nuts about brown ales

April’s Ale Stars at the Local Taphouse in St Kilda was devoted to nut brown ales. Not exactly one of the most exotic styles of beer, but for some reason it always conjures up images of colder weather. Probably because I think of conkers…the colour of them, and the weather. It’s actually a fond childhood memory.

Apparently, it’s not a particularly popular style. The Northern English style is lighter and hoppy, whereas the Southern English variation is rich and sweet. On this particular evening, we were only going to be having examples that adhered to the Northern English tradition.

As is usual pre-session, I tried some beer I’d never had. First up, the Bridge Road Bling IPA.

Bridge Road Bling IPA

Nice and bitter and hoppy. I liked a lot of the Bridge Road tipples tried when I last went to the microbrewery showcase. This was no different. Was a bit surprised that it got such a poor review in the beer zine Stubby Buddy vol. 1 because those folks are more knowledgeable about beer than me, and I really liked it – it’s rich, bitter and very characteristic of the IPA style. Though my photos of beer are generally taken with my mobile phone, this captured it well – rich, creamy, aromatic head, while the liquid itself was cloudy. I don’t think I can call hoppy beers ‘manly’ anymore, because I now love hoppy beer. One less gimmick up my sleeve, damn!

Afterwards, I had a glass of the Feral Smoked Porter. This is autumn in a glass. Beautiful and dark with a medium body and a less creamy head than the Bling above. The smokiness – wonderfully fragrant and savoury. I want to drink this and slug down smoked oysters. You can see by the lacing on my glass that I perhaps imbibe a little too quickly…

Feral Smoked Porter

The first brown ale for the evening was the Newcastle Brown Ale. I was quite surprised to see that it’s in a clear bottle – it having virtually no hops means this is okay? I found it quite watery, having a hint of bitterness and smelling of Horlicks! Not surprising, given brown ales are malty. Post-2001, this beer now has caramel colouring added to it. I didn’t particularly dig this beer, it was too…well, I think I’ve had better homebrew than this, honestly. I’ve been challenged by a lot of beers I’ve tried at Ale Stars, but up until now, this is the first one that has really failed to impress me.

Newcastle brown ale

The second beer on the list was the Samuel Smith nut brown ale. I’ve actually tried this before. It has seaweed as a coagulent! Is that why it smelt like socks to my nose? Thankfully, it doesn’t taste anything like socks – it’s heavier in body than the Newcastle Brown Ale and but was more bitter to taste.

Samuel Smith nut brown ale

The third beer is where things began to get and feel special. I think this was the special to the line-up? It’s from Colorado. I didn’t make many comments about the taste in my notes, except that I loved it, and it’s very roasty, with a little bit of bitterness. Also, who is the Surgeon General?

Avery Ellie's Brown Ale

The last one was from the American Rogue Ale Brewery – a hazelnut brown nectar. Doesn’t that sound mouthwatering? It was indeed delicious. I found it very caramel-laden and roasty in taste. I wouldn’t be able to choose a favourite between the Avery and this one.

Rogue hazelnut brown nectar

This Ale Star session was very much a good deal more…sober than last month’s affair. When in doubt, blame the this bock at 12% ABV. Good to see that they’re also serving us more pizza too!

Hot off the press! The Local Taphouse, both St Kilda and Darlinghurst, can now be found on ze twitterz! St Kilda is @localtaphouseSK and Darlinghurst is @localtaphouseDL. About blooming time lads, welcome! Teach them how to use hashtags and stuff, hehe.

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