Review: Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale


A couple weeks ago, we told you about the coming of a New Belgium Brewing and Ben & Jerry's collaboration beer, a Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale.

Well, here's your friendly reminder: It's now on local liquor store shelves, and tonight at 6, all local Old Chicago locations are hosting special tappings.  
Disappointing on expectations, but still a fine beer.
  • Disappointing on expectations, but still a fine beer.

We picked up a six-pack last night to sample, also lugging a bottle to the office to try some colleagues on it, for fun. A couple of those colleagues are home brewers and others lend a more casual opinion. Here's a conglomeration of our tasting notes and final judgement:

Firstly, the descriptor on New Belgian's page of a "big dessert beer blast" doesn't hold up. This brew's way more about subtlety than, say, Rogue's Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale, which comes to mind as it paired another popular brewery and sweets dealer, but went fully ostentatious with huge smoky swine notes and sweet syrup. 

More happens here in the aroma than the finishing flavor in terms of the advertised caramel and vanilla. A rich, malt-forward mouthfeel rings only a touch sweet, laced in faint salinity, settling on the back end with a strong roasted element and lingering bitter chocolate.

It would have been fun to see Ben & Jerry's lend its Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey to the mix for a more playful brew that reached further for the flavors, because hype-wise, when we see the Ben & Jerry's logo on a beer we rightfully think ice cream and would like to taste more of it, short of entering gross, cloying territory. 

It's a good beer, perfectly drinkable, but ultimately disappointing because we wanted more moo from the cow in the ski gear on the label. In the words of one of our tasters: "New Belgium’s focus has always been on meticulously balanced beers, eschewing fireworks, and this lines right up with that."

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