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

Tropical Stout

16C. Tropical Stout

Overall Impression:
A very dark, sweet, fruity, moderately strong ale with smooth roasty flavors without a burnt harshness.

Aroma:
Sweetness evident, moderate to high intensity. Roasted grain aromas moderate to high, and can have coffee or chocolate notes. Fruitiness medium to high. May have a molasses, licorice, dried fruit, and/or vinous aromatics. Stronger versions can have a subtle clean aroma of alcohol. Hop aroma low to none. Diacetyl low to none.

Appearance:
Very deep brown to black in color. Clarity usually obscured by deep color (if not opaque, should be clear). Large tan to brown head with good retention.

Flavor:
Quite sweet with a smooth dark grain flavors, and restrained bitterness. Roasted grain and malt character can be moderate to high with a smooth coffee or chocolate flavor, although the roast character is moderated in the balance by the sweet finish. Moderate to high fruity esters. Can have a sweet, dark rum-like quality. Little to no hop flavor. Medium-low to no diacetyl.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-full to full body, often with a smooth, creamy character. May give a warming (but never hot) impression from alcohol presence. Moderate to moderately-high carbonation.

Comments:
Sweetness levels can vary significantly. Surprisingly refreshing in a hot climate.

History:
Originally high-gravity stouts brewed for tropical markets, became popular and imitated by local brewers often using local sugars and ingredients.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Similar to a sweet stout, but with more gravity. Pale and dark roasted malts and grains. Hops mostly for bitterness. May use adjuncts and sugar to boost gravity. Typically made with warm-fermented lager yeast.

Style Comparison:
Tastes like a scaled-up sweet stout with higher fruitiness. Similar to some Imperial Stouts without the high bitterness, strong/burnt roastiness, and late hops, and with lower alcohol. Much more sweet and less hoppy than American Stouts. Much sweeter and less bitter than the similar-gravity Export Stouts.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.056 – 1.075
IBUs: 30 – 50 FG: 1.010 – 1.018
SRM: 30 – 40 ABV: 5.5 – 8.0%

Commercial Examples:
ABC Extra Stout, Dragon Stout, Jamaica Stout, Lion Stout, Royal Extra Stout

Sweet Stout

16A. Sweet Stout

Overall Impression:
A very dark, sweet, full-bodied, slightly roasty ale that can suggest coffee-and-cream, or sweetened espresso.

Aroma:
Mild roasted grain aroma, sometimes with coffee and/or chocolate notes. An impression of cream-like sweetness often exists. Fruitiness can be low to moderately high. Diacetyl low to none. Hop aroma low to none, with floral or earthy notes.

Appearance:
Very dark brown to black in color. Can be opaque (if not, it should be clear). Creamy tan to brown head.

Flavor:
Dark roasted grain/malt impression with coffee and/or chocolate flavors dominate the palate. Hop bitterness is moderate. Medium to high sweetness provides a counterpoint to the roasted character and hop bitterness, and lasts into the finish. Low to moderate fruity esters. Diacetyl low to none. The balance between dark grains/malts and sweetness can vary, from quite sweet to moderately dry and somewhat roasty.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-full to full-bodied and creamy. Low to moderate carbonation. High residual sweetness from unfermented sugars enhances the full-tasting mouthfeel.

Comments:
Gravities are low in England, higher in exported and US products. Variations exist, with the level of residual sweetness, the intensity of the roast character, and the balance between the two being the variables most subject to interpretation. Some versions in England are very sweet (low attenuation) and also low in ABV (Tennent’s Sweetheart Stout is 2%), but is an outlier compared to the other examples. These guidelines mostly describe the higher gravity, more balanced, export versions rather than the low alcohol, very sweet versions that many find quite difficult to drink.

History:
An English style of stout developed in the early 1900s. Historically known as “Milk” or “Cream” stouts, legally this designation is no longer permitted in England (but is acceptable elsewhere). The “milk” name is derived from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener. Originally marketed as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers.
Characteristic Ingredients:
The sweetness in most Sweet Stouts comes from a lower bitterness level than most other stouts and a high percentage of unfermentable dextrins. Lactose, an unfermentable sugar, is frequently added to provide additional residual sweetness. Base of pale malt, and may use roasted barley, black malt, chocolate malt, crystal malt, and adjuncts such as maize or brewing sugars.

Style Comparison:
Much sweeter and less bitter than other stouts (except the stronger tropical stout). The roast character is mild, not burnt like other stouts. Somewhat similar in balance to oatmeal stouts, albeit with more sweetness.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
IBUs: 20 – 40 FG: 1.012 – 1.024
SRM: 30 – 40 ABV: 4.0 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Lancaster Milk Stout, Mackeson’s XXX Stout, Marston’s Oyster Stout, Samuel Adams Cream Stout
Tags: standard-strength, dark-color, top-fermented, british-isles, traditional-style, stout-family, malty, roasty, sweet