Buggane Imperial Brown Ale

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American Brown Ales (BJCP 2015 – Style 19C) are one of those styles that seem to be disappearing from the craft beer world.  People clamber to the IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and Bourbon Barrel Aged beers but pass on the intricate yet approachable brown ale.  It’s a sad thing too because these beers can be amazing and really flavorful.  Recipe, process and my own BJCP scoresheet are included below for your use!

So in my search to create a solid all-grain brown ale recipe I started to try and clone Cigar City Maduro Brown and I was pretty successful.  As soon as I had a recipe though I realized that in reality this is a Northern English Brown Ale and not a true to style American Brown Ale even though the BJCP includes it as one of the commercial examples in their Style Guidelines.  I’ll post that recipe up eventually also but this post is dedicated to a true American Brown Ale.  This one is a little bit higher than the Style Guidelines say it should be but that’s the American way, bigger is better right?  It’s more of a malt forward Imperial Brown Ale that has scored very well (+37 points) in competitions in the American Brown Ale category but the toasty notes and big chocolate/coffee flavor makes this more of an Imperial Brown Ale or a Small Robust Porter.

On a side note, a Buggane is an ogre-like creature from Manx (Isle of Mann) with coarse black hair covering it’s body and sharp, glistening teeth.  Pretty good description for the beer that I’m trying to make, see for yourself with more info on the buggane here!

Buggane Imperial Brown Ale was created with the idea that the beer should be 100% american ingredients; no english malt, hops or yeast.  The style guidelines for this beer call out that this should be a malty beer frequently with chocolate and caramel flavors with supporting bitterness.  This isn’t a highly hopped version like Janet’s Brown Ale, if you want something like that it would be considered BJCP 2015 – Style 21B (Brown IPA).  The hop additions below assume a 5.5 gallon batch, adjust as necessary.

Style Guideline Statistics:

  • IBUs : 20 – 40
  • SRM: 18 – 35
  • OG: 1.045 – 1.060
  • FB: 1.010 – 1.016
  • ABV: 4.3% – 6.2%

Targets:

  • IBUs : 51
  • SRM: 30
  • OG: 1.065
  • FB: 1.014
  • ABV: 6.7%

Ingredients:

  • 60% – US 2-Row
  • 16% – Biscuit Malt
  • 10% – Flaked Oats
  • 8% lbs – Chocolate Malt
  • 6% – Crystal 40L
  • 1.0 oz – Magnum (13.1% AA) – 60 minute
  • 0.5 oz – Cascade (6.3% AA) – 30 minute
  • 0.5 oz – Cascade (6.3% AA) – Whirlpool 10 minutes
  • Safale US-005
  • Irish Moss

Process:

  • Mash at 154 ºF for 60 minutes
  • Boil for 60 minutes
  • Chill wort and ferment at 65 ºF for 14 days
  • Keg and carbonate to 2.5 vols CO2

 

Tasting Review:

Aroma 

Chocolate, coffee and toasty sweetness up front.  As the beer warms very light plum aromatics become prevalent.  Low hop aroma with slight citrus nose, adds complexity but doesn’t overpower the malt profile. 

Appearance 

Very dark brown, nearly black.  Slightly off-white foamy head that lasts after each sip.  Creates Belgian lacing on the glass through the tasting.  Clarity appears good but is difficult to see through the darkness.

Flavor 

Chocolate malt and slight toasted notes in the first third.  Caramel-like sweetness and a solid supporting bitterness in the middle third.  Moderate bitterness in the third third with lingering sweet finish with flavors of cocoa and citrus.  Citrus is very mild hop flavor, supporting role in this beer.  Limited dark fruit esters like plum or raisin, very minimal but present.  Sweetness is the overall theme of the flavor of this beer with a slight residual sweetness left after each sip.  The sweetness isn’t under-attenuated or cloying, it appears to be in balance and from the malts selected.  Alcohol is present as a very minor warming sensation after each sip.

Mouthfeel 

Moderately thick mouthfeel with silky and creamy finish.  The end of this beer is average, not too dry and not too sweet.  Shockingly drinkable.  Carbonation is moderate, with a thin prickling after each sip.  No astringency.  

Overall 

A very drinkable and approachable american brown ale.  The color is within range of the style but is darker than most commercial examples.  The flavor could be slightly less malty sweet although the bitterness balances this beer very well in general.  The creamy mouthfeel is an interesting addition that is outside of the requirements of the style guidelines but is enjoyable.