American Brown Ale

Glassware: Shaker pint
  • USA
  • Ale
  • ABV = 4.3 – 6.2% (Normal)^
  • IBU = 18-35
  • SRM = 20-30

A brown American ale with chocolate and caramel malt flavours and a balanced, complementary hop character.

More chocolate and caramel flavours than American Pale or Amber Ale, typically with less prominent bitterness in the balance. More bitter and generally hoppier than British Brown Ale, with a richer malt presence, usually higher alcohol, and an American or New World hop character.


  • Colour^ = Dark amber to black
  • Clarity = Clear

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = Moderate; malty rich with chocolate, caramel, nuts or toast
  • Hops = Low to moderate; any hop aroma that complements the malt
  • Yeast = Very low to moderate; fruity
  • Malt = Moderate; malty sweet with chocolate, caramel, nuts or toast
  • Hops = Low to moderate; any hop flavour that complements the malt (sometimes citrusy, fruity or tropical)
  • Yeast = Very low to moderate; fruity
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Moderate
  • Balance = Malt and hop flavours are generally equal in intensity, but the balance can vary from somewhat malty to somewhat bitter

Medium to medium-dry finish with an aftertaste of both malt and hops


  • Body = Medium to medium-full
  • Carbonation = Medium

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Two-row or pale ale malt, plus crystal/caramel and darker malts (typically chocolate)
  • Hops = American hop varietals are typical, but Continental or New World hops can also be used
  • Yeast = American ale yeast

Historical Development:

An American style from the early modern craft beer era. Derived from British Brown Ale, but with more hops. Pete’s Wicked Ale (1986) defined the style, which was first judged at the Great American Beer Festival in 1992.

Popular with homebrewers, most commercial American Brown Ales are not as aggressive as the original hoppier, stronger homebrewed versions.

Commercial Examples:

Brooklyn Brown Ale, Bell’s Best Brown, Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus (Version 5.0)
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines.

Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.

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