British Brown Ale

Glassware: Nonick pint
  • England
  • Ale
  • ABV = 4.5 – 5.4% (Lower to normal)^
  • IBU = 20-30
  • SRM = 12-22
A brown, malt-forward, caramel-centric English ale.

More malt-forward in balance than Best Bitter, with more malt flavours from darker grains. Should not have the strongly roasted flavours of an Irish, Oatmeal or Sweet Stout.


  • Colour^ = Amber to brown
  • Clarity = Clear

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = Low; malty sweet with toffee, nutty, or light chocolate notes; plus a low to high caramel quality
  • Yeast = Low; fruity
  • Hops = Low; floral or earthy
  • Malt = Low to moderate; malty sweet with a low to high caramel quality (Optional: nutty, toasted, biscuity, toffee, or light chocolate.)
  • Yeast = Low to moderate; fruity
  • Hops = None to low; floral or earthy, if present
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Moderate
  • Balance = Ranges from even to malt-focused

Medium to dry finish


  • Body = Medium
  • Carbonation = Medium

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Pale ale and crystal/caramel malts; may use small amounts of darker malts (ie. chocolate) to provide colour and nutty character
  • Yeast = British ale yeast
  • Hops = English hops

Historical Development:

Many different beers have used the name brown ale throughout history, but the modern British Brown Ale, as described above, was developed in the 1900s and is primarily a bottled product.

Commercial Examples:

Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Wychwood Hobgoblin

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus.
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2015 Style Guidelines.

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