Remember the old days before New-England-sludgy-fruity IPAs and double-triple-hopped-barrel-aged unicorn tears were all the rage and we used to drink Brown Ale? Well, with the frosty nights well and truly upon us, it’s a perfect time to be reacquainted with this trusty (or should I say, toasty) companion for winter. A good brown ale can ignite or reinvigorate your love of the darker styles and this month, I’ve chosen one of the better Australian examples getting around: Brookes Brown Ale.
Bendigo is a regional city that has enjoyed a significant craft beer boom since 2011, thanks to the efforts of some passionate locals. But it’s fair to say most of the action is still predominantly found in the city’s edgier pubs and bars. While the city has seven breweries within 90km, only one is situated in Bendigo itself. Doug Brooke has always been a keen homebrewer, and made the jump from the corporate world to officially open Brookes Brewery in 2013 at Mayfair Park Industrial Estate.
Brookes Brown Ale is described by Doug as an English Brown Ale, almost a Porter given its opaqueness, thin mocha head and low carbonation. Personally, I’m not overly bothered which box it fits in – in isolation, this beer is a delight to drink. As it is 100% bottle conditioned, you may find yeast sediment hiding at the bottom when pouring into a glass. I highly recommend swirling that last quarter of the beer in the bottle before pouring to enjoy the full flavour.
The head disappears not long after pouring so make sure you have plenty of room left in your glass to swirl and aggravate. You really want to give yourself the best chance to enjoy the coffee, toffee sweetness and ever-so-subtle English earthy hop aroma.
Ok, so it smells great, but how does it taste? You’ll adore the full, roasted malt, chocolate experience, and its surprisingly light body allows you to enjoy more than one.
See Brookes Brewery from one of Australia’s best winter beer festivals, Bendigo On The Hop, on Saturday 26 August. Tickets from www.bendigobeer.com
Brookes Brown Ale ABV: 5.2%
Style: English Brown
Serving Temp: 6 degrees
Food match: Roast pork, Gouda cheese or Almond cake
Origin: Bendigo, Victoria
RRP: $22 for 6pack 330ml