When it comes to cheap readily available beers you need look no further than Manns Brown Ale. This stalwart of the bargain bins has been brewed for over 100 years and I've never seen it selling for more than £1, which makes me wonder why I've not tried it before. I guess the biggest reason is probably that I'm worried I'll get exactly what I've paid for. Manns is brewed in Wolverhampton by Marston's who really have got their fingers in a lot of beers at the moment. This beer claims to be the original brown ale, which I guess means it turned up before Newcastle Brown.
The beer comes in a striking red labelled 500ml bottle so you can't complain about the size for a quid. What you may not be happy about is the pretty low 2.8% alcohol content, but at least that means it's a decent beer to have when you're on a session and starting to feel the need to slow down. Every percentage has its place. Manns Brown Ale pours a really dark brown with a small head, it almost looks a bit like a coke. This certainly doesn't look like a great beer, but I've seen worse, and been surprised by the quality of the taste so here's hoping.
The aroma is that of a typical English bitter. There's some biscuit scents and some sweet almost toffee like whiffs backing it up. It's quite a mild smell, but certainly not an unpleasant one. I've reviewed a few cheap beers over the last few weeks but this one feels like it might be a little better than most so far. Given the dark, thick look of the beer Manns Brown Ale is surprisingly light in texture. It's a bit weird, it's almost got the feel of a lager, but looks, smells, and tastes nothing like one.
The overriding taste is probably toffee, but it's all very mild and difficult to distinguish. There's certainly quite a malty, grainy taste lurking in there, and I guess given the low percentage it shouldn't be surprising the taste is quite weak. In truth this isn't a particularly good beer, but what do you expect for a pound? I've certainly tasted much worse, and paid much more for the privilege, but that's about all I can say as a positive. I'm going to give Manns Brown Ale 3.5 out of 10. It has its place as a cheap palate cleanser between tasty beers and if I was in a shop with a pound change I might go there again, but not anytime soon.