I’m thinking this will be the week for me to go pick up the ingredients for my next brew. As I’ve already said before, I plan to brew some type of brown ale. I’m not 100% on what little tweaks I’ll do to it, but I’ll know pretty soon. One of the things I like to do before I end up brewing a style is drink a few different kinds of beers that are somewhat close to what I’m attempting to create. I did it with the Imperial IPA (which didn’t turn out so well) and I did it with the saison. The saison worked out great, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it another try.
I have reviewed one other Flying Fish brew on here before. Somehow I’ve only managed to drink beers on their exit series. The exit series is actually a project I’m really interested in. I grew up in NJ, but I never really needed to use the NJ Turnpike all that much growing up. We never really traveled that road. Now that I live in Washington DC, this is the major road I have to use to get up to my parents place. Flying Fish has gone about creating a beer series that uses that road to create different types of beers. They say that they’re trying to create beers that have diverse flavors to coincide with the diverse people and cultures that live off those exits. It’s a really interesting concept. None of the exits they’ve done so far mean a whole lot to me. I take a few of those exits now and then, but I really want them to do the one for exit 10. That is the exit I use to get home. I’m not sure what they could make for it. It leads to even more highways, but I want them to make it.
Anyway, a few days after deciding to brew a brown ale, I found this bottle at a local store. I had never even considered using chestnuts as the nuts for my beer, but it was an interesting thought. Flying Fish states they went with a beer that used both chestnuts and honey to emphasize the farming communities that can be found off this exit. They combine these accenting flavors with roasted barley, oat flakes, and an ample amount of hops to get a really well-balanced malty and hoppy beer.
This beer pours an extremely dark brown color. I would honestly just go ahead and call it black. Not surprisingly, there is an ample tan head that develops on top of the beer. The head manages to linger for an extended period of time. The lacing that develops on the side of the beer is quite significant. It really manages to linger on the side of the glass and only slowly dissipates. Even with the all the lacing, you really don’t get much of a sticky residue once it’s finally gone. The beer is far too dark to really get a sense of the clarity. You can see a little carbonation activity around the edges when you agitate the liquid.
The beer has a very big malty character that dominates the aroma. The roasted barley they use does manage to come out, but the hops don’t back down either. Aroma wise, they certainly can’t stand up too strong against the big malts, but you can still certainly smell them. The nut aroma isn’t too huge. I don’t really think of chestnuts as being the most potent of all the nuts. We eat them sometimes in the winter, but I wasn’t honestly sure what chestnuts would do to a brown ale. They definitely don’t manage to dominate the smell too much. There is a little sweetness I think you get from the honey and a little chocolate aroma from the malts as well. Overall, it has a definite earthy feel to it.
The malts certainly run the show here. The big sweetness from the malts and honey dominate, but there is a very light hit of hops in there as well. Some of the nice nutty flavor comes out; however, I wouldn’t say you can really define the flavor as chestnut. I’ve had some beers that feature pecans or hazelnuts where you can really tell that is the type of nut that has been used. Chestnuts don’t have enough of a defined flavor to comes through on their own. The big malts manage to swallow up some of the sweetness of the honey, but you can taste some of it in there as well. There is a lot of chocolate and roasted flavors due to the malts. These are balanced out by some of the nice hit of hops near the end. The beer finishes with some pleasant sweetness, nutty flavoring, and slight pine. Since it says this is a Belgian style, I thought I might get some yeast or something throughout, but I think the sweetness swallows that up too.
The beer is quite syrupy overall with some light carbonation here and there to help balance out the sweet syrupy nature. I would have liked slightly more hops here, but I’m just a big fan of hops. Also, I wish I could taste more of the nut flavoring. Overall, in the end, the flavors all play really well off each other. I’m just not sure this stands out as a brown ale. I almost think of this more as a stout or porter.
This isn’t my favorite beer off the exit series, but it is still a good solid beer. I certainly know I won’t be going with chestnuts in my beer, but I could have told you that already. Hopefully I can create a beer that is this well-balanced, but I want to have a little more noticeable nut flavor in the end. If you’re looking for a good brown ale, you really can’t go wrong with this one. Just be ready for something that is a little maltier than expected.
Teacher Grade: B