Beer Review 0032: Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale

From “The Dark Beer Specialists” Duck-Rabbit comes this brown ale, a beer which is local to me, coming out of Farmville, North Carolina.

Duck-Rabbit is a relatively young company, having just opened in 2004. This brand can be hard to find as its only distributed on the east coast. For more information on why the company is called “Duck-Rabbit,” see my review of their excellent Milk Stout I did some time ago.

The Duck-Rabbit version of brown ale is described as being more hoppy than most for the style, giving it sort of a spicy-citrus-bitter finish. Oh yes, malt is also present; according to the description sheet, there’s seven varieties of the fine grain in this liquid.

And hey, if that spin on brown ale doesn’t provide enough mystery to want to try it, I present to you one of my favorite beer quotes of all time, found on the Duck-Rabbit website:

“When we brew, we’re happy and we dance; during fermentation, we sing softly to the yeast.”

Pouring this brown ale produced a gorgeous beer complete with a picturesque large, creamy tan head that lasted several minutes and left a fair amount of lacing behind, clinging to the glass in thin wisps. The drink was on the lighter side of brown for this style, opaque but no particles or sediment were detected.

The aromatics were typical of a brown ale; heavy malt that gave off chocolate and light coffee in the toasty sense, not roasted or burnt. The beer was sweet-smelling but there was also a light hop presence in the form of some citrus and flowers; overall, I thought this one reeked of an alcoholic milkshake with some brown sugar and floral notes — I did just say “reeked,” not in a bad way, but a good way.

Here’s where we kind of lose the whole brown ale thing: On the taste buds, all those nice malty aromas disappear and give way to a hop bomb of sorts. Initially, there is some caramel present but that fades to bitter grapefruit and a slightly odd finish of roasted bitterness. The texture is nice, almost velvet-like and creamy.

And speaking of odd: After waiting five minutes between sips, I detected an unusual aftertaste: the smell of marijuana! Never tasted that in a beer before, but that’s the best I can describe it. There’s an aftertaste of what smoked marijuana smells like. Not off-putting or unpleasant, but very unusual.

Overall, this one has all the markings and feel of a brown ale, but drinks more like an India Pale Ale. It’s definitely a different take on the style and different is good. However, this isn’t one of the more drinkable brown ales I’ve found. In particular, Old Dog Brown Ale, which I have reviewed here, is like dessert in a glass. While Duck-Rabbit’s Brown Ale is nice, it’s not quite great.

Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale, 84 points. Price: $9.99 US for six pack.

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