Style School: Brown Ale, the Belgian Way(s)

While brown ales of today may be considered less-adventurous and rather boring, more than a century ago they were stylish and considered of the highest quality. Belgium is often considered an epicenter of beer-production, and so, it is expected they are a source of authority on what makes a good beer. In the 1900s there were several types of beers like lager, brown, blanche (white). Fast-forward to today, and these types of beers have expanded into a multitude of styles which includes brown ales. Brewers of day have added a great deal of taste and complexity into brown ales which should not be considered mundane or boring.

Key Takeaways:

  • While brown ales aren’t very popular currently, there was a point in time previously where they were thought of as the pinnacle of beer.
  • The problem with brown ales is that they were rustic and therefore didn’t offer much variety and tended to spoil/expire somewhat quickly.
  • It is very difficult to get your hands on a brown ale now, as they’ve basically been replaced by dark stouts like Guinness.

“Remarkably, brewers didn’t achieve these colors through the use of dark malts, as we would now—they used boils of lengths that seem fantastical or comical today.”

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