Tuesday Beer Trivia: Brown Ale

Are you a brown beer aficionado? Do you know the difference between English and American brown ales? How brown are brown ales? Put your knowledge of brown ale to the test in this week’s Tuesday Beer Trivia quiz.

Brown ale is a term that covers a wide range of styles united by color and the practice of warm fermentation by ale yeasts. The term can be vague and confusing, and about as useful as the term “red wine” when trying to define a style. Countries like Germany and Belgium have styles that could be considered brown ales, however, the term is usually reserved for beer styles with roots in Britain.

After you take the Beer Trivia quiz below, scroll down to “Beer Trivia Answer Explanations” section to learn more about brown ales!

Beer Trivia Answer Explanations

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Question 1: American Brown Ales were once referred to as Texas Brown Ales because the Dixie Cup Homebrew Competition in Houston, Texas was the first competition to recognize the style. The style struck a note with homebrewers all over the country and it eventually became American Brown Ale.

Question 2: In 1817, Daniel Wheeler obtained British Patent No. 4112 for a “New or Improved Method of Drying and Preparation of Malt.” His invention of the Drum Malt Roaster allowed maltsters to roast malt to the point where a small amount of malt could darken a large amount of beer without imparting an overly burnt or tarry taste to the entire brew. Before Wheeler’s invention, brown ales were made exclusively from brown malt, but the advances in kilning technology gave way to the use of pale malts, which became a cheaper and more reliable alternative. Therefore, the color and flavor profiles of brown ales were subsequently determined more by modern style dark malts, crystal malts and caramelized sugars.

Question 3: American-style brown ales tend to be more bitter and hoppier than English Brown Ales, with a richer malt presence, usually higher alcohol and American/New World hop character, with hop aromatics sometimes brought on by dry hopping the beer.

Question 4: At one point, nearly every English brewery included a brown ale in its portfolio, but the popularity of brown ales in Britain declined due to the loss of heavy industry and the redeployment of the hardy individual who rewarded their skilled labors with glasses of foam-topped dark beer. The white collar workers set brown ales aside for paler beers.

Question 5: Newcastle Brown Ale was released in 1927 following three years of development at the northern England-based Newcastle Breweries LTD by assistant brewer Lieutenant Colonel James Herbert Porter, DSO, and chemist Archie Jones. Porter had studied brewing after leaving the army and went to work in Newcastle where, in 1924, his brief was to create a popular new bottled ale using advanced production techniques. Here’s a homebrew recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale.


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