Saturday Night Sixer: Tommy-knockin’ it out of the park with Tommyknocker’s Imperial Nut Brown

Greetings beer aficionados, Brandon here with another edition of the Saturday Night Sixer! Yes, I have returned from a sabbatical due to another tough semester of school. The good news is that I now have more time to taste beer… delicious, malty, hoppy beers! As always, the Sixer is here to bring you those hidden bottled gems you can find in your local fine beer and spirit retailer, or possibly on tap at a local pub. Intimidated by the plethora of bombers in the cooler at your neighborhood store? Feeling adventurous and just looking for a new style or brewery to excite your taste buds? Look no further than this week’s offering! Now, onward to beer …

Reminds me of a warm night by the fire at grandma's as a kid.  Though I wasn't drinking this at age 8...perhaps grandma was...
Reminds me of a warm night by the fire at grandma’s as a kid. Though I wasn’t drinking this at age 8…perhaps grandma was…

Well the calendars have turned to the month of May, and along with this brings the warmer weather. Here in New Mexico that tends to bring long spells of dry, scorching days that make enjoying a nice Russian imperial stout in the middle of the day sound … well, not so appealing (Speak for yourself. — Stoutmeister). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll still squeeze in my dark beers, of course (I would be excommunicated from the Dark Side Brew Crew if I didn’t!), but the hot weather has necessitated that I start having a sixer of Lagunitas Pils or North Coast Pranqster in my fridge to beat the heat.

I digress, though, as this article is about another beer, a rich and wonderfully complex beer coming in a style I’ve not really had the pleasure of enjoying before. This week the shelves of Jubilation had a tasty little gem in the form of an Imperial Nut Brown ale courtesy of Tommyknocker Brewery.

Not familiar with Tommyknocker? Well, they are yet another brewery from the craft beer-rich state of Colorado. Since opening in 1994, Tommyknocker has been churning out quality craft beers from the town of Idaho Springs (just west of Denver along I-70), and in the process have concocted some great recipes. Their long list of awards for their various beers dating back to the 90’s should give you an idea of the quality they are capable of. Aside from the obvious list of great beers, they also have some tasty food items and house root beers available, so stop in for a pint and some food if you are in the area. Their Maple Nut Brown Ale has become one of their most popular beers, with the Imperial version actually collecting several awards over the years. It must be good then, right?  Read on to find out … (spoiler alert: it’s very good)

Although familiar with the Maple Nut Brown from years ago, I was surprisingly ignorant to the fact that Tommyknocker had crafted an Imperial-style big brother, and considering I’ve never really come across an Imperial nut brown, I was in for a treat. This beer pours a deep, reddish brown color, with about a finger or so of foamy tan head that sticks around for a bit and gives way to nice swirling on top as the beer goes on. The nose on this is full of malts, with toffee, roasted and caramel malts being the main characteristics here. The hops are almost a non-factor, but give off subtle resin hints that don’t overwhelm the malt aromas.

That thing is good.  I want to be friends with it.
That thing is good. I want to be friends with it.

The label on the Imperial Nut Brown Ale claims to be “big, complex and malty,” and this beer certainly delivers in that department. The mouthfeel is somewhat rich, about medium in body, coats the mouth well and has moderate carbonation that is on par with most other variations of brown ales. It starts off with caramel and roasted malts in the front, with a slight hint of coffee, but not enough to overpower the primary malts. This one is brewed with maple syrup so there is an underlying sweetness, and if you have tried beers with maple syrup you know it is easy to have that flavor trump everything else and make a beer taste too sugary. That is not the case here, as the maple syrup gives a very mild sweetness that actually helps to balance out some of the bitterness. Toasted nuts and toffee show up in the middle and give way to a cocoa bitterness in the finish, with mild alcohol warming. Again, the hops are not a factor here, with only a bit of resiny bitterness throughout; the malts are the star here and they very well should be. The malt bill is complex as they stated and makes you swirl this one over the palate with each drink to take in the different malt aspects. It is a rich beer and about on par with most Imperial styles (9.0% ABV), so it is a one-and-done for most people. With quite an array of malts at work and nice alcohol warming, this is a great beer for a cool night, or even as a nice dessert after a hearty meal!

Overall, I was pleasantly surprise with Tommyknocker’s Imperial Nut Brown ale. It possesses a rich body, with plenty of twists and turns in the malt bill to keep you interested from one sip to the next; dare I say it’s a thinking person’s beer? I dare say I do! It will certainly please those of you looking for a strong ale without wanting to have the “steak-in-a-glass” experience of a hearty stout or porter. Give the Imperial Nut Brown a try on your next trip to stock up your fridge!

Until next time …


— Brandon Daniel

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