Thursday, May 29, 2008


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.


Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong, Avery is a good brewery. But I'd have a hard time putting them in the top ten in the US. This is more a sign of how many fantastic breweries there are out there, not of any lack of cred on Avery's part.

To list some I personally have enjoyed a fair bit of, which I think are definitely better:

Alesmith, Bell's, Deschutes, Dogfish Head, East End, Founders, Great Divide, Kuhnhenn, Midnight Sun, Moonlight, Port/Lost Abbey, Russian River, Southern Tier, Troegs

There are also plenty of other breweries that I've been very impressed with, but haven't been really tried enough to proclaim as better:

Allagash, Goose Island, Oskar Blues, Portsmouth, Southampton, Sweetwater, Surly, Tyranena, Three Floyds

And these lists still don't include the plenty of breweries that I've heard fantastic things about, but haven't yet had a chance to try anything from (Captain Lawrence, Pisgah, etc.)

David said...

Elle's Brown Ale is the one of the beers we keep on hand at all times. It's probably our favorite brown ale. Sometimes you just want a simple, easy to drink beer.

tedo said...

Well I'll disagree with anonymous, I think with all of their series beer's (reverencd, Savation, etc, and their Leader series, and demon series) they've shown they can do extreme. And with beers like Ellies, they've shown they can do the basics just as well. As for this beer, its one of my favorites. My wife is a HUGE fan of Brown ale's so we are always searching out tasty ones and this fits the bill.

Chipper Dave said...

Avery's Ellie is a darn fine brown. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Browns may be tame in comparison to those "big" beers these days, but it sure goes down easy. Avery is one of the tops on my list anyway.