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Bell’s Best Brown Ale

Where Spotted: The Wine Specialist, 2115 M St. NW

Price: $9.99/6-pack

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Say it loud! Brown and proud! Furniture: oak. Hair: brunet. Crayons: Burnt Sienna! Can’t brown get some respect? Even brown ales are rarely seen without qualifiers like “nut” and “chocolate.” But this winter seasonal from Michigan’s Bells has neither flavor—just pure, simple, and delicious maltiness.

cooks inebriated: Brown ales are great to cook with; their malt lends a hearty flavor to chili, stewed beef, or braised short ribs—anything that’ll rest in your belly awhile. If you’ve never cooked with beer, plonk some baked beans in a pot. Once they’re bubbling, add a half bottle of beer, then allow a few minutes for the alcohol to cook off and the flavors to develop. Give it a taste, then start stirring in seasonings like salt, sugar, onion powder, vinegar, Worcestershire. Even a sturdy beer’s flavor can get lost in a spicy sauce, so keep a light hand on the Tabasco.

Seen an interesting quaff lately? E-mail beerspotter@washingtoncitypaper.com