Yes, it's true we are reviewing a beer from an internationally recognized, large production brewery. But to be fair the name on the website does say Northwest Beer Guide, and not Northwest CRAFT Beer Guide. Although the pontificating has centered on the little guy the website has always stood for the craft beer culture. Occasionally it is important to revisit the styles or breweries that inspired our curiosity. For some it was Redhook or Alaskan Amber, for others it might have been a proper pint of Guinness or even ... a Newcastle Brown Ale.
Which brings us to the focus of this review. A few years ago Newcastle Brewery decided to get into the draught can business. But before you start pondering 14 ounces of beer with a 'widget' in the bottom you might want to think a bit bigger. Much like its cousin Heineken, Newcastle released a "Beertender" approved 5L, Draught Can, for those who want something bigger than a pint, but smaller than a production size keg. For us we didn't have to take too long to ponder what this would look like, as we found one resting on our doorstep waiting to be tried
For most, Newcastle English Brown Ale is nothing new given its large presence at pubs and on shelves throughout the region. But as a refresher we started with reviewing the English-style guidelines laid out by the BCJP.
Aroma: Light, sweet malt aroma with toffee, nutty and/or caramel notes. A light but appealing fresh hop aroma (UK varieties) may also be noticed. A light fruity ester aroma may be evident in these beers, but should not dominate. Very low to no diacetyl.
Appearance: Dark amber to reddish-brown color. Clear. Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.
Flavor: Gentle to moderate malt sweetness, with a nutty, lightly caramelly character and a medium-dry to dry finish. Malt may also have a toasted, biscuity, or toffee-like character. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Malt-hop balance is nearly even, with hop flavor low to none (UK varieties). Some fruity esters can be present; low diacetyl (especially butterscotch) is optional but acceptable.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Medium to medium-high carbonation.
Overall Impression: Drier and more hop-oriented that southern English brown ale, with a nutty character rather than caramel.
Comments: English brown ales are generally split into sub-styles along geographic lines.
Ingredients: English mild ale or pale ale malt base with caramel malts. May also have small amounts darker malts (e.g., chocolate) to provide color and the nutty character. English hop varieties are most authentic. Moderate carbonate water.
For us the impressions that we gathered from this beer were close to our expectations. Newcastle Brown Ale from the Draught Can pours an initially strong foamy white head, that rests on a sea of deep amber, that appears almost like a sunset obscured by a veil of smoke. As the foamy head dissipates there is no noticeable lace left behind.
Taking a sniff we pick up a definite nuttiness, followed by some noticeable mild fruity aroma, but nothing remarkable.
As we take our first sip our memories return back to us as the early caramel sweetness greets us, before the expected nutty, biscuit character takes hold. As the beer coarses across our tongue we notice mild hop bitterness. Overall this beer feels light on the tongue and does feel a bit drier than expected, compared to a Rogue Nut Brown Nectar or Hales Brown Ale
You Should Consider It. There will always be a time where you will ponder the exercise of lugging around a couple of growlers worth of Newcastle or just one Draught Keg. In the comparison between craft and this classic, we say continue searching. But for those of you who like the idea tapping a mini-keg in your fridge, this might be as close as you get, for now. Food pairings abound, from the casual pork, or grilled steak to cheeses like parmesan, or fontina. Enjoy.
Thoughts by your Colleagues
About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.