The Session this month is a brown study; participants have been in ‘a state of deep absorption or thoughtfulness’ about the color brown and maybe even induced a moody daydream about brown beers.
In my limited experience a color divide remains in beer audiences, light versus dark. Of course, brown beers fall right in the middle of this divide – darker than a pale ale but not yet donning the black. One of my friends who accompanies me to Kingman’s local brewery, Black Bridge, was at first ambivalent about this craft beer experience on which I was leading him. He only knew the macro’s. He drank some a cream ale that they offered at the time and was still on the fence. It was K-Town Brown that converted him. It wasn’t overpowering but it had actual flavor and nuance. Now he tells me that he’s been “ruined,” he can only drink real beer. I smile knowingly. Brown beers are good gateway beers. Well, in this instance, at least.
In the beer world we have brown ales, brown porters, altbiers, schwarzbiers and rauchbiers, perhaps; mild ales and barley wines sometimes have a solid brown color; to me, some reds seem to border on brown but maybe it’s just the school I attended. There are certainly more. They are not all suited to the gateway experience as noted above; it would be a dubious experiment to introduce a beer novice to the woody smokiness of a rauchbier.
Stouts and porters are my favorites but a brown beer is just as tantalizing and neither drab nor boring. I have a home brew recipe for a dark mild which I have made several times; perhaps that’s why I’m partial to British browns, dark mild ales and the American brown. These beers all seem to have a sunset at their edges, orange and calming. Generally they have a faux ivory collar that’s a little sticky. It is as sugary at commencement as it is dry at denouement, like a Stirling engine of taste. Sometimes walnut flavors arrive. K-Town Brown noted above was enjoyable and Wagonwheel, also offered occasionally at Black Bridge, is one of my all-time favorite brown ales. Ask for them when on tap, you will not be disappointed.
Brown ales also pair well with food. Pretty much any food. It is a beer for all ages, for all tastes, for all occasions. I used to drink Pete’s Wicked with every dinner. Well, it seems so in memory. Pete’s was a wickedly delightful brown … . Newcastle is overrated. I hope that does not cause a ruckus. It’s just my opinion and can be dismissed if you disagree. Cheers. Samuel Smiths Nut Brown Ale is a good choice for a brown. Oh, and Oak Creek Brewing in Sedona, Arizona has a Nut Brown Ale, too, that’s worth a pint.
For more discussion of brown beers and Black Bridge’s contributions, listen to the first half of the first episode of the Cartoon Casual podcast. It’s produced by two locals, Joe Fellers and Paul Gaines. And as both Joe and Paul will tell you, the show could be offensive to some so use discernment.
The color brown is a study in contrast. It is the hue and tincture of earth and soil, wood and bark, hair and flesh. Earth is our source and home, the surface upon which our diverse temples are built. These bodies are our avatars in this reality allowing concourse and conversation. Logic would indicate we hold these things in high regard.
Therefore, brown can represent quality. The best food, the best drink, the best friends. “Some browns can show a degree of sophistication or elegance, depending on other colors associated with the brown. For example, brown with a soft white or ivory can appear stylish and classy,” states the website Empowered By Color. Not convinced? Here …
Hepburn. The epitome of stylish and classy. In a brown hat.
Yet, … “According to public opinion surveys in Europe and the United States, brown is the least favorite color of the public; the color most often associated with plainness, the rustic, and poverty.” Brown can be perceived as drab and boring and even as stingy or cheap. Quite a contrast!
Maybe browns just seem common, wonted. I mean, they were pretty much the only kind of a beer for a time. Isn’t that one of the reasons pilsner became such a thing? People were all, “hey, it’s …. yellow.” Indeed, there is an everyman motif to the brown beer. There is no creative flair associated with them, peradventure. In other words, no awesome hops bouquet or astronomical IBU rating. No heavily roasted grain profile. No eccentric ingredients. I have nothing against the aforementioned qualities; they all have their rightful place in the beer pantheon. Browns are honest, straightforward beer. Of course, that does not mean none of those things can be added to the brown.
Oh, another aspect of brown – people with brown eyes “are the greatest kissers of all.”
Pretend that glass of brown beer is a kiss from your favorite brown-eyed girl … or guy. And introduce them to a possibly overlooked beer style.