Deciding which beer to drink in March can be a difficult feat. We’re anxious to crack open those crisp kolsches and pale ales to welcome in the warm weather, but let’s be honest: It doesn’t really feel like spring yet. On the other hand, we’re definitely past the days of thick stouts and warming porters. But finding a compromise between the two has never been easier. Look no further than the brown ales of the world for all of your transitional beer-drinking needs.
Brown ales are generally dark amber to brown in color, and made predominately in England, America, and Belgium. While English brown ales tend to be malty and nutty, American brown ales are slightly more bitter due to the use of American hops. Both examples will generally show notes of caramel and chocolate, so really, brown ales are O.K. by us nearly any time of the year. Here are eight of the best to get you started.
Sweetwater Georgia Brown
This English brown ale exudes malty, roasted notes, with a less chocolatey caramel presence than most brown ales. For a more crisp, clean- finished brown ale, this one’s for you.
Durty Mud Season Hoppy Brown Ale from Smuttynose
This hoppier brown ale provides a pleasant bitterness to the beer, with strong malty flavors that balance the piney hoppiness. Unique and satisfying all at once.
Brooklyn Brown Ale
This medium-bodied, creamy brown ale presents a more oaty, bread-like palate with a tangy sweet finish. A solid, standard brown ale.
Wormtown Brewery Blizzard of ’78
This English-style brown ale is brewed with fresh roasted coffee beans, hence the strong coffee-like, roasted aromas. Coffee, roasted malt, and toasty nuttiness dominate the palate, making this a perfect beer for a chillier spring day.
Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown
This American brown ale is extremely powerful, with bold maltiness and caramel flavors dominating the palate. Chocolate, aromatic, and Munich malts are all used in the brewing process, creating a layered, balanced mouthfeel. Sumatra coffee adds a deliciously decadent kick.
Cigar City Brewing Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale
Dark brown with toffee aromas, this bready brown ale shows hints of espresso and nutty maltiness, with just the right amount of carbonation. Another solid choice from Cigar City.
Ithaca Beer Company Nut Brown Ale
Dark amber in color, this English brown ale is medium-bodied with nutty, bread-like flavors. Chocolate and caramel notes are moderate, making this surprisingly smooth brew extremely drinkable.
Newcastle Brown Ale
If all else fails, grab the OG of English brown ales. Brewed by Heineken, this simple, nutty beer shows earthy notes and slight bitterness, with an extremely smooth finish. Lower in calories and alcohol (4.7 percent ABV) than most other brown ales, this is the way to go if you’re planning on drinking for an extended period of time.