Occasionally, the New York Times will run an article on beer in their Food section, under the Ales of the Times column. In the past they have done lambics, wheat beers, and porters. Today's column (they seem to run quarterly by season, last year at this time was barleywines.) was a feature on brown ales, an oft underrated beer.
Part of the reason brown ales are not in the news more (at least in the beer world) is that they are very simple beers. By 'simple' I'm not saying they are easy to brew, as usually it is more subtle styles of beer that take the greatest skill to craft. You can't hide poor malt choices behind an absolutely huge hop profile.
Thus, in these days with 'extreme beers' often getting all the attention, the brown ale is much like the wallflower at the high school prom. Perhaps, the guys out on the floor get the girls for being loud, brash and over-the-top, but the kid over there, all alone, or maybe with a group of like minded friends, he's sensitive, complex (without being too deep of course) and understated. Give that kid a chance!
Well, perhaps I'm stretching the metaphor a tad too far.
Nevertheless, the brown ale... Where was I? The article covers the tastings of a number of different brown ales, alts in some cases, from the US, England, Germany and the Netherlands. The samplers include Richard Scholz, an owner of Bierkraft in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Lew Bryson, beer writer extraordinaire. Take a look, learn a little and maybe try a new beer or two.
Don't miss the Interactive Feature link about a third of the way down the page, it has some nice photos and good audio on the tastings.
For more on Brown Ale, you can also read up at The Brew Lounge.
(For some of the NY Times articles, a login is required. I'd recommend using Firefox and BugMeNot to get around that.)