I’m a sucker for maple. I guess it started when I was a kid and my Great-Grandmother who lived up in Vermont used to send me the Pure Maple Candy once in awhile. I still love those things and grab a few anytime I’m in Vermont. You should too! Just make sure you get the pure maple ones, and not the maple and sugar blend. They are more $$$ but so worth it!
Another tip if you’re a maple freak like me is to get the Grade B Maple Syrup . Its darker, less processed and a little cheaper than the “Grade A” fancy stuff. Its intended for cooking, but it kicks ass on pancakes or chugging right out of the jug. Not that I’ve done that. 😉
So, when I saw this single of the Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale, despite the totally horrible label that looks like a grammar school art class dropout designed it, I picked it up. (Seems someone decided to redesign the labels – good move!) I’m not big on nut-brown ales, but as you know, I’m big on maple! Also seemed like a cool beer to try for Fall.
I gave this 4.5% ABV brew a pour, and was impressed with how it looked. To me, it was rather stout-like with its dense, off white head. Anytime I hear ‘brown ale’ I think ‘Newcastle‘ and then I gag a little. So to me, this was definitely a very good start!
Looking forward to sticking my nose into the glass (not literally, silly) I get a nice dose of roasty malts, some kind of bready sweetness and then off in the distance some maple. Yeah, its there but not so much to overpower anything which is also good. Still in the plus column!
OK, the taste is where we lose some points. To me, it was a little roasty malt, some nuttiness, but the maple was really not noticeable at all in the flavor until way late in the aftertaste. If you gave it time between sips, you got a nice mapely flavor, but not so much as it was being consumed. I really nursed this bottle, and didn’t think that it improved in that regard as it warmed.
While I might have referred to this beer as ‘stout-looking’, it definitely was not stout-like in mouthfeel or body. Of course, this is a nut-brown ale, not a stout, so that’s a terrible comparison actually! I’d say it was medium-bodied, and it did have enough carbonation to keep it interesting as the allure of a maple-infused beer began to quickly fade.
For a nut-brown ale, the Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale is pretty good. It gives me a feeling that the style hasn’t lost all hope. For a maple-flavored beer, I’d say I was a little bit disappointed. OK , a lot disappointed. More maple please.
Maybe get some of that “B-Grade” maple for the next batch!