ale, a robust porter or a Russian imperial stout? Why a boring brown ale? Why????

The primary reason we chose brown ale as the Big Brew brew is precisely because it is such an overlooked and under appreciated style. Now, I will be the first to admit that many commercial browns are indeed boring and some might deserve to be under appreciated. But there are also quite a few good ones, and the ones that I consider to be good are being produced by domestic craft brewers who are making browns in the American style.

American browns are hoppier than their English counterparts and the recipe that we will be formulating for the Big Brew at the Calder will feature a nice American hop presence. Of course the brewing teams can tweak the ingredients that we are donating and do whatever they wish with the recipe at their own expense. Doubtless some will choose to do so and we’re fine with that. But it is my hope that the majority of teams will consider it worth their time and effort to make a nice, decidedly not boring, American brown.

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