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Classic Beer of the Month May 2015: Brooklyn Brown Ale

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Brooklyn Brown Ale, 5.6%

Traditionally in the UK, brown ales have fallen into two camps.

Brooklyn Brown AleThere's the southern-style brown ale, best exemplified by Manns (and very few others these days), which is low in alcohol and fairly sweet.

Then there's the northern style, which is stronger and more bitter, most famously represented by Newcastle Brown but supported by such beers as Double Maxim, Sam Smith's Nut Brown Ale and Holt's Manchester Brown Ale.

Things, as ever, are slightly different across the Atlantic. In typically innovative fashion, American brewers have developed a third approach.

The American brown ale combines the best elements of both the original UK styles, matching the robustness of the northern with the sweetness of the southern and throwing in some trademark hop fruitiness for good measure.

One of the best exponents of the American take on brown ale comes from Brooklyn in New York. Taking six different malts (including British pale malt, American roasted malt and Belgian aromatic malt – the last, as the name suggests, kilned in a gentle way that exaggerates the malt aroma), Brooklyn Brown Ale (5.6% ABV) is immediately tempting with its deep ruby-brown appearance.

Seductive Aroma

The aroma is equally seductive. Nutty, chocolate-like malts run well to the fore, with some sappy fruitiness from the Willamette, Cascade and American Fuggle hops that go into the copper.

The same luscious mixture of nut, chocolate and an indefinable fruitiness fills the bittersweet taste, which has much more body than the likes of Manns but is considerably sweeter and smoother than Newcastle Brown.

Chocolate on the swallow leads to a nutty, satisfying finish, with roasted grains lingering long and leaving rich coffee notes.

Having sampled numerous American brown ales over the years, I find that Brooklyn's is not as fruity as some (Anchor's Brekle's Brown, for instance), but the hop presence that defines this variation of the style remains clear.

And style notes put to one side, it's an extremely enjoyable drink, too.

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