Pity the poor brown ale, always a bridesmaid among the beer cognoscenti. Back in the days before many of us discovered high-gravity imperial IPAs and the wonders from Belgium, beers like LOST COAST BREWING’s DOWNTOWN BROWN ruled the roost: simple, unadorned, clear & smooth English brown ales, making up in no-frills taste what they lacked in complexity. Today, you’ll find folks like the Beer Advocate fellas making the case for browns, pilsners, ESBs and crisp, standard-issue pale ales with the same level of excitement they give up for hop bombs and Russian Imperial stouts - but everyone knows the jig is up. That’s what you say when you’re trying to make the case for being well-rounded or a man or woman of the people (“I may listen to punk rock mostly, but I also like some of my sister’s pop records”; “New York City may be wonderful, but there’s much to be said for Tulsa” etc.). It’s easy to succumb to, and perhaps when one gets tired of discovering mind-blowing new beers every week in our age of abundance, a return to “common things” has its merits.
This brings me to the six-pack of ELLIE’S BROWN ALE I picked up the other day from brewing heavyweights AVERY BREWING out of Colorado – only one of the nation’s top 5-10 brewers on just about everybody’s watch. What to say about it? Well, it certainly is brown. It runs clear. It’s drinkable, and clean-tasting. Nothing to stand in the way of having a couple of ‘em in one sitting, as I did. If there are good brown ales and bad brown ales, then this is definitely one of the good ones. Oh – and it’s malty. There probably aren’t many hops. After two bottles, I barely had a buzz going. Oh, and one more thing: 7/10.