Friday, March 25, 2016
New Belgium's Ben &Jerry's Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale (6/10)
New Belgium's web site describes the beer by saying that it "scoops the lip-smacking fun of dessert from a bowl right into your pint glass. Brewed with specialty ingredients and a healthy sweet tooth, this beer's chocolaty, salted-caramel, vanilla goodness is worth savoring to the last drop." Now for my take on it.
The beer pours a dark brown, almost a porter-like or stout-like black, with a thick beige or tan head. Held up to a bright light source, the color's more a mahogany brown.
The aroma does bring to mind a pan of slightly burnt brownies, dark roasted malt, and maybe just a hint of coffee. The aroma does seem to die down dramatically with the presence of the head, which lasts for a minute or so before retreating into the glass, leaving behind spotty bits of lacing that remind me of ink blots or the Batman logo. (No really, on my glass it did.)
The flavor, to be perfectly honest, reminds me of a classic porter. I get the bitterness and tannins I would associate with stouts and porters. I get a hint of the salt mentioned in the name, and maybe some touch of burnt sugar. Brownies and salted caramel? No, I don't taste it. Don't smell it either. There's a kind of earthy flavor to it also, which again reminds me more of a porter.
Maybe I had a bad bottle, I don't know. One review on Beer Advocate said it tasted like a brownie, loaded with fudge and chocolate. I don't get that at all in mine. Another said the taste is a blend of caramel and chocolate. Again, not there in mine. In fact, if you'd handed me a glass of this and called it "so and so's Porter" I wouldn't have questioned you.
Beer Advocate gives this an 81 or "good" rating. Rate Beer gives it a 61 overall. I think I'm going to side with Rate Beer on this one. New Belgium makes some great beer. Ben & Jerry's makes some great ice cream. But this beer ... not a fan. I'm glad I only bought one bottle to try. I think any others would sit in the refrigerator forever. I give it a 6 out of 10. Better than the macro brews, but there are others I like better, including others from New Belgium.
I've seen this on sale at local Giant Eagle stores, as well as a number of other craft beer outlets. If it's still on the market, you shouldn't have any trouble finding it - if you really want to.