Historical Beer London Brown Ale

27. Historical Beer: London Brown Ale

Overall Impression:
A luscious, sweet, malt-oriented dark brown ale, with caramel and toffee malt complexity and a sweet finish.

Aroma:
Moderate malty-sweet aroma, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Low to medium fruity esters, often dark fruit like plums. Very low to no hop aroma, earthy or floral qualities.

Appearance:
Medium to very dark brown color, but can be nearly black. Nearly opaque, although should be relatively clear if visible. Low to moderate off-white to tan head.

Flavor:
Deep, caramel or toffee-like malty and sweet flavor on the palate and lasting into the finish. Hints of biscuit and coffee are common. Some fruity esters can be present (typically dark fruit); relatively clean fermentation profile for an English ale. Low hop bitterness. Hop flavor is low to non-existent, possibly earthy or floral in character. Moderately-low to no perceivable roasty or bitter black malt flavor. Moderately sweet finish with a smooth, malty aftertaste. May have a sugary-sweet flavor.

Mouthfeel:
Medium body, but the residual sweetness may give a heavier impression. Medium-low to medium carbonation. Quite creamy and smooth in texture, particularly for its gravity.

Comments:
Increasingly rare; Mann’s has over 90% market share in Britain, but in an increasingly small segment. Always bottled. Frequently used as a sweet mixer with cask mild and bitter in pubs. Commercial versions can be pasteurized and back-sweetened, which gives more of a sugary-sweet flavor.

History: Developed by Mann’s as a bottled product in 1902. Claimed at the time to be “the sweetest beer in London.” Pre-WWI versions were around 5% ABV, but same general balance. Declined in popularity in second half of 20th century, and now nearly extinct.

Characteristic Ingredients:
English pale ale malt as a base with a healthy proportion of darker caramel malts and often some roasted (black) malt and wheat malt (this is Mann’s traditional grist – others can rely on dark sugars for color and flavor). Moderate to high carbonate water. English hop varieties are most authentic, though with low flavor and bitterness almost any type could be used. Post-fermentation sweetening with lactose or artificial sweeteners, or sucrose (if pasteurized).

Style Comparison:
May seem somewhat like a less roasty version of a sweet stout (and lower-gravity, at least for US sweet stout examples) or a sweet version of a dark mild.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.033 – 1.038
IBUs: 15 – 20
FG: 1.012 – 1.015
SRM: 22 – 35
ABV: 2.8 – 3.6%

Commercial Examples:
Harveys Bloomsbury Brown Ale, Mann’s Brown Ale

American Brown Ale

19C. American Brown Ale

Overall Impression:
A malty but hoppy beer frequently with chocolate and caramel flavors. The hop flavor and aroma complements and enhances the malt rather than clashing with it.

Aroma:
Moderate malty-sweet to malty-rich aroma with chocolate, caramel, nutty, and/or toasty qualities. Hop aroma is typically low to moderate, of almost any variety that complements the malt. Some interpretations of the style may feature a stronger hop aroma, an American or New World hop character (citrusy, fruity, tropical, etc.), and/or a fresh dry-hopped aroma (all are optional). Fruity esters are moderate to very low. The dark malt character is more robust than other brown ales, yet stops short of being overly porter-like. The malt and hops are generally balanced.

Appearance:
Light to very dark brown color. Clear. Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.

Flavor:
Medium to moderately-high malty-sweet or malty-rich flavor with chocolate, caramel, nutty, and/or toasty malt complexity, with medium to medium-high bitterness. The medium to medium-dry finish provides an aftertaste having both malt and hops. Hop flavor can be light to moderate, and may optionally have a citrusy, fruity, or tropical character, although any hop flavor that complements the malt is acceptable. Very low to moderate fruity esters.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-full body. More bitter versions may have a dry, resiny impression. Moderate to moderately-high carbonation.
Comments: Most commercial American Browns are not as aggressive as the original homebrewed versions, and some modern craft-brewed examples. This style reflects the current commercial offerings typically marketed as American Brown Ales rather than the hoppier, stronger homebrew versions from the early days of homebrewing. These IPA-strength brown ales should be entered in the Specialty IPA as Brown IPAs.

History:
An American style from the modern craft beer era. Derived from English Brown Ales, but with more hops. Pete’s Wicked Ale was one of the first and best known examples, and inspired many imitations. Popular with homebrewers, where very hoppy versions were sometimes called Texas Brown Ales (this is now more appropriately a Brown IPA).

Characteristic Ingredients:
Well-modified pale malt, plus crystal and darker malts (typically chocolate). American hops are typical, but continental or New World hops can also be used.

Style Comparison:
More chocolate and caramel type flavors than American Pale or Amber Ales, typically with less prominent bitterness in the balance. Less bitterness, alcohol, and hop character than Brown IPAs. More bitter and generally hoppier than English Brown Ales, with a richer malt presence, usually higher alcohol, and American/New World hop character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.045 – 1.060
IBUs: 20 – 30 FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 18 – 35 ABV: 4.3 – 6.2%

Commercial Examples:
Anchor Brekle’s Brown, Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Bell’s Best Brown, Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale, Telluride Face Down Brown

British Brown Ale

13B. British Brown Ale

Overall Impression:
A malty, brown caramel-centric British ale without the roasted flavors of a Porter.

Aroma:
Light, sweet malt aroma with toffee, nutty, or light chocolate notes, and a light to heavy caramel quality. A light but appealing floral or earthy hop aroma may also be noticed. A light fruity aroma may be evident, but should not dominate.

Appearance:
Dark amber to dark reddish-brown color. Clear. Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.

Flavor:
Gentle to moderate malt sweetness, with a light to heavy caramel character and a medium to dry finish. Malt may also have a nutty, toasted, biscuity, toffee, or light chocolate character. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Malt-hop balance ranges from even to malt-focused; hop flavor low to none (floral or earthy qualities). Low to moderate fruity esters can be present.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-light to medium body. Medium to medium-high carbonation.

Comments:
A wide-ranging category with different interpretations possible, ranging from lighter-colored to hoppy to deeper, darker, and caramel-focused; however, none of the versions have strongly roasted flavors. A stronger Double Brown Ale was more popular in the past, but is very hard to find now. While London Brown Ales are marketed using the name Brown Ale, we list those as a different judging style due to the significant difference in balance (especially sweetness) and alcohol strength; that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in the same family, though.

History:
Brown ale has a long history in Great Britain, although several different types of products used that name at various times. Modern brown ale is a 20th century creation as a bottled product; it is not the same as historical products of the same name. A wide range of gravities were brewed, but modern brown ales are generally of the stronger (by current UK standards) interpretation. This style is based on the modern stronger British brown ales, not historical versions or the sweeter London Brown Ale. Predominately but not exclusively a bottled product currently.

Characteristic Ingredients:
British mild ale or pale ale malt base with caramel malts. May also have small amounts darker malts (e.g., chocolate) to provide color and the nutty character. English hop varieties are most authentic.

Style Comparison:
More malty balance than British Bitters, with more malt flavors from darker grains. Stronger than a Dark Mild. Less roast than an English Porter. Stronger and much less sweet than London Brown Ale.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.040 – 1.052
IBUs: 20 – 30 FG: 1.008 – 1.013
SRM: 12 – 22 ABV: 4.2 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples:
Maxim Double Maxim, Newcastle Brown Ale, Riggwelter Yorkshire Ale, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Wychwood Hobgoblin

Dark Mild

13A. Dark Mild

Overall Impression:
A dark, low-gravity, malt-focused British session ale readily suited to drinking in quantity. Refreshing, yet flavorful, with a wide range of dark malt or dark sugar expression.

Aroma:
Low to moderate malt aroma, and may have some fruitiness. The malt expression can take on a wide range of character, which can include caramel, toffee, grainy, toasted, nutty, chocolate, or lightly roasted. Little to no hop aroma, earthy or floral if present. Very low to no diacetyl.

Appearance:
Copper to dark brown or mahogany color. A few paler examples (medium amber to light brown) exist. Generally clear, although is traditionally unfiltered. Low to moderate off-white to tan head; retention may be poor.

Flavor:
Generally a malty beer, although may have a very wide range of malt- and yeast-based flavors (e.g., malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, toast, nutty, chocolate, coffee, roast, fruit, licorice, plum, raisin). Can finish sweet to dry. Versions with darker malts may have a dry, roasted finish. Low to moderate bitterness, enough to provide some balance but not enough to overpower the malt. Fruity esters moderate to none. Diacetyl and hop flavor low to none.

Mouthfeel:
Light to medium body. Generally low to medium-low carbonation. Roast-based versions may have a light astringency. Sweeter versions may seem to have a rather full mouthfeel for the gravity.

Comments:
Most are low-gravity session beers around 3.2%, although some versions may be made in the stronger (4%+) range for export, festivals, seasonal and/or special occasions. Generally served on cask; session-strength bottled versions don’t often travel well. A wide range of interpretations are possible. Pale versions exist, but these are even more rare than dark milds; these guidelines only describe the modern dark version.

History:
Historically, ‘mild’ was simply an unaged beer, and could be used as an adjective to distinguish between aged or more highly hopped keeping beers. Modern milds trace their roots to the weaker X-type ales of the 1800s, although dark milds did not appear until the 20th century. In current usage, the term implies a lower-strength beer with less hop bitterness than bitters. The guidelines describe the modern British version. The term ‘mild’ is currently somewhat out of favor with consumers, and many breweries no longer use it. Increasingly rare. There is no historic connection or relationship between Mild and Porter.

Style Comparison:
Some versions may seem like lower-gravity modern English porters. Much less sweet than London Brown Ale.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Pale British base malts (often fairly dextrinous), crystal malt, dark malts or dark sugar adjuncts, may also include adjuncts such as flaked maize, and may be colored with brewer’s caramel. Characterful British ale yeast. Any type of hops, since their character is muted and rarely is noticeable.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.030 – 1.038
IBUs: 10 – 25 FG: 1.008 – 1.013
SRM: 12 – 25 ABV: 3.0 – 3.8%

Commercial Examples:
Banks’s Mild, Cain’s Dark Mild, Highgate Dark Mild, Brain’s Dark, Moorhouse Black Cat, Rudgate Ruby Mild, Theakston Traditional Mild