Brown Ale, Upslope Brewing Company, Boulder

Style: Brown Ale

Serving Type: 12-ounce cans

ABV: 6.7 percent

Malty? Hoppy? Both, but the malty flavor takes precedence.

Reviewed: July 2015

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of picky beer drinker (and food eater, but that’s a whole other story). For the most part, I’m drawn to light brews that are less hoppy, a little fruity, and fairly uncomplicated—your typical “girly” beers. So it was a pleasant surprise when I recently picked up Upslope’s Brown Ale and found myself cracking open a second. In fact, my attraction to this medium-bodied, malty-hoppy blend shouldn’t have been unexpected. The popular Boulder-based brewhouse is well known for its drinkable ales—each of which is small-batch brewed to ensure the utmost quality and taste consistency—and the Brown is no different.

(Read more beer reviews from 5280 editors)

While the beer is considered a classic English-style Brown, what sets Upslope’s rendition apart is the expert infusion of hops, which feels oh-so-American. Usually, a hoppy taste turns me off immediately, but here, the addition is intriguing, and a bit unexpected. While I can handle the hops, it’s the brew’s distinctive malts that engage the tastebuds. You’ll notice hints of coffee and chocolate, but you won’t be overwhelmed by it. The beer isn’t sweet in the traditional sense, but I feel pretty satisfied enjoying one for dessert. My husband, on the other hand—who is a big fan of browns—firmly believes that Upslope’s version would be best enjoyed accompanying some sort of meat product, in front of an open flame. (To each their own.)

The brew is somewhat reminiscent of a porter or a stout, but it’s lighter and more sessionable. It would be easy to toss back a few Brown Ales at a backyard barbecue this summer, or during a lazy evening at home any time of year. Pouring it into a glass unleashed the beer’s complex aromas, but sipping from the can feels more authentic—like I would gladly carry one or two up a mountain for a post-hike libation. The finish is a little bitter, but that won’t stop me from drinking it again. In fact, I’m convinced that Upslope’s Brown Ale is a beer that would appeal to just about everyone—even the pickiest drinkers among us.

Would we buy it again? Yes. There’s a reason Upslope makes this brew available all year. I may prefer it’s malty flavor after a day of fall or winter outdoor activities, but it’s just as enjoyable on a cool summer’s night after a rainstorm.

(Check out 5280’s comprehensive guide to Colorado’s craft beer scene)

Erin Skarda
Erin Skarda
Erin is a Denver-based writer and the former digital editor for 5280.