379. The Civil Life – American Brown Ale

The Civil Life American Brown AleI’m in St. Louis for Thanksgiving weekend and was able to sneak out of the house to pick up dinner along with a quick stop at two of St. Louis’ newest breweries – The Civil Life Brewing Company and Perennial Artisian Ales.  I was only able to run in for a second and pick up beer to go, so when I got in, I asked the bartender for a growler of whatever he recommended.  At the Civil Life, he chose the American Brown.  I was impressed that he filled the growler all the way to the top, in order to decrease the amount of oxygen.

This was a tough one for me to review.  I’m not sure why, but the first couple glasses I poured from the growler were very, very different from the last couple.  The first few glasses I had were terrible, but a day later, the next glasses were great. Therefore, I’ll try to cover both in this review.

Location: Enjoyed a pilsner type glass with an etched bottom at my dad’s house in St. Louis, from a growler from The Civil Life.

Numbers: 4.8% ABV, ~ 144 Calories

Appearance & Aroma: The appearance did not change, each time I had it, it was a very dark brown color, with some ruby highlights when held up to the light.  There was a thin, creamy, tan head on it.  The first couple I had, had a strong black patent, burnt malt aroma with some bitter chocolate and coffee smells as well.  The second few I had, had a dark cocoa aroma with a hint of coffee.

Taste & Feel:  The first couple I had, the mouthfeel was smooth and creamy with a hint of crispness on the end of each drink.  There were some sweet dark cocoa and chocolate flavors up front, followed by a heavy black patent/burnt malt bitterness with bitter coffee and cocoa flavors.  The finished tasted somewhat plastic-like.  However, as I mentioned, I had a very different experience the second day I had a few.  The mouthfeel was a bit crisper and a bit less creamy – which I expected, since it had lost some carbonation overnight.  There were still chocolate flavors up front, but not as much of the bitter cocoa.  In the middle, more cocoa flavors came through with hints of coffee – much less bitter than the day before.  it finished very smooth with hints of chocolate and nuttiness, without the plasticy flavors from the day before.

Food Pairing: With the cocoa and nutty flavors in this beer, I think I’d pair it with a hearty burger.  In fact, I think a great pairing would be a mushroom and swiss burger with mushroom gravy on it.  I think the mushroom gravy flavors would go very nicely with the flavors in this beer.

Overall Impression: I am perplexed by the complete difference in tastes from this beer between one day and the next.  I have no idea what could have caused it.  I very much disliked it the first day, with some harsh bitterness and platic flavors.  However, the second day, it was a very good beer.  Perhaps there was something in the growler beforehand.  I’ll have to go back and try it fresh from the tap to get the real story on this beer.

My Rating: ★★½☆☆

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