Thursday, October 11, 2012

Newcastle Brown Ale (2012)

Newcastle Brown Ale is the beer that turned me on to craft beer twice. First way back in the late 90s and then again in 2004. I’m quite sure the recipe for this beer has changed since it was bought out by Heineken a few years ago. What was once a remotely authentic British pub-style brown ale is now a mild, thin, slightly sweet beer that’s highly quaffable, but lacks character.

NOTE: you can read my 2008 text review here:
http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2010/01/newcastle-brown-ale-chadz-beer-reviews.html

NOTE: you can watch the 2010 video review here:
http://www.chadzbeerreviews.com/2010/02/newcastle-brown-ale-re-review-in-can.html

3.4
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 13/20
Chad9976 (739) - Albany, New York, USA - OCT 11, 2012
I poured a 12oz can into the official Newcastle "Geordie Schooner" glass.

Appearance: Chestnut/mahogany hue. Though dark it’s still mostly clear and translucent. Initially forms a large, cream-colored, foamy/sudsy head which dissipates a little quickly and leaves trace lacing on the glass.

Smell: Much closer to a macro beer aroma as it has a general sweet scent and a distinct "beer smell" of grain.

Taste: When I first started drinking Newcastle Brown Ale over a decade ago I liked that it tasted like a gourmet soda. Today this tastes closer to a flat mainstream cola. I used to get distinct toffee and caramel flavors, but now I get a homogenized sweetness of dark grain and mineral water. Lightly sweet up front with a hint of dry bitterness through the middle. As it finishes there’s a burst of sweetness reminiscent of artificial sweeteners found in chewing gum. I can’t pick out any distinct flavors, though, just hints of confectionary sweetness.

It’s not that this is a bad palate, but it’s certainly not an impressive one. Even BMC drinkers would describe this as mild. I drank this on the warmer side and found it did not improve as the temperature rose. Since this is now made by Heineken I’m willing to bet the recipe has been changed for a more mainstream audience and it would make an ideal transition beer. For the craft beer drinker it’s something to enjoy when there’s nothing else available.

Drinkability: Slugging down a glass of Newcastle Brown Ale is no challenge at all. The body is light to medium with a thin mouthfeel and a clean aftertaste. It goes down ridiculously smooth and is even quite refreshing at the time. I’m surprised it’s 4.7% ABV as it seems to be an even lighter brew, but you can session this anyway. 
Grade: 6/10

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