12C. English IPA

Overall Impression

A bitter, moderately-strong, very well-attenuated pale British ale with a dry finish and a hoppy aroma and flavor. Classic British ingredients provide the most authentic flavor profile.

Appearance

Color ranges from golden to deep amber, but most are fairly pale. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Moderate-sized, persistent head stand with off-white color.

Aroma

A moderate to moderately-high hop aroma, typically floral, spicy-peppery, or citrus-orange in nature. A slight dry-hop aroma is acceptable, but not required. Medium-low to medium bready or biscuity malt, optionally with a moderately-low caramel-like or toasty malt presence. Low to moderate fruitiness is acceptable. Optional light sulfury note.

Flavor

Hop flavor is medium to high, with a moderate to assertive hop bitterness. The hop flavor should be similar to the aroma (floral, spicy-peppery, or citrus-orange). Malt flavor should be medium-low to medium, and be somewhat bready, optionally with light to medium-light biscuit, toast, toffee, or caramel aspects. Medium-low to medium fruitiness. Finish is medium-dry to very dry, and the bitterness may linger into the aftertaste but should not be harsh. The balance is toward the hops, but the malt should still be noticeable in support. If high sulfate water is used, a distinctively minerally, dry finish, some sulfur flavor, and a lingering bitterness are usually present. Some clean alcohol flavor can be noted in stronger versions.

Mouthfeel

Smooth, medium-light to medium body without hop-derived astringency. Medium to medium-high carbonation can give an overall dry sensation despite a supportive malt presence. A low, smooth alcohol warming can be sensed in stronger versions.

Comments

The attributes of IPA that were important to its arrival in good condition in India were that it was very well-attenuated, and heavily hopped. Simply because this is how IPA was shipped, doesn’t mean that other beers such as Porter weren’t also sent to India, that IPA was invented to be sent to India, that IPA was more heavily hopped than other keeping beers, or that the alcohol level was unusual for the time.
Many modern examples labeled IPA are quite weak in strength. According to CAMRA, “so-called IPAs with strengths of around 3.5% are not true to style.” English beer historian Martyn Cornell has commented that beers like this are “not really distinguishable from an ordinary bitter.” So we choose to agree with these sources for our guidelines rather than what some modern British breweries are calling an IPA; just be aware of these two main types of IPAs in the British market today.
The beers were shipped in well-used oak casks, so the style shouldn’t have an oak or Brett character.

History

Originally a pale stock ale from London that was first shipped to India in the late 1700s. George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery did not create the style, but was the first well known brewer to dominate the market. After a trade dispute, the East India Company had Samuel Allsopp recreate (and reformulate) the beer in 1823 using Burton’s sulfate-rich water. The name India Pale Ale wasn’t used until around 1830.
Strength and popularity declined over time, and the style virtually disappeared in the second half of the 20th century. While the stronger Burton-type IPA remained, the name was also applied to hoppy, lower-gravity, often bottled products (a trend that continues in some modern British examples). The style underwent a craft beer rediscovery in the 1980s, and is what is described in these guidelines.
Modern examples are inspired by classic versions, but shouldn’t be assumed to have an unbroken lineage with the exact same profile. White Shield is probably the example with the longest lineage, tracing to the strong Burton IPAs of old and first brewed in 1829.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pale ale malt. English hops, particularly as finishing hops. Attenuative British ale yeast. Refined sugar may be used in some versions. Optional sulfate character from Burton-type water.

Style Comparison

Generally will have more late hops and less fruitiness and caramel than British pale ales and Bitters. Has less hop intensity and a more pronounced malt flavor than typical American IPAs.

Vital Statistics

IBU

40 - 60

SRM

6 - 14

OG

1.050 - 1.070

FG

1.010 - 1.015

ABV

5% - 7.5%

Commercial Examples

Berkshire Lost Sailor IPA, Fuller's Bengal Lancer IPA, Marston’s Old Empire IPA, Meantime London IPA, Thornbridge Jaipur, Worthington White Shield.

Past Revision

English IPA (2015)

13. Brown British Beer

While Dark Mild, Brown Ale, and English Porter may have long and storied histories, these guidelines describe the modern versions. They are grouped together for judging purposes only since they often have similar flavors and balance, not because of any implied common ancestry. The similar characteristics are low to moderate strength, dark color, generally malty balance, and British ancestry. These styles have no historic relationship to each other; especially, none of these styles evolved into any of the others, or was ever a component of another. The category name was never used historically to describe this grouping of beers; it is our name for the judging category. “Brown Beer” was a distinct and important historical product, and is not related to this category name.

13A. Dark Mild

Overall Impression

A dark, low-gravity, malt-focused British session ale readily suited to drinking in quantity. Refreshing, yet flavorful for its strength, with a wide range of dark malt or dark sugar expression.

Appearance

Copper to dark brown or mahogany color. Generally clear, although is traditionally unfiltered. Low to moderate off-white to tan head; retention may be poor.

Aroma

Low to moderate malt aroma, and may have some fruitiness. The malt expression can take on a wide range of character, which can include caramel, toffee, grainy, toasted, nutty, chocolate, or lightly roasted. Low earthy or floral hop aroma optional. Very low diacetyl optional.

Flavor

Generally a malty beer, although may have a very wide range of malt- and yeast-based flavors (e.g., malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, toast, nutty, chocolate, coffee, roast, fruit, licorice, plum, raisin) over a bready, biscuity, or toasty base. Can finish sweet to dry. Versions with darker malts may have a dry, roasted finish. Low to moderate bitterness, enough to provide some balance but not enough to overpower the malt in the balance. Moderate fruity esters optional. Low hop flavor optional. Low diacetyl optional.

Mouthfeel

Light to medium body. Generally low to medium-low carbonation. Roast-based versions may have a light astringency. Sweeter versions may seem to have a rather full mouthfeel for the gravity. Should not be flat, watery, or thin.

Comments

Most are low-gravity session beers around 3.2%, although some versions may be made in the stronger (4%+) range for export, festivals, seasonal or special occasions. Generally served on cask; session-strength bottled versions don’t often travel well. A wide range of interpretations are possible. Pale (medium amber to light brown) versions exist, but these are even more rare than dark milds; these guidelines only describe the modern dark version.

History

Historically, ‘mild’ was simply an unaged beer, and could be used as an adjective to distinguish between aged or more highly hopped keeping beers. Modern milds trace their roots to the weaker X-type ales of the 1800s, which started to get darker in the 1880s, but only after WWI did they become dark brown. In current usage, the term implies a lower-strength beer with less hop bitterness than bitters. The guidelines describe the modern British version. The term ‘mild’ is currently somewhat out of favor with consumers, and many breweries no longer use it. Increasingly rare. There is no historic connection or relationship between Mild and Porter.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pale British base malts (often fairly dextrinous), crystal malt, dark malts or dark sugar adjuncts, may also include adjuncts such as flaked maize, and may be colored with brewer’s caramel. Characterful British ale yeast. Any type of hops, since their character is muted and rarely is noticeable.

Style Comparison

Some versions may seem like lower-gravity modern English Porters. Much less sweet than London Brown Ale.

Vital Statistics

IBU

10 - 25

SRM

14 - 25

OG

1.030 - 1.038

FG

1.008 - 1.013

ABV

3% - 3.8%

Commercial Examples

Brain’s Dark, Greene King XX Mild, Hobson’s Champion Mild, Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde, Moorhouse Black Cat, Theakston Traditional Mild.

Past Revision

Dark Mild (2015)

13B. British Brown Ale

Overall Impression

A malty, caramelly, brown British ale without the roasted flavors of a Porter. Balanced and flavorful, but usually a little stronger than most average UK beers.

Appearance

Dark amber to dark reddish-brown color. Clear. Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.

Aroma

Light, sweet malt aroma with toffee, nutty, or light chocolate notes, and a light to heavy caramel quality. A light but appealing floral or earthy hop aroma may also be noticed. A light fruity aroma may be evident, but should not dominate.

Flavor

Gentle to moderate malt sweetness, with a light to heavy caramel character, and a medium to dry finish. Malt may also have a nutty, toasted, biscuity, toffee, or light chocolate character. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Malt-hop balance ranges from even to malt-focused. Low floral or earthy hop flavor optional. Low to moderate fruity esters optional.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body. Medium to medium-high carbonation.

Comments

A wide-ranging category with different interpretations possible, ranging from lighter-colored to hoppy to deeper, darker, and caramel-focused; however, none of the versions have strongly roasted flavors. A stronger Double Brown Ale was more popular in the past, but is very hard to find now. While London Brown Ales are marketed using the name Brown Ale, we list those as a different judging style due to the significant difference in balance (especially sweetness) and alcohol strength; that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in the same family, though.

History

Brown ale has a long history in Great Britain, although different products used that name at various times. Modern brown ale is a 20th century creation; it is not the same as historical products with the same name. A wide range of gravities were brewed, but modern brown ales are generally of the stronger (by current UK standards) interpretation. This style is based on the modern stronger British brown ales, not historical versions or the sweeter London Brown Ale described in the Historical Beer category. Predominantly but not exclusively a bottled product currently.

Characteristic Ingredients

British mild ale or pale ale malt base with caramel malts. May also have small amounts darker malts (e.g., chocolate) to provide color and the nutty character. English hop varieties are most authentic.

Style Comparison

More malty balance than British Bitters, with more malt flavors from darker grains. Stronger than a Dark Mild. Less roast than an English Porter. Stronger and much less sweet than London Brown Ale.

Vital Statistics

IBU

20 - 30

SRM

12 - 22

OG

1.040 - 1.052

FG

1.008 - 1.013

ABV

4.2% - 5.9%

Commercial Examples

AleSmith Nut Brown Ale, Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, Maxim Double Maxim, Newcastle Brown Ale, Riggwelter Yorkshire Ale, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.

13C. English Porter

Simply called “Porter” in Britain, the name “English Porter” is used to differentiate it from other derivative porters described in these guidelines.

Overall Impression

A moderate-strength dark brown English ale with a restrained roasty, bitter character. May have a range of roasted flavors, generally without burnt qualities, and often has a malty chocolate and caramel profile.

Appearance

Brown to dark brown in color, often with ruby highlights. Good clarity, although may be opaque. Moderate off-white to light tan head with good to fair retention.

Aroma

Moderate to moderately low bready, biscuity, and toasty malt aroma with mild roastiness, often like chocolate. Additional malt complexity may be present as caramel, nuts, toffee sweetness. May have up to a moderate level of floral or earthy hops. Moderate fruity esters optional, but desirable. Low diacetyl optional.

Flavor

Moderate bready, biscuity, and toasty malt flavor with a mild to moderate chocolate roastiness, and often a significant caramel, nutty, or toffee character, possibly with lower levels of darker flavors like coffee or licorice. Should not be burnt or harshly roasted, although small amounts may contribute a bitter chocolate complexity. Up to moderate earthy or floral hop flavor optional. Low to moderate fruity esters. Medium-low to medium bitterness varies the balance from slightly malty to slightly bitter, with a fairly dry to slightly sweet finish. Moderately-low diacetyl optional.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body. Moderately-low to moderately-high carbonation. Light to moderate creamy texture.

Comments

This style description describes the modern version of English Porter, not every possible variation over time in every region where it existed. Historical re-creations should be entered in the 27 Historical Beer category, with an appropriate description describing the profile of the beer. Modern craft examples in the UK are bigger and hoppier.

History

Originating in London in the early 1700s, porter evolved as a more heavily hopped and aged (keeping) version of the Brown Beer popular at the time. It evolved many times based on various technological and ingredient developments (such as the invention of black malt in 1817, and large-scale industrial brewing), as well as consumer preferences, wars, and tax policy. It became a highly-popular, widely-exported style in the early 1800s before declining by the 1870s as it changed to a lower gravity, unaged beer. As gravities continued to decline in all UK beers in the first half of the 1900s, styles stopped being made (including porter, gone by the 1950s). The craft beer era led to its re-introduction in 1978.
The name is said to have been derived from its popularity with the London working class performing various load-carrying tasks of the day. Parent of various regional interpretations over time, and a predecessor to all stouts (which were originally called “stout porters”). There is no historic connection or relationship between Mild and Porter.

Characteristic Ingredients

Grists vary, but something producing a dark color is always involved. Chocolate or other roasted malts, caramel malt, brewing sugars, and the like are common. London-type porters often use brown malt as a characteristic flavor.

Style Comparison

Differs from American Porter in that it usually has softer, sweeter, and more caramelly flavors, lower gravities, and usually less alcohol; American Porter also usually has more hop character. More substance and roast than a British Brown Ale. Higher in gravity than a Dark Mild.

Vital Statistics

IBU

18 - 35

SRM

20 - 30

OG

1.040 - 1.052

FG

1.008 - 1.014

ABV

4% - 5.4%

Commercial Examples

Bateman’s Salem Porter, Burton Bridge Burton Porter, Fuller's London Porter, Nethergate Old Growler Porter, RCH Old Slug Porter, Samuel Smith Taddy Porter.

14. Scottish Ale

There are really only three traditional beer styles broadly available today in Scotland: the 70/- Scottish Heavy, the 80/- Scottish Export, and the Strong Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy, Style 17C). The 60/- Scottish Light is rare and often cask-only, but it does seem to be having a bit of a renaissance currently. All these styles took modern form after World War II, regardless of prior use of the same names. Currently, the 60/- is similar to a dark mild, the 70/- is similar to an ordinary bitter, and the 80/- similar to a best or strong bitter. The Scottish beers have a different balance and flavor profile, but fill a similar market position as those English beers.

The Light, Heavy, and Export beers have similar flavor profiles, and are often produced through the parti-gyling process. As gravity increases, so does the character of the beer. Traditional ingredients were dextrinous pale ale malt, corn, dark brewing sugars, and brewers caramel for coloring. Modern (post-WWII) recipes often add small amounts of dark malt and lower percentages of crystal malt, along with other ingredients like amber malt and wheat. Scottish brewers traditionally used single infusion mashes, often with underlet mashes and multiple sparges.

In general, these Scottish beers are weaker, sweeter, darker, lower in attenuation, and less highly hopped compared to equivalent modern English beers. They are produced using slightly cooler fermentation temperatures than their counterparts. Many of these differences have been exaggerated in popular lore; they are noticeable, but not huge, yet enough to affect the balance of the beer, and to perhaps indicate a national flavor preference. The balance remains malty and somewhat sweet due to higher finishing gravity, lower alcohol, and lower hopping rates. Many of these divergences from English beer took place between the late 1800s and the mid-1900s.

Production methods championed by homebrewers, such as kettle caramelization or grists heavy in a variety of crystal malts, are not commonly used in traditional products but can approximate those flavors when traditional ingredients aren’t available. The use of peat-smoked malt is not only completely inauthentic, it produces a dirty, phenolic flavor inappropriate in any of these styles. Smoked versions (using any type smoke) should be entered in 32A Classic Style Smoked Beer.

The use of ‘shilling’ (/-) designations is a Scottish curiosity. Originally it referred to the price of beer in hogshead casks, which in no way could be constant over time. Shillings aren’t even used as a currency now in Scotland. But the name stuck as a shorthand for a type of beer, even if the original meaning stopped being the real price during WWI. About all it means now is that larger numbers mean stronger beers, at least within the same brewery. Between the world wars, some breweries used the price per pint rather than shillings (e.g., Maclay 6d for 60/-, 7d for 70/-, 8d for 80/-). Confusingly, during this time 90/- pale ale was a low-gravity bottled beer. Curious, indeed.  

14A. Scottish Light

Overall Impression

A low-alcohol, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruit flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.

Appearance

Deep copper to dark brown. Clear. Low to moderate, creamy off-white.

Aroma

Low to medium maltiness with caramel and toffee notes, and light toasty and sugary qualities that might be reminiscent of toasted breadcrumbs, ladyfingers, English biscuits, graham crackers, or butterscotch. Light pome fruitiness and light English hop aroma (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.) allowable.

Flavor

Medium toasty-bready malt with caramel and toffee overtones, finishing with a slightly roasty dryness. A wide range of caramelized sugar and toasted bread type of flavors are possible, using similar descriptors as the aroma. Clean maltiness and fermentation profile. Light esters and hop flavor allowable (similar descriptors as aroma). Sufficient bitterness to not be cloying, but with a malty balance and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel

Medium-low to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation. Maybe be moderately creamy.

Comments

See category introduction for detailed comments. May not seem as bitter as specifications indicate due to higher finishing gravity and residual sweetness. Typically a draught product, but somewhat rare. Do not mis-perceive the light roasty dryness as smoke; smoke is not present in these beers.

History

See category introduction. The Shilling ale names were used for mild (unaged) beer before World War I, but the styles took modern form only after World War II.

Characteristic Ingredients

At its simplest, pale ale malt, but can also use colored malt, sugars, corn, wheat, crystal malts, colorants, and a variety of other grains. Clean yeast. Soft water. No peat-smoked malt.

Style Comparison

See category introduction. Similar to other Scottish Ales but lower in alcohol, and darker in color. Similar in strength to the low end of Dark Mild, but with a different flavor profile and balance.

Vital Statistics

IBU

10 - 20

SRM

17 - 25

OG

1.030 - 1.035

FG

1.010 - 1.013

ABV

2.5% - 3.3%

Commercial Examples

Belhaven Best, McEwan's 60.

14B. Scottish Heavy

Overall Impression

A lower-alcohol, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruity flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.

Appearance

Pale copper to brown. Clear. Low to moderate, creamy off-white.

Aroma

Medium-low to medium maltiness with caramel and toffee notes, and light toasty and sugary qualities that might be reminiscent of toasted breadcrumbs, ladyfingers, English biscuits, graham crackers, or butterscotch. Light pome fruitiness and light English hop aroma (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.) allowable.

Flavor

Medium toasty-bready malt with caramel and toffee overtones, finishing with a slightly roasty dryness. A wide range of caramelized sugar and toasted bread type of flavors are possible, using similar descriptors as the aroma. Clean maltiness and fermentation profile. Light esters and hop flavor allowable (similar descriptors as aroma). Sufficient bitterness to not be cloying, but with a malty balance and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel

Medium-low to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation. Maybe be moderately creamy.

Comments

See category introduction for detailed comments. May not seem as bitter as specifications indicate due to higher finishing gravity and residual sweetness. Do not mis-perceive the light roasty dryness as smoke; smoke is not present in these beers.

History

See category introduction. The Shilling ale names were used for mild (unaged) beer before World War I, but the styles took modern form only after World War II.

Characteristic Ingredients

At its simplest, pale ale malt and colored malt, but can also use sugars, corn, wheat, crystal malts, colorants, and a variety of other grains. Clean yeast. Soft water. No peat-smoked malt.

Style Comparison

See category introduction. Similar to other Scottish Ales in flavor profile, lighter in color and stronger than a Scottish Light. Similar in strength to Ordinary Bitter, but with a different flavor profile and balance.

Vital Statistics

IBU

10 - 20

SRM

12 - 20

OG

1.035 - 1.040

FG

1.010 - 1.015

ABV

3.3% - 3.9%

Commercial Examples

McEwan's 70, Orkney Raven Ale.

14C. Scottish Export

Overall Impression

A moderate-strength, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruit flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.

Appearance

Pale copper to brown. Clear. Low to moderate, creamy off-white.

Aroma

Medium maltiness with caramel and toffee notes, and light toasty and sugary qualities that might be reminiscent of toasted breadcrumbs, ladyfingers, English biscuits, graham crackers, or butterscotch. Light pome fruitiness and light English hop aroma (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.) allowable.

Flavor

Medium toasty-bready malt with caramel and toffee overtones, finishing with a slightly roasty dryness. A wide range of caramelized sugar and toasted bread type of flavors are possible, using similar descriptors as the aroma. Clean maltiness and fermentation profile. Light esters and hop flavor allowable (similar descriptors as aroma). Sufficient bitterness to not be cloying, but with a malty balance and aftertaste.

Mouthfeel

Medium body. Medium-low to medium carbonation. Maybe be moderately creamy.

Comments

See category introduction for detailed comments. May not seem as bitter as specifications indicate due to higher finishing gravity and residual sweetness. Do not mis-perceive the light roasty dryness as smoke; smoke is not present in these beers. Americanized versions are often greater in strength (similar to American treatment of Irish Red Ales).

History

See category introduction. The Shilling ale names were used for mild (unaged) beer before World War I, but the styles took modern form only after World War II.

Characteristic Ingredients

At its simplest, pale ale malt and colored malt, but can also use sugars, corn, wheat, crystal malts, colorants, and a variety of other grains. Clean yeast. Soft water. No peat-smoked malt.

Style Comparison

See category introduction. Stronger than other Scottish Ales, but with a similar flavor profile. Similar in strength to Best Bitter and Strong Bitter, but with a different flavor profile and balance.

Vital Statistics

IBU

15 - 30

SRM

12 - 20

OG

1.040 - 1.060

FG

1.010 - 1.016

ABV

3.9% - 6%

Commercial Examples

Belhaven Scottish Ale, Broughton Wee Jock 80 Shilling, Caledonian Edinburgh Castle, McEwan’s 80/-, McEwan’s Export, Orkney Dark Island, Traquair Bear Ale.

15. Irish Beer

The traditional beers of Ireland contained in this category are amber to dark, top-fermented beers of moderate to slightly strong strength, and are often widely misunderstood due to differences in export versions, or overly focusing on the specific attributes of beer produced by high-volume, well-known breweries. Each of the styles in this grouping has a wider range than is commonly believed.

15A. Irish Red Ale

Overall Impression

An easy-drinking pint, often with subtle flavors. Slightly malty in the balance sometimes with an initial soft toffee or caramel sweetness, a slightly grainy-biscuity palate, and a touch of roasted dryness in the finish. Some versions can emphasize the caramel and sweetness more, while others will favor the grainy palate and roasted dryness.

Appearance

Medium amber to medium reddish-copper color. Clear. Low off-white to tan colored head, average persistence.

Aroma

Low to moderate malt aroma, either neutral-grainy or with a lightly caramel, toast, or toffee character. Very light buttery character optional. Low earthy or floral hop aroma optional. Quite clean.

Flavor

Moderate to very little caramel malt flavor and sweetness, rarely with a light buttered toast or toffee-like quality. The palate often is fairly neutral and grainy, or can take on a lightly toasty or biscuity note as it finishes with a light taste of roasted grain, which lends a characteristic dryness to the finish. A light earthy or floral hop flavor is optional. Medium to medium-low bitterness. Medium-dry to dry finish. Clean and smooth. Low esters optional. The balance tends to be slightly towards the malt, although light use of roasted grains may increase the perception of bitterness slightly.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium body, although examples containing low levels of diacetyl may have a slightly slick mouthfeel (not required). Moderate carbonation. Smooth.

Comments

The style is fairly broad to allow for examples beyond the traditional ones from Ireland. Irish examples tend to be lower alcohol, grainier, and drier in the finish, while non-Irish versions are often higher in alcohol, sweeter, perhaps more caramelly and estery, and are often seasonal offerings.

History

While Ireland has a long ale brewing heritage, the modern Irish Red Ale style is essentially an adaptation or interpretation of the popular English Bitter style with less hopping and a bit of roast to add color and dryness, although some suggest a longer history. Rediscovered as a craft beer style in Ireland, today it is an essential part of most brewery lineups, along with a pale ale and a stout.

Characteristic Ingredients

Generally has a bit of roasted barley or black malt to provide reddish color and dry roasted finish. Pale base malt. Caramel malts were historically imported and more expensive, so not all brewers would use them.

Style Comparison

A less-bitter and hoppy Irish equivalent to an English Bitter, with a dryish finish due to roasted barley. More attenuated with less caramel flavor and body than equivalent-strength Scottish Ales.

Vital Statistics

IBU

18 - 28

SRM

9 - 14

OG

1.036 - 1.046

FG

1.010 - 1.014

ABV

3.8% - 5%

Commercial Examples

Franciscan Well Rebel Red, Kilkenny Irish Beer, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale, Murphy’s Irish Red, Porterhouse Red Ale, Smithwick’s Irish Ale.

15B. Irish Stout

Overall Impression

A black beer with a pronounced roasted flavor, often similar to coffee. The balance can range from fairly even to quite bitter, with the more balanced versions having a little malty sweetness and the bitter versions being quite dry. Draught versions typically are creamy from a nitro pour, but bottled versions will not have this dispense-derived character. The roasted flavor

Appearance

Jet black to deep brown with garnet highlights in color. According to Guinness, “Guinness beer may appear black, but it is actually a very dark shade of ruby.” Opaque. A thick, creamy, long-lasting, tan- to brown-colored head is characteristic when served on nitro, but don’t expect a tight, creamy head on a bottled beer.

Aroma

Moderate coffee-like aroma typically dominates; may have slight dark chocolate, cocoa, or roasted grain secondary notes. Medium-low esters optional. Low earthy or floral hop aroma optional.

Flavor

Moderate roasted grain or malt flavor with a medium to high bitterness. The finish can be dry and coffee-like to moderately balanced with a touch of caramel or malty sweetness. Typically has coffee-like flavors, but also may have a bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate character in the palate, lasting into the finish. Balancing factors may include some creaminess, medium-low fruitiness, or medium earthy hop flavor. The level of bitterness is somewhat variable, as is the roasted character and the dryness of the finish; allow for interpretation by brewers.

Mouthfeel

Medium-light to medium-full body, with a somewhat creamy character – especially when served by nitro pour. Low to moderate carbonation. For the high hop bitterness and significant proportion of dark grains present, this beer is remarkably smooth. May have a light astringency from the roasted grains, although harshness is undesirable.

Comments

Traditionally a draught product. Modern examples are almost always associated with a nitro pour. Do not expect bottled beers to have the full, creamy texture or very long-lasting head associated with mixed-gas dispense. Regional differences exist in Ireland, similar to variability in English Bitters. Dublin-type stouts use roasted barley, are more bitter, and are drier. Cork-type stouts are sweeter, less bitter, and have flavors from chocolate and specialty malts.

History

The style evolved from London porters, but reflecting a fuller, creamier, more “stout” body and strength. Guinness began brewing only porter in 1799, and a “stouter kind of porter” around 1810. Irish stout diverged from London single stout (or simply porter) in the late 1800s, with an emphasis on darker malts and roast barley. Guinness began using flaked barley after WWII, and Guinness Draught was launched as a brand in 1959. Draught (“widget”) cans and bottles were developed in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Characteristic Ingredients

Dark roasted malts or grains, enough to make the beer black in color. Pale malt. May use unmalted grains for body.

Style Comparison

Lower strength than an Irish Extra Stout. Darker in color (black) than an English Porter (brown).

Vital Statistics

IBU

25 - 45

SRM

25 - 40

OG

1.036 - 1.044

FG

1.007 - 1.011

ABV

4% - 4.5%

Commercial Examples

Beamish Irish Stout, Guinness Draught, Harpoon Boston Irish Stout, Murphy's Irish Stout, O’Hara’s Irish Stout, Porterhouse Wrasslers 4X.

Past Revision

Irish Stout (2015)

15C. Irish Extra Stout

Overall Impression

A fuller-bodied black beer with a pronounced roasted flavor, often similar to coffee and dark chocolate with some malty complexity. The balance can range from moderately bittersweet to bitter, with the more balanced versions having up to moderate malty richness and the bitter versions being quite dry.

Appearance

Jet black. Opaque. A thick, creamy, persistent tan head is characteristic.

Aroma

Moderate to moderately high coffee-like aroma, often with slight dark chocolate, cocoa, biscuit, vanilla, or roasted grain secondary notes. Medium-low esters optional. Hop aroma low to none, may be lightly earthy or spicy, but is typically absent. Malt and roast dominate the aroma.

Flavor

Moderate to moderately high dark-roasted grain or malt flavor with a medium to medium-high bitterness. The finish can be dry and coffee-like to moderately balanced with up to moderate caramel or malty sweetness. Typically has roasted coffee-like flavors, but also often has a dark chocolate character in the palate, lasting into the finish. Background mocha or biscuit flavors are often present and add complexity. Medium-low fruitiness optional. Medium earthy or spicy hop flavor optional. The level of bitterness is somewhat variable, as is the roasted character and the dryness of the finish; allow for interpretation by brewers.

Mouthfeel

Medium-full to full body, with a somewhat creamy character. Moderate carbonation. Very smooth. May have a light astringency from the roasted grains, although harshness is undesirable. A slightly warming character may be detected.

Comments

Traditionally a stronger, bottled product with a range of equally valid possible interpretations, varying most frequently in roast flavor and sweetness. Most traditional Irish commercial examples are in the 5.6 to 6.0% ABV range.

History

Same roots as Irish Stout, but as a stronger product. Guinness Extra Stout (Extra Superior Porter, later Double Stout) was first brewed in 1821, and was primarily a bottled product.

Characteristic Ingredients

Similar to Irish Stout. May have additional dark crystal malts or dark sugars.

Style Comparison

Midway between an Irish Stout and a Foreign Extra Stout in strength and flavor intensity, although with a similar balance. More body, richness, and often malt complexity than an Irish Stout. Black in color, not brown like an English Porter.

Vital Statistics

IBU

35 - 50

SRM

30 - 40

OG

1.052 - 1.062

FG

1.010 - 1.014

ABV

5% - 6.5%

Commercial Examples

Guinness Extra Stout, O’Hara’s Leann Folláin, Porterhouse XXXX, Sheaf Stout.

16. Dark British Beer

This category contains average to strong, bitter to sweet, modern British and Irish stouts that originated in England even if some are now more widely associated with Ireland. In this case, “British” means the broader British Isles not Great Britain.

16A. Sweet Stout

Overall Impression

A very dark, sweet, full-bodied, slightly roasty stout that can suggest coffee-and-cream, or sweetened espresso.

Appearance

Very dark brown to black in color. Clear, if not opaque. Creamy tan to brown head.

Aroma

Mild roasted grain aroma, sometimes with coffee or chocolate notes. An impression of cream-like sweetness often exists. Fruitiness can be low to moderately high. Low diacetyl optional. Low floral or earthy hop aroma optional.

Flavor

Dark, roasted, coffee or chocolate flavors dominate the palate. Low to moderate fruity esters. Moderate bitterness. Medium to high sweetness provides a counterpoint to the roasted character and bitterness, lasting into the finish. The balance between dark grains or malts and sweetness can vary, from quite sweet to moderately dry and somewhat roasty. Low diacetyl optional. Low floral or earthy hop flavor optional.

Mouthfeel

Medium-full to full-bodied and creamy. Low to moderate carbonation. High residual sweetness from unfermented sugars enhances the full-tasting mouthfeel.

Comments

Gravities are low in Britain (sometimes lower than the statistics below), higher in exported and US products. Variations exist, with the level of residual sweetness, the intensity of the roast character, and the balance between the two being the variables most subject to interpretation.

History

An English style of stout developed in the early 1900s. Historically known as “Milk” or “Cream” stouts, legally this designation is no longer permitted in England but may be acceptable elsewhere. The “milk” name is derived from the use of the milk sugar lactose as a sweetener. Originally marketed as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers.

Characteristic Ingredients

Base of pale malt with dark malts or grains. May use grain or sugar adjuncts. Lactose is frequently added to provide additional residual sweetness.

Style Comparison

Much sweeter and less bitter-tasting than other stouts, except the stronger Tropical Stout. The roast character is mild, not burnt like other stouts. Can be similar in balance to Oatmeal Stout, albeit with more sweetness.

Vital Statistics

IBU

20 - 40

SRM

30 - 40

OG

1.044 - 1.060

FG

1.012 - 1.024

ABV

4% - 6%

Commercial Examples

Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout, Firestone Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Lancaster Milk Stout, Mackeson's XXX Stout, Marston’s Oyster Stout.

Past Revision

Sweet Stout (2015)

16B. Oatmeal Stout

Overall Impression

A dark, roasty, full-bodied stout with enough sweetness to support the oat backbone. The sweetness, balance, and oatmeal impression can vary considerably.

Appearance

Brown to black in color. Thick, creamy, persistent tan- to brown-colored head. Clear, if not opaque.

Aroma

Mild grainy, roasty, coffee-like character with a light malty sweetness that can give a coffee-and-cream impression. Low to medium-high fruitiness. Medium-low earthy or floral hop aroma optional. A light grainy-nutty oatmeal aroma is optional. Medium-low diacetyl optional but typically absent.

Flavor

Similar to the aroma, with a mild roasted coffee, milk chocolate, or coffee-and-cream flavor, and low to moderately-high fruitiness. Oats can add a toasty-nutty, grainy, or earthy flavor. Medium bitterness. Medium-sweet to medium-dry finish, which affects the perception of balance. Malty, roasty, nutty aftertaste. Medium-low earthy or floral hop flavor optional. Medium-low diacetyl optional but typically absent.

Mouthfeel

Medium-full to full body, with a smooth, silky, velvety, sometimes an almost oily slickness from the oatmeal. Creamy. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Stronger versions may be lightly warming.

Comments

When judging, allow for differences in balance and interpretation. American versions tend to be more hoppy, less sweet, and less fruity than English examples. Bitterness, sweetness, and oatmeal impression varies. Light use of oatmeal may give a certain silkiness of body and richness of flavor, while heavy use of oatmeal can be fairly intense in flavor with an almost oily mouthfeel and dryish finish.

History

A variant of nourishing or invalid stouts around 1900 using oatmeal in the grist, similar to but independent of the development of sweet stout using lactose. An original Scottish version used a significant amount of oat malt. Later went through a shady phase where some English brewers would throw a handful of oats into their parti-gyled stouts in order to legally produce a ‘healthy’ Oatmeal Stout for marketing purposes. Most popular in England between the World Wars, was revived in the craft beer era for export, which helped lead to its adoption as a popular modern American craft beer style that uses a noticeable (not symbolic) quantity of oats.

Characteristic Ingredients

Pale, caramel, and dark roasted malts (often chocolate) and grains. Oatmeal or malted oats (5-20% or more). Hops primarily for bittering. Can use brewing sugars or syrups. English ale yeast.

Style Comparison

Most are like a cross between an Irish Extra Stout and a Sweet Stout with oatmeal added. Several variations exist, with the sweeter versions more like a Sweet Stout with oatmeal instead of lactose, and the drier versions more like a more nutty, flavorful Irish Extra Stout. Both tend to emphasize the body and mouthfeel.

Vital Statistics

IBU

25 - 40

SRM

22 - 40

OG

1.045 - 1.065

FG

1.010 - 1.018

ABV

4.2% - 5.9%

Commercial Examples

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, Broughton Stout Jock, Summit Oatmeal Stout, Young's London Stout.
1 2 3 4 5 6 10