Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beer of the Month - November

The beer of the month for November is Newcastle Brown Ale (NBA) {4.7% abv}. I crossed paths with NBA in college, not really knowing what to expect but knowing what I didn't want from the other available beers on tap. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised and would typically seek out some of this lovely beer, annually, over the next decade or so. This is one of those beers that I always enjoy, but forget about for months at a time due to availability and other excuses. I went to dinner with an old friend, a week before Thanksgiving, and NBA was on tap at the restaurant. I got a glass and was reunited with another old friend; the BOTM was decided there on the spot. When Thanksgiving came around, I brought a couple to my parents house to enjoy among other delectables.

Newcastle Brown Ale has history going back to 1925 in North-Eastern England. It was created by a third generation brewer named Lt. Col. James ('Jim') Herbert Porter, after serving his country in WWI. After the war was over, Lt. Col. Porter moved to Newcastle and refined this latest beer recipe. According to various records, NBA was a failed attempt to recreate another UK legend, Bass Ale. Regardless of the original goal, the distinctive flavor of NBA set itself apart from others, immediately, and later led to it getting the nickname of 'dog' - as in 'I'm going to walk the dog', which became the universal excuse for men leaving the house to grab a pint at a local pub. The brewing companies responsible for NBA getting to the USA have fluctuated quite a bit in the last decade or so, but thankfully the formula hasn't changed under the current ownership of Heineken USA.

While not many beers use clear bottles, primarily to maintain the integrity of the product, NBA takes this challenge on and thrives with it. The color of this ale is almost red shade of brown and is pleasing to drink. NBA is moderate on head froth, and froth that does come from a freshly opened bottle is typically gone half a glass in. Typical UK serving etiquette involves a 12oz Newcastle glass and a pint bottle, so you can keep the froth going through completion. This beer has nice carbonation yet is easy to drink. While a dark brew, it's surprisingly light on the palette, so food parings can include poultry, pork and beef. 3 stars.

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