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The Mans Cave

The Mans Cave was a concept originated long before my time. The men in my family have always had their place of solitude where men could be men and there was no questioning. I now live the city life which means the man cave has been greatly reduced in size. That brought me to create an internet based man cave where all men can join in. Whether geek, gamer, jock, fitness, brewer, BBQ-er, or just looking for a place to read about manly news, you will find a home in the Man Cave

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Exploring the Styles of Beer: Brown Ale

When you hear the term brown ale, most people think of darker flavored beers that are best suited for the fall and winter.  However, the variety that exists within the brown ale family is so vast, that many of these beers are great for any time of the year.  Like we said with the porters, if you try one and you don't like it, don't let that experience scare you from trying another.


History: When brown ales were first brewed, the name came from the fact that they were brewed completely with brown malt. When brewers realized pale malt was much cheaper, this style practically died out. It was known to be lightly hopped and low in ABV. As the style came back into popularity, combined with an increased demand in bottled beer, the variations of the style began to expand. Most were from two families; either low hopped, sweeter, and lower ABV or significantly drier, more aggressive hopping, and higher ABV. These two descriptions still fit most brown ales.

What to Expect in a Brown Ale: the variations in the brown ale style start with the color itself. Brown ales can be anything from a deep amber to nearly black, but the typical pour results in a rich brown. Some versions can have forward hop character, but there should always be significant malts to back any hops. American versions will typically have some citrusy hop aroma and flavor. They can be either high in alcohol or relatively low, but the taste of alcohol should not be obvious. Roasty or chocolatey flavors can be in the taste and nutty flavors are sometimes added. Variations should stay within these basic outlines.

Great Commercial Examples:
Newcastle Brown Ale- The famous English brown ale. A smooth balance of earthy hops and slight nutty malt make this a good choice for branching into this style. Nothing too adventurous but a nice, solid example. Rating 7/10

Abita Pecan Harvest- Now we start to branch out a little. The base of this beer is a smooth, roasted brown ale, but with the unique nutty flavor that comes from roasted pecans.  As a guy who grew up eating pecans off the ground at my Granny's, this beer has serious appeal to me.  The nutty pecans match up well with the American hops in this beer.  Rating 8/10

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale- Now we're really getting outside of the box.  Like most of DH's offerings, this one is aggressively hopped.  The citrusy aroma and flavor of American hops boldly combat the extreme levels of malt required to balance this beer.  This beer goes great with BBQ.  Rating 8.5/10

Brooklyn Brown Ale- The reason this one is here is to give you a counter-part to the DH brown ale.  This one has little to no hop flavor or bitterness, and is my opinion, the result is a crappy beer.  There is nothing to combat the heavy malt flavor and you end up drinking something that tastes like a baker forgot to add salt or sugar to his bread.  Just serious doughy flavors without anything to balance it out.  Some people really like this beer.  I'm not one of them.  Rating 4/10

How to Brew Your Own:
The key to brewing a brown ale is to keep the base style in mind, and then make just one or two adjustments to add your touch to it.  In this example, which I just brewed last week, the addition of maple syrup adds some sweetness to help smooth the beer out.  The victory and special roast add color, and more important deep malty flavor.  The crystal is there to help smooth everything out.

Mash @ 153 degrees F:
8 lb 2-row malt
12 oz Victory malt
12 oz Crystal 60
2 oz Special Roast

60 minute boil
At the start of the boil add 1/2 lb of dark brown sugar and 1.25 ounces of Willamette Hops.

After 45 minutes, add .5 ounces of Willamette Hops.
With 5 minutes left, add .25 ounces of Willamette Hops.

Cool wort and transfer to fermenter.  Pitch either Safale US-05 or Wyeast 1056.  After one full day of fermenting, add 1 lb of maple syrup to the fermenter and stir in with a sanitized spoon.  Allow to fully ferment and sit for 2-3 weeks before bottling or moving to secondary fermenter.

Hope you guys will give this style a shot and let us know if you brew it.  Check out our Facebook page, and check back later today as we announce our new competition! 

Cheers and Happy Brewing!

3 comments:

Lauren S. said...

 Hmm, I wonder if my husband could pull this off. He drinks some fancy pale ale that runs around $18 for a six pack!

REM4606 said...

 I'm sure he can!  Our Brewmaster wouldn't post extremely difficult brews, these are tailored for every Man Caver's easy brewing experience!  Also Lauren if I may ask a question to you... would you be interested in a female driven version (obviously females would run it as well) of the Mans Cave?

brewmaster12 said...

 What does he drink for $18 a six-pack???  Have him read some of our earlier posts though... we go all the way from the equipment you need, through the brewing process, and into the bottling your beer. Send us any questions you may have! The average cost for brewing your own beer is under $0.50 per beer.

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