Style: American Brown Ale
Serving type: 12-ounce can
ABV: 6.5 percent
Malt score (1–10): 7
Hop score (1–10): 1
Reviewed: August 2015
I relocated to Denver less than a year ago. The move was a bit of a milestone for me. Sure, I had to pack up my cat, drive 1,500 miles, and start a new life. Whatever. More important: Somewhere along my journey, I fell in love with India Pale Ales. The old Spencer wrinkled his nose at Modus Hoperandi; said it tasted like pine needles. Instead, he (yes, I am in the third-person now) spent a large chuck of his paycheck on four packs of Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale because it tasted somehow sweet, simple, and inoffensive. But driving through Kansas—that kind of boredom changes a man. As soon as I unloaded the Budget truck, I started guzzling IPAs (what a beautifully sharp, bitter bite!) and haven’t stopped since. An unfortunate casualty: brown ales, which suddenly tasted like a watered-down, bumper-bowling version of what beer could be. I felt like this fella.
That’s a long intro for Hiatus, but I think it’s important background. Because Hiatus is the first brown ale I’ve actually liked since moving to Denver. Renegade touts Hiatus by asking you to “Enjoy the restful.” That’s a tough tagline to swallow when you read “coffee-infused” and “oatmeal” on the can, even with its languorous hammock-rider. But I get it. First of all, the coffee (from Denver’s Novo Coffee roasters) offers a nice scent without overwhelming you. And while it’s the first thing you taste—a quick, bitter kick, almost like a spice—it quickly gives way to the malt. It’s almost like that specialty creamer my sister brings to family vacations, the one I love to take while pretending to be a staunch “just-black-thank-you-ma’am” man. But not sickeningly sweet. The coffee reappears toward the end, reminding you of what awaits the start of your next sip.
It’s a complicated brown ale, which I think is something of a rarity. (I don’t know where the oatmeal figures in, but whether it’s a brown ale or a stout, I never do.) At the same time, it still has that startling smoothness of a brown ale, so while it looks like a winter beer, it’s well-matched to summertime porch-sitting, golf-playing, and, yes, even hammock-laying.
The ideal drinker: Someone looking to perk up their normal brown-ale routine.