Put down that played-out pumpkin stout—October belongs to the brown ale. Far superior to the usual boring seasonal offerings, the brown family of beer’s low carbonation and sweet-and-bitter characteristics are ideal for fall’s cooler temperatures and the heartier meals that accompany them. What’s more, they’re sophisticated and masculine, with complex, whiskey-like notes that conjure up everything from nuts to caramel. So, whether you’re grilling sausages for an Oktoberfest-worthy cookout or enjoying a white-cloth Wagyu beef dinner, there’s a brown ale that’ll elevate your experience.
Downtown Brown: Lost Coast Brewery
This lightly hopped ale has a mellow, chocolaty flavor influenced by roasted malts. No bitterness here; instead you’ll find hints of coffee and earthy grains. Pair with: Densely marbled steaks, chops.
Ellie’s Brown Ale: Avery Brewing Co.
At 5.5 percent ABV, this ale (pictured at left) goes down like a pilsner but is aggressive enough to satisfy IPA devotees. It smells of dark chocolate, but take a sip and you’ll be surprised by vanilla-tinged tones and a mildly bitter finish. Pair with: Spicy meats.
Old Brown Dog: Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Heavy in alcohol (6.7 percent ABV) but light on bitterness, this ale smells like toffee and tastes like caramel. It’s creamy, with little aftertaste—an ideal choice for those who like simple beers. Pair with: BBQ ribs.
Indian Brown Ale: DogfishHead Craft Brewery
Its dark complexion and thick head suggest a medium-bodied sweetness. But this brew is exceptionally bitter and boasts slight hints of molasses. Pair with: Smoky meats, grilled vegetables.
Photos by Zachary Zavislak