Brew review: The ongoing review of top beers

Andrew Roland

In my last review, I talked about Tallgrass Brewing Company’s “Tallgrass Wheat,” a somewhat disappointing example of a spiced witbier. Tallgrass Brewing is a great local brewery, however, and its Tallgrass Ale is proof that it knows what it’s doing.

In my book, good brown ale is the nectar of the gods. When I’m not slumming with PBR or chugging coffee to finish a paper, there’s nothing I like better than enjoying a nice, dark brown brew. Brown ales are a fairly broad category in the beer world, with varying hop and malt levels, and wide variation in alcohol content. A standard brown ale will have a slight sweetness and an understated hop character. The best browns have a warm, toasty oat smell with a comfortable mouthfeel-not too heavy, but certainly not watery.

Tallgrass Ale fits this bill. I tried a bottle last weekend; although the bottles can be tough to find around town, several area bars carry this on tap, including Varsity Blues. If you’d prefer to pick up a six pack, I believe Jac’s and Devlin’s on 21st carry bottles.


Tallgrass Ale is a solid brown color, a very important consideration for a brown ale. In contrast to the Tallgrass Wheat from last week, the Ale has a great head after the pour. Head is important on a beer-it helps release the beer’s aroma. (Note to beginning beer aficionados: the pros drink out of a glass. You miss out on a lot if you just try beer from the bottle. Go get a pint glass. Seriously.)


The warm, toasty oat smell that comes bubbling out of this beer sends tingles down my spine. You can definitely smell the malt in this beer.


This is where brown ales dominate the other beer styles. Brown ales are dark, but don’t taste outrageous. With a slight sweetness and just enough hop bitterness for good balance, Tallgrass ale has flavor, but is light enough to be enjoyable for the average drinker. Combined with the wonderful aroma, the light, toasted oat flavor has hints of biscuits, without the overblown caramel flavor of an amber ale, like New Belgium’s Fat Tire.


Looking through my notes for this beer, I have one word underlined in the drinkability section: great. Bud Light claims to be drinkable because it tastes a lot like water. Tallgrass Ale is drinkable because it has straightforward, malty character, and doesn’t feel like you are sucking down a bottle of molasses.


This beer is good, and a great introduction to darker beers. Tallgrass Ale can be compared with Turbodog from Abita, Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing or imports like Newcastle Brown, although Newcastle likely costs twice as much and doesn’t come close to Tallgrass in quality. With a great combination of flavor, smooth drinkability and light body, I’m happy to recommend Tallgrass Ale.