Maris Brown Ale

Things like this don't happen often for me. I have humbly kept this quiet but after several months I have decided to share the story of Maris Brown Ale. - Last Spring World Class Beverages sponsored the Indiana Beer Geek Challenge where homebrewers would compete and were to brew a Northern Style English Brown Ale. I have always enjoyed drinking brown ales and have brewed several. I decided to enter and re-read Ray Daniels and Jim Parkers text 'Brown Ale', and then checked out some recipes. I brewed a 5 gal. batch. It resembled a Porter upon finish and was kegged and another brown was brewed. This batch was entered. It was brown, hoppy, but a little too sweet and did not fit the northern style category. The beer was bottled and consumed by friends who liked the nutty start and sweet finish.

Many Brown Ales were entered throughout the State and Pete McNamara from Indianapolis won the 'Beer Geek Challenge'. His beer, "Hidaway Brown" brewed by Upland will be available in Indiana in December this year.

To fulfill friends needs (wants) and tastes, I later brewed a batch of brown, left out the Victory malt, used less hops and changed the yeast for a sweeter brew. This beer has a major amount of it's grain bill as Maris Otter malt. My first born daughter's name is Maris. (Named before my brewing experience and before the TV show "Frasier"). So with these two facts in mind, I named the beer - 'Maris Brown Ale'. This was a nice beer but fit the Southern Style English Ale category.

Later in the year it was time for the Indiana State Fair Brewer's Cup. Our local homebrewer's club, Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI), encouraged members to enter their beers. With this and also the encouragement of my family and friends I decided to enter more than several brews. In hind-sight this may have been cruel as some of these beers, while maybe good in January, were crap in July. I know, I tasted them in August!. Not much refrigerated storage here. I hope no one got sick or that anyone has left the BJCP because of these beers. However several still were in good shape.

On July 10, there was a beer festival near my home which my wife and designated driver, Chris, and I attended. While there, beer people were mentioning that contrary to popular report, the Indiana State Fair Brewer's Cup awards would be open to the public and would start in an hour. This is a great event with many professional brewers, homebrewers, clubs and judges present. Great beer-centric conversations. A good place to learn. Good beer too! Awards are given in all categories for the professional and home brewer. There are many great beers brewed in Indiana and the awards ceremony takes some time. After each category was announced, Chris would asked if I had a beer in that category and we would watch to see who the winners were. I did win for a cherry wheat that is my wife's friend Nancy's favorite. However as I tried to relate, Indiana has many great brewers - more experienced and knowledgeable than I - so we watched as they receive their awards. Master of Ceremonies, Tom Stilabower, announced that the last category of the evening would be English Brown Ales and that the Best of Show would come from this category. This seemed fitting since so many people brewed English Brown Ales with that style being this year's Beer Geek Challenge beer. Chris again asked me if I had a beer in this category and I told her that the Maris Brown was entered here. The second and third places went to Northern Style English Brown Ales and all expected the next would be a Northern. Then Tom mentioned that the next beer and winner for Best of Show would be a Southern Style English Brown Ale. I remember thinking -I wondered who else would have brewed a Southern Style. Before the thought was finished, I heard the two words mostly uttered by angry teachers - "Mark Schiess". I was truly stunned and speechless. I don't remember everything after that. I did write a letter to Great Fermentations the the following day that summed up how I felt:

"Anita, I am still stunned and dazed about my awards yesterday. I can't believe it. A total loss of composure as this was truly unexpected. I do try hard and love this hobby of brewing but much of the credit goes to you and Daren. I come in to the shop with some half baked/completed recipe and we design something. It gets brewed, tastes good and we drink it. We enter it at the fair to participate and get feedback and hope for something - a maybe. Then this happens. Wow."

I am honored and humbled - and need to thank many for their help.


With this award is included the brewing of the winner's beer at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub. On October 28, I spent a day brewing 'Maris Brown Ale' at the BRBP with their brewer Kevin Matalucci. As of November 24, Maris Brown Ale  is now on tap at the BRBP. This was such a good experience that I decided to tell the Story of "Maris Brown Ale" and share the following pictures;


Winning Beers at the State Fair

Pub and Brewery before regular hours

In the Brewery as seen from the Pub

UPS wasn't sure that this should go to a Restaurant




277 gals. of "Maris Brown Ale" in Fermentor

Spent Grain collected for Livestock

300+ gals. of boiling Maris Brown Wort

BRBP Brewer Kevin Matalucci at the end of the day.


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