The Beer: Nut Brown Ale, 5.5% ABV; 30 IBU
The Brewery: Oak Creek Brewing Company, Sedona, AZ
You don't need an excuse to make a day trip or weekend getaway to Sedona, but if there's inspiration needed to make the two hour drive north, Oak Creek Brewing Company just might be the answer. Located in the historic Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in the heart of Sedona, Oak Creek produces a series of fine hand crafted beers that appeal to myriad tastes. The brewery's Nut Brown Ale, also known as Village Nut Brown Ale in the brewpub, may be the best of the bunch as it packs a lot of flavor and complexity into a very drinkable package at just 5.5 percent ABV.
Aroma: Very toasted pumpernickel bread leads with sweet caramel aromatics supporting. A slight cherry-like fruity ester is also present in the background lending an additional note of complexity.
Appearance: The beer is dark brown with garnet highlights when held to the light. The head maintains a decent persistence with small, tan colored bubbles. The beer appears quite clear, though it's hard to see through due to the dark color.
Flavor: Rich, flavorful toasted malt is front and center. Some nutty character reminiscent of almonds and pecans is also present. This is clearly a malt forward beer, though it's not all that sweet since the beer is properly fermented to achieve the proper balance for a Nut Brown Ale. There is a rich complexity to this beer, but it maintains its drinkability. Just enough hop flavor and moderate bitterness give it balance. One smell and taste transports the drinker to a forest during fall.
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Food Pairings: The Nut Brown Ale would pair great with grilled red meat of any kind, such as burgers, steaks or BBQ.
Overall Impression: Oak Creek Brewing Company has produced a fantastic representation of a traditional English Nut Brown Ale. It is, effectively, a well attenuated malt showcase that's full of flavor yet finishes clean and refreshing despite its complexity. The beer is a two time winner in the North American Brewer's Association competition, claiming bronze in 2002 and gold in 2004.
Oak Creek's beers are found at many fine craft beer stores; this one was purchased at Total Wine in Gilbert. To learn more about Oak Creek Brewing Company or their beers, please check out the Oak Creek Brewing Company website.