American Ales

November 19, 2009

Although originally inspired by European—especially British—ales, American craft brewed ales have developed their own character. Compared to their European cousins, they are usually maltier and more aggressively hopped.

American pale ales are likely to be more heavily hopped than their British cousins. Toasted caramel sweetness is usually subordinate to a brisk bitterness and aroma of American hops. While British pale ales tend to have a grassier aroma, American pale ales have a more fruity and citrusy aroma. The American IPA is a stronger, more fragrant version of the pale ale. Imperial or Double IPAs are a step above regular IPA swith substantially more hop flavor, hop aroma and alcohol.

Amber ales are moderate strength ales that were created as an alternative to the American light pilsners that dominated the market for over a century. These ales have a caramel maltiness and a moderate degree of hoppiness. Red ales are similar, but have a burnt sugar quality and are more heavily hopped.

  Beer COLOR

The range is shown by graduated color in glasses.

  HOPS

The size of the green dot indicates the intensity of hop bitterness and/or aroma.

  BODY

The size of the gray dot indicates fullness and/or sweetness.

 

 

FLAVOR

ABOUT

QUALITIES

WINNING EXAMPLES

American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale

Lightly to strongly malty (toasted caramel), more than counter balanced by the citrusy, resiny, floral character of American hops.

Robust, amber colored ales, usually with a generous dose of a classic American hop like Cascade.

h6
b4

ABV: 4.5-5.5

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Main Street Pale, 2010 Gold GABF American-Style Pale Ale
  • Barley Brown’s Brew Pub, Tumble Off Pale Ale, 2009 Bronze GABF American-Style Pale Ale
  • Grand Teton Brewing Co., Sweetgrass IPA,
    2009 Gold GABF American-Style Pale Ale
American India Pale Ale

American India Pale Ale

Light to moderate maltiness, nearly overwhelmed by resiny, grapefruity American hops.

A stronger, paler and more hoppy pale ale.


In American Craft Brewing, IPAs Reign Supreme
by Associated Press

h7 b4

ABV: 6.3-7.5

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Pizza Port San Clemente, “Pseudo” IPA,
    2010 Gold GABF American-Style India Pale Ale
  • Ballast Point Brewing Co., Sculpin IPA,
    2009 Silver GABF American-Style India Pale Ale
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Union Jack,
    2009 Gold GABF American-Style India Pale Ale
AmberAle

Amber Ale

Usually a fair amount of a caramelly maltiness. May be lightly to moderately hopped, usually with American hop varieties. 

 Moderate strength ale, not consciously based on any particular classic style. A wide range of interpretations are possible.

h3 b4

ABV: 4.5-6

GLASS: American Shaker Pint

  • Troegs Brewery, Hop Back Amber Ale,
    2010 Silver GABF American-Style Amber/Red Ale
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery, Organic Rise Up Red, 2009 Gold GABF American-Style Amber/Red Ale
RedAle

Red Ale

Usually a burnt sugar quality, from crystal malt, which may be balanced with discreet or enthusiastic amounts of hops.

A deep amber style, much more hop-forward than its Irish cousin.

h6 b5

ABV: 4.5-6.0

GLASS: American Shaker Pint

  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Red Nectar,
    2010 Gold GABF American-Style Amber/Red Ale
  • Green Flash Brewing Co., Hop Head Red,
    2009 Bronze GABF American-Style Amber/Red Ale
AmericanBrownAle

American Brown Ale

Very rich caramelliness with a fair amount of toasty, even lightly roasty aromas. May be moderately to highly hopped.

Deeper, richer, and generally far more hoppy than its English inspiration.

h6 b8

ABV: 4.0-6.4

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • LoneRider Brewing Co., Sweet Josie,
    2010 Gold GABF American-Style Brown Ale
  • Redrock Brewing Co., Redrock Nut Brown Ale, 2010 Silver GABF American-Style Brown Ale
  • Bristol Brewing Co., Cheyenne Cañon Ale,
    2009 Silver GABF American-Style Brown Ale
American Porter and Stout

American Porter and Stout

Lots of variety, but always plenty of roastiness, sometimes a touch caramelly, and balanced to one degree or another by American hops.

Often quite hoppy, and so probably more true in some ways to early porter and stout than modern English ones.

h5 b6

ABV: 4.5-8.8

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co., Liberty Stout, 2010 Gold GABF American-Style Stout
  • Third Street Aleworks, Stonefly Oatmeal Stout, 2009 Bronze GABF American-Style Stout
  • Troegs Brewing Co., Troegs Dead Reckoning, 2009 Silver GABF American-Style Stout
Imperial or Double IPA

Imperial or Double IPA

Simple idea. Just take an IPA and brew it a good deal stronger. Breathtakingly bitter, dripping with resiny hop aromas and highly alcoholic.

Although the original meaning was connected to stout, “Imperial” has been used for more than a century to designate a strong, luxurious beer.

h8 b8

ABV: 7.5-10.0

GLASS: Small Tulip or Snifter

  • Pizza Port San Clemente, Doheny Double IPA, 2010 Gold GABF Imperial India Pale Ale
  • Hollister Brewing Co., Hip Hop Double IPA,
    2009 Bronze GABF Imperial India Pale Ale
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery, Organic Ace of Spades Imperial IPA, 2009 Gold GABF Imperial India Pale Ale
AmericanBarleyWine

American Barleywine

Massive quantities of caramelly, burnt-sugar malt more than balanced by fresh, citrusy. resiny American hops.

Likely to be bigger
and more bitter than
its English cousins.

h7 b10

ABV: 8.0-12+

GLASS: Small Tulip or Snifter

  • Bristol Brewing Co., Old #23 Barley Wine,
    2010 Silver GABF Barley Wine Style Ale
  • Troegs Brewery, Flying Mouflan,
    2010 Gold GABF Barley Wine Style Ale

  BEER COLOR

The range is shown by graduated color in glasses.

  HOPS

The size of the green dot indicates the intensity of hop bitterness and/or aroma.

  BODY

The size of the gray dot indicates fullness and/or sweetness.