Brown Beers Matter

IMG_0953The 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 …

iu-2Hepburn.  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.



Brewing Fun

These sentiments recently appeared in an article at

Why do so many people love beer? It’s because beer presents a fun experience to nearly everyone, no matter their background or level of knowledge. Yes, there are people who love beer without really knowing anything about how it’s made. For some, however, the experience becomes more satisfying as more effort is put into learning about beer.


If you are truly interested in beer and brewing, whether it’s home brewing or craft beers, your local is the best place to be.  For Kingman, that’s Black Bridge.  Here’s a few things they’ve been doing recently that I thought were fun and have expanded the beer knowledge of their crew and community.

  • Angry Elf.  A Russian Imperial Stout brewed originally by a local home brewer and employee at Black Bridge.  His recipe won gold at a home brew competition and is an outstanding beer on it’s own and is occasionally offered at the brewery.  They brewed it again this year, added cherry puree and some chocolate and called it Sexual Chocolate.  It’s a wonderful stout, highly recommended, especially if you like dessert.  It may already be gone, though, but maybe it’ll come back.
  • Pete LaFass.  A heavily smoked scotch ale.  Honestly, that thing is for hardcore beer fans.  It tastes and smells like a hospital inferno, latex, nitrile and band aids burning in diapers or something. These are all usually bad. But, somehow, it works in this beer.  You may only be able to cope with a small sample, but it’s worth a try. It’s from a local home brewer.
  • No Pricks Allowed.  A Belgian blonde that is a gorgeous pink/purple color, from the prickly pear addition, so it’s using locally found ingredients from a cactus.  A true desert beer.
  • Hop Tart.  Another beer from a home brewer who won a contest at Black Bridge; it’s been a while since I’ve had this beer, so I can’t say a lot about it.  I only remember that I didn’t hate it, so, that’s got to be good.  I believe I read that it’s coming back on tap soon.


Anyway, these beers may or may not be on tap at B3 by the time you read this and they are by no means the only beers there.  Doubtlessly, I’ve left off beers that were inspired/brewed by other locals and B3 crew, the above beers are just the ones I know about right now.   The brewery is a place to get good brewing advice, inspiration for your own beers, and to get goaded into a new hobby.  And, really, the point is that the brewery is sponsoring local brewing culture and I think that’s cool.  And I have a self-important blog.  So I’m going to write about it.  Because I can.  And you can even get beer there, fun and all.

Scorched Earth is Coming

Friday came and my thoughts drifted to Black Bridge Brewery. After work I drove directly there. Jen had my favorite Pandora station playing, Def Leppard Radio. The soothing, solid riffs of “Animal” poured out of B3, elegant and beautiful like the Locomotive Stout that filled my glass. 

These things are what make a town’s local brewery successful. The connections. The interest in customers. The support of those customers for the businesses in their community. The casual, friendly, personable ambiance of Black Bridge makes it a cool haunt.  

It encourages my ambivertness. Maybe that needs explanation. There are introverts and extroverts right? The introverts recharge their good selves in solitude. The extroverts need activity and social connection. According to a buddy, I am an ambivert; I’m quite comfortable either way. Sitting alone with a stout or a Scottish export is terribly relaxing. I’ll walk away from it as happy as can be. But I really like chatting with the folks at B3. They’ve got cool intel on the happenings downtown. I’m finding out some engrossing back story, too. Being in the right place at the right time and employing ambivertness I sometimes get samples of pending beers. And that is just cool. 

So, Scorched Earth will be on tap soon. I’ve been waiting for it to return. If you like beer with hot peppers in it, this is an outstanding example of the style. And if like Evil Red, well, Scorched Earth is built from it with some additional malt to help balance the spicery. 

Imagine a cutting board with hot, hot peppers chopped up all over it. You scrape up those pulpy remains and toss it in a glass. Add am amber ale and a couple ounces of IPA. Voila! This is the piquancy of Scorched Earth. You can smell the heat, the rinds of habanero. Some habanero will be in the kegs and some ghost pepper. 

My lips perceived a somatic sensation of burning, a numbing. I could feel a specter of heartburn, a fire swelling in my gut. Generally descriptions such as that would cause people to be concerned for their health. They may think twice about ingesting a substance that would cause pain and discomfort. Well, what’s life without a bit of fun and risk, eh? Don’t worry, it won’t kill you or anything. It’s just going to be a hot beer. 

Tim said there was some hops in the batch, too. He said you had to really concentrate to find them. I guess I suck at concentration. I did drink Scorched Earth with an Evil Red, its parent. I could taste those hops. It made its offspring dry. Interesting. 
Watch for its release in the coming week. 

Roadside by Mother Road

The breweries in Flagstaff regularly show their quality. I’ve yet to be disappointed by them, whether tasting at the brewery or at a beer festival. The only one I have not sampled yet is Mother Road Brewing. I met the brewers at a festival but never made it to their tent. This beer, Roadside, will be my first quaff of their libation.

That Smell …
So, it smells like spirits and citrus hops, like early spring in late summer, hubris and lupulins.

In Appearance …
I poured as carefully as I could, but that thing has, like, a top hat of carbonation. And then it is ambery colored.

But the Taste …
It tastes like … a beer you’d drink in a pub. Oh, this is a fantabulous beer. They call it a “deep gold American ale.” I think it’s an amber, ala the Early Days of Pubbery. Yes, a golden orange delight that drinks like a Hemingway novel reads. It’s a beer that can just be consumed with grace in your backyard. But if you desire a meditation on beer all the major themes are present: the drama of malt, the tragedy of hops, balanced in yeasty water.

Join Me For A Plate Of …

The Conclusion Of The Matter Is …
Good show, Mother Road. Your hop schedule for this amber is well done, providing bouquet and noticeable bitterness, but not overly so. Balance is the key here, and it’s a giant brass key to the city of beer. Rock on.

Another Black Bridge Friday

I was told that I have “smartly arranged” my affairs so that I can enjoy a Friday night at my local. Well, I don’t know about being smart or having purposely arranged anything in an efficient way but I am here on Friday again.

Black Bridge is unarguably a cool and fun place. The beers have improved since their opening week. Evil Red is a top notch northwestern pale ale. Wicked Poison is a wheat based barley wine style ale and it is sweet and palatable and should be entered in a competition. Of course, they weren’t bad beers to begin with.

And it’s just an adorable location. It’s small, friendly and still offers a fair amount of privacy. On the red brick walls there is a regularly rotating art gallery for sale. The lighting highlights the bar and the beers. The tables are handmade from what I understand.

There are always a few regulars. My wife says stepping through the door is like walking into the Cheers bar. Everyone turns to see who you are. Invariably you’ll run into someone you know.

Sirens Cafe next door offers good food even if it isn’t typical pub fare (and, in the spirit of full disclosure, is a smidge expensive). If that doesn’t tap your keg then you can venture over to Redneck’s Southern Pit BBQ across the street. It fits well with the beers, to be sure. Their pulled pork plate and big stuffed potato are superb compliments to Black Bridge’s English Mild.

The staff are happy people and they engender a convivial spirit. It’s easy to get to know them and they pay attention, keeping patrons in beer. Anyway, visit when you can.

These Are the Beers I Came For

It was Friday. Beer night. There was only one destination. And this time there were two beers on tap that I’ve been waiting to drink.

Train smoke


It’s on the left, the remains, at least. It’s a smoked porter. No aroma that I could detect, which did not bother me. I seek not the hops. It was acrid and dry – but not enuff smoke for my palate. It was there but not as prominent. Almost … Milky. Weird.

It’s a wookie of a beer, chewy.

Love the dry aftertaste.

Caramel as it warms. Grows on you like, well, a growing thing.

Scorched Earth
Nicely, nicely done.
Brut and jalapeño
Pepper beers can be difficult. This is just right. Needles on the lips heat in the gullet.
Give me more.