J. F. Germain & Son Germain's Brown Flake

Brown Flake is a molasses colored Virginia leaf. pressed into broad flakes that are resinous and delectable. The naturally bright lemon Virginia is first air cured to draw out the simpler, nuttier flavor, then pressed to ferment in its own vital juices.

Where to Buy



Brand J. F. Germain & Son
Blended By J.F. Germain & Son
Manufactured By J.F. Germain & Son
Blend Type Virginia/Burley
Contents Kentucky, Virginia
Cut Flake
Packaging 50 grams tin, 50 grams pouch
Country United Kingdom
Production Currently available


Extremely Mild -> Overwhelming
None Detected
None Detected -> Extra Strong
Room Note
Unnoticeable -> Overwhelming
Extremely Mild (Flat) -> Overwhelming

Average Rating

3.24 / 4





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Displaying 1 - 10 of 84 Reviews
Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 29, 2013 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
This is just a brilliant tobacco. The more FVF and BBF I smoke, the less tolerant of the other Va flakes I am. There are a small handful of exceptions, and Brown Flake is one of the best. Unfortunately it's harder to get than just about anything, or else I'd load up.

This tobacco is a lovely, natural Va flake with some Semois (euro version of Kentucky) added. The result is a savory flake that has a mild sweetness throughout, and doesn't taste anything like the Gawith or German flakes. It's unique, it's tasty, and it deserves a lot more lip service than it receives. One of my five favorite tobaccos, easily.

Update 7Oct2013

I've had an email conversation with someone from Germain, and they swear up and down this is a straight Va fermented in its own juices. They're in a better position than I am to know, so forget all the talk of semois in this. I think it's just as lovely a tobacco as I did when I wrote the above, a solid top ten tobacco for me.
34 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jan 01, 2014 Medium Extremely Mild Medium Pleasant to Tolerable
It's a little moist out of the tin, so it may need a little dry time. The flakes break apart very easily, and are pliable enough to prepare to your preference. The Virginias are light and dark, and work their respective traits of hay, peat, mild grass, lots of earth and wood, and deep tangy, fermented dark fruit and some tart and tangy citrus with light floral, stewed fruit, sugar, vegetative, tea-like notes, and a bare hint of spice. They say there is no topping, but I believe a sweet one has been added. You may experience a light cigar note if you puff fast. The strength and taste levels are medium. The nic-hit is in the center of mild to medium. Won't bite or get harsh, but it does sport a few small rough edges. Burns clean, cool and a little slow with a very consistent, mildly sweet, earthy, lightly floral flavor from top to bottom. Leaves a little moisture in the bowl, but no dottle, and does require some relights. Has a pleasing, lightly lingering after taste and room note. Can be an all day smoke depending upon your experience level.

29 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Dec 06, 2011 Medium None Detected Medium to Full Tolerable
Brown Flake is one of my favorite tobaccos, one of the few that I consider unique enough to fear its disappearance from the market. Over the past year or so, Brown Flake has suffered the fate of several Germain-manufactured tobaccos: it's gotten tough to find. That makes it worth purchasing in quantity to squirrel away for future smoking.

This excellent stuff arrives as a moist and mottled mid-brown flake with some golden yellow splotches, some of which are bits of attractive birdseye. Brown Flake folds and stuffs easily, though I tend to rub out most flakes. What is most appealing about this flake, however, is its superb smoking qualities and flavor. Brown Flake is all about clean, robust tobacco flavor. The Burley in the mix softens considerably the sweetness of the Virginia and the result is a delicious flavor of lightly honeyed, strong, black tea. I often think of this as Stonehaven-esque as far as the way it smokes, but far more enjoyable for me because of the absence of that cloyingly sweet treacle topping. A few have even commented on a certain cigar-like quality to this tobacco, and I think that is apt, particularly toward the end of the bowl. Like a good cigar, Brown Flake gives the sensation of diminishing sweetness and growing depth of tobacco flavor as the bowl progresses. Some may find the flavors late in the bowl to be a little guttural and swampy, but I like them very much.

Those fond of tobaccos that are drier tasting than things like Stonehaven or FVF may well find something to like in Brown Flake. It also holds well with mid-term cellaring, though I can't say I've noticed any substantial change in the flavor profile in Brown Flake with a couple of years maturity. Then again, this smokes like a mature flake right out of a fresh tin. If the tobacco world has its equivalent of Gran Reserva Rioja, it's right here.

A great, old-fashioned flake.
20 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 21, 2010 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
Very small rectangular tin with a heavily pressed flake inside. The flakes were very difficult for me to separate cleanly so I simply peeled off finger-fulls of strands and loaded in 3 steps as I do with a ribbon cut. This is one I preferred slightly on the moist side.

Very lightly sweet with a heavy peat-like aroma, this virginia flake shows us more of the dark side of straight VA's. More spice than sugar, which is more to my taste. This could hardly be called a complex tobacco, as it didn't seem to change much as the bowl progressed. The light sweetness did much to counterbalance the dark notes and added just the right touch to keep this one from being all bass - nice slight additional treble to the ensemble. I would use the word "balance" for this one but I get the feeling those who prefer sweeter VA's would strongly disagree. However, this one was right up my alley, and if you enjoy blends like McClellands Navy Cavendish or C&D's Briar Fox (as well as Opening Night), this is a good one to try. I'll definitely get more of this - JF Germain has blended a winner!
14 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 13, 2015 Strong None Detected Full Pleasant to Tolerable
Others lack in complexity what this flake pulls off in its simplicity. This wonderfully fermented Virginia flake is definitely dirty and peaty with a deep fruit note that I really like along with a light cigar note that can turn grassy to deep hay flavors. It's similar to nothing I've had so far and what I especially like about it is the nicotine buzz - it's just so darn relaxing - JFG brown flake puts me to sleep but GH keeps me awake. Heck if I know why
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Apr 20, 2015 Medium Extremely Mild Medium to Full Tolerable
I would agree with the many reviewers who have stated that this is similar to Stonehaven, but not as similar as Rich Dark Flake. It has the same taste of which I always assumed a topping, but perhaps it is just the taste of the Germain Virginias as I get a similar taste from Peacehaven, a blend I have recently just tried.

I think this is the key differentiator between these blends GBF is more Virginia forward and the Kentucky is used with more restraint versus SH or RDF, where the Kentucky and the toppings are more the star. I would say in terms of comparison with more popular blends, I would think of this as University flake to Irish flake. I prefer Irish Flake, but still enjoy University Flake.

Unfortunately, GBF or the other blends with which I am comparing are not as easily obtained as are IF and UF. In fact, I have been trying hard to find this blend and had to reach out to a friend in Germany to get me one tin that happened to be at his local B&M in Hamburg.

As a Virginia forward flake, GBF has plenty of character in its own right. And, this presumably is the foremost reason it is so hard to find. The other reason being it is made by Germain. With a name like Brown flake, one may expect a taste like that of SG and GH blends of the same name. It really tastes nothing like either of those blenders' brown flake offerings. I really enjoy SG BBF, but I would say that if was given the choice between SG BBF or this flake, I would opt for this one as it adds a bit of body and earthiness from the burley; whereas the other is restricted to a more full and hay sweet Virginia flavor.

Four stars without a doubt.

It is different and it is well done. It also helps that it is made by arguably the best blending house in pipe tobacco. I recommend it for the Virginia lover to have as a change of pace.

11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Mar 25, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Pleasant
J.F. Germain - Germain's Brown Flake.

This is a beautiful blend! It's also as simple as it's beautiful! After a few bowls of this the only real issue I can find is the moistness out of the tin, it's quite moist so it's obligatory to allow it some time out in the open. The aroma from the flakes is a pure Virginia one, there isn't really much to say on the matter actually!

Once rubbed and filled it takes to the flame with the utmost ease and imminently gives me great pleasure! Again, as I found at the start, the taste is simple. I could sit for hours and hours desperately trying to fabricate some kind of false description to impress people with but the same word that jumped out at the opening is the most expedient one to use... simple! The flavour is mostly Virginia with a slight semblance of Kentucky taste in there. The smoke can become a touch too warm if strained, not 'hot' but just a little warm so I like to use more of a sipping technique. The nicotine is a healthy amount, not strong but it does the job of quelling my wants for N well!

I find Brown Flake superb, highly recommended:

Four stars.
Pipe Used: Dagner Poker
PurchasedFrom: G.Q Tobaccos
Age When Smoked: New
11 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Jul 18, 2003 Medium Medium Medium to Full Pleasant
This 50g tin of Germain's Brown Flake was exceptionally moist with very little tin aroma. The flakes are nut brown in color, very thin and did not separate easily, but rather came apart in strands with gentle prodding. The tobacco rubs out easily, packs well, and although very damp, lights quickly and burns all the way to the bottom of the bowl. The flavor of this smoke would be unique if I had not experienced it with a French tobacco called, not surprisingly, Saint Claude. And I believe the flavor is also present as the low note in Germain's Plum Cake. It may be a special tobacco, as Germain suggests, or it may be the addition of a special herb which gives this tobacco a distinctively nutty flavor. As an experiment, I fired up a bowl of Saint Claude, and sure enough the flavor was almost identical except that in the French tobacco it is a bit stronger and the cut is a shag. From the first to the last puff, the taste of GBF is redolent with this distinctive nuttiness. I do not get much, if any, Virginia. However, this is a good smoke and there is plenty of it with a substantial boost of nicotine. It is mild to the tongue with no bite, but then you do not need to take deep draughts in order to get plenty of nutty tobacco flavor. This is the type of tobacco with a uniqueness which could make it a favorite for many in much the same way that St. Bruno or Condor Original could, although it is completely different from English scented flakes. I recommend this tobacco as one to try. I enjoy it. Paddy.
8 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Sep 23, 2015 Medium None Detected Medium Very Pleasant
When i opened the tin i found a soaking wet, saturated wax paper and a stack of far from dry tobacco coated with gorgeous sugar crystals. And i cannot smell alot really but once i can i always can clearly make out some smell of foam of green tea. Its a very satisfying and musky smell. The flakes are really wet and not flakes at all. In fact you'll be smoking coarse shag sized tobacco with this offering. Not that you dont get flakes cramed into the tin to begin with but you will not be able to get single flake slices out of the tin. The second you just breath on them they crumble down to shag like strands. Which is what you will be smoking with this offering.

And smoke you will.

Even right out of the tin, wet and all, it only takes one match to light up and then it just keeps on staying lit forever. Even if you lay the pipe away for a moment or two. Burning properties overall are perfect. That perfect that this leads us to the only beef i have with this blend: its ashes. Its that kind of ash where you cannot possibly move the pipe in any way or direction without spilling out ashes *everywhere*. The ashes realy, realy annoy me. Despite the perfect burn properties i almost never make it through an entire bowl. There always is a considerable ammount of dottle left, yet bone dry and not bad smelling.

But this is one of the most honest, true to the core tobaccos around. All it is and tries to be is plain and simple tobacco. And as user weePipe said "Others lack in complexity what this flake pulls off in its simplicity". We are so proud over our taste in all natural english or VA blends with their refined and exotic taste experiences but if we want to know how tobacco *does* taste we have to taste this flake. I even outright refuse to describe this flake's aroma with anything else but the single word "tobacco".

And it masters this task in a most delicate manner too and extends it to the entire experience. From the almost gone tin size to the classic label, the saturated wax papers flair and the lusciously old timey clump of tobacco offered. Throw in a clay pipe and off you go, exploring time travel.

Room note is the smell of, you guessd it: tobacco. So it clearly is very pleasent ;o)

Aftertaste is the taste of tobacco plus some very tasty sweetness. Overall this blend is also best described with "satisfying" if i had to use another single word description. The nicotine level is high enough for being content quiet some while. Tongue bit will not occur.

So do i recommend this blend? Hell, why wouldn't i? I *do* recommend this blend to anyone except the total beginner. To him it is too hard to pack, too heavy in strength, too little in taste and too exhausting to sit through an entire bowl. But once you have at least some experince in smoking and taste and packing has become easy to you then go for it! No seriously, you will not get a better reference for what just good ol' tobacco is.
Pipe Used: It went trough rotation.
Age When Smoked: They don't print production dates on it.
7 people found this review helpful.
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Reviewed By Date Rating Strength Flavoring Taste Room Note
Oct 07, 2013 Medium to Strong Extremely Mild Medium to Full Pleasant
I was surprised to see this listed as "In Stock" on one of my favorite on-line vendor's site; the only place I have seen this in stock as of recent. I ordered two tins to be on the safe side and after my order went through, it was immediately listed as "Unavailable" on that site, so I consider myself having been "at the right place at the right time!"

Upon opening the 50g tin I was greeted with what others have described - a brick of flake tobacco, very tightly pressed and dryish. This was a real bargain then! There was virtually no tin note whatsoever. I had to do some deep sniffing to tell it was even tobacco. No typical Virginia scents here at all. It is of medium to dark brown in color and cut very thin for a flake. It is like Mac Baren's Navy Flake in this regard, but due to the compression of the tobacco, it was impossible for me to pull out an intact flake. That doesn't bother me much, so I peeled out a bunch of long and slender pieces and loaded up in a no-name Oom-Paul that I reserve for Burleys. Loading and lighting were relatively easy with this tobacco and it took to the flame readily. I rated the taste as medium to full due to its mouth feel. It certainly had a "full feeling" going on, but very, very little flavor and no sweetness whatsoever for me. What little flavor I picked up was the slightest hint of what I would say is fennel/licorice (but not like the licorice in Heinrich's Dark Strong Flake) and predominantly cigar-like in taste (no sweetness and dry). It also reminded me of burnt toast. For me it was Kentucky forward as I couldn't really discern the Virginia. I like Kentucky Burley leaf so this was a good thing.

I put this one up there with Irish Flake in terms of strength and nicotine presence as fast puffing will give you a lump in the back of your throat. This is offset with slower puffing, but never eliminated; it only takes longer to happen. No sweetness whatsoever came through even with slow puffing, so if that's what you are after this would serve your needs. IrishFlake is one of my top two favorites, the other being Solani's Aged Burley Flake, and Brown Flake is in a similar class in my opinion. However, it is most similar in taste (or lack thereof) to GL Pease's Jack Knife Plug, but not as harsh as the Pease incarnation.

Brown Flake is passable, but due to the lack of flavor, I can't see this being high on my list to smoke, unless I am looking for the overall effect of a cigar. If it ramped up what I perceived as fennel/licorice it would have been more enjoyable, but that is not the case here. Only if you like stouter tobacco, or if you want that cigar-thingy going on, try it if you can find it. But...if I want a cigar, I'll smoke a cigar. 2 stars for me.

UPDATE 1-1-14: Happy New Year to all! After reading a recent review I decided to try it again. Well, after having it sit in its tin for the last 12 weeks or so, there was an improvement in that this time there was a slightly sweet note to it, subtle, but very nice. Still cigar-like overall, still better than Peases's Jack Knife Plug, and now "pipey" in its character. My personal rating of 2 stars now joins my initial overall rating of 3 stars...glad I purchased two tins when I did.
Pipe Used: Peterson 2012 St Patrick's Day 221
PurchasedFrom: 4 Noggins
Age When Smoked: Fresh and 12 weeks
7 people found this review helpful.
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