San Diego's Alesmith Brewing is something of an enigma. In the 90's, the operation perfected a dozen or so brews across a wide range of styles, winning medals and the hearts of countless beer lovers in the process. While the brewery continues to churn out those impeccably crafted beers, it often seems like Alesmith is stuck in slow motion. It's only been a couple short years since Alesmith's beers have showed up on Bay Area shelves. And, with the exception of the brewery's rotating "Decadence" anniversary beer, the crew hardly ever introduces a new beer to the market.
Now, we get it. Don't mess with perfection. But, we can't help but get our knickers in a twist whenever a new Alesmith bottle arrives on our northern shores. In the case of the Nut Brown ale, "new" is a strong word. The beer has been kicking around the brewery since 1995, when it was created for a homebrewer's festival. After being revived as a seasonal called "Brownie" and spending many years on draft as "Nautical Nut Brown", the brewery has finally bottled the beer and settled on the elegantly simple "Nut Brown."
For those with nut allergies, fear not: No nuts were harmed in the making of this brew. The moniker presumably comes from the beer's appearance, which is, well, brown like a nut. That being said, the malts used in this brew lend a pronounced nutty character. The addition of chocolate malt adds a distinct cocoa note, while the yeast and fermentation process yield a slightly tangy, fruity character. You'd be hard pressed to pick out the hops in this beer, which act as an earthy balancing agent against the sweeter elements. At only 5% ABV, the amount of depth and complexity is noteworthy.
The next time a friend exclaims that they "don't like dark beers", pour them a glass of Alesmith Nut Brown. If they claim that they "don't like easy drinking beers that also boast a creamy body and rich flavors", then maybe you should reconsider the friendship. Per the brewer's recommendation, this beer will pair well with grilled sausage, oysters on the half shell, and any nutty cheese a la gruyere or aged gouda. Look for the brew at better beer shops such as Healthy Spirits and City Beer Store.