Beer: Waffle Sauce – Maple Pecan Imperial Brown Ale
Brewery: Rusty Rail Brewing Company (Mifflinsburg, PA)
Style: Brown Ale – Imperial/Double
8.2% ABV / 26 IBU
Before the craft beer revolution, brown ales like JW Dundee’s Honey Brown and Newcastle Brown Ale offered an appealing alternative to shitty domestic lagers. You’d pick the Belgian import or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale first, but any brown ale was next on the list. But this style gets no love in 2020 and probably hasn’t for decades. Americans don’t get English pub styles like mild ales, extras special bitters (ESBs), or even the brown ale, and where America goes (at least with craft brewing, the foreign policy aspect is now in doubt), the rest of the world follows.
Any push towards extremity improves the brown ale’s chances of a comeback: crank up the ABV, age it in a barrel, and/or crank up the bitterness to throw the typically malt-forward style out of whack. Rusty Rail’s Waffle Sauce is an uncommonly excellent brown ale without resorting to cheap tricks. It’s true that Rusty Rail goes to 11 (actually 8.2%) with the ABV, but that’s not a high enough alcohol content to create the burning sensation on your palette. And that falls squarely in the realm of your average (non-session) IPA, the likely market leader from now until the end of time.
Waffle Sauce gets props for a thoughtful balance between malts (caramel and chocolate malts, typical of the style) and hops (Cascade and Glacier), creating a delicate dance between the two. But where Waffle Sauce scores highest is the flavor. There’s just a hint of pecan and maple on the nose, but the flavor completely, wholly embodies the essence of pecan waffles with maple syrup in a how-the-hell-did-they-pull-that-off kind of way. The flavor is bold without being cloyingly sweet, a perfect pairing for a Monte Cristo sandwich or grilled cheese, or—if you want to anoint yourself ruler of the Kingdom of Sundays, a pecan waffle with a fat pat of butter and syrup in every crevasse.
For more info, check out Rusty Rail here.