The Burrito Tribune


randomness, truth, and burritos

Craft Beer: Cigar City Brewing Co., Maduro Brown

On a recent trip to Florida I was able to pick up an excellent Brown ale local to the Tampa Bay area.  Their Maduro Brown (named after the fermented darker color cigar) has quickly become one of my favorite darker beers to drink on a hot August evening.

Freshly Poured Maduro Brown and standard can

Freshly Poured Maduro Brown and standard can

This beer is a dark black/brown with a tall frothy brown head that projects the sweetness of the beer.  at 5.5% ABV it comes in right at nominal for craft beer strength.  The six-pack I procured was canned instead of bottled, but don’t let this disuade you.  The beer’s flavor is not affected in any way I have been able to tell from the canning vs bottling process.  I would certainly advise you to not drink this beer straight from the can.  Doing so would waste a good portion of the aromatic qualities of the beer because they would be trapped in the can.  Lastly, if this beer is in your area, it is moderately priced.  You should be able to find it at your local bar for ~$5 per pint.  I purchased my 6-pack for $9.99 in the Tampa area.

Now as to the beer itself.  It comes out of the can as an extremely dark brown, almost closer to a stout than a brown ale.  The dark head on the glass suggests a strong thick flavor and may worry some drinkers that it will be too potent for their palate.  Do not despair in thinking that this is a beer you are going to have to chew before you swallow.  Let us all remember that a Florida beer that was too thick and heavy could not survive in a state that routinely hits 97 degrees at 2am in the morning.

The scent of the beer is sweet and strong.  it reminds me of flavors like caramel or dark chocolate.  Behind all of those primary scents is a hint of roasting coffee beans, or pralined almonds.  Behind this though is a bright coolness that betrays the otherwise thick dark looking beer.

The first sip of this beer is surprisingly refreshing.  For a brown ale, the beer has a very welcome light sweet finish that makes a great contrast to the Florida heat where this beer is brewed.  It also suits the deep southern heat of my current town quite well.  The first sensation of this beer is the tingle of the carbonation that creates a citrus tingle across the tongue, and the dark sweet malt of a potent brown ale.  Despite this, Maduro Brown isn’t heavy and slides down more akin to a pilsner or pale ale fit for a steamy summer day.  The finish is sweet and bright, reminding me of something akin to a root beer float with a hint of chocolate.  This may be too sweet for some craft beer aficionados, but it is a welcome change of pace for local beer advocate.

If you are in a region that has access to Cigar City brews, I would highly recommend you try this beer.  it is an great beer in its own right, and an excellent choice for a beer drinker who enjoys lighter beers but is ready for a step up to the bolder dark-beer leagues.  I would recommend it for hot weather or at the end of a long exhausting day.  To pair with food, i would go with your standard bar-food of burgers, chicken tenders, or Carolina BBQ.

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Craft Beer: Avery Brewing, Ellie’s Brown Ale


I have to say I picked this brown ale for two main reasons.  One is that I had a family dog named Ellie (as in Ellie Mae from the Beverley Hill Billies, she was…sassy), and I love the chutzpah of Avery Brewing Co. advertising this as “lab tested” (see picture of can above).  I figured this beer was deserving of a little attention.

This is a pretty standard strength (5.5% ABV) brown ale brewed by Avery Brewing in Boulder, CO.  It’s named after their chocolate lab and brewed with fresh Rocky Mountain spring water.

Pouring the beer put a decent head on the glass.  It was a bit smaller than I would have expected from such a dark rich smelling beer, but it lingered for a good while after pouring.  The beer has a sweet scent, so sweet I’d go ahead and push past the molasses comparison and say it smells more like brown sugar.  The smell has a peppery-ness to it that wakes up the nose a little.  The smell also has a sour wetness to it that reminds me of cooked grape leaves or spinach.

The first taste of this beer is actually quite mellow.  This surprised me considering how dark it is.  The first taste is so mellow I almost qualified it as lacking.  That’s “almost”  until the follow-through hit me, and wow what a follow-through.  It is still not by any means a heavy beer, but it has a semi-sweet chocolaty-ness that really sets it off as a great brown ale.  As the beer hits you as you swallow you’re engulfed in the essence of malted barley and some very mild hops.  As the aftertaste rolls in you get the strong hints of molasses and high quality dark chocolate.

This beer is a very high quality drink, but as I work through it it seems to continue to be perplexing to my pallet.  It tastes like it should be a heavier beer, but it isn’t.  If it wasn’t for the chocolatey finish I’d rate it more as refreshing, but I can’t say I’d want to drink this on a hot summer day.  Maybe this would better be drank right now, at the very beginning of fall, where it isn’t too hot for a richer beer, but not so cold that you want a thick porter or stout.  I guess it fits that this beer comes from mountain-country.  I think you get more of that weather up there.

People who are looking for that overwhelmingly thick malty brown ale might be a little disappointed, but this a great brew unto itself.  It would also be an excellent beer to introduce some novice craft beer drinkers into darker beers without knocking their socks off.

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