Sunday, November 17, 2013

Foley Brothers Brown Ale

Last weekend was the grand opening of a new local nano-brewery, or as some like to call "garage breweries", of Foley Brothers out of Brandon, VT. After meeting Patrick Foley at the Otter Creek Oktoberfest I was excited to hear news of their work-in-planning: A Blichmann Top-Tier setup in which they brew 6 barrels of beer/ week. They also bottle with the Blichmann beer gun and use oxy caps to reduce oxygen pickup. Talk about real homebrewing gone pro! I bought both of their current beers in 22oz bombers, a brown ale and ginger wheat beer.

Alcohol Content: 7.2%
IBU: ?
Malts: ?
Hops: Locally grown

Price: Don't remember
Medium: Pint glass

Aroma: Great depth/ layers of aromas consisting of sweet molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup/ sap, fig, light pomegranate, malts, and fusel alcohols. Hop profile is surprisingly very low - I expected a little more for a brown ale whereas this example is more of a strong ale with little hop character. Alcohol is heavy, contributing notes of spice and warmth. Fusel alcohols come across as bubblegum (varies by palate but think Long Trail double bag/ triple bag to get an idea of similar alcohol flavors from yeast). Maple is more upfront as the beer warms.
Appearance: Very dark brown and great clarity for an unfiltered beer. Showcases a ruby highlight and a tan head with great retention. Steady bubbling stems from the bottom of the glass (nucleation sites) and is consistent throughout the session. 
Flavor: Fig/ winterfruit, cherry, and/or pomegranate as described by fermentation character (fruity esters) and malt bill. Malts provide body with some sweetness as expected from the aroma. This is partly due to an assertive bitterness and alcohol spice that quickly takes control over the malts. A strong molasses and maple syrup flavor turns into a dry finish. Aftertaste remains dry with a lingering maple flavor. No flavors from hops as far as I can tell. Hint of coffee in the background but this is quite faint and my guess is from the dark specialty grains used to also color the beer.
Mouthfeel: Moderately bodied, the maple syrup providing more alcohol from conversion of sugars (fermentation) which lends a nice note of flavor but also thinning the body/ reducing an overly sweet or cloying beer. Lots of spice and heat from alcohol. Fusel alcohols. Moderately high carbonation. Light astringency in the aftertaste. Could be a little cleaner in hop bitterness
Overall Impression: This is a slow-sipping beer, and 22oz is all you should need for a relaxing evening. Definitely out of style for an American brown ale but style names are more for consumers than anything else. I would put this into the strong ale category with all of the alcohol and fruity ester notes. It actually reminds me of a blend between the Shed Mountain ale and Long Trail Double/ Triple Bag. Lots of character and a great "homebrewed" beer. Congrats on their grand opening - also look for their Ginger Wheat ale. Keep on brewing Foley Brothers!

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