The next time you stand in the beer aisle of your local store, take a moment to consider something. Most of the beer styles in front of you have decades of history behind them. Many have more than a century of brewing tradition. Some of the beer on those shelves however, have a much shorter history, only coming into existence within the last couple decades or so. Such is the case with American brown ales like the Brekle’s Brown being reviewed here.
The American brown ale traces its history back to the homebrewing scene of the 1980s. Back then, the only brown ales on the market were English examples like Newcastle. Home brewers from California, being inventive as all home brewers are, began developing their own versions of the English ale. Their versions tended to be darker and more bitter than the English versions. As a result, when these beers were entered in competition they didn’t fare well, as they didn’t technically fit in with established styles.
It was the American Homebrewer’s Association who then included the American Brown Ale as a category for subsequent competitions. Today, many craft brewers across the country include their own examples of the American brown ale in their line-ups. The Anchor version is named after a German brewer named Gottlieb Brekle who came to America in the 1850s. Brekle started a brewery in 1871 near San Francisco’s Russian Hill. It was this brewery that 25 years later would become the Anchor Brewery we would come to know and love today.
Deep, brown colored ale with ruby highlights. Carbonation is minimal. Head is dense, mousse-like and lasting. The aroma has some interesting malty notes to it, and is very deeply malty with some up front notes of leather and damp earth. These are supported by faint notes of dark fruit. Not quite black cherry, but close. The black cherry seems to tie up with notes of licorice, combining to provide a nice backbone. The finish is slightly hoppy, giving me hints of fresh mown grass.
Brekle’s Brown is just on the full side of medium bodied. Very malty profile, starting off with flavors of cola. Beneath that are faint notes of leather, but the flavor profile seems more in the rum and cola vein. Finish is short and sweet, rather than dry. The finish didn’t give me any hop presence or bitterness to speak of.
Overall, give this one a 6.9 out of 10. Not a bad entry from the boys and girls at Anchor, but not as great as some of their other products. Brekle’s Brown Ale isn’t too bad of a beer. The main problem I have with the product is the flavor doesn’t quite offer as much flavor and robustness as I was expecting. This is especially disappointing given how wonderful the stuff smells. That being said, I would probably recommend Brekle’s Brown Ale to people who want an introduction to darker craft brewed ales. Brekle’s Brown will give you a decent brown ale that won’t overpower your palate first time out.