Rich and Ruddy

The best brown ales, epitomizing fall.

indianbrownale_01Maybe it’s the cooler, darker afternoons. Maybe it’s the wind, rain, and drifting foliage. One way or the other, fall makes us craft autumn beer styles—märzen, a.k.a. Oktoberfest, especially. But one oft-overlooked beer style (or collection of related styles, actually), is the humble brown ale.

Derived from English, German, and Belgian origins, the tawny colored ales get their color and malty backbone from roasted barley. They range in flavor from hoppy to sour to biscuit-bready and even nutty.

What’s your favorite brown ale? Tell us below.

And read on for five recommendations of five different brown ale styles from around the country.

La Folie - New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
A Flanders oud bruin, or “old brown” style beer, New Belgium’s La Folie—a mainstay of their adventurous Lips of Faith series—varies from year to year, blend to blend, but always rocks a pleasant tart-tannic tang from the interplay of oak, cocoa-like malts, and souring lactic acid. It’s been a pathbreaking beer for over a decade. Seek it out. (7%abv)

Indian Brown - Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, DE
A hybrid of Scotch Ale, IPA, and American brown ale, this tawny, hoppy, brown sugar-kissed brew by Dogfish Head is one of the biggest reasons we look forward to endless driving rain and near-complete darkness after 5pm. (7.2%abv)

West Coast
Nut Brown - AleSmith Brewing Co., San Diego, CA
Since 1995 this coffee-colored brew from AleSmith, formerly known as Nautical Brown, has earned a dedicated following thanks to its pleasantly balanced cocoa flavors and tangy, but not at all bitter finish. (5.0%abv)

Fuego de Otoño - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI
Fuego de Otoño, or “Autumn Fire”, is Jolly Pumpkin's Belgian style farmhouse ale made with amber malts, chestnuts, and various spices. It’s tart and deliciously complex (thanks to barrel aging with wild yeasts) yet approachable and smooth. (6.1%abv)

Maduro Oatmeal Brown - Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL
An English-style brown ale with pleasing flavors of toffee, chocolate, nuts, and espresso, this Cigar City favorite is a full-flavored beer that nonetheless remains appealingly dry and light-bodied. (5.5%abv)

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