Good old broon
Legend has it that Newcastle was the first place in Britain to brew beer. I don’t know about that, but it certainly brews the first British beer most foreigners try. Newcastle Brown Ale is the most popular bottled beer in England and all of Europe. That’s a little surprising until you realize that bottles are a bit rare in that part of the world. Still, there’s no arguing about this ubiquitous standby. It can be found almost everywhere, and is one of the safest, surest bets in the import aisle. That's safe -- not to be confused with interesting.
Newcastle is home to a hard scrabble lot, and a perennially underachieving football team. Think the Cleveland of England and you won’t be far wrong. The miners and steel workers there appreciate a good simple beer with no pretensions, and that's why 'the Broon' is their beverage of choice. It's been around since 1927 and the Tynesiders fought just as hard to keep it being brewed there as their Dawg Pound cousins fought to keep the Browns.
Newcastle Brown is a bit of an oddity in that in comes in a clear bottle, always dangerous since light is the death of good beer. Strangely, this doesn’t usually seem to be a problem. The beer is generally very consistent. I’ve heard various quibbles over this, but I’ve been drinking the stuff for a couple decades and could probably count the bad bottles I’ve had on one hand.
The Brown is served a little colder than typical English ales, so it fits a bit more comfortably with American habits. The copper color is what stands out most. There isn’t much aroma, but some malt is evident. Just a rather thin head despite having quite a bit of carbonation. The malt comes out again in the taste. It imparts the sweet caramel and nutty flavor, with some brown sugar mixed in. The mouthfeel is thin and light, almost lager-like. Its medium body goes down easy. It’s a beer that would be good with bad food.
Newcastle Brown Ale is always available. Anytime the choices are limited, it’s a good, easy option. Even the price is moderate. All that means that just about every beer drinker has had, at some point, the pleasure of downing a few of these. And this simple little beer is one of life’s simple pleasures. The 4.7% alcohol content gets the job done nicely for the blokes, while the birds will go for the sweetness. It’s a good transition beer from the usual American hop-water to something just a bit more daring. Connoiseurs won’t appreciate the lack of complexity, but it suits hard working beer drinkers just fine. A nice little ale to wash down the coal dust after a long day in the mines, or just the dust from the copy machine at the office.