English Brown Ale

Looking back over our first month, we’ve covered beer styles originating in Germany, Belgium, and the USA.  Let’s take a trip across the pond again and meet with a style born & bred in merry old England (although maybe … just maybe, it’s been taken to a new level here in the good ole’ USA) – the English Brown Ale.

The English Brown Ale is FAR from a style that sits at the forefront of most beer connoisseurs’ tongues – it’s not the HOT NEW STYLE that everyone is seeking out.  What it is, however, is a delicious malt-forward style that leaves room with which a brewer can experiment and customize to create unique offering.


Here’s how the Brewers’ Association describes the style:

“English brown ales range from deep copper to brown in color. They have a medium body and a dry to sweet maltiness with very little hop flavor or aroma. Roast malt tones may sometimes contribute to the flavor and aroma profile. Low to medium-low levels of fruity-ester flavors are appropriate. Diacetyl should be very low, if evident. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.”

Food Pairings

With a medium body, moderate sweetness, and light fruitiness and/or nuttiness, English Brown Ales are particularly well suited with Camembert, Asiago, and Colby cheeses, and for an entrée, you simply can not go wrong in matching it up with a grilled pork loin.  Other options might include barbequed duck or your standard Chinese food in “brown sauce”.


If you don’t serve your English Brown Ale in a big ole’ Nonic Pint Glass or Mug, you deserve the equivalent of the death penalty.  Just look at how pretty these puppies are… how can you say no?

Try These

Now, if you’ve been of legal drinking age for at least 5 years, then surely you’ve had a Newcastle Brown Ale (very cool website, so-so beer) by now – this is the MOST common beer you’ll find in the style.  But if you’d like to know which ones you should actually spend money on this weekend, then try these three, which should be generally available at your better bottle shops and distributors:

–          Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, 5.0% ABV (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England)

–          Bell’s Best Brown Ale, 5.8% ABV (Kalamazoo, MI)

–          Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale, 5.5% ABV (Boulder, CO)

For additional options, check out our English Brown Ale page … and leave a Comment below to let us know what you think about the style!  (unless you’re the shy, “yellow” type)

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4 Responses to English Brown Ale

  1. Chad says:

    Traditionally, I am not a fan of the brown ales, however I did enjoy the Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale I tried as a result of this blog. In my opinion, the Bell’s was a little disappointing.
    On a similar note (sort of), I had the Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale recently for the first time…and it was AWESOME!! I know it is categorized as a American Brown Ale, are there any English Brown Ales that are comparable?

    Side Note: One of my favorite pieces of this blog, was “HOT NEW STYLE” link and “equivalent of the death penalty” link….Outstanding!

    • gatewaybeers says:

      Thanks for your comment and the “side note” … we do try to keep this thing light / fun around here… it IS beer, after all. To answer your question on the DFH India Brown … like just about everything else they make, that one’s hard to define into a specific style. Even DFH says it sits somewhere between a Scotch Ale, IPA, and Brown Ale. But if I had to point to a similar beer in the “English Brown” category, I’d go with Cigar City’s Bolita Brown – also a far cry from most EBAs, though, it clocks in at 9% ABV and has a TON of flavor – one of the few like DFH where you notice the hops. Hopefully you’re in either Eastern PA or Florida, cause those are the only places they distribute so far (of course, you could always trade for it online).

  2. Pingback: German Pilsener | Beer Stylin' and Profilin'

  3. Pingback: American Brown Ale | Beer Stylin' and Profilin'

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