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Friday, April 5, 2013

Avery Brewing Co's Ellie's Brown Ale

  • Style: Brown Ale
  • ABV: 5.5%
  • Season: Year Round
  • Ease to locate: Pretty easy to find in most liquor and bottle shops across in the US
  • Color: Reddish brown & slightly hazy
  • Head: Generous 2 & 1/2 finger head with great lacing
  • Aroma: Sweet with caramel, chocolate and brown sugar notes.  A bit of nuttiness as well.  It's a beer that smells just as it looks
  • Mouthfeel: Light in body, yet still rather creamy for a brown ale
  • Finish: On the short side
  • Food friendly: Yes.  I could see this beer pairing nicely with some good old fashion barbeque.  If you want to serve it with cheese, try to play up the nutty notes with an Asiago or Parmesan 

Once people get an idea in their heads, it's very difficult to get them to change their minds about something.  Wine should always be corked.   Eggs are bad for you.  Glee is a well written, heartwarming show about teenagers.   When in reality, a twist off top is a better capping system to keep your wine from being oxidized.  An average egg contains just 70 calories and 6.9 grams of muscle building  protein.  And Glee  is just a sorry excuse for light FM TV starring actors who could almost collect Social Security.  I realized recently that I hadn't yet reviewed a canned beer.  In my mind, beer from a can is just sort of brew from the wrong side of the tracks.  There's something about putting beer in a can that makes me think that it's lower in quality than it's bottled counter parts.  It reminds me of childhood summers when my parents would fill the basement sink with ice and cans of Old Style for parties.     I didn't want to drink it then and don't want to drink it now.
    Instructions on how to crush a beer can on your head for Dummies (although, you'd think those are the exact people who would instinctively know how to do this properly)

If course, these preconceived notions about canned beer are just plain and simple prejudice on my part.  I know that beer stored in a can is better protected from sunlight, oxidation and destruction from blunt objects.  Canned beers leave a smaller carbon footprint because they weight less, which results in less fuel needed to ship.   All of these are valid reasons, but still, in my mind's eye, I see a can of beer and just automatically think of John Belushi in Animal House.  But even as we speak, there is a grass roots campaign to free the world (and by the world, as usual, I mean me) from the racist views against cans.  I expect to see people across the country (and by that, I mean shut ins and bored office drones)  changing their Facebook profile photo to a picture of Jesus drinking a can of beer at the Last Supper (because you know that the Son of God would be a craft fan.)  I hear that Sean Penn and Angelina Jolie are planning a rally at the Sam Adams brewery as we speak.

Once the beer is in the glass, I would not suggest trying to crush it against your forehead.  Use a friend's head instead.
My can of Avery Brewing's Ellie's Brown Ale poured a ruddy brown color, shading more rust in tint towards the edges of the glass.    It was slightly hazy and almost sweet looking.   A  huge ivory head formed and settled quickly to a 2 & 1/2 finger layer which stuck around for a good portion of the drink. An almost solid ring of thick lacing adhered to the sides of the pint.  I could smell the sweetness of the malts immediately.  Mixed in were notes of caramel, chocolate and a bit of brown sugar.  The taste reflected the aroma note for note.  At fist sip I could easily pick out the sweetness of the  honey and chocolate malts used to brew the ale.  A mild set of hops (Bullion for bittering I believe and and and Steerling for aroma) were used to give the beer a bit of depth and counteract the sweetness level.  A note of brown sugary molasses crept in towards the back of the sip.  Avery Brewing's website lists Munich and  Two-row Barley malts in the ingredients and I attribute the ruddy color and the almost creaminess of the mouthfeel to their presence.   The mouthfeel was not lush or full by any means, but there was a softness to the way it coated my mouth that was completely unexpected.  There was moderate carbonation.  Truthfully speaking , there was a lot less fizziness than I usually expect from a brown ale, but I didn't feel that the stingy amount of bubbles detracted from my enjoyment of the brew at all. The finish was short and sweet, slightly hoppy with more brown sugar on the end.   

Lacing porn.  You know you love it.
I would serve Ellie's Brown Ale with some good old fashioned barbecue without a second thought.  The sweetness of the beer (especially the brown sugar element in the aroma and taste) would work wonderfully with barbecue ribs on the grill (and why do I love the linked website here?  Because they state that if you boil your ribs, the terrorist win.  Ron Swanson couldn't have put it better himself.)  I could also see this as a staple with something like this sweet potato and chick pea curry.

For anyone who says that canning beer screws with it's ability to create a decent head, remind them that you need to POUR it into a glass first
I'll admit that I wasn't expecting much when I popped open the tab on this can.  Honestly, the can has been sitting in my fridge for a while now, being passed up again and again for more exciting brews (I'm looking at you, Pipeworks!)  The fact is, Ellie's Brown Ale was a pleasant, and a bit humbling, surprise.  It's always a good thing when a beer can catch you off guard and change your point of view on a whole style of packaging.   I'm holding firm on the belief that that Glee sucks though.