• 11. English Brown Ale


    1. 11A. Mild
    2. 11B. Southern English Brown
    3. 11C. Northern English Brown Ale

    11A. Mild

    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 caramelly, grainy, toasted, nutty, chocolate, or lightly roasted. Little to no hop aroma. 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 due to low carbonation, adjunct use and low gravity.

    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, vinous, fruit, licorice, molasses, plum, raisin). Can finish sweet or 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.

    Overall Impression: A light-flavored, malt-accented beer that is readily suited to drinking in quantity. Refreshing, yet flavorful. Some versions may seem like lower gravity brown porters.

    History: May have evolved as one of the elements of early porters. In modern terms, the name "mild" refers to the relative lack of hop bitterness (i.e. less hoppy than a pale ale, and not so strong). Originally, the "mildness" may have referred to the fact that this beer was young and did not yet have the moderate sourness that aged batches had. Somewhat rare in England, good versions may still be found in the Midlands around Birmingham.

    Comments: Most are low-gravity session beers, 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.

    Ingredients: Pale English base malts (often fairly dextrinous), crystal and darker malts should comprise the grist. May use sugar adjuncts. English hop varieties would be most suitable, though their character is muted. Characterful English ale yeast.

    Vital Statistics:
    1.030 - 1.038 1.008 - 1.013 10 - 25 12 - 25 2.8 - 4.5%
    Most have an ABV of 3.1 - 3.8%

    Commercial Examples: Moorhouse Black Cat, Highgate Mild, Brain's Dark, Banks's Mild, Coach House Gunpowder Strong Mild, Gale's Festival Mild, Woodforde's Norfolk Nog, Goose Island PMD Mild

    11B. Southern English Brown

    Aroma: Malty-sweet, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Moderately fruity, often with notes of dark fruits such as plums and/or raisins. Very low to no hop aroma. No diacetyl.

    Appearance: Light to dark brown, and can be almost black. Nearly opaque, although should be relatively clear if visible. Low to moderate off-white to tan head.

    Flavor: Deep, caramel-like malty sweetness on the palate and lasting into the finish. May have a moderate dark fruit complexity. Low hop bitterness. Hop flavor is low to non-existent. Little or no perceivable roasty or bitter black malt flavor. Moderately sweet finish with a smooth, malty aftertaste. Low to no diacetyl.

    Mouthfeel: Medium body, but residual sweetness may give a heavier impression. Low to moderately low carbonation.

    Overall Impression: A luscious, malt-oriented brown ale, with a caramel, dark fruit complexity of malt flavor. May seem somewhat like a smaller version of a sweet stout or a sweet version of a dark mild.

    History: English brown ales are generally split into sub-styles along geographic lines. Southern English (or "London-style") brown ales are darker, sweeter, and lower gravity than their Northern cousins.

    Comments: Increasingly rare. Some consider it a bottled version of dark mild.

    Ingredients: English pale ale malt as a base with a healthy proportion of darker caramel malts and often some roasted malts. Moderate to high carbonate water would appropriately balance the dark malt acidity. English hop varieties are most authentic, though with low flavor and bitterness almost any type could be used.

    Vital Statistics:
    1.035 - 1.042 1.011 - 1.014 12 - 20 19 - 35 2.8 - 4.2%

    Commercial Examples: Mann's Brown Ale (bottled, but not available in the US), Tolly Cobbold Cobnut Nut Brown Ale

    11C. Northern English Brown Ale

    Aroma: Light, sweet malt aroma with toffee, nutty and/or caramel notes. A light but appealing fresh hop aroma (UK varieties) may also be noticed. A light fruity ester aroma may be evident in these beers, but should not dominate. Very low to no diacetyl.

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

    Flavor: Gentle to moderate malt sweetness, with a nutty, lightly caramelly character and a medium-dry to dry finish. Malt may also have a toasted, biscuity, or toffee-like character. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Malt-hop balance is nearly even, with hop flavor low to none (UK varieties). Some fruity esters can be present; low diacetyl (especially butterscotch) is optional but acceptable.

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

    Overall Impression: Drier and more hop-oriented that southern English brown ale, with a nutty character rather than caramel.

    Comments: English brown ales are generally split into sub-styles along geographic lines.

    Ingredients: English 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. Moderate carbonate water.

    Vital Statistics:
    1.040 - 1.052 1.008 - 1.013 20 - 30 12 - 22 4.2 - 5.4%

    Commercial Examples: Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, Tolly Cobbold Cobnut Special Nut Brown Ale, Goose Island Hex Nut Brown Ale