By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers
In the upcoming weeks, I will be focusing on Oktoberfests, pumpkin and other beers of autumn, but this week I would like to talk about a fall beer that some of you may not think of as a beer of the harvest. This is an American brown ale called Pullman Brown, and the brewery is Flossmoor Station.
Attorney Dean Armstrong and his wife, Carolyn, dreamed of having a business of their own outside of Dean’s practice. While on an antique-hunting drive through Michigan, they stopped at an old building that housed a microbrewery. After sampling the homemade brew, they were hooked on handcrafted beer — and the idea of owning their own microbrewery. The Armstrongs wouldn’t let the fact that neither had any prior restaurant experience dampen their dream of building a brewpub they could call their own. Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery celebrated its grand opening July 8, 1996, in the renovated (by the Armstrongs’) old Flossmoor Train Station building in Flossmoor, Illinois.
Pullman Brown is available year-round, packaged in 22-ounce bottles at 6 percent alcohol by volume. It has won bronze medals in 1997, 2000, 2005 and 2010, and silver medals in 1998, 2002 and 2006 at the Great American Beer Festival. At the World Beer Cup, it took a bronze medal in 2002, silver in 2000 and gold in 2006.
I am using a standard American pint glass for this red, white and blue American style. The pour is a dark brown color, barely letting any light through when held up to a light, with a full three fingers of thick, almost whipped-topping consistency of tan-colored head that hangs on for some time, leaving some defined lacing as it eventually recedes to a thin, tight head of small bubbles.
The aroma is nutty, like walnut, with hints of cocoa and toffee, along with an earthy hop presence of fresh-cut grass, hinting that it’s going to have a deep and rich flavor. Well, let’s have a taste, shall we?
Taste is much like the aroma, starting out with a burst of sweetness, consisting of brown sugar, caramel, toffee and a slight bitterness similar to coffee, that is well transitioned by the flavor of walnut and toast into the woody, grassy and light resin hop bitterness. A presence of dark molasses at the end coats the palate.
The mouth feel has an easy-drinking, medium-creamy body with moderate carbonation and a nice, smooth, silky feel to it. The beer seems light, even when the taste wants to flex its robust muscle.
Overall impression is American brown ale has a very wide open interpretation for the style, as some aggressively hop this style, but Flossmoor pulls it off with excellent attention to balance and flavor. This beer is a very good example with much to celebrate. Do yourself a favor and give this a try. I believe you will not be disappointed.
Michael Sears is the president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a home-brewing club dedicated to the art of finely-crafted beer. The club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Street. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to http://forestcitybrewers.org. If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2014, issue