When I think of the Thanksgiving holiday, I think of the color brown—cornucopia, turkey, stuffing, dinner rolls. Brown is the color of the harvest season! I prepared a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for my kids on Sunday of ham, sweet potatoes, creamed spinach, and cornbread. My choice of pairing for this southern-styled menu was a beer from the far north: Baltic Porter from Ølfabrikken (in Denmark), recommended to me by Aaron at Gomer’s in Lee’s Summit. This big beer comes in a 22 oz. bottle, and I shared with my son. The velvety body and rich coffee-chocolate flavor was an enhancement to the meal; really the “icing” on this supper. I explained that there are different types of porters, and that this is the richest, and “biggest;” the other styles are brown porter and robust porter. This was such a luscious beer that we continued sipping while enjoying some time to digest before dessert of my homemade apple pie.
I recently brewed an American brown ale—and it will be ready to bottle within the week. This led me to consider the subject of brown ales—which originated in England. Brewing friends invited me to a brew-party a couple of weeks ago, focusing on British ales. On my way there, I stopped by the Yard House in the Legends—a beer-centric restaurant that offers dozens of beers on draft. I was thinking brown, and selected Wychwood’s Hogoblin to go with my pastrami sliders (they were yummy). My ancestry is nearly all-English; I consider myself an Anglophile and did some geneaology research twenty years ago during a visit to England—along with enjoying the community of friends that gather in pubs there. Like a family tree, English ales have a history of development. Long ago, the brewing of beer was a product of barley roasted over wood or coal fires. In the Middle Ages, brewers began to brew multiple batches, and the first beers pulled off were the stronger, “stout-er” beers—followed by strong brown, common brown, and intire. Malting techniques improved, and a palette of beers were created: Porters, stouts, brown ales, pale ales and milds. By the early 1800’s, pale ale was the preferred drink in central England. Londoners preferred a darker, sweeter, and low-strength brown ale; ale brewers in Northern England crafted stronger, crisper, and lighter-colored brown ales—often described as “nutty” and toffee-like in flavor. Brown ales have low to medium levels of bitterness. Still today, these two distinct brown styles exist.
My purchases to enjoy this weekend, during Thanksgiving dinner with family, on Black Friday, and to warm up for the big Missouri-Kansas border rivalry football game (MU-KU at Arrowhead Stadium) include brown ales: Adnams Broadside Original Ale (an English Strong ale; brown in color), Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Wychwood’s Hobgloblin, and an American brown—Rogue’s Hazlenut Brown Nectar. I continue to be in search for a good English “Mild”—the rarest of the English brown ales. The maltiness of brown ales make them a good accompaniment to roasted meats—including turkey! It’s also a good style to enjoy in the cooler autumn weather.