Friday, June 24, 2011

Ithaca Beer Co - Nut Brown Ale

In my city neighbourhood, we get a lot of wildlife - no, not the students drunkenly stumbling out of bars yelling 'Eyyyyy, loveyoulezzallgetchickenwings!', but small, cute bunnies, squirrels and chipmunks that decided to live the urban life.  I often see them running around in the branches (my bedroom window opens to a canopy of trees) and a few days ago, while I was walking to the car a bunny hopped out of the bushes and just sat there in front of me for a moment, too confused or scared to hop away.  It's moments like that which make you happy to be up at ungodly hours of the morning.

A couple of weeks ago, a blackbird made it his mission to tap repeatedly on the window.  For hours at a time.  You'd think he'd get a headache, or get bored or something, but no - he'd just tap-tap-tap away at his reflection, hopping between branches to get the best possible position.  I named him Robert and eventually came to look forward to his daily visit.  I've not seen him recently, but he'll come back.  I know he will.  Right, Robert?

One of the funniest things about squirrels is when you see them carrying little nuts in their mouths, then stopping to grab them with their little paws so they can chow down on them a bit.  It's adorable!

And that, oddly enough, brings me to today's review:  Ithaca Nut Brown Ale.  I've been pretty impressed with Ithaca's offerings so far - their Apricot Wheat was light and refreshing, and CascaZilla was a hoppy Red Ale with lots of character.  They've been given a shout-out in CloneBrews, 2nd Edition: Recipes for 200 Brand-Name Beers, which also has a recipe for cloning Nut Brown.

It's another dark beer, so again it's not what you'd immediately associate with summer - but imagine buying a couple of good steaks and throwing them on the grill as the evening begins to draw in and the weather cools off a bit, and these styles really come into their own.

Ithaca Nut Brown pours a rich, dark copper, and fairly clear, except for a little chill haze.  It has a good-sized head with a light tan colour.  Moderate carbonation is evident.

There are prominent nutty malts in the aroma, with some caramel too.  The dark chocolatey malt is clearly there but not as intensely as in the Double Dark Cream Porter.  Some hints of burnt sugar in the aroma too.

They really weren't kidding when they called it Nut Brown!  The nutty flavour is very prominent and it's just great.  It's balanced by a moderate hop bitterness and some fruity esters.  There's just a hint of citrus hops in there.  Dark malts and hops are well balanced, and both are evident in the aftertaste.  Tasty, tasty.

As far as the mouthfeel goes, there's moderate carbonation, with a medium-full body.

This is a great beer, and a good example of the style.  If Robert comes by the house again, I'm definitely pouring him a little saucer of it to welcome him back.

Appearance - 4/5
Aroma - 4/5
Flavour - 4/5
Mouthfeel - 3.5/5

Overall - 3.875.  Great American Brown Ale, with a lovely nutty character.  

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