Baird: Angry Boy Brown Ale (Japan: Brown Ale: 6.2% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown.  Large frothy chocolate ice cream tinged bubbles. Very heavy amounts of suds left around the glass.

Nose:  Chocolate. Malted drinks. A touch of mandarin orange when the bottle is first opened, but fades quickly.  Lots of ground chocolate dust.  Cinnamon and apricot.

Body: Chocolate. Tingling hop character. Quite dry back with just a slight acid tartness. Sour red grapes at back. Touch of caramel. Very smooth texture. Black cherry jam.

Finish: Dry bitter chocolate. Apple acidity. Slight chocolate dust. Slight red grape jam. Apricot.

Conclusion: The brown ale. A much maligned style.  This however is a very confident interpretation of that style. Lots of chocolate in malt chocolate drinks style and ground chocolate dust. With the nice base thickness of the beer you have a good, noticeable sweet, base to work off.

It’s strongly malt and chocolate driven, but gives the fruit hops just a touch of play resulting in a delightful cherry and jam touch that works well with the barest hint of fruit acidity. I always consider that acidity an important part of a brown ale, it keeps it tart and easy to drink against the potentially strong chocolate or nut flavours.  While understated the presence of acidity here does its job.

Very rounded, very solid, good malt and carefully placed hops. This is a delightful little drink. Soothing yet pleasant.  I find therefore its choice of name odd – “Angry Boy”. It seems misplaced, it is more of a wise old man, acting with forethought and each step considered. Yes there is bitterness, but its use is careful and balanced not thrown with wild abandon.  In fact the “Angry Boy” term would seem to apply better to their other ale Ganko Oyaji (Stubborn Old Man) Barley Wine – that definitely had an angry kick.

Anyway, it has a nice hop balance but is still a late night malt drink styled beer in my eyes, one to wind down with. Maybe feel the wind rush by and let the night sweep in as you swirl it in your hands. A very proficient, enjoyable and well crafted beer, all the more so for coming from such a disrespected style.

Background: Have I mentioned I like Japan? Yes? Ok cool no need to cover that again. Baird have been ok so far In my experience, no high points that match the best of Hitachino Nest or Hakusekikan, but good. I actually like brown ale as a style, even if there are some majorly dull entries in its ranks.  The sweetness, tartness and oft comparatively low abv tend to make them good session beers for me.  Incidentally the bottle picture is majorly cool in my opinion. Picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer section – Yes,  I’ve been hitting them quite a bit recently I know.