Winterfest Updates and other Indiana Beer News.

Winterfest is sold out so if you are NOT GOING we bring you some other updates first and remind you that OTHER beer fests are coming up in the next few weeks. Check those from our post HERE

Girls Pint Out plans a Beer and Food pairing talk (not a dinner) at Tow Yard Brewing, Feb. 5. TIX are $20
GPO also features a movie night with Labryinth at Scarlet Lane Brewery on Feb. 14 at 6pm for $30 with movie, burger, popcorn, 2 beers included and take-away gift
On Feb 17, from 6-9pm GPO has inside cornhole and a shandy tasting at Mashcraft (Guys welcome to this one)

Upland releases a new Side Trail series beer at all Upland retail locations on Feb. 27th The beer called Let's Get Weird is a blend of Belgian Golden Ale & an Oatmeal milk stout -- described as spiciness with sweet chocolate and roasted malt notes with underlying berry tartness.

Daredevil Brewing is making good progress on their Speedway, IN, Facility to be open by May 15, and just celebrated their 2nd anniversary with BBL-aged Muse & JWP. Both were delicious and we hope to find each at Winterfest.

Function Brewing and gastro pub, Bloomington, celebrated their first anniversary this past week with a sold-out beer dinner and by releasing a BBL-aged Imperial Porter and a Double IPA. Both remain on tap!

Bloomington Brewing Company
(@Lennie's) released this year's addition of Ol' Floyds Belgian Dark Strong which gets a unique plum and flavor from a blending of yeast strains! BBC B'ton also current has a Winter Ale and a BBL-aged Winter that are nicely spiced giving notes of a Mounds bar!

Salt Creek Brewery of Bedford has moved their Bloomington Tap room above Macri's Deli in the old train depot at 6th & Morton.

and more Bloomington news, we caught up with upcoming Switchyard Brewing co-founder Curtis Cummings who tells us they are closing in on finding a better building for their operation which plans to open off of the B-Line Trail on the South Side of Bloomington Fall 2015.

HopCat Broad Ripple celebrates a PRE-GAME pre-Winterfest tonight, Jan. 30 with special beers from at least 7 Indiana breweries from the North to the South of Indiana. They have 1 pair of Winterfest TIX to give away tonight (after 5pm).



Over 102 Breweries! GET THE MAP HERE You CAN get an express Checkin by visiting local beer bars in advance including: HopCat, Oaken Barrel, Tomlinson Tap, + Great Fermentations. There is both a NORTH and a SOUTH Entrance (Champions and Marsh pavilions) . There are 3 major stations in a rectangle in the NORTH area (A,B,C) and 4 stations in the SOUTH area. The Cask Tent is between the two.

Have a strategy. To state the obvious, 102 breweries times 2 oz. from each = 17 normal (12z) bottles of beer or equiv. of 5 beers/hour -- if you drink like this have a Designated Driver or way home.

The strategy is often where we fall apart: Do I want to visit all of the breweries of not been able to get to (say in the last year)? Then what about those I know well? What about the special beers? Still it helps a lot to start out with a PLAN, and at least try to stick to it. If I want to talk with every brewery for 3 minutes that means 5 hour with no time to potty! So... If I just saw you recently I may wave and grab someone I've not seen in a long while!

Again, here was our Nathan's post on Strategy for LAST YEAR -- It still holds!

We've all heard "this is a marathon, not a sprint" but drinking beer and remembering a goal may not be what happens.

Here are just a few beers I am hoping to sample:

Iechyd Da Dragon's Lair coffee imperial stout (10%)
Scarlet Lane's Night's Watch Amer Strong Ale (10.5%)
Wooden Bear Brewing Growl at the Moon, Brown with hop notes (6.95)
Zwanzig's BBL-Aged anything... Kurt has promised us something unusual and he always delivers
Taxman Tax Holiday Christmas ale with choc. malt (10.2%) or BBL Aged Deduction with cherries (if avail.)
18th Street BBL-aged surprise beers
Daredevil Muse (BBL if available)
Upland Lap Dog peanut butter oatmeal stout
NobleOrder Thistle Sitter Scotch Ale (8%)
Sun King we hope BBL-aged Timmie

Okay, that is a pretty fair list. Make yours now!

Sounding off about the legislative session

The statehouse is active again. The House Public Policy Committee is looking at a Sunday carry-out law, legal sawed-off shotguns, monetary help for casinos, schools not allowed bans on guns on-campus, and (yike) a repeal on handgun licensing. The sponsors says he wants to "decriminalize" the lawful carry of handguns by people without criminal records and have state law” allow those on university campuses decide how best to protect themselves.” article

635575298993958475-robertson-meganTo complicate Sunday carry-out, “political consultant” Megan Robertson was hired by the Convenience Store group to push Sunday carry-out. Then, on Christmas Eve, she ran her car into a Hardee’s and blew a .168 on the breath test. I guess she spent Christmas day waiting for an arraignment but maybe not, seeing that she’s a politico that was at the top of Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard’s 2011 election (and back in 2008, the push for Sarah Palin).

Editorial Number 1

How do these people come to power? No one elected this woman to anything but she’s a true friend of the Republican party having been paid to pass “influence” toward Indiana lawmakers. A quick scan finds her as a deputy execute director of the Marion County GOP, the northeast regional director for the Indiana GOP, the campaign manager for the now-disgraced Tony Bennett. She’s also worked on or led Indiana campaigns for Luke Messer, John McCain, Dan Coats and Greg Ballard.

Anyway, she and her one-person company, FrontRunner Strategies, has resigned from the Sunday sales lobby. Down the DWI path of that tree, Megan explained her BAC of .168  came at 1am “after drinking two beers”. Hmmmm.  Her prior arrests are for speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and operating a vehicle while her driver's license was suspended. That last in Sept, 2014. I can’t get an answer to whether her license is still suspended but she hasn’t been to court yet on that one. Maybe she just doesn’t think that the government should get all up in our faces about having a driver’s license.

Editorial Number 2

Megan’s .168 got much less talk on the football couch than the Colts’ linebacker Andrew Jackson who blew a .088 in Kentucky. He was arrested at 4:15am so he’s a later partier than Megan but he didn’t run into a restaurant and he really might not have thought he was over .08. That number is just over the limit imposed by the federal National Minimum Drinking Age Act and really does not signify real impairment. Many legitimate sources say a .005 difference in BAC is not at all a difference in actual capabilities.

I’m not a big fan of the city-sponsored Colts owned by Junkie Irsay, but Jackson seems to have gotten a raw deal in the public perception – or at least in the press.

Editorial Number 3

The Sunday sales bill might have bitten the dust on Christmas eve but that may not be a bad thing for Hoosier Breweries. The  bill has been introduced multiple times by “Hoosiers for Sunday Sales” and supported by petitions at liquor stores. The backers are a mixture of the Indiana Retail Council (grocery stores),  the Pharmacy lobby and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

John Livengood of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers isn’t completely happy about it. He thinks about 1/4 of the Indiana’s independent liquor stores will be forced out of business.

Myself, I’m not happy with it either. Convenience stores (read gas stations) sell budmillercoors, local breweries are not represented on their shelves. That will cost sales overall of Hoosier Beers just as the growth is ramping up. Grocery stores, including the Marsh and Krogers chains, now normally have a mix of Carson’s Flat 12, Fountain Square, Noble Order (nee Big Dawg), Sun King, Three Floyds, Upland and many more (often in 1-bottle lots). Thank you Monarch Beverage.

This isn’t  a rant just supporting the Sunday beer monopoly by the local breweries. Yes, they sell a lot of growlers at the breweries but their slice of the malt pie will be diminished by the sale of fizzy alco-water at gas stations. I might be the lone voice here as House Speaker Brian Bosma says “My assessment of it is that it doesn’t really change the economics for the participants in the industry much.”

In years past, Ron Alting, chair of the Public Policy Committee, has shot down Sunday carry-out. He also has put forth many other pro-local-beer laws with help of the Brewers of Indiana Guild’s lobbyist Mark Webb.

Patrick Tamm, head of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, doesn’t think the Chamber of Commerce should single out one business sector for preferential rules.

My opinion is completely and directly supporting Hoosier breweries by continuing the Sunday carry-out ban as it now stands. This is specifically to financially help the little guy over the mass-marketers (Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch, South Africa’s SABMiller and Canadian/American Molson Coors ). These are the 1st, 2nd and 7th largest breweries in the world.

Editorial Number 4

My last editorial today is an (unauthorized) reprint of a piece in Rita Kohn’s Beer Buzz column in Indianapolis’ Nuvo:

Support Indiana Brewers wants your help raising the limit of beer brewers are able to produce in Indiana. State lawmakers will soon introduce bills to the Indiana state legislature recommending the Indiana Small Brewers barrel limit be increased to 60,000 or 90,000 barrels – essential for continued growth. Bills include SB 276 authored by Senator James Merritt, SB 297 authored by Senator Ron Alting, SB 281 authored by Senator Carlin Yoder; and representative Ed Clere has authored a bill for introduction to the House of Representatives. Go to to fill out your information and automatically send your legislator an email. Patrons will also be able to fill out the form via iPad Jan, 31 at Winterfest. {now sold out}

The barrel limit to have a brewery and a restaurant (brewpub) or on-site sales or tastings has been moved up almost annually through the recent years to accommodate the two biggest Indiana breweries, Three Floyds and Upland. Now there’s also Sun King and Flat 12 looks to bounce off the current 30,000 barrel limit soon.

Why does Indiana limit the output of an agricultural business? This isn’t making MADD or any of the more rabid “conservatives” happy – they won’t even notice it.

Why does Indiana limit the output of an agricultural business? Just because alcohol is involved? This law certainly wasn’t in effect back in 1997 when the Evansville Brewing Co. was in full swing down in Evansville making Sterling, Champagne Velvet, Cook’s Drewrys, Drummond Brothers, Falls City, Lemp, Penn and Weidemanns.

Festival time: Indiana Winterfest, KY TailSpin Ale fest, & More.

Tis the season for Winter Beer Fests! Winterfest from the Brewers of Indiana Guild will be held this coming Saturday, January 31, at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the Marsh Blue Ribbon Pavilion. More information and ticket purchases (3-7 PM) can be found here . We have talked to several brewers and while we don't want to spoil surprises you can clearly guess that you will find plenty of Bourbon Barrel Aged but also Rum barrel aged and specialty heavy beers! THere will be over 102 breweries represented! To build your anticipation you may want to look over our review of the 2014 event Winterfest 14 In addition, Nathan wrote a blog nearly a year ago on Maximizing your Winterfest Experience. The advice still holds! Check that Advice HERE

Lafayette Brewing Company's Winter Warmer event is already sold out but you might snag some tickets from friends as this event is held Feb. 7 (5-9PM).

Shelfice Brew Fest is happening Feb. 7 and appears to NOT be sold out yet, with over 20 Indiana Breweries from all ends of the state + more. Venture up north to Michigan City where you might get some beers you have not had from Burning Bush, Ironwood, Four Fathers, Burn 'Em, and many more. Tix are only $35 for the 1-5 event. There is even a but to and from the local Casino and Outlet mall! More info HERE

Louisville, Kentucky's second annual Tailspin Ale Festival will be held February 20 & 21. Indiana's own Flat12 which recently opened their second brewpub in Jeffersonville, IN (Our Story HERE) , just across the bridge from Louisville, will be a featured brewery.

Just a bit more than an hour and half South of Greenwood, Indiana, on Interstate 65 is Louisville, which continues to expand their beer scene. If you missed last year, the following was part of our attendance at that event: The first ever Louisville Tailspin Ale fest was held on a Sunny Saturday featuring an even dozen Kentucky breweries, nearly 30 other breweries including 3 from Indiana, with approximately 150 beers served.
Louisville beer festivals are showcasing craft beer, welcoming all to sample both new and old brews. This year, expect over 150 beers, over 40 breweries - many from Indiana and Kentucky, as well as food trucks. On Friday night the Tailspin features their exclusive "Barrel Role" with limited edition, barrel-aged beers and VIP tickets for $85. All details are found HERE: Tailspin Festival

Gear up for the FIFTH Annual BLOOMINGTON Beer Festival, on April 11.

And the big "kahuna" will be the TWENTIETH Annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival on July 18 in a NEW VENUE of Military Park in downtown Indianapolis. Check back here future news!

Flat 12 in Jeffersonville, IN, becoming a main part of the Louisville beer scene

Flat 12 brewery of Indianapolis held a 'soft opening' in Jeffersonville in Nov. and a Grand Opening event Dec. 6, and is already in full-swing within the Kentuckiana beer scene. Founding Partner Rob Caputo had told us as the Jeffersonville location was in planning stages that the riverfront operation across from Louisville would not always carry the same line-up as the Indianapolis Dorman Street tap room but would adjust to the local clientele of Kentuckiana, as the 2-state area is often called.

At the grand opening we were delighted with the fantastic selection of beers. Not only were the usual Flat 12 pours on tap (Pogue's Run, Half Cycle, Walkabout, Amber, and more) but there were so many special tappings like PINKO RIS, Whiskey Jack bbl-aged pumpkin, Snow Dog Canadian bbl-aged rye stout, Kattenstoet Belg pale, with long list. Rob had a special line up in kegs of bourbon barrel, rum barrel, and other exotic beers for those celebrating the opening along with music, a food truck, and just plain fun. Many of these beers have stayed on tap and they recently added Winter Cycle DIPA + Juniper, and Atomik Pulp Amer. IPA with grapefruit zest.

In fact there is a tap takeover of Flat 12 January 27, 4-8, celebrating the upcoming Tailspin Ale Fest at BoomBozz, 1448 Bardstown Rd., Louisville, KY.

Expect not only a special line-up of beers at this riverfront location, as well as some food, outside seating when warmer, and occasional music!

Flat 12 will be a featured brewery at the Tailspin Ale Fest, Feb. 20 & 21 in Louisville, (check our blogs for more information)!

Dark Milds and Browns

Dark Mild

DarkAlesMild-VolunteerDark, as well as Pale, Milds are called Session Ales due to their low alcoholic content - they can be enjoyed during a full session in a British pub. This doesn't mean they are wimpy beers; in fact they are more popular now in Britain than they have been at any time since war rationing ended in the early 1950s. They are most popular in the west and southwest of England.

The style originated as a weaker and cheaper version of the porters of the mid 1800s. It became popular during the heat of summer among those doing the sweatiest jobs. Less alcohol (and less £) meant it could be enjoyed in larger quantity.

Generally, Caramel or Roasted malt is used to give these beers and Brown Ales their color and taste although some brewers achieve this (or augment it) by letting the wort have a long boil time to caramelize the malt in the kettle.

Hopping rates are generally low so as not to overwhelm the malt character.

Native Territory: Southern England.

Color (SRM): Deep copper to brown. Sometimes a red tint. (12 - 25).

Head: Head is not a big matter in British ales. Cask conditioned ales are notably low in head, just the foam created by the dispense.

Aromas: Malt. Bread. Toast. Usually no hop aroma.

Flavors: Mainly malt. Some hop bitterness. Some have a bit of fruitiness or a bready, toasted, or even chocolate flavor.

Finish: Quick and clean.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Little carbonation.

Carbonation: Low - especially when served in Cask Conditioned form.

Alcohol: 3.0 - 4.0% ABV.

Bitterness (IBU): Subdued. (10 - 25 IBU).

Serving: Pint or half-pint English straight-side glass or handled mug. Usually served at a fairly warm 45°F or higher.

Malts: Pale, Caramel, Roast. May have sugar adjunct.

Hops: East Kent Goldings. Fuggles.

Yeast: English Ale Yeast.

Related Styles:

Pale Mild - which serves the same function in a brewer's repertoire but has less caramel malts.
Southern Brown - Sweeter and almost as low alcohol.

Notes: Due to low alcohol and hopping rates, Milds often do not store well in the bottle.


Bob's Pick:  Brains Dark - Cardiff, Wales regional brewery - Quite dark and full with hoppy dry finish. Chocolate, crystal, and brown malts. Cask conditioned in pubs and bottle conditioned in stores. 3.5%

Rare Gems: Logo-BankTop-DarkMild

Bank Top Dark Mild - Manchester, England regional brewery - Strong burnt toffee. Roast. Still fairly sweet. Very complex. Cask Conditioned only. 4.0%.

Dragonmead Crusader Dark Mild - Detroit, MI brewpub - Some bittersweet chocolate. Bready, sweet, and a touch of roast. 3.8%

Ridley Pride of Cheltenham - Chelmsford, Essex, England regional brewery - Even though Ridley has no milds in their portfolio they brew this for the Jolly Brewmaster pub in Cheltenham. 3.9%.

Wizard Black Magic - Whichford, Warwickshire, England brewpub - Chocolatey. Heading toward a stout. 4.3%

Martha's Exchange Mona Lisa Mild Ale - Nashua, NH brewpub - Nice malty taste. Yum. Color and some character of a Southern Brown.

Widely Available (please realize this was written in 2005): Logo-Gales-Festival

Gales Festival Mild - London megabrewery (Fullers) - Deep brown/red. Some roasty/smokey aroma.  Fruity sweet start and a tart, dry finish. Usually found in bottles. 4.8%

Goose Island PMD Mild - Chicago regional brewery - Bready and firm. Some chocolate and caramel. Available in cask conditioned form sometimes at their Chicago pubs. 3.8%

Highgate Dark Mild - Walsall, West Midlands, England regional brewery - A touch of roastiness. Great tasting rich ale. Fuggles, Goldings, and Progress hops. Usually served in cask conditioned form. 3.4%

Moorhouse Black Cat - Burnley, Lancashire, England regional brewery - Very deep brown/red. Tan head. Hints of chocolate, licorice, and wood. 3.4%

Theakston Traditional Mild - Masham, North Yorkshire, England regional brewery - Bitter, sharp, dark.  Dry finish from all Fuggles hops. 3.5%

Typical 5-gallon (US) recipe

5.5 lb Maris Otter Pale malt
.1 lb Chocolate malt
.25 lb Crystal 55L malt
.1 lb Black Patent malt

Adjuncts, Fruit, Spices: .4 lb Cane sugar

Hops: .75 oz Fuggle hops at start of boil

Yeast: London Ale yeast

Mash: Infusion

Boil time: 60 minutes

OG / FG: 1034 / 1010

Northern Brown

DarkAlesNorthernBrown-KeithAtFleeseWhich is Northern Brown and which is Southern Brown? The classic Nut Brown Ale is a northern brown. It's crisper, lighter colored, lighter bodied, and more translucent than it's Southern cousin. The most famous Brown Ale in the world, Newcastle Brown, is a Northern Brown - in fact that's why it's called Northern Brown - Newcastle is "up north".

In fact, the two styles are very different, connected only by name and the basic grain bill - Pale, Caramel, and Chocolate Malts are used in both.

Northerns are easy-drinking beers, rather thinner bodied than Southerns, not heavy or alcoholic, historically the working-man's thirst quencher before Stella and Carlsberg took over the lager taps throughout England.

The roots of Brown Ale go back to the Middle Ages when a barrel of malt produced several different beers - first running through the mash producing a stout, the second a brown, then a small beer (see the discussion of Small Beer for a modern-day example). Malt at that time was made over an open wood or coal fire and was much darker than today's Pale Malt. The result in this case, was a dark beer called a Brown Ale we would recognize now more as a Porter. Sometimes the Small Beer and the Brown Ale were blended to produce a lighter-colored and less alcoholic brew that was the forerunner of Northern Brown.

In the early 1800s pale malts allowed lighter-colored ales and glass drinkware demanded ales of more clarity. In London and in the Northeast Brown Ales retained their popularity while Pale Ales became dominant in the west and the south. London brewers made a darker, sweeter, and lower-strength beer which became a Southern Brown. In the Northeast, Browns were stronger, lighter-colored, and crisper. These distinctions still exist.

  • Nut Brown ales are names such seemingly whenever there's a nutty presence imparted by the malt.

  • Honey Brown ales are popular with US brewpubs. This adds more honey taste to augment the caramel than more sweetness.

Native Territory: Northern England.

Color (SRM): Transparent brown with maybe some reddish tone. (12 - 24).

Head: White and frothy.

Aromas: Not very aromatic. Sweet malt. Nut. Toffee. Some buttery notes due to diacetyl.

Flavors: Light malt with some nuttiness. Maybe a bit sweet. Maybe some toffee or toasted.

Finish: Dry although not heavy with hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium.

Carbonation: One of the most heavily carbonated of British Ales.

Alcohol: 4.2 - 5.2% ABV.

Bitterness (IBU): Mild. (20 - 30 IBU).

Serving: Pint or half-pint English straight-side glass or handled mug. Serve cool, rather than room temperature - 45°F or a bit less. Northern Brown ales are very rarely seen in Cask Conditioned form.

Malts: Pale Malt base with some Caramel Malt and a small amount of Chocolate Malt adds color and nut flavor.

Hops: Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, Northern Brewer.

Yeast: Usually a "house" yeast that is a variety of London Ale Yeast.

Related Styles

American Brown Ale - Somewhat hoppier and thicker.

Southern Brown Ale - Darker, sweeter, less alcoholic.

Bob's Pick:


Goose Island Nut Brown Ale - Chicago brewpub chain and regional brewery - While Newcastle and especially Sam Smith's are regarded as the "style guidelines", they are widely different and Goose Island's entry is a good mid-point. 5.2%

When on tap at the brewpub it's deeper than the bottled variety - almost cordovan. Very carbonated.

Rare Gems:


CooperSmith's Pub & Brewing Not Brown Ale - Fort Collins, CO - Translucent reddish brown. Crystal malt comes through with caramel and coffee hints. Not sweet. Excellent. 5.0%

Deep Water Grille / South Shore Brewery Nut Brown Ale - Ashland, WI brewpub - Actually a fairly hearty ale. Lightish in color. Malty but not sweet.

John Harvard's Nut Brown - Manchester, CT brewpub chain -  Seems cold and crisp. Solid brown. Light but with body. Northern Brewer hops.

Legend Brewing Brown Ale - Richmond, VA - Brown Cask Conditioned - Caramel and roasted. Tetnang and Mt. Hood hops. Newcastle Brown with more malt flavor. 6.0%

Wild River Brewing and Pizza Nut Brown Ale - Grant's Pass, OR brewpub chain - Good malted barley taste with a tinge of chocolate. Not sweet. 3.8%

Woodstock Inn Pig's Ear Brown Ale - North Woodstock, NH brewpub and microbrewery -  Good nut brown style. Slight sweet aftertaste. Lots of malt and well balanced.

Widely Available:


Newcastle Brown Ale - Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, England megabrewery (Scottish & Newcastle) - Lots of butterscotch character. Reddish brown. Delicate and easy drinking. 4.7%

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale - Burton upon Trent, Yorkshire, England megabrewery - Darker end of the range but still very transparent. Comparatively hoppy. Some butter notes. 5.0%

Lost Coast Brewery - Downtown Brown - Hearty end of style. Looks and feels almost like a Mild Ale. 5.0%

Walnut Brewery Restaurant - Old Elk Brown Ale - Excellent dry, malty, earthy, and fairly strong. Unusually uses Munich and Chocolate malts, Willamette hops.

Arcadia Brewing Company - Nut Brown - Northern brown with a darker than style color. Hints of nuts, raisins, and chocolate. 5.6%

Typical 5-gallon (US) recipe

4 lb Maris Otter Pale malt
4 lb English Amber malt
1 lb Crystal 55L malt
.5 lb Chocolate malt

Adjuncts, Fruit, Spices: None

1 oz Styrian Goldings hops at start of boil
1 oz Fuggles hops at end of boil

Yeast: British Ale yeast

Mash: Infusion

Boil time: 45 minutes

OG / FG: 1045 / 1011

Newcastle Brown is undoubtedly the best known example of a Northern Brown. Brewed first in 1927 in Newcastle by a fellow named Jim Porter. "Newkie" Brown is available worldwide in bottled form. It is actually still made by blending two separate beers. Today it's the most popular bottled English bottled beer worldwide.

The huge conglomerate, Scottish and Newcastle, applied for a Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée in 2000 so no other beer could be called a Newcastle Brown unless it was brewed in Newcastle - thus preventing the name from becoming a style of its own.

Southern Brown

DarkAlesSouthernBrown-FatCatSouthern Browns (London style) are darker and more opaque than Northern Browns (more discussion above). They're also sweeter and usually lower in alcohol. The grain bill is possibly the same but brewing techniques are very different.

Southerns are made with a less-complete fermentation from a slightly less strong wort. This gives a sweeter finished beer because of the residual sugars (that were not turned into alcohol). It also makes it a less alcoholic beer of course.

(Repeat from the Northern Brown comments) In the early 1800s pale malts allowed lighter-colored ales and glass drinkware demanded ales of more clarity. In London and in the Northeast Brown Ales retained their popularity while Pale Ales became dominant in the west and the south. London brewers made a darker, sweeter, and lower-strength beer which became a Southern Brown. In the Northeast, Browns were stronger, lighter-colored, and crisper. These distinctions still exist.

Native Territory: London, England.

Color (SRM): Dark brown - almost opaque. (15 - 35).

Head: White but not usually thick.

Aromas: Malty sweet. Toffee. Caramel. No hop presence.

Flavors: Fruity. Dark plummy fruits. Notably a lack of roastiness.

Finish: Fairly long lasting sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Sugars left in the beer from brewing add to the thickness.

Carbonation: Fairly low carbonation.

Alcohol: 3.2 - 4.5% ABV.

Bitterness (IBU): Very low hopping. (12 - 20 IBU).

Serving: Pint or half-pint English straight-side glass or handled mug. Usually served at a fairly warm 45°F or higher. Very rarely found in cask conditioned form.

Malts: Pale Malt base with some Caramel Malt and a small amount of Chocolate Malt. Occasionally with a bit of Roasted Malt. Honey Malt.

Hops: Fuggles. East Kent Goldings.

Yeast: London Ale Yeast.

Related Styles:

Dark Mild - Less strong, as a session ale.

Porter - More strong. The family really ranges from Dark Mild, Southern Brown, to Porter.

Northern Brown - Lighter brown. More alcoholic. Less sweet.

Irish Red Ale - Similar and a bit sweeter.

Logo-Ridley-TollyCobboldBob's Pick:  Ridley's Tolly Cobbold Original - Bury St. Edmunds, Essex, England megabrewery (Greene King) - Fruit aroma. Toffee and anise notes on the tongue. Some bitter creeps into the finish with the lingering sweetness. 3.8%

It was Tolly Cobbold's flagship beer in the mid 1700s and revived by the brewery in 1979. The brewery was sold to Ridleys in 2002 which was itself sold to Green King in 2005. Now a seasonal and hard to find. Always served in cask conditioned form.

Rare Gems:


Rock Bottom Molly's Titanic Brown - Denver brewpub - Smooth dark brown. Crystal Munich Chocolate malts. Willamette and Mt. Hood hops.

Milwaukee Ale House - Brown Session Ale - Milwaukee brewpub - It left stepped rings on the back side of the glass as we supped. Really thick. A seasonal not brewed every year.

Westbury Midnight Mash - Westbury, Wiltshire, England microbrewery - Deep mahogany. Ivory head. Fruity. Dry lingering finish. Always cask conditioned. 5.0%

Barley John's Southern Brown Ale - New Brighton, MN brewpub - Deep brown with a fluffy head. Caramel, bready and earthy flavors. Pure Fuggles and East Kent Goldings. A seasonal beer. 5.3%

Widely Available:  Whoops, sorry. None.

Typical 5-gallon (US) recipe

5 lb Pale malt
.6 lb Chocolate malt
.4 lb Crystal 20L malt
.4 lb Crystal 60L malt
.2 lb Roasted malt

Adjuncts: .4 lb Dark brown sugar

.75 oz Fuggle hops at start of boil
.5 oz East Kent Goldings at end of boil

Yeast: London Ale yeast

Mash: Infusion

Boil time: 60 minutes

OG / FG: 1038 / 1015


Mann's Brown Ale - Always called a Southern Brown but it was really pretty thin and light giving a crisp feel. Biscuit, fruity malt. There really wasn't much alcohol either at 2.8%. This beer was marketed by Ushers and contract brewed by Burtonwood and then Young's. With Young's closing in 2005 it is no longer available.

American Brown Ale

AmericanBrown-GlassWhile copying British styles and modifying them to North American ingredients and tastes brewers couldn't resist the Brown Ales. In this case they've created a style more popular than it was back in the old country. As with other styles, they've added more grains, alcohol, and hops. The result is close to a Northern Brown Ale but not quite. There's still Caramel Malt giving a sweet richness and a roastiness. More grain means a thicker body, but still not as thick as a Southern Brown Ale though. And, of course, hoppier.

This is one style that can be attributed to homebrewers rather than commercial breweries. It was featured in 5-gallon batches across the continent while Pete Solsberg first bottled Pete's Wicked Ale in 1986.

A variant very popular in the US is a Honey Brown Ale that has a sweet note.RoundEdge-TR[20]

Native Territory: Homebrewers and brewpubs all over North America.

Color (SRM): Dark amber to medium brown through a big range of depth-of-color. (18 - 30).

Head: White or tan. Substantial.

Aromas: Caramel malt. Sweet chocolate.

Flavors: Sweet dark malt. Maybe a touch of chocolate. Toasty. Roasty. Toffee. Nut. Hop bitterness that might be citric.

Finish: Dry finish with no sweet aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body.

Carbonation: Moderate. Often with an ivory or tan head.

Alcohol: Strong versions may have alcoholic warmth. 4.5 - 6.5% ABV.

Bitterness (IBU): Fairly low but enough or more to balance the caramel sweetness. (20 - 50 IBU).

Serving: Pint or half-pint English straight-side glass or a pilsner glass. Serve cool but not cold - 45°F.

Malts: Pale Malt. Crystal Malt. Chocolate Malt.

Hops: Centennial. Chinook. Cluster. Willamette. Maybe Cascade in moderation. UK hops are also often used. Sometimes also Noble hops such as Perle or Hallertau.

Yeast: American Ale Yeast.

Logo-FlossmoorStation-NutBrown[4]Bob's Pick:  Flossmoor Station Pullman Nut Brown Flossmoor, IL brewpub and regional brewery - Made with toasted oats and molasses for the "nut" in the equation.

Rare Gems:


75th Street Possum Trot Brown Ale - Kansas City, MO brewpub - Cluster and Cascade hops. Thick, rich, almost porterish. Toasty and sweet.

Church Brew Works Bell Tower Brown - Pittsburgh brewpub - Deep, sweet, and malty.

Widely Available:


Avery Elie's Brown Ale - Boulder, CO regional brewery - A great looking brown ale with a complex maltiness. Very elegant and drinkable at the same time.

Bell's Best Brown - Kalamazoo, MI regional brewery - Big tan head. Some roast, caramel, and chocolate aroma and taste.

Brooklyn Brown Ale Contract brewed at FX Matt, Utica, NY megabrewery - Deep brown color in a beer that is less chocolate/toffee/roast etc. than most American Brown Ales but still distinctly American rather than a Southern Brown.

Pete's Wicked Ale - Contract brewed at FX Matt, Utica, NY megabrewery - Dark color. Deep caramel. Subdued fruity aromatic hop aroma. Now has disappeared.

Typical 5-gallon (US) recipe:

8 lb Pale malt
2 lb Munich malt
1 lb malted wheat
.2 lb Chocolate malt
.1 lb roasted barley

Adjuncts, Fruit, Spices: None

1 oz Cascade hops at start of boil
.5 oz Cascade hops at end of boil
.5 Hallertau hops at end of boil

Yeast: American Ale yeast

Mash: Infusion

Boil time: 90 minutes

OG / FG: 1048 / 1012

Dribs and Drams–the Silly Season

Headline: The most popular craft beers from each state. web page

Headlines: Sun King Leads Push to Change State Beer Distribution Laws: article – Sun King to Limit Distribution in Indiana due to State Law: article

And the silliness:

IPA-Labels-In-LawsuitHeadline: Lagunitas to Drop Trademark Suit against Sierra Nevada after Twitter Backlash. article Lagunitas doesn’t like the kerning and the use of IPA without periods. and thought the font was too similar.

The silliest beer tasting yet.  Movie with sound.

Down in Florida (of all places) A-B is going to refund 50 cents to anyone how thought Kirin was brewed in Japan, just because that was what the label said. You got it – brewed at A-B in Los Angeles and Williamsburg, VA since 1996. article

A Colorado beer truck caught fire. Wait, what? article

Here’s a picture a a New Zealander drinking beer and roasting marshmallows in a volcano.

Slate and Adrienne So think hops are stifling craft brews. Huh? But there’s a good picture of Jean-Pierre Van Roy. article

Beer Pairings for Girl Scout Cookies. article

Headline: Beer Glazed Bacon is Better than Candy. article

Headline: Dude Busted for Recklessly Driving His Amazing Gas-Powered Beer Cooler. article

Headline: Beer Contaminated with Crocodile Bile Kills 56 in Mozambique, Sends Dozens More to Hospital. article with gratuitous picture of a crocodile. It turns out this beer was served at a funeral and “Authorities believe that the drink was poisoned with crocodile bile during the course of the funeral.” “The woman who brewed the beer is also among the dead.”


Coors just isn’t all that light

Innis Gunn-Scotland-April1Joke

Wood carved with a burnt-on label


sign 3sign4

Bamburg non-beer

Pictures from town:


The Dom. Behind this is the brewing museum.


The old Rathaus

Uehifield (the town) and yes, it does have a small brewery

Donndorf’s Schloss und Park Fantaisie.
Built for the Duchess Elisabeth Friedricke Sophie von Wurttemberg in 1763.
Inside, a mixture of styles - Baroque, Renaissance, Country, Romantic, and even Medieval.
Sadly, no pictures allowed.
But the grounds had their own charm:

Schloss Frankenberg’s wine festival was also excellent. Good food too.

The next day, after Terry dragged herself out of bed, she got a treat.
Ice in her water with one cube actually lasting long enough to get the lemon our of the glass.


Bamberg is royally cool. It’s laid back, the food is good, the hotels are reasonable and the beer is exquisite if you’re a smoke lover. Bamberg rivals Munich for the world's beer king city. In Germany it's really more famous because the beer history goes back farther.

Klosterbrau is the oldest. The brewery at this location was first recorded in city records in 1333. They claim a date of 1533 since it was 200 years before the brewery actually got an owner and a name - Prince Bishop's Brown Beer House. 22 prince bishops held sway until 1790 when the church secularized it. Peter Braun bought the place in 1851 and it's now in the 5th generation of that family.

Amazingly parts of the current gasthaus are original to the 1500s. Rooms have names like Tithe House, Decoction House, Little Brown Beer Room, Little Yard, and Vault.

  • Maibock - This is the very end of the season and it was pretty stale. The bitter was overpowering and also quite sour.
  • Schwarzla - Pure black and very roasty.
  • Brauns Weiss - A pretty normal dunkelwiezen. It's their flagship beer and fabled in the city guides but is really nothing special.
  • Weiss - A+ Big and bready.
  • They also have a Gold Pils and Vollbier.

At the Klosterbrau, Bob walked into the WC just as Kevin Cox walked out and said "Hi Bob" just as if it were natural to see someone you know. So we sat around and had a couple more beers.

Kevin was in Munich before Bamberg and was going on to Salzburg and Prague.

Schlenkerla. What can one say. It's possibly the best bar in the world. Certainly among the top 10. To qualify you have to have:

  • History - It opened in 1678 and hasn't changed much since.
  • Good beer - Hey, it's Schlenkerla Rauchbier. Fabled of song and story.
  • Cordial staff - Certainly so. The bartender and waitress (there is only one of each - it's really small) knew us by name before the week was out. They, and the regulars, are used to tourists and understand when flashes of cameras go off - it happens every 5 minutes or so.
  • Convivial drinkers - Even though it's a major tourist stop in crowded Bamberg, the regulars are interesting and the locals are welcoming.

Bob closed down the place 3 nights of the 5 we stayed in Bamberg. Once with Kevin Cox plus the duo from Munich mentioned below, once by himself, and once with a crew from Nurnberg that come to Bamberg weekly just for the rauchbier and the ambiance. Thanks Tom, Oliver, Christian, etc. for the good times.

The first time we walked into the place we took the first picture below and 3 other people took pictures before we hit the door. It's that famous in Germany, people travel here repeatedly.

There's only one beer on tap at Schlenkeria, the Rauchbier Marzen - 5.1%. It's served from a wooden cask that's emptied every 20 minutes or so. Some people will wait for the tourists to drink the dregs to get the fresh beer from the next keg. You can get Rauchbier Weisse from bottles also. Both are priced at, get this, 2.05€ per 1/2 liter glass. Cheapest best beer in the world or best cheap beer in the world. Either way, it's special. The smoky character comes through strongly from start to finish and 3 liters in an evening don't produce a hangover at all. Wonderful stuff.

Those antlers on the wall are probably older than the United States.


First pull from a new cask. My picture on left. Wikimedia’s picture from John White on the right.
Alex Culaj, a student from Kosovo, is one of the Schlenkerla's six Bierschänker (Beer Servers).

The carry-out department sells schnapps for consumption on site, postcards, 3-liter kegs, and believe it or not a 5-pack of Schlenkerla Rauchbier for 5.50€. That's not a typo. In fact the 10-pack of 1/5 liter bottles behind the 5-pack in this picture is 10.50€!
I dare you to match that price anywhere - especially when it sells in the USA for, what, $5 per bottle.

Schlenkerla on tap at a hotel gave a creamy ivory head. From the wood it has very little carbonation and very little head.

Fun facts. Schlenkern is German for not walking straight. Schlenkeria does its own maltings, smoking the malt over a beechwood fire. The text on their mats translates to "Even if the brew tastes somewhat strange at the first swallow, do not stop, because soon you will realize that your thirst will not decrease and your pleasure will visibly increase".

Brauerei Spezial - Only this one picture since it was raining and the inside was filled with locals and a flash would have been disturbing. Sorry. Spezial dates back to 1536 and the inside could be easily from the 1800s without change.

  • Rauchbier Lagerbier - Not nearly as smoky as Schlenkerla's Rauchbier. In fact just a mild smoked malt essence. Lightly carbonated and translucent.
  • Weisse - Nice.
  • These were the only two beers available. Seasonally they make a marzen and a bock.

Two guys, one from Mississippi and one from Lincolnshire sat down at our table. Turns out they just got in on the train from Nuremberg on a evening pub crawl. So we joined them, or vice-versa, at the Fassla and back to Schlenkerla until it closed. A lovely evening.

Brauerei Fassla is directly across the street from Spezial. It's almost as old (1649) and the front rooms have even more of a locals-only feeling. You either order at the bar or a waiter walks around occasionally with a tray of beers. They mark the barmats to keep track of your tab - even for strangers. But for strangers, they mark only one mat of the group and individual tabs aren't allowed. In back a covered garden is less strict.

  • Echtes Bamberger Zwergla - Smooth but with a strong bitterness and some nuttiness. Medium copper.

  • Pils - Crystal clear and deep yellow. Mild with a long lasting bitterness.

Bamberg's newest brewery, Ambrausianum, sits directly next door to Schlenkeria. It has all contemporary furnishings in an an old building; it just doesn’t act old. The malty brewing smells extend right out onto the street from the coppers located under stone arches in the center of the restaurant.

  • Wiezen - Dark dull apricot. Almost to dunkle darkness. Still no clove but plenty of banana on a nice malty base.
  • Dunkel - Dull walnut. Unfiltered. Smooth bitter chocolate dominates. Probably deadly. Terry's 2nd favorite in Europe and Bob's 2nd favorite in Bamberg.
  • Also a Hell which we sadly didn't try.

They have a taster consisting of 1/10th liter of each of the three for 2.90€.

Stopped in after the Schlenkeria closed one night and they sold us a beer and told us we had to drink it on the street - but to bring back the glass.

Mahr's Brau. Very like the Schlenkerla, 11 items on the menu, one draught beer, old bent-beamed ceilings, 19th century ceiling fixtures, antlers, wrought iron, and a local following that's almost religious. There's also an ancient telephone and a coal fire in the green enamel furnace. They also have a fine rauchbier (that isn't nearly as smoky). One difference is the kegs - they are molded plastic rather than wood - but they still allow the house beer to be served with very little CO2.

  • Hell - From the keg. So-so.
  • Giesl - Very thick. Black. Some roasty and a bit of smoky. Massive hops to balance the coffee and chocolate notes. 2nd best in Bamberg and that's saying a lot.
  • Festtags Weisse - Bready reddish. A bit overcarbonated but very good.

Keesman. Across the street from Mahr's. I visited on a rainy afternoon and it was deserted. Completely deserted. Strange because Mahr's had a dozen or so people.

The inside is very nice, clean, and new. The backyard terrace is outside the brewery shipping plant and just feet from the trucks - presumably this isn't a problem in the evening.

  • Stenla Lager - "Dark beer". A light amber to our eyes. Fruity with almost a berry character.
  • Also Herren Pils, Weissbeir, and a bottled hefeweizen. Two different bocks are also offered seasonally.

Brewery Museum

An extensive brewery museum in Bamberg is a product of a club with 400 members, including 70 brewery representatives. It's a full-time professional display covering 3 floors in the old monastery.


Filters from 1926

Capping machine with automatic feed. This is from 1914.
The foot pedal lifts the bottle into the crimper and feeds another cap from the brass hopper into the chute.

Bottle filler from 1920. Things have changed much.

An excellent mostly-copper model of the brewing process.
Much like the printed flowchart we're all familiar with, but in glorious 3D.

A wort chiller. Water is run over the outside to cool the liquid running through the tubes.
There's a very similar one at the Red Oak brewery in Greensboro, NC.

A much different wort chiller.
Didn't figure out exactly how it work and what the handle accomplishes.

The coolest grundy ever. About 4 ft high.

Catalog drawing of a flat tambourine filter - and the real thing.