Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Ybor Gold Brown Ale

Florida Beer Company
Melbourne, FL

Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 4.4%

Rings’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

As is standard practice, I’m always aiming to “go native” when I’m on the road, so a trip to Tampa was no exception. Ybor City is known as an entertainment district, with a blended heritage of Cuban and local influences … and home to a number of historical breweries, including Florida Brewing Company—which had been the first brewery in the state in the late 19th Century—and Ybor Brewing, which ceased operations about a half dozen years ago. The latter’s brands, including Ybor Gold, Key West & Hurricane Reef, were purchased by Florida Beer Company, located in Melbourne, Florida, on the other side of the state.

Their Ybor Gold Brown Ale is their fall seasonal, and includes a cute little diagram on the side of the bottle for idiots to identify its nature before actually trying it. It includes a little scale of color—ranging from light to dark, taste—malty to hoppy, and body—light to full. This was supposedly a dark (4/5) and full bodied (4/5) beer of malty taste (2/5).

It pours a hazy orange in color with almost no head. The nose is malty sweet, with a trace of hop bite to finish. It’s non-offensive, but does possess a tinny malty finish with slight medicinal notes. As a session strength beer, the body was relatively light and very drinkable. Admittedly, this beer was probably six months old and no longer in its intended state, but still, this is a brew with an identity problem.

While it’s not lousy—I had a couple of them to be sure—it certainly isn’t any of the things indicated by the little graphic chart or the label. It would more closely resemble a märzen or Vienna style, if it were a lager, which it may well have been, but it’s certainly not what the label implies.

I can imagine that a Florida brew, being sold primarily in a warm, humid climate, would have trouble if it truly were dark, heavy, and malty, but I would hope that craft breweries would slowly end the practice of misinforming consumers and leave that nonsense to the marketing departments of the big guys, such as Miller Lite’s “triple-hopped” and “true pilsner” campaigns, Coors’ “coldest taste,” and AB’s “beechwood aging” and “brewed longer for a smooth taste.” This is likely intended to be a training wheels beer, but I would implore the company to please not call it a brown ale when it isn’t.

I wavered here between a 2 and 3 mug score, but ultimately dropped it to the two, mainly because it wavered from style without any real benefit. At least my accompanying Cuban sandwich was awesome.

Reviewed by Rings on June 25, 2012.
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