Commentist Beer Barrel: The Gods Must Be Nuts

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make it snow is an alot of beer. He is also a Broncos fan living in Austin.
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I wasn’t expecting to come back to brown ales so soon. When I took over the Beer Barrel, my first review was of Abita Turbodog, my favorite brown ale and one of the few beers in that style that I don’t think are completely boring. I’m sorry! I’m sure there are a lot of brown ale fans out there, because brown ales tend to be highly drinkable, approachable, and sweet. The trouble is that a lot of them tend to be only those things, and the sort of one-note sweetness that many breweries seem content to deliver is… well, I’m generally looking for more.

So why am I reviewing a brown ale today? Because AleSmith is finally in town.

San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company was, until very recently, one of the most highly-regarded breweries not distributing to Texas. Its best-known beer is probably Speedway Stout, a truly awesome imperial coffee stout that I’m not reviewing today because, let’s face it, I write enough about big, fancy beers here. One thing about Speedway, though: It figures prominently in the story of my infamous Ted Stevens Memorial Road Trip To Nowhere, a very stupid three-day episode in which I sat in my car for hours each day, waiting for a UPS truck, because my apartment management had painted over all the numbers on the doors. Anyway, Alesmith Nut Brown!

Now, the appellation “nut brown” is not a statement about the ingredients of a beer; a proper English nut brown ale does not have nuts in it. It’s not a style of beer either. It’s not, as far as my research tells me, even a prescription as to what the beer should taste like. You’ll see a bunch of people saying “nut” or “nutty” in reviews of nut brown ales, but when a brewer tells you they’ve brewed you a nice nut brown ale, all they’re really telling you is that its color will be some particularly attractive, rich shade of brown. Because of this, I’m going to write the entire review from this point on without referencing nuts at all. Not even once. Not even going to say the word.

AleSmith Nu— shit, that was close. This beer pours a deep brown that may or may not be murky; it’s dark enough that I can’t tell even in the light of the Texas afternoon, but it does have some delightful red highlights. It smells above all like freshly baked brownies, which is never not a good sign of things to come. The beer tastes chocolatey and grainy in roughly equal measure, full-bodied but not exactly heavy. The flavor is a world apart from the generic malt sweetness of your average brown, and it’s not Abita Turbodog’s brown-sugar-and-roast-grain profile either. It’s bold but tasteful; it’s satisfying and comforting. This isn’t a groundbreaking or or mindbending or palate-exploding beer, but it’s nevertheless very much a beer geek’s beer for its complex and surprisingly bold flavor. At the same time, it strikes me as a very strong crowdpleaser. It’s got a similar overall taste to a Shiner Bock or Yuengling, though much amplified. It’ll probably suit your friend who loves the local amber ale but gives no fucks about an IPA. Maybe more than anything else I’ve reviewed, this is a beer for everyone, and if you don’t like it, you’re probably nuts.

lady snow says: I’m napping!

Grade: Honestly one of the best conventional browns you’ll find.

tl;dr: The review’s short enough this time, god dammit.

make it snow is an alot of beer who apologizes for the two-week drought in Beer Barrels, and will be making up for it with another review this Monday. He drank three AleSmith Nut Brown Ales while writing this review. Happy National America Weekend, everyone.

make it snow is an alot of beer. He is also a Broncos fan living in Denver.

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Moose -The End Is Well NighBrettFavresColonoscopySonOfSpamUnsurprisedlaserguru Recent comment authors
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Nut brown? You’re gonna want to see a doctor for that.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Also, finally watched The Big Short tonight. As someone who works in the mortgage industry (on the techie side), lemme just say the movie was terrific, accurate, and completely motherfucking infuriating.

It will happen again in a slightly different form. Not exactly “subprime” but maybe “Alt-A” or something. The assholes weren’t punished, and greedy gonna greedy.


Currently having a Hangar 24 (woo Redlands) “Wheels Up” Helles Lager. It’s…decent.

Like Heineken without the skunk, or (according to my wife) old-school Michelob.

It’s Saturday, and it’s beer. Viva life.


I have money for beer. Dare I?


Dare, dare!

comment image


What do I get?


Um, without knowing what’s available…

Lagunitas IPA or (if available) Brown Shugga.


Well, I’m in Portland. So I have no shortage of options.

Brown Shugga is my go-to


OH. Didn’t know you were in Beertown USA.

Then, well shit, get…anything!

Just report back!


That was a very delicious milk stout!
Top marks.
It had the stout thing and a malt thing and a lactose thing plus a nice foamy head.

This is why I leave the beer barrel to the experts, my adjectives only work for food.
Thanks again for the bomber Low Commander.

King Hippo

Brooklyn Brown was a go-to for me at my local sports pub for a long time before I put 2+2 together and figured out that brown ales just hangover like a muthafucka, even in (relative) moderation. At least for me, and now that I’m old, more sensitive than most. Tasty, though.

Dale’s Pale Ale in the fridge for the weekend, the beer that won the Ice Stillers the Cup!!

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

This is one of my all-time favorite beers. Ale Smith is simply fantastic in everything they do, and I wish they experimented a little more.

If you like this one, definitely check out Mammoth Brewing’s Double Nut (zing!) and Aztec’s Macaroon Nut Brown Ale.


Low Commander was nice enough to bring a milk stout from Belching Beaver Brewery that I will be sampling later today.
I do love a nutty brown ale.
Great post!

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

I did?

I mean, of course I did!


I’ve had the Speedway Stout and I’m looking forward to your review of it.

Firestone makes damn good beers that are generally accessible to the unwashed masses but they always have a little extra for the aficionados to enjoy.


Old School Zero

I recently had a double mountain special that was a bourbon barrel aged brown, and I really think that was a great idea. The brown ale base was always going to be fairly neutral, like you say, so it really gave the barrel flavor a chance to come out in force without conflicting with, say, the smokiness of a porter or all the various flavors of a good stout. Reminded me a little of a Deschutes pub release that was a barrel aged ESB, which was probably my favorite barrel-somethinged-somethinged.

Also, a friend is firing up their fancy wood fired oven tomorrow and I’m going to take over a bottle of the 2014 Dissident because I’m fancy.

Also, I managed to shatter a newly purchased bottle of Black Butte XXVIII yesterday due to a flimsy paper sack and it was a helluva bummer.

Inanimate Carbon Rod Marinelli

There’s a Wisconsin brewer that does a barrel-aged brown ale and while I can’t remember its name, I did appreciate that someone found a way to make the style more interesting and wondered why it isn’t done more often.