No More Brown Ales

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I was well into day two of a backcountry trip recently and desperately in need of a beer. It was cold and raining and we were half way up a two-mile slog on a near vertical pitch of trail. We’re taking straight up fall line singletrack over rutted out root gardens that had basically been turned into a creek bed from all of the rain. My feet were soaked and I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore. Yay, sports!

Fortunately, one of the dudes I was trekking with was a backcountry veteran so he had the wherewithal to stick a canned beer in his pack for just such an occasion. Unfortunately, it was dark when he packed the bag at camp earlier in the morning so he didn’t see which beer he packed. Some good Samaritans gave us a variety of beers at camp, so it could’ve been anything, from Coors banquet beer to a heady IPA.

We stopped in the middle of the trail and my buddy said the four most beautiful words in the English language: “Let’s have a beer.” I went from miserable to enthusiastic. We still had a mile of steep climbing to go, but there is nothing more electrifying, more energizing than half a beer in the middle of a brutal backcountry slog. You can have your gels and bars…I’ll take my calories from fermented hops and malt.

But when he pulled out a brown ale, it was like a kick in the balls. You ever been kicked in the balls? It sucks. Seeing that brown ale sucked on an equal level.

“What the fuck?” My buddy said.

“Yeah. What the fuck?” I added.

Give me an IPA, a Pilsner, a stout…anything but a brown ale. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with the brown ale per se, it’s just so…beige. Like that kid you went to high school with for four years. The one who was always in your Spanish class. The guy who’s name you can never remember. The brown ale is like that guy. Forgettable. It’s not hoppy, but it’s not really that malty either. It’s straight up “middle of the road” boring.

Don’t get me wrong, we drank the beer. We’re athletes and we needed the calories. But I can’t tell you what it tasted like. It was just…there. I crushed the empty can under my foot, packed it up and soldiered on, somehow more thirsty than before the beer. Thirsty for something else.

PSA: Breweries of America, please stop making boring brown ales. That is all. 

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