The First Pour: Nectar Humboldt Brown (Hemp) Ale

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Beer Menu

Cicero’s understands that when it come to beer, most people’s favorite is the latest and greatest new beer. Very few beer lovers drink the same beer over and over again. Sure, you might go back to an old standard, but you always try the latest beer first. For that reason, and others, Cicero’s changes their menu every week. When kegs kick, we change them up, unless we decide to keep it tapped for a while longer because it kicked so fast. With that in mind, we strive to keep you, our customers informed on our weekly changes. The “First Pour” series of blog posts will highlight and review the newest beers we have on draft for you. Again, we have a happy couple writing these posts for us. If you see them around, make sure and thank them for their hard work.


By Alaina Kantner and Mike Vecchio

ABV: 5.7%
IBU: 32
Hops: Chinook and Tettnanger
Malts: Premium two row, wheat malt, crystal 75, crystal 120, chocolate malt, toasted hemp seeds

Today we’re sampling a beer from Nectar Ales, a brewery that has only just made it to the St Louis area as of March. Nectar Ales was founded in 1987 in Humboldt County, California. They challenged and prided themselves on brewing “all natural ales” using all-natural ingredients. As of 2003, Nectar has been owned and brewed by Firestone Walker Brewing Company (finally available in St Louis as well!). Today we’re sampling their aptly named Humboldt Brown Ale which is brewed with toasted hemp seeds. Originally this beer wasn’t allowed for distribution outside of California due to restrictions on hemp, but progress has allowed it beyond the People’s Republic of California. Thank the beer gods too, because this beer landed a Bronze Medal in the 2006 World Beer Cup.

Humboldt Brown pours out a clear brownish/orange hue with a light head. The aroma of this beer is deeply earthy and exceptionally unique. Both of us had trouble placing and describing the aroma, but for us it was not unpleasant. The taste of the beer? Well Mike embarrassingly murmured “ohhh nice malts” after his first sip of the beer. True to the American Brown Ale style, this is a richly malty beer that won’t disappoint. You get a nice blend of chocolate and caramel malts that play nicely with the toasty quality that the hemp seeds add to the beer. On the swallow you get a snap of hops that lingers throughout the drink. Alaina really thought that she got a nice push and pull from the hops and the malts all throughout the drink of this beer. Overall, this is a sturdy brown ale that all sorts of beer drinkers should be able to enjoy. At 5.7% you can also afford to have a few with dinner or while hanging around the bar. Stop by and grab a pint and tell us what you think of a non-local hemp ale (e.g. O’Fallon Hemp Hop Rye).

About the Authors  Alaina and Mike moved to St Louis from Ohio in 2008 and quickly jumped into the craft beer scene. Alaina has gone from drinking light lagers almost exclusively to enjoying maltier beers – most notably porters and stouts – and hefeweizens. In her free time Alaina enjoys reading, running, and attempting to teach their dog tricks. Mike has evolved from drinking highly hopped IPAs to enjoying a wider range of pale ales and traditional hefeweizens. Mike enjoys trying to teach his dog not to bark at anything that moves, reading about crime and gangs, and home brewing with his co-workers. Both Alaina and Mike have been attending Cicero’s Beer School for a year and credit it to helping them expand their knowledge of craft brew and assisting them to take the plunge into home brewing with their friends. Hopefully, they will bring in some of their home-brew one day.

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