Prior to the Industrial Revolution, your average English beer lover possessed an attraction to old beers. This older style beer became known as Old Ale. English style old ales were aged in oak barrels for at least one year, which gave them an strong bite from the tannins that were in the oak, and exposure to certain bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus and/or Brettanomyces.
Brewers don’t necessarily just brew this old world ale left and right anymore. Instead, mostbrewers would allow one batch of the beer to mature in the oak, and later combine it with some fresh beer. This process made the final product more complex and expressive. However, whatever matured beer was leftover after this process was completed was distributed as olde ale.
Old Ale beer has a heavy malt character, full body, and slight sweetness on the finish. Brewers employ a wide variety of noble hops ands use low-attenuating Old Ale yeast with good alcohol tolerance when creating these brews. The yeast has to be able to withstand a long aging process of the brew that could last for years in bulk storage or bottle conditioning. The best old ales are malt forward in aroma and taste, with slight fruity esters.
Old Ale beer often appears as medium amber to ruddy brown in color. The ABV varies from 6-12%. The Old Ales with a higher ABV closer to 12% are sometimes called old strong ales. The best Old Ale glass is a snifter to gather all the flavors and aromas. The old brown ale can be enjoyed with meals like roast lamb, cheeses like blue or white Stilton, or can be enjoyed alone with a cigar.
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