Spawned from the English mild ale, brown ales tend to be maltier and sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body. Color can range from reddish brown to dark brown. Some versions will lean towards fruity esters, while others tend to be drier with nutty characters. All seem to have a low hop aroma and bitterness.
American Brown Ale
Spawned from the English Brown Ale, the American version can simply use American ingredients. Many other versions may have additions of coffee or nuts. This style also encompasses “Dark Ales”. The bitterness and hop flavor has a wide range and the alcohol is not limited to the average either.
Examples: Dogfish Head Indian Brown, Goodwood Brown Ale, Brooklyn Brown
English Brown Ale
Spawned from the Mild Ale, Brown Ales tend to be more malty and sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body. Color can range from reddish brown to dark brown. Some versions will lean towards fruity esters, while others tend to be drier with nutty characters. All seem to have a low hop aroma and bitterness.
Examples: Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Abita Turbodog
Inspired from the now wavering English Porter, the American Porter is the ingenuous creation from that. Thankfully with lots of innovation and originality American brewers have taken this style to a new level. Whether it is highly hopping the brew, using smoked malts, or adding coffee or chocolate to complement the burnt flavor associated with this style. Some are even barrel aged in Bourbon or whiskey barrels. The hop bitterness range is quite wide but most are balanced. Many are just easy drinking session porters as well.
Examples: Founders Porter, West Sixth Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Porters of the late 1700’s were quite strong compared to todays standards, easily surpassing 7% alcohol by volume. Some brewers made a stronger, more robust version, to be shipped across the North Sea, dubbed a Baltic Porter. In general, the styles dark brown color covered up cloudiness and the smoky/roasted brown malts and bitter tastes masked brewing imperfections. The addition of stale ale also lent a pleasant acidic flavor to the style, which made it quite popular. These issues were quite important given that most breweries were getting away from pub brewing and opening up breweries that could ship beer across the world.
Examples: Flying Dog Gonzo Porter, Moody Tongue Porter, Baltika #6
Inspired from English & Irish Stouts, the American Stout is the ingenuous creation from that. Thankfully with lots of innovation and originality American brewers have taken this style to a new level. Whether it is highly hopping the brew or adding coffee or chocolate to complement the roasted flavors associated with this style. Some are even barrel aged in Bourbon or whiskey barrels. The hop bitterness range is quite wide but most are balanced. Many are just easy drinking session stouts as well.
Examples: Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, Deschutes Obsidian, Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
As mysterious as they look, stouts are typically dark brown to pitch black in color. A common profile amongst Stouts, but not in all cases, is the use of roasted barley (unmalted barley that is kilned to the point of being charred) which lends a dry character to the beer as well as a huge roasted flavor that can range from burnt to coffee to chocolate. A different balance of hops is up to the brewers preference, but the roasted character must be there.
Examples: Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout, Belhaven Stout, Flying Dog Pearl Necklace
American Double/Imperial Stout
The American Double Stout gets some of it inspiration from the Russian Imperial Stout. Many of these are barrel aged, mostly in bourbon / whiskey barrels, while some are infused with coffee or chocolate. Alcohol ranges vary, but tend to be quite big, and bigger than traditional Russian Imperial Stouts. Most tend to have cleaner alcohol flavors, higher hop levels, and more residual sweetness. Very full-bodied with rich roasted flavors far surpassing normal stouts.
Examples: Founders Breakfast Stout, Evil Twin Aun Mas Chili Jesus, Goodwood Stout
Russian Imperial Stout
Inspired by brewers back in the 1800’s to win over the Russian Czar, this is the king of stouts, boasting high alcohol by volumes and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavors. Often dry. Suggestions of dark fruit and flavors of higher alcohols are quite evident. Hop character can vary from none, to balanced to aggressive.
Examples: North Coast Old Rasputin, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Dark Horse Plead the Fifth
Milk Stouts are basically stouts that have a larger amount of residual dextrins and unfermented sugars that give the brew more body and a sweetness that counters the roasted character. In Milk Stouts brewers add unfermentable sugars, usually lactose, to the brew kettle to add body and some sweetness.
Examples: Left Hand Milk Stout, Terrapin Moo-Hoo, Against the Grain 35K
These are generally medium to full bodied stouts that have an unreal smoothness to them from the addition of oats to the mash. The oats not only add a lot of smoothness to the mouth feel but give a touch of sweetness that is unlike any other type of stout. Both levels of roasted flavor and hop character will vary.
Examples: Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast, New Holland The Poet
Irish Dry Stout
One of the most common stouts, Dry Irish Stout tend to have light-ish bodies to keep them on the highly drinkable side. They’re usually a lower carbonation brew and served on a nitro system for that creamy, masking effect. Bitterness comes from both roasted barley and a generous dose of hops, though the roasted character will be more noticeable. Examples of the style are, of course, the big three, Murphy’s, Beamish, and Guinness, however there are many American brewed Dry Stouts that are comparable, if not better.
Examples: Guinness, Murphy’s Irish Stout