Options in life often take the form of what is conveniently available plus feasible given resources. Imagine a standard American suburban Saturday night, when you are the squad are about to chill in the garage with some death metal and smokes. What can you pick up at a standard die-cut suburban liquor store or grocery store that does not hit either extreme, mediocrity or expensive novelty? One option for generations has been Newcastle Brown Ale, now brought to you by the same people who murdered Heineken and turned it into Budweiser with Dutch flavoring. Luckily, with Newcastle, there is less room to ruin: this has always been a medium-dark, sweet beer with a caramel-molasses flavor, and although this version is more watery than the ones from two decades ago, it mostly maintains that flavor. Pouring the beer releases a fallen leaves brown liquid with a medium head and an immediate note of its dominant flavor, a nutty warmth melded with malty stoved sugar with undertones of fresh bread and a hint of malt vinegar. It goes down smoothly with a creamy flavor and a lingering sweetness which might be the weakest point for this beer, followed by an earthy but not bitter flavor of hops. Like many commercial beers, its aftertaste is most revealing, which has the sugars dissipate to a slightly skunky yeast flavor. What saves it is that warmth and toned down brown ale flavor seamlessly mixed with a gentle sweetness. Sometimes this one is too sweet for me. But Newcastle Brown Ale provides a solid middle-of-the-road brown ale that can be found almost anywhere at a low import price, making this a go-to when the pale imitations of formerly great imports (and their 20% higher prices) make the lips curl with resentment and not anticipation.
Quality rating: 4/5
Purchase rating: 4/5
Tags: beer, brown ale, england, heineken nederland bv, newcastle