Over the years America's worldwide reputation for beer has improved drastically as local microbreweries have supplanted the big three (Bud, Miller, Coors) in the minds of beer aficionados when they think of American beer. The state of Texas is no exception to this trend. From longstanding classics like Shiner and St. Arnold to young guns like Jester King, and everything in between, Texas has some absolutely stellar beer options, and I would put our craft brews up against the best the rest of the country has to offer. As a beer lover myself, I fully intend to explore each and every draught this great State has to offer as this series progresses, and I hope y'all enjoy the conversation. There are far too many fantastic beer options in this state to let the topic sit idly as we beat the proverbial BBQ horse to death.
Before we dive in, I think it's important to let y'all know where I stand when it comes to my beer preferences. Without going into too much science, I prefer thick, heavy, malty brews over heavily hopped lagers and ales. Don't get me wrong, hops have their place and can add a multitude of levels of flavor to various beer styles, but I firmly believe that a lot of breweries have ruined otherwise good beers by relying too heavily on hops. So, you IPA fans that relish the bitterness, please take my recommendations and reviews with a grain of salt. I mean no offense to your preferences; it's just not my cup of tea, or draught of ale, if you will. So, pop your favorite top and come along as Tastes of Texas reviews its first of a long list of Texas brews: Real Ale's Brewhouse Brown Ale.
Real Ale Brewery, located in Blanco, TX, has been in existence since 1996, and it is one of my favorite breweries in the state. I considered this brewery to be a perfect starting point for this series because it isn't as widely known as some of Texas' older breweries, but it is readily available in most places for you to sample. A full description of Real Ale's history and brewing process is a topic for another post, but for those of you interested, this information can be found at Real Ale's Official Site.
Real Ale describes Brewhouse Brown as a full bodied American brown ale that melds four types of malt and American hops to create a rich and roasty beer. It has an alcohol by volume (ABV) content of 5.4%. Considering my propensity to enjoy malty beers, I was incredibly optimistic by Real Ale's flavor profile going into this review, an expectation that did not prove to be unfounded.
I poured the beer from a 12 ounce bottle into a standard pint glass. It left about half an inch of head which quickly dissipated down to a quarter of an inch, and a light layer of head remained throughout consumption. There was a slight lacing of the glass. The beer is a deep brown color with hints of red when placed in the light. At this point I was expecting a very rich, aromatic, malty brew. Some of these expectations proved correct, while others did not.
The first scent that hit my nose was the very strong presence of dark chocolate and malt which I expected given Real Ale's description of the beer. Underneath the initial impression, however, I noticed a nutty pecan aroma which, combined with the chocolate and malt undertones, led me to believe the beer would have a slightly sweet flavor.
Upon tasting Brewhouse Brown, I first noticed a very heavy coffee flavor which was surprising because I didn't detect any hints of coffee from the smell. The hops quickly barred their teeth with a slight bitterness on the back of the tongue, but the bitterness wasn't overpowering; I immediately realized this beer was very well balanced. I didn't taste as much of a malt flavor as I expected from reading the description and from the heavy malt scent, but the light sweetness I anticipated was present in the background. It left a slightly nutty aftertaste.
The most surprising aspect of this beer was that it was much crisper than I expected. Because Real Ale uses four types of malt in the brewing process and considering it poured such a dark brown color, I fully expected Brewhouse Brown to be much heavier and richer that it actually was. As described on the bottle, this beer has a very dry finish.
This is a very good beer, and it is an excellent representation of the brown ale style. I personally would have preferred a little more richness and malty flavor, but I certainly appreciate a beer that is so well balanced. It's heavy enough that it would pair with a steak (or any meal) very well, but it's also light enough that you won't be immediately filled up should you choose to partake over the course of an evening. I highly recommend that you grab yourself a six pack and see for yourself, but if you're leery about dropping the money on an entire sixer, Real Ale sells a sampler pack which contains this great product.
What say you fellow Longhorn beer aficionados? I'd love to hear your own impressions and reviews, as well as your recommendations for future reviews and spotlights.
Be sure you enjoy Real Ale Brewhouse Brown as responsibly as you critique the current state of Texas Athletics.