It’s a slightly weird name. Sounds like some sort of stain remover for underpants. In reality, it forms a pair with their Light Ale, Palex. I’m glad to have found both. Because Light Ale and Brown Ale are surprisingly rare in brewing records. The explanation is quite simple: they were often just tweaked bottled versions of another beer. Many Brown Ales were bottled Dark Mild, perhaps with slightly different priming. While Light Ale was a bottled weak Bitter.
A quick scan of the newspaper archives reveal that Brownex first appeared in the 1930’s:
“A WINTER'S (T)ALE
"Brownex," a new brown ale, specially brewed as a cold weather drink, is now at the disposal of the discriminating purchaser. It is, of course, the brunette of the twins "Palex" and "Brownex" —"Palex," you may remember, is the special light summer ale which made its appearance this year. While "Palex" is extra light in colour, in gravity and flavour, so is "Brownex" heavy and darker in colour tone, heavier in weight and fuller in flavour. It is a warming tasteful drink with plenty of body in it and agreeable to degree.
Its sponsors, Messrs. Flower and Sons, of Stratford-on-Avon, consider that its success will equal that of "Palex."
"Brownex " is obtainable all Flower's houses, or from licensed grocers, bottles only (not on draught) at 3s. 6d. per dozen small, or 6s. 6d. per dozen large. Ample local stocks are available at Flower and Sons, Ltd., 377 High-street, Cheltenham.”
Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 18 November 1933, page 10.
Some interesting details in there. It implies that Brownex is stronger than Palex. That definitely wasn’t true in 1955 – the gravities were identical. 3s. 6d.for a dozen small bottles implies a gravity of around 1037º. So not particularly strong. Below average gravity, in fact. Also fascinating that they pushed Palex as a summer drink and Brownex as a winter drink.
What on earth does “agreeable to degree” mean? That it’s a bit agreeable? Reads like nonsense to me.
On with the beer. The combination of pale malt, crystal malt and No.3 invert looks like a classic Dark Mild grist. Though including lactose, presumably to add residual sweetness, isn’t usual in Mild. The hopping is pretty light, but that’s what you’d expect.
Will any of you brew this? Probably not, I suspect. It’s a bit weak, well, unexciting. Though I’m certain large quantities of it were consumed 60 years ago. Who drinks Brown Ale in Britain today? A few old blokes and bikers.
Time to pass you over to myself for the recipe . . . . .
|1955 Flowers BX|
|pale malt||5.25 lb||79.25%|
|crystal malt 60 L||0.25 lb||3.77%|
|No. 3 invert sugar||0.50 lb||7.55%|
|malt extract||0.13 lb||1.89%|
|Fuggles 90 min||0.50 oz|
|Fuggles 60 min||0.50 oz|
|Goldings 30 min||0.25 oz|
|Mash at||152º F|
|Sparge at||160º F|
|Boil time||90 minutes|
|pitching temp||60º F|
|Yeast||WLP007 Dry English Ale|