Panda Brew: 3B Brown Bear Beer Brown Ale (China: Brown Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Large yellow brown head.

Nose: Dry and nutty. Sweet pecan pie. Malt chocolate.

Body: Nutty with slight nut oils. Sweet pecan pie. Malt chocolate.

Body: Nut oils. Moderate robust bitterness. Walnuts. Pecan pie and brown sugar.

Conclusion: The shout of “boring brown beer” Is a common refrain (and also 3Bs, akin to this beer’s name), however, while this beer does not have the widest range, I would be very hard pressed to call it a boring beer.

This is a dry delivered, nut dominated ale that keeps the balance between the dry crushed nuts style – akin to crushed dry roasted peanuts in a way – and the sweet pecan style counterpoints. The drier notes match the feel of the base well, and uses the sweeter notes as high points to keep it from getting leaden. It feels like it is aiming for a sessionable Brown ale, admittedly at slighter thicker body, and of course higher abv that that would suggest. The dryness makes it a very sippable beer early on, and warmth brings out a touch of brown sugar sweetness to accentuate the pecan styled notes.

It doesn’t rate as a must have beer – almost all the complexity is in the range of nuttiness it has, and it deals in only slight malt chocolate notes rounding it out – however due to its simple goals it manages to polish them well, and actually holds up well against western attempts to reinvent the brown ale as a craft beer. It doesn’t get lost in uber hopping, or trying to make the style radically different from its base, just does the basic idea with a more nutty and and a bit drier.

There is legs left in this oft overlooked style, and it seems China, or at least Panda Brew have seen that. Needs a bit more work to make a must have beer, but this seems a nice route to go.

Background: First beer notes from China holiday! This one, actually a beer drunk before I had even checked in. I had left my bags at the hotel, until I could check in that afternoon, then wandered Beijing. Then got lost. On a straight road. No seriously. I had entered a Hyper-mart for a quick snack, then didn’t realise I had wandered out of a different exit on a street at a right angle to the one I had come in on. Oops. Anyway, well and truly lost I was saved when I came across Panda brew brewpub. I had been planning to hit them later, so had printed out a map showing how to get to them from the hotel, so could follow that backwards. How lucky! Anyway, a Panda themed brewpub, with very friendly staff who had some English language knowledge which was very helpful for me. I decided to go for their Brown ale – it is an oft overlooked style by the craft scene, so thought it would be an interesting pick.