Friendly capacious joint, BROWN’S BREWING, located nine miles east of Albany in downtown Troy, proved to be a friendly destination on several journeys going to and leaving nearby Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.

Located along the Hudson River across from the State Capitol, Brown’s broad mix of Rensellear Polytechnical Institute students, local businessmen, and families make up the usual crowd. Its spacious factory-like brick-walled interior and large riverside deck offered cottage villager’s splendor. Classic American food dominated the menu and the French onion soup is always fantastic. Wood columns-floors-tables, Revolutionary War paintings, “The Tap Room, Revolution Hall” bar, and glass-encased copper brew tanks make up the first floor. Upstairs, the lounge area, pool table, several games, and private Trojan Room provided fun atmosphere on first family trip, December ’04.

Well-rounded brew selection included wheat-dried corn-husked citric-hopped Brown’s Light; Weihenstephan Weizen-aided banana-fronted yeast-infested lemony hard candied coriander-spiced Hefe-Weizen; soft mocha-flowed dry-smoked ESB; whiskey-malted cherry-soaked Pale Ale; chocolate-parched oats-toasted Brown Ale.

Mocha-dried coffee-soured walnut-seared maple-sapped oats-charred soother Oatmeal Stout and sweet chocolate-fronted maraschino cherry-dabbed tar-embittered Imperial Stout were fine dark-bodied reps. Bought last two in bottled version along with Brown’s Cherry Raspberry Ale, which boasted sour-to-sweet cherry tartness, bitter juniper-currant surge, soured cranberry-raspberry slurp, and leathery grass peppering nearly washed out at phenol finish.

January ’08, on the way home from Vermont brewpub tour, quaffed Dunkelweizen, a musty muscatel with mild sugared fig, stewed prune, unripe banana, black cherry, port, and burgundy notes. Bought growler of chalky hop-charred chocolate-malted Brown’s Porter, a creamy vanilla-influenced cocoa-buttered peanut-shelled hazelnut-pecan-backed dry body with weak coffee remnant.

Arriving at my destination before noon, October ’10, hung out with 17-year Brown brewer, Peter Martin, whom I’d met a few years back with the family. We shared a few thoughts after I quaffed samplers. On this visit, I’d garner four previously undiscovered brews.

Done up in a dry English style (despite American IPA tag), hop-charred alcohol-burnt India Pale Ale dismissed stylistic citric pining for twiggy earthen dewing, musty vegetal fungi and mild lemon bruise. Blue-collar session beer enthusiasts would appreciate perfumed grassy-hopped wheat-chaffed citric-embittered leather-bound Tomhannock Pilsner.

“My only criticism of Tomhannock is it lacks the smoothness of traditional Czech pilsners,” Martin said.

As for soft-toned salami-smoked beechwood-chipped Rauchbier, he offered, “It’s sweeter somewhere along the Marzen style. I’ve made American smoked beers a few times. The only ones I’d known beforehand were from Germany’s Bamberger region.”

But today’s highlight was smooth bourbon-like Barrel Aged Whiskey Porter, a very approachable mocha-dried ‘big beer’ house special bringing creamy cocoa-powdered cherry-pureed raspberry wisps to hop-charred wood-smoked oaken vanilla, black grape, and vinous burgundy illusions.

Martin concluded, “I’m more of a traditionalist. I’ll do over-the-top seasonals. And big beers are fun. However, it’s easier to sell a gallon of pale ale over super-octane brews.”

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