If you have been reading for a while now, you know that I enjoy Black Husky beers, and it’s hard not to if you have tried them. All of the beers from Black Husky have a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle twist that elevates them from average to greatness. At 8% ABV, Big Buck Brown Ale is definitely a big beer for Brown Ale standards (3.3-5%), but that’s Tim Eichinger, the Black Husky Brewmaster. In addition to the higher than usual alcohol content, Big Buck Brown Ale has an additional twist on the usual Brown Ale beer, maple syrup. The addition of the caramelized sugars in maple syrup is intriguing, and is an addition that many brewers do, but few do well. Theoretically the syrup should impart at least a portion of the maple flavor and aroma while also drying the beer out as the readily available maple syrup sugars ferment away.
A few of beers that I have had that are brewed or bottle conditioned with maple syrup lack any of the aromas or flavors that I associate with quality maple syrup, so they build up expectations that are rarely if ever met. Many achieved the higher alcohol percentage that adding sugar provides, but the final beer came out thin and watery as a result. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened my bottle of Big Buck Brown, would this be another failed attempt at maple beer, or would it be another in the long line of excellent Black Husky beers?
On to the Review. Big Buck Brown does not have a score on either Beeradvocate or ratebeer, although it is listed on both.
This beer is our best effort to save the White-tailed Deer, providing all you hunter-types the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax in your cabin, put your feet up, tell tall tales, yet still save face and go back to your peoples with your head held high. In sincere honesty you can tell them “This year I got a Big Buck…” Nikki, our rescue dog, had a rough life before we met him, yet learned to trust us, even patiently posing with fake antlers while we shot the perfect pose (with our camera!). Certainly you too can sacrifice - have a Big Buck Brown when you’re supposed to be hunting in the cold, harsh woods. You’ll honor his memory by saving a deer. If you need more incentive, it’s brewed with maple syrup so you can consider it breakfast.
From the Brewmaster
Grain – 2-Row, a range of Carmel malts and Munich malt
Other Fermentables – Maple syrup
Big Buck Brown Ale pours a very clear, dark mahogany with a thick, creamy tan head that held moderate retention and left considerable lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of warm maple syrup, not that cheap “maple flavored” knock-off trash, but real maple syrup. Subtle caramel and bready notes supported the maple, lending the impression of a stack of pancakes straight from the griddle, topped with only the best maple syrup.
The flavor began with hints of maple, followed up by complex caramel notes, a considerable malty sweetness, and a slight nutty quality that played well with the bready notes in the aroma. There is a very slight hint of alcohol on the back end that complements the complex caramel malts. Big Buck is a very well balanced beer with a medium-low hop bitterness, just enough to keep this from being cloyingly sweet. It is however a malt-centric beer, with the caramel malts and maple syrup playing the dominant role. Big Buck Brown is moderately full bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.
When compared to a traditional American Brown Ale, Big Buck is a little big and boozy, and lacks the more dominant American hop varieties that have come to define the style. However, that is not to say this is a bad beer, in fact it is an excellent beer that utilizes the expected malt backbone of a good Brown Ale, adds the characteristic maple flavor and aroma, then bumps alcohol presence up even higher. Everything is very well balanced, and this is an exceptionally drinkable beer at 8% ABV.
Be on the lookout for Black Husky Bick Buck Brown Ale on tap or in a store near you. If you live in Milwaukee, pick up a bottle at either Ray’s Wine in Wauwautosa or Three Cellars in Franklin.
That’s all for tonight, check back again next week for another review!