American Brown Ale: An American Interpretation of English Brown Ale

Brown ale beerAmerican Brown Ale is a dark, malty but hoppy formulation inspired by the classical English brown ale and porters.

This Brown ale beer style is a little more on the bitter side due to characterful, American-variety hops usage. But, it is complemented with notes of caramel, toast, and chocolate from the malt.

Let us dive deeper to understand the rich heritage and unique flavors of this modern US brown ale.

American Brown Ale Stats

Country of Origin England
Taste Malty but hoppy, Caramelly, resiny and dry.
Body Medium to medium-full body
ABV 4.3 to 6.2 percent alcohol content
Bitterness Range (IBU) 18 to 35
Color Range Vary Significantly (18 – 35 SRM)
Original Gravity 1.045 to 1.060 OG
Final Gravity Range 1.010 to 1.016 FG
Flavors & Aromas Notes of caramel, chocolate and toast from malt. Malt sweetness cuts the bitterness of hops. Citrusy, fruity, or tropical hop characteristics.
Serving Temperature 50 – 55 F

American Brown Ale Review

The BJCP refers to this unique beer style in their guidelines as category 19C as an Amber And Brown American Beer. Here is everything about the taste profile of this American Brown Ale.

– Appearance

As the name suggests, all types of brown ale pour darkish ranging from light to dark brown. It appears clear with a low to moderate off-white to lightly tanned head. Mostly toasted amber or crystal malts are dedicatedly used to lend it a dark brownish color.

Chocolate malt, black malt, or roast barley are a few of the darker grains employed to supplement this flavor, increase color and offer chocolaty or roasted flavors.

American Brown Ale shows a robust expression of dark malty character compared to other types of brown ale. Still, this style isn’t overly on the porter-like side. It has a perfect blend of balanced hop and malt characters.

– Aroma

This beer style has distinguished caramel-malt richness with aromatic notes. These combine perfectly with notes of toasty, nutty, and chocolaty traits.

It exhibits a low to moderate hop aroma. Some styles also showcase strong hop aroma, American or new world hop features range from fruity, tropical, citrusy, and freshly dried hop aroma. It has moderate to low fruity esters.

Twists of chocolate and caramel add more colors to the style. Instead of clashing with malt characters, hop flavor and aroma complement the blend.

– Mouthfeel

In a medium to medium-full body, carbonation ranges from moderate to high. The bitter styles have resiny and drier characters. The medium to dark crystal or caramel richly malty ingredients offers the finished beer its distinctive toffee to caramel flavor.

American brown beer is a beer with a robust expression of malt richness, above-average alcohol content, and smooth mouthfeel. All thanks to the careful selection of malt and innovative brewing process.

The richly malty, higher alcohol content, and American or new world hop features make American brown ales have a robust expression widely distinctive from amber, pale, or English ale styles. In finished beer, this extensive usage of complex and specialty malt, when blended with high mash temperature, offers medium to full mouthfeel.

– Flavor

Medium to medium-high hop bitterness with medium to high malt-sweetness or malty-rich flavors. You may also notice complex malt characteristics such as chocolate, caramel, nutty, and/or toasty.

American brown ale beerAmerican brown ale represents a perfect balance of moderately intense roasted malt and caramel or chocolate-like characters in terms of aroma as well as flavors.

It showcases a low to medium hop aroma and flavor, along with the right balance of medium to high bitterness due to hops.

It has a light to moderate hop flavor. Generally, it has a citrusy, tropical, or fruity character. However, brewers take the freedom to use any hop flavor that maintains harmony with the malt. Fruity esters are low to moderate in U.S brown ales. The finish is medium to medium-dry, with characters of malts and hops lingering throughout.

Compared to American pale or amber versions, brown ales are more chocolate and caramel flavored. It showcases slightly less dominant bitterness, hops character, and alcohol content. However, it is hoppier and bitter than the English brown ales version.

– Food Pairings

Brown ale beer is best served chilled (50 to 60 F) in pint glasses. The glass of choice could be Noninc Pint with a narrow base and wider top. It is suitable to hold a one-inch thick head.

The standard perception to pair up food and beer could range from matching intensity, complementing each other, to offering a striking contrast.

When it comes to brown ales, their food pairing is versatile as they pair up perfectly with almost anything. Having said that, a few of the dishes to complement chocolaty and nutty brown ales flavors are:

  • Sausage
  • Roast pork
  • Barbecue
  • Fish
  • Sushi

However, you must avoid extra-spicy food.


Here is what the American Brown Ale is made up of:

– Malts

It all starts with a well-modified pale or mild malt to which crystal malt in the range of 10-12 percent range is added. Amber and crystal malts are also a good selection.

Other specialty malts such as Aromatic, Special B, special roast, toasted, chocolate and black malts in the range of 5-15 percent of grain bill could be used as ingredients of brown ales recipe. Lesser the malt, the darker the color.

– Hops

Cascade, Mt. Hood, Willamette, US Goldings are a few of the most exciting varieties of American hops. Often, the beer incorporates multiple hop varieties, including dry hops as well.

Despite using the American hop varieties, there aren’t any other hard and fast rules to follow.

– Yeast

This recipe is made clean with no too little yeast flavor. It utilizes clean, high-attenuated American yeast, dry german strains, or other clean and good dry yeasts like Danstar Nottingham or Safale US-05.

Good Liquid yeasts choices are Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) or White Labs WLP060 (American Ale).

Nutrition Facts

A 330-milliliter serving of American Brown Ale consists of 130 calories, 15 grams of carbs, 1 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.


It is a unique, American interpretation of English brown ales with a higher hop character. Though the beer is termed “American”, the specific style has its roots in European brewing history.

It has two brothers, both English. The roots date back to the 1700s when porters and stouts were extensively popular in England and considered brown ales.

It is inspired by English brown ales and dark porters. Homebrewers in the U.S. came up with a typical flavor ranging between both styles but more on the bitter note.


What makes an ale a Brown Ale?

An ale is classified as a Brown Ale if it has a darker color and is brewed with roasted malt, giving it a nutty or caramel flavor profile.

What’s the difference between English and American Brown Ale?

English Brown Ales tend to be maltier and have lower alcohol content, while American Brown Ales have a more hoppy profile and higher alcohol content.

What beer is closest to American Brown Ale?

American Amber Ale is the closest beer style to American Brown Ale, but with a slightly more pronounced hop character.


American brown aleAmerican brown ale is a powerful expression of complex malt characters, hop flavors, and aroma.

It has all the ingredients to outshine any beer style.

  • American Brown Ale is a dark, malty but hoppy American interpretation of classical English brown ale.
  • The distinctive toffee or caramel flavor comes from using medium to dark crystal or caramel richly malty ingredients.
  • It is characterized by aggressive American-variety hops flavor and aroma.
  • This delicacy is packed with notes of chocolate, toast, caramel, and nuts with hop complementing in the background.

Undoubtedly, it is a delicious beverage for beer lovers of any background or taste. The American craft brewery revolution has added more spice to the classic brown ale style.

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