Recently a customer asked me when stout season begins and ends. For the malt-inclined the answer is simple: It doesn’t begin or end. Even in the warmest months of summer some enjoy a dark, roasty, thick and malty brew.

For me, aside from the occasional Stout or Porter on a random cool summer night, the warmer months mean light-bodied lagers, Saisons, and pales. But, when the palate is craving something maltier, or slightly roasty with a little less “chew,” I find a Brown Ale to offer just the brew. And ultimately, a good Brown Ale works anytime time of the year.

According to beer writer Jeff Alworth, Browns are “history’s fly on the wall, peering in on civilizations as distant as ancient Sumer,” with a flavor profile rich in “browned, smoked, or charred malts.” He notes that a revival of Brown Ales occurred in early 20th century England with light, sweeter Brown Ales, followed by drier, stronger versions, which eventually led to a distinction between northern and southern English Browns — the lines often being blurred.

Many beer drinkers are long familiar with Newcastle’s Brown Ale, a sweeter, sessionable ale, but compared to Mann, Crossman & Paulin’s original modern London Brown Ale of just 2.7 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), Newcastle was initially considered a dry, strong brew for the style at 4.7 percent ABV. Of course, Brown Ale aficionados — rare as they may be today — are also well acquainted with the great Browns of the U.S. like Smuttynose’s “Old Brown Dog,” Brooklyn’s Brown, Dogfish’s “Indian Brown,” and Good Nature’s “American Brown.” But, for a classic from across the pond — now on draft in select U.S. locations for the first time — find yourself a “Nut Brown Ale” from Yorkshire’s Samuel Smith Brewery.

A relatively dry ale with a rich nutty color, presenting notes of walnut, beech nut and almond, at 5 percent ABV, “Nut Brown” makes for a nice session, especially as it warms up. While you may have had this in bottle, like most beer, it is taken to the next level on draft. (I can only imagine how good it would taste on cask frothing from a beer engine ....) But, to reiterate, this is the first time ever having Sam’s “Nut Brown Ale” on draft in the U.S., and only the second time they have sent kegs over — Oatmeal Stout being the first.
Did I also mention it will be on draft only for a limited time?

This week's recommendation: Samuel Smith “Nut Brown Ale” with malty notes of walnut, almond and beech nut. 5 percent ABV. Tadcaster, England.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, New York.