Brown ales are like brown shoes: comfortable and easily under-appreciated.
While they lack the palate-seizing flash of India Pale Ales, brown ales are pleasingly complex, balancing luscious malts and mellow bites, with hints of nuts and chocolate, depending on the brew.
I wish there were more browns to be drunk. I like Dick's Working Man's Brown Ale. Sierra Nevada's brown is good too. I go back and forth over Big Sky's Moose Drool. (Maybe it's the name.) Newcastle rules.
I was on assignment in Victoria, B.C., last week. There are four brewpubs in town; I found two boffo browns:
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub & Guesthouses' Nut Brown Ale was malty, clean and effervescent, a real taste of London. At Canoe Brewpub, Marina and Restaurant, Beaver Brown Ale finished like a light chocolate breeze.
A couple of weeks ago at the Washington Brewers Guild's Cask Beer Festival, McMenamins' Sleepy Hollow was the only brown of the bunch. I remember the guy I was drinking next to saying his tongue burned from a few too many double IPAs that day. I concurred. Brown ale drank like mellow salve.