English Brown Ale banner

English Brown Ale


Evolving from early ‘mild ales’, the English Brown Ale can be categorized into three different sub-styles: Mild English Brown Ale, Southern English Brown Ale, or Norther English Brown Ale. The differences in aromas, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel between the three are subtle but distinctive.

Mild English Brown Ales have low to moderate malt aromas with possible fruitiness. The malt fragrance can be described in a number of ways including caramelly, nutty, toasted, or chocolatey. The appearance can range from copper to mahogany or dark brown in color and although typically unfiltered, the beer is generally clear with a quickly vanishing head and a sweet or dry finish. The flavors are malty but similarly to the aromas, they can express a wide range of tastes, such as toffee, nut, caramel, coffee, fruit, licorice and molasses to name a few. The mouthfeel of a Mild English Brown has a light to medium body and ordinarily low to medium-low carbonation. Refreshing and flavorful, these beers have an ABV between 3.1 - 3.8% and IBU’s between 10 - 25.

Southern Brown English Ales have a sweet malty aroma with rich toffee or caramel accents. They are moderately fruity with almost no hop aromas. The appearance varies from light to dark brown or almost black in color and are virtually opaque with a moderately long-lasting head. The flavors are deeper and more complex than the Mild Brown Ale but include similar characteristics of sweet malty caramel, toffee, dark fruit and coffee that carries into a smooth finish with a malty aftertaste. The mouthfeel is of medium body but is often described as heavier due to the lingering creamy, smooth sweetness and moderate carbonation. The Southern Brown Ale has an ABV range of 2.8- 4.1% and IBU’s between 12 - 20.

Northern English Brown Ales have a sweet malty aroma that is light and has notes of nut, toffee and caramel with hints of fresh hops and fruit. The beer is dark amber to reddish-brown in color and is clear in appearance with a longer-lasting head than a Southern English Brown Ale. The flavors are often described as a soft to modest malty sweetness with elements of nut, biscuit, or light caramel and toffee with a fairly dry finish and a hint of butterscotch in the aftertaste. Although these beers have moderate bitterness the flavors are well balanced. The mouthfeel is medium-light to medium in body and has fairly high carbonation. The ABV is typically between 4.2 - 5.4% and has IBU’s between 15 - 30.

We have featured numerous English Brown Ales in our Craft Beer Club, including the 92 Point rated and double Bronze Medal granted “Saddle Bronc” from Wyoming’s most highly awarded brewery, Black Tooth Brewing Company.