The Brown Ale has a notably different taste to it than other beers. Usually dark but sweet, this ale is usually low in alcohol content. American and English brown ales have their differences, but both of these beers give you the same distinct Brown Ale taste.
The English Brown Ale
The English Brown Ale became popular in England back in the 1700s before Pale Ales. Once Pale Ales entered the world, the Brown Ale became nonexistent. You will find them around today, because of the resurgence from America.
The English Brown Ale is characterized as robust and toasty from the high malt flavor profile. The yeast used in this beer usually brings out a fruity taste and aroma compared to the thick and robust flavors of the stout. Brown ales can have a slight nutty taste with hints of caramel and light chocolate. ABV usually ranges from 2.8 to 5.4%.
According to CraftBeer.com, “English-style brown ales have two variations: a dry, roasted version that is said to have originated from northern England, and a sweeter, less attenuated brown ale variety that is believed to have gained favor in the southern portion of England.” Focused mainly on the maltiness, the flavor profile can be a toasty maltiness with light hops. Since the hoppiness profile is low, there are hints of caramel or chocolate.
The American Brown Ale
Since Europe came up with the Brown Ale first, America didn’t follow suit until later. According to Nick Carr, “It was Texas Brewers in the 1980s that started to experiment… wanting to copy the English Brown Ale.” Nick goes on to explain how Americans like to make their beer more complex and strong, so the Texas Brewers had created a strong Brown Ale Beer. This is not news to us ‘Americans.’
As a result of this, the American Brown Ale is much maltier and hoppier than the English Brown Ale. Throughout time, the American Ale Smoothed down. As the BJCP states, “Pete’s Wicked Ale was one of the first and best known examples, and inspired many imitations… Texas Brown Ales are now more appropriately called a Brown IPA.” Just like the maltiness of the English Brown Ale, the flavor profile can be a toasty maltiness with light hops. There are also hints of caramel or chocolate in the American Brown Ale. The ABV for the American Brown Ale ranges from 4.3 to 6.2%.