British Brown Ale

Glassware: Nonic pint
  • England
  • Ale
  • ABV = 4.2 – 5.9% (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
  • Hops = None to low; floral or earthy, if present
  • Yeast = None to low; fruity, if present
  • Malt = Low to moderate; malty sweet with a low to high caramel quality (Optional: nutty, toasted, biscuity, toffee, or light chocolate flavours.)
  • Hops = None to low; floral or earthy, if present
  • Yeast = None to moderate; fruity, 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, plus crystal/caramel malts; may use small amounts of darker malts (ie. chocolate) to provide colour and nutty character
  • Hops = English hops
  • Yeast = British ale yeast

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, Cigar City Maduro 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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