Happy Monday, everyone. Welcome back to the Daily Beard. Today, we’re jumping back into the holiday spirit with Triton Brewing Company’s Gingerbread Brown Ale. I’ve never had anything by Triton Brewing Co., but if this Gingerbread beer is as awesome as the Gingerbread pirate ship on the label, I think I’ll be in good hands. With that, I think it’s time to go get our gingerbread on.
The first aroma notes from the bottle are rich, bready malts laced with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and gingerbread. The spices themselves aren’t super potent, acting more as enhancements rather than major flavors. It allows the beer to retain a nice beer aroma, while firmly securing itself in the holiday category with its festive, winter spicing. Hints of sticky brown sugar and the slightest nutty hints of toasted almonds complete a nice holiday package.
From the bottle, the taste is a bit different from the aroma. It takes on an earthier vibe, without having too deep of a flavor. There’s a hoppy bitterness that chills out at the back of the tongue, while floral nutmeg swoops down and lands right in the center of your mouth. It’s by far the most potent spice in each taste, with gingerbread and cinnamon subdued and held down at the bottom. Malts make up the backbone, but the flavor isn’t as warm and bready as I would have hoped. It’s also slightly watery which distances itself away from the cozy winter brew that I was hoping for. There’s a sweetness with each taste that appears at the tip of the tongue for an instant, but it fades almost immediately and is replaced with an almost perfume-like spiced bitterness – almost like a holiday-scented air freshener. The aftertaste is a mellow maltiness with a hint of gingerbread, which makes up the majority of the gingerbread you’ll find from the bottle taste. I’m not ready to write this beer off yet. I’ll let it warm up a bit, and hopefully the combination of that and pouring it will help it find its true flavors.
Poured out into a tulip glass, it takes on an aroma similar to Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale. Allspice, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg mingle with a subdued maltiness to create a controlled , aromatic bloom of spices. There are also some nutty hints of pumpkin, but they are probably created by the gingerbread being run through the spice gauntlet. It’s actually a pleasant aroma, with just enough malt breadiness to anchor the spices down, without allowing the bouquet to spiral out of control and dive bomb into an atomic spice-rack explosion. Visually, it pours somewhat watery as a dark brown with a super-light tan head that thins and bubbles away fairly quickly.
For the post-pour taste, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that any big gingerbread flavors are subdued almost to the point of nonexistence, buried under the spices. The good news is that pouring and letting the beer sit for a bit brought out a more balanced flavor. The malts are much more noticeable, which helps tie down the nutmeg and cinnamon. Hints of gingerbread cookie flash in and out every so often, but the flavor is fleeting. There’s a slight roastiness from the malts on the bottom that tries to work with a top-side brown sugar sweetness, but despite the increased balance, the spices just seem to get in the way. The flavors aren’t bad, per se, but they don’t come together to create the tasty gingerbread I was hoping for. It’s more like a spiced ale with a dusting of gingerbread – definitely not enough to warrant the S.S. Gingerbread on the label.
This beer seemed to have a lot of potential from start to finish. The aroma spoke of gingerbread and other winter spices, but the flavor never delivered. An over abundance of nutmeg detracted from the overall flavor, offering only slight hints of gingerbread from both the bottle and a tulip glass. Having said that, the flavors did combine well with a little patience – forming a malty spiced ale. But gingerbread never made a strong enough appearance to call itself a gingerbread brown. If you enjoy spiced ales – such as pumpkin ales – the price may be worth it to you, but if you’re expecting a big gingerbread flavor, save yourself some money.
I recommend this to only those who enjoy big, fall and winter spiced beers. If you don’t mind that gingerbread isn’t a major player in this beer, you should enjoy it. Because it definitely has its tasty moments, but there are other flavorful beers out there, with better control over their spices and a true primary flavor offering. Triton Brewing Company’s Gingerbread Brown earns a B-.
Lasting Strength: 8/10
Overall: 8/10 B-
Winter Warming Bonus: 6/10