27. Historical Beer: London Brown Ale
A luscious, sweet, malt-oriented dark brown ale, with caramel and toffee malt complexity and a sweet finish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
OG: 1.033 – 1.038
IBUs: 15 – 20
FG: 1.012 – 1.015
SRM: 22 – 35
ABV: 2.8 – 3.6%
Harveys Bloomsbury Brown Ale, Mann’s Brown Ale