On a recent episode of The Craft Beer Industry Podcast hosted by Jaron Barton, myself, Tom Marshall from Full Pint Brewing, and Brian and Courtney Mechling from Helltown Brewing discussed, among many things, how fortunate we are in Pittsburgh to have so many incredible brown ales at our disposal. If IPAs are at the top of the list in regards to popularity in our region, brown ales have to be a very close second. Just about every local brewery’s portfolio contains some variation of a brown ale, and none of the ones I’ve tangled with to this point have been undrinkable.
Admittedly, it’s not my go-to style, but a solid brown ale definitely has characteristics I can get on board with. And they pair well with most foods, too. Being an incredible fan of burgers and steak (because duh), a brown ale can serve as the perfect complement to these dishes as they tend to be lighter than other dark beers, like a stout for example, meaning the flavors of my burger or steak won’t get lost in the shuffle when washing down each bite.
One of the top brown ales available in Pittsburgh is Helltown Brewing’s Mischievous Brown Ale. Helltown produces some of the best IPAs in town (I’ll take Idle Hands for the win, Wink), but Mischievous is actually their highest-selling beer. Countless craft beer destinations across Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and parts of Ohio have jumped on the Helltown train and feature several offerings from the Mount Pleasant brewery. The diversity Mischievous brings to the table in regards to being a bold, flavorful, easy-drinking beer combined with its innate ability to pair with just about any food on the menu has made it a staple across both markets. This month, Mischievous finds itself center stage as our pick for Pittsburgh Beer of the Month.
Today, thanks to the help of the aforementioned Brian and Courtney, we are going to get you as up close and personal with Mischievous Brown as you can get without raising a pint of it to your lips. And once you’re better acquainted, we suggest you head out and find a pint of it to raise to your lips. To your health.
Brian and Courtney, take it away.
In your own words, tell us what we need to know about this Mischievous Brown.
Mischievous Brown Ale is a beer you just have to try, because it’s not what you’re expecting. To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, UK-style brown ales don’t get no respect. Commonly thought of as thin and flavorless, Mischievous Brown is full-bodied with pretty bold flavors for a 5% ABV daily drinking beer. We are happy Pittsburgh has embraced this beer because it’s one of our favorites.
Where did the inspiration for Mischievous Brown come?
Like most of our recipes, this one originated with the home brew crew that came to form Helltown. Originally, they brewed many different styles, but this beer stuck and was actually the first beer brewed at the brewery.
What characteristics and flavor notes should we expect to discover in Mischievous Brown?
Looks like we already somewhat answered that one. In terms of taste, we’ve been told many things about this beer – chocolate, nutty, malty, roasty, coffee. But really, beer is whatever you get out of it. Oh, and at 5% you can drink a lot of it. We certainly have.
What foods pair well with this beer?
Anything. Mischievous Brown pairs great with super spicy Chinese or Mexican food, or even a classic steak or burger. It’s divine in chili (chili cookoff anyone?!). At the same time, it won’t overwhelm mild foods and pairs great with desserts from chocolate cake to anything with fruit.
Any fun, interesting, or crazy stories come from brewing this beer?
That one time, we dumped the entire grain bed onto the ground accidentally…but no, not really. You’d probably have to ask Shawn and Dan.
Can we find this beer at any craft beer destinations in Pittsburgh or specifically in your taproom?
Mischievous brown is always on in our tap “room,” and there are many places you can find it regularly in Pittsburgh. As you guys know, permanent taps aren’t terribly common anymore with the wealth of craft beer we see here in Pittsburgh, but anywhere with a good craft selection you’ll have a chance of spotting Mischievous Brown or other Helltown brews – and hopefully you’ll see it many more places as we start to bottle this summer!