Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown

Total Score: 9.1/10 Coffee1BrownSugar1Earth1Tulipglass1

This is it: Founders Breakfast Stout’s (Colorado?) cousin, an instabuy as soon as I laid eyes on it and a beer that I know will be excellent before I’ve even cracked the crown seal: Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown! What do we know about Sumatra Mountain Brown? Well what’s in a name? It’s an American Brown Ale (which tend to be sweeter, stronger and fuller than the original English Brown Ale style), it’s got coffee from Sumatra (Indonesia) which IIRC FBS has Java coffee, and it’s 9% ABV which makes it 0.7% heavier than FBS and one can assume richer in mouthfeel and sweetness. All in all, to quote the title of a Velvet Underground song “We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together” [Indeed!].

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep rich molasses almost-opaque brown body with a boisterous tan cappuccino foam head on top that sticks to about 2 centimetres and stays there for a rather long time before slowly dropping back to nice half cm. 8/10.

S: That Sumatra coffee, like in FBS, comes across with a cold drip aroma, mingled with brown sugar, a nice woody/earthy tone and a hint of cinnamon. This is indeed one brown temptress of a brew, smouldering like a classic noir femme fatale: “Ah, now you are dangerous.” – Sam Spade. 8/10.

T: Balance – Founders never seem to have a problem with balance, this is another example – it’s sweet, but right on the border of going too far a nice earthy tobacco leaf character steps in and provides a suitable bitter foil. Flavours are so on the money that it ain’t funny, with notes of: Sumatra cold drip coffee, brown sugar, molasses, the aforementioned earthy tobacco leaf and a woody tone in the aftertaste. The coffee could have easily gotten carried away in this brew but Founders know just how to balance it out with brown sugar, it’s like they’ve got some magic going on inside their brewery! 10/10.

M: Mouthfeel is a bit less “Founders-like” than the other Founders beers I’ve reviewed with a nice enough mid to heavy bodied and a fairly dense carbonation, but it’s not as Marvin Gaye smooth as FBS, more like a Reggie Watts, still pretty damn good though… 8/10.

D: Wow, it’s hard to decide which beer I love more, I mean FBS will always be etched into my heart (I love you man!) but Sumatra Mountain Brown has everything one could ever want in a Brown Ale, it depends on your mood then. 9/10.

Food match: Bit of a dessert Brown that would match well with salted caramel tart.

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Clown Shoes The Barista

Total Score: 8.55/10 Coffee1Biscuit1Nut1Nonicpint1

God = Yes, I love Breakfast beers. Y’all should know by now – coffee and me are joined at the hip, or more accurately caffeine and me are joined at the brain. So it’s hardly unsound that coming up to the big 1,000 I would throw in a Breakfast beer such as this Clown Shoes The Barista… even seems predictable. I like Clown Shoes [not to wear of course]. Clementine has been the stand out for me, though The Barista is only the 4th brew I’ve tried of theirs, which is hardly a decent sample size, but in my world of rash decisions and beer review opinions it’s enough for me to form the above assessment of their capabilities. Brewed with: Maris Otter malt, flaked oatmeal, cold brewed espresso and lactose… sounds yum!

Poured from a 650ml US bomber sized bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Presents a nice turbid dark brown with a tan cappuccino foam head that drops back to a thin lace blanket. Sorta looks like a beer, and sorta looks like a black cold drip coffee at the same time, which is a bonus given the nature of this product being sorta both things (sorta not) [sorted!]. 8/10.

S: Oh yeah! Coffee and beer, back together again, like Lloyd and Harry from Dumb and Dumber [those guys!]. Initial aroma is cold drip coffee with a hint of espresso, then oatmeal comes in and gives it a cereal overtone, hints of biscuit (as in the Aussie use of the word – it’s sort of like a cookie but better) bit of toffee as well (it’s sort of like caramel but better). There’s sugar in the aroma, will be interesting to find out if the flavour is drier whilst I (not so) secretly hope it’s not. 8/10.

T: SOOo good! Flavour profile is as above: cold drip coffee, hint of espresso, oatmeal, cereal overtone, hints of biscuit, toffee and nutty tones. What Clown Shoes does superbly is balance the sugar so that it’s not cloying or too dry, it’s at the exact level it needs to be. Coffee could be more prominent, it’s drowned out by the non-coffee flavours. Boy is this a tasty drop though – 8.5% ABV isn’t even noticeable, I almost drank this like it was a chocolate milkshake, DA-YAMN! 9/10.

M: Lacking a bit here given the indicated oatmeal and lactose, have you heard of Founders? They do wonders here. Medium bodied, creamy carbonation. 7/10.

D: Well. I am. Sold. Apart from a teensy-weensy lack of coffee this is a rather, I mean raa-ther *British toff accent* tasty bloody drop, and at the end of the 24hr cycle of the earth spinning on its axis isn’t that enough? Yes, the answer is: Yes. 9/10.

Food match: Toasted ham and cheese on rye, with a pickle, and a dash of mustard.

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Evil Twin Wet Dream

Total Score: 7.7/10 Coffee1Coffee1Coffee1Nonicpint1

Evil Twin Wet Dream: Sounds like a title to a pornographic horror film, some kind of Giger-esque nightmare, buuut actually it’s just a beer I’m reviewing from Danish gypsy brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø (aka Evil Twin). So in case you hadn’t noticed I’m a huge fan of breakfast beers, i.e. them beers with coffee, as an avid daily coffee drinker I used to wonder if there would come to pass a momentous combining of that brilliant bean and my pastime favourite alcoholic beverage: beer. Turns out there are many brews containing coffee, such as Omnipollo Selassie, AleSmith Speedway Stout, Founders Breakfast Stout to name a few, and Wet Dream is one such beer. Anywho, I would love to digress but I am ready to crack this can asunder!

Poured from a US 1 pint (473ml) can into a nonic pint.

A: It’s brown, yep.* 8/10.

S: Haribo cold drop coffee aroma, comes across a bit Nicaraguan [coffee snob right here!] floral/earthy with a slight acidic overtone. Hints of caramel and toffee sweetness linger in the background, but in the best of breakfast beer traditions the aroma is a single-minded salute to coffee. 7/10.

T: OK. Well, this is one beer that goes all singular on coffee flavours, to the point where one even wonders if it is a beer at all (until they get tipsy of course). Flavour is the aforementioned Nicaraguan cold drip coffee: floral/earthy with a slight acidic note, it never really strays far from tasting like a glass of cold black coffee to the point where I instinctually wanted to add some full-cream milk (sorry Americano lovers). Finishes with, you guessed it: a slight coffee bitterness. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a thin, slightly dense carbonation… no, wait, a burp has arrived – medium carbonation. 7/10.

D: Being a coffee snob (and not entirely proud of it – it costs me a lot to live this Single Origin lifestyle!) I quite enjoyed this blurring of lines between coffee/beer, however I can see why others may not like it: it’s very much less beer/more coffee than anything I’ve ever tried. Plus it’s pretty dry for a breakfast beer – whereas the others I mentioned have a healthy dollop of sweetness – you won’t get that with Wet Dream [LOL]. 8/10.

Food match: I’m ready for my breakfast croissant now 🙂

*To go into more detail: Hazed caramel brown body with a khaki cappuccino foam head that leaves latticework lace on the side of the glass, looks very respectable.

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To Øl Mochaccino Messiah

Total Score: 8.45/10 Coffee1HopFlower1Caramel1Nonicpint1

Flat-White Jesus! Where have you been all my life?! The latest mad creation from those creative chaps (and chapettes!) at Danish brewer To Øl: Mochaccino Messiah. Wait, Danish, that gives me an idea [note to self: Danish-flavoured beer. Not the people, the pastry smart-ass]. To Øl claim inspiration for wanting to substitute “the morning mochaccino coffee with a beer. You get the nicely roasted chocolate malts, some creamy lactose for the milk and a shot of nutty espresso coffee in your mug.” Woo-hoo! To Øl’s own Founders Breakfast Stout! Only it’s a Brown Ale brewed with barley, oats, lactose, hops, and coffee. Sounds like a tasty treat. IMO I think every brewer should do a Breakfast Stout – then I can stop writing about other beers and just have a blog about Breakfast Stouts – I would call it “Doc’s Joe Blog”*.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: NIIIICE! Rich clear seal brown body with a 1 centimetre beige head that leaves a nice encrusted lace on the sides of the glass. That is some protein action in that head right there! All aboard the good ship SS Tasty. 9/10.

S: Wow, coffee bean and cold drip Ethiopian Yirgachefe coffee combine with some rather spiffy and bold hop characters – I just looked at the hop bill: Amarillo and Columbus – those are no slouch hops and it shows here. This aroma actually reminds me of Stone Mocha IPA, only more coffee-centric, and we all know how well that went over with me [TL;DR pretty fucking good!]. Piney-gooey-green-resiny hops hit the nose with aplomb. Shit son! 10/10.

T: Flat-White Jesus just loses it a bit here – there’s a bit of chaos, it’s got the above noted coffee bean and cold drip Ethiopian Yirgachefe providing a nice nutty/roasted centre, with a bit of sweetness coming from a caramel malt base, but then the hops come in a bit too hot and the finish is a mid-to-searing bitterness. The balance starts out great but ends up a touch out of whack, which sucks because it’s hella tasty otherwise. 8/10.

M: Medium, not close to Founders Body™ but nonetheless it’s got enough texture. Carbonation is flat and dense. 8/10.

D: No replacement for FBS (if I can ever get it again!) but still it’s more like Stone Mocha IPA anyway, and Stone has the upper hand over this. 8/10.

Food match: Wakey-wakey eggs and bakey with this brew.

*As long as people promise not to say it several times quickly I’ll be in the clear.

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Stockade Hoppy Brown Ale

Total Score: 6.45/10 Caramel1DarkFruits1Chocolate1Nonicpint1

So far, so ok for Stockade, who don’t appeal to me at all with their marketing, however their Duel Hoppy Lager wasn’t bad, it was a bit of alright. This time they’ve released a Hoppy Brown Ale (I guess as an Ale-y complement to Duel?), this American Brown is no lightweight either at 6.8% ABV it sits right in that spectrum I like to call the “Mmmm zone” (because of all the yummy beers that sit in said spectrum). Now I understand that their Mountie Maple Stout was a real tasty treat, however I’m having difficulty locating that one, until then hopefully this will tide me over (if not I’ve got an Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake to fill the void!). PS: This bottle was provided to me by a Stockade rep, thank you kind lady!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Deep burnt umber with a touch of haze body and a thin cream-coloured head that sticks around as a light splotchy lacework. The colour is pretty spot on, and the lack of a head isn’t uncommon at 6.8% ABV – looks good. 7/10.

S: Aroma is dark fruit (raisin/prune) forward, touch of sherry as well, hops present as more of a distant floral note – hopefully that will change in the flavour… or hopefully not… I can’t decide – Brown Ales are delicious due to their malt-driven flavour profiles, but recently Stone Mocha IPA has taught me that seemingly discordant flavours can work well together. Hint of milk chocolate as well. Needs a bit more gusto, but otherwise good. 6/10.

T: Dark fruit, toffee, nutty and milk chocolate characters front to back of palate. Hops add a slight floral/citrus note before leaving an astringently bitter aftertaste – it’s not overpowering, but it’s there and enough to negate any goodwill from the addition of hops. There’s sweetness as well, but in this case it’s just a touch on the drier side for a Brown Ale and needs a bit more sugar IMO. 6/10.

M: Body is good, mid to light, borderline medium bodied with a thin but reasonably dense carbonation – Stockade did good here. 8/10.

D: Given the 6.8% ABV the aroma/flavours of this Hoppy Brown Ale were a bit lacking – there needs to be more going on at this level of alcohol content to justify it. Stockade beers (so far for me) have been a bit too muted flavour-wise and if I was to pull a few names out of my hat for examples of Aussie brewers who don’t mess around here I would say: Modus Operandi, Pirate Life, Prancing Pony, HopDog… I could actually go on, but look to these brewers Stockade. 7/10.

Food match: This brew is right in that medieval-roasted-game-zone.

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4 Pines Keller Door Cherry Coconut Brown Ale

Total Score: 5.65/10 Coconut1Cherry1Biscuit1Nonicpint1

This is why I love reviewing beers: every day is something new and sometimes something crazy – there’s a never ending supply of weird and wonderful brews out there. Case in point: 4 Pines Keller Door Cherry Coconut Brown Ale. Someone at 4 Pines thought about putting macerated cherries and roasted coconut into a Brown Ale, it’s a narrative not uncommon with a certain Mr. Ross Kenrick of Bacchus fame, and a reason why I have consumed/reviewed so many Bacchus beers of late – a tongue as seasoned as mine yearns for the occasional crazed experimental brew. So I guess what we have here is a liquid cherry ripe (chocolate bar). I was always more of a Twix man, when is someone going to turn Twix into a beer… Ross?

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Clear cola-coloured body with a slightly pink-tinged khaki head that settles to around half a centimetre. Aye there be cherries in this brew me lad. What is with 4 Pines obsession about fining their beers? Let us have a bit of haze FFS. 6/10.

S: Cherries and coconut mingle with a hint of vanilla, exactly as it says on the can – if you like cherries, and you like coconut, you’re in a cherry-coconut fantasy land mon frere. The main question with this and many other fruit addition beers is: does it smell artificial? In this instance I would say (_) – that was me holding my right index finger and thumb about 5 millimetres apart. Real deal with this I reckon. 8/10.

T: Hits with sour cherry from the beginning, though it’s not overly tart, it’s just enough to make you think “hmmm, sour note”. Then in comes a whole load of not much, yeah yeah the cherry and coconut flavours are there, but whatever happened to that whole sweet/bitter dichotomy that beers are universally renowned for? This is dry, cracker dry, middle to finish. Aftertaste hints at cherry. TBH this is much more bland than I was expecting. The major problems are body (mouthfeel) related, which could have been sorted out with oats… needs oats bro. 5/10.

M: Surprisingly (and detrimentally) thin in body with a watery middle and some carbonation thrown in for measure. 5/10.

D: This brew had promise in the aroma but completely fell apart from there onwards – it’s far too thin, muted and missing sweetness/bitterness to live up to its promise, oats would have fixed that… maybe a bit more ABV as well (although 5.5% is nothing to scoff at). Another disappointment from 4 Pines, didn’t expect it from a Keller Door though, bring back the Oaked Baltic Porter already! 5/10.

Food match: Cherry ripe choc bar – need to get that sweetness from somewhere.

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Ægir Bryggeri Naglfare Nut Brown Ale

Total Score: 6.45/10 DarkFruits1Nut1Bread1Nonicpint1

Next cab off the Ægir Bryggeri rank is their Naglfare Nut Brown Ale, and as you well know (yes, you!) I do quite enjoy a decent nutty Brown Ale, among my favourites are Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar and Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. So yeah, Ægir Bryggeri Naglfare has some stiff competition. I didn’t mind their Ægir India Pale Ale in one of my recent reviews, however they’ll need to step up here if they’re going to compete with the above mentioned Brown Ale titans of industry… hmmm, Brown Ale Titans of Industry sounds like a pretty swish Alt-Rock band name, I’ll file that one in my memory banks for later usage.

Poured from a 330ml can (with the cool full-lift-off top) into a nonic pint.

A: Fairly opaque chocolate brown body with a thin beige lace ring… a bit on the disappointing side this head, at 4.7% ABV one would expect there to be at least a centimetre of consistent head. 6/10.

S: Nutty with prominent dark fruit (date, plum and fig) notes. Brown sugar also quite noticeable… me thinks this may be a sugar-bomb the likes of which my tongue has tasted a few times before… here’s hoping it somehow finds a bitter/sweet/dry balance. 6/10.

T: Ooo, it turned out not to be a sugar-bomb. Dark fruits front/mid/finish, walnuts and a drying bread character drive this fairly tasty Brown Ale. Aftertaste brings in a herbal hop bitterness that is like enough to allow the dry character to control the palate. All-in-all the balance is good, it’s simply missing a bit of complexity in flavour profile to hold it back from true greatness. 7/10.

M: Almost medium bodied, with a thin but charged carbonation. Personally I prefer a bit more body and a less charged carbonation in my Brown Ales, but this is OK. 6/10.

D: “The dark fruit is strong with this one” – Darth Brewer. As far as Brown Ales go this was reasonably tasty, though much like Brooklyn’s Brown (which Naglfare reminded me of greatly) the dryness in this brew was a bit constricting on the flavour profile and reminded me of how great Rogue’s and Samuel Smith’s Brown Ales really are. However in saying that: This and Brooklyn’s Brown shit all over the mainstream Browns out there (i.e. Newcastle Brown Ale) so bear that in mind when you give Naglfare a shot. 6/10.

Food match: Roasted game meats and various other hunting lodge cuisines.

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