This is my contribution to The Session #120, hosted by yours truly. A full round up of the posts will follow.
I chose the topic of brown beer for The Session in an attempt to direct attention to some of the beer world’s underappreciated styles. Top of this list for me has always been brown ale, a subject to which I’ve dedicated plenty of words already on this blog. What more can I say on the subject?
Pondering this, I visited The Black Dove in Brighton for a pint of Brick Field Brown, a fairly new beer from The Five Points brewery in Hackney. I was instantly impressed by its hue; a dark, woody colour that would sit perfectly between bitter and stout on a beery colour chart. Taking a first gulp, smooth chocolate flavours were first to register. A very gentle coffee roast follows, a bit like you’d expect from a good dark mild and far subtler than that in a porter or stout. As it warms, that malt character becomes a little sweeter, with a suggestion of dulce de leche. Key for me is the hop profile – a subtle wave of peach and apricot before a bitter finish.
But what’s particularly exciting about Brick Field Brown is that, unlike most modern brown ales from British breweries, it is not a seasonal or one-off brew; it’s a permanent addition to Five Points’ core range. Which makes sense really – Community and Marketing Manager Doreen Joy Barber has described Five Points’ brand as “norm-core”; they’re not firing out limited edition beers or chasing trends, concentrating instead on a small portfolio which is executed to absolute perfection. Like myself, former Lead Assistant Brewer, Vito (now at Meantime) is passionate about brown ale, which Doreen calls “an unsung format”. Brick Field Brown began life as Vito’s Brown on the brewery’s pilot kit in late 2015, appearing for the thirsty public at that year’s London Brewer’s Market before joining the core line-up.
Brown ale may not excite everybody, but I hope that Five Points’ reputation for consistency and quality will tempt punters to give it a go. I certainly wasn’t expecting a brewery in hip East London to advocate the style, but I’m absolutely delighted they have. Seek it out if you can.