English, Irish & Scottish Ales

These ales from the Isles tend to emphasize malt sweetness over hop bitterness. Hops are difficult to grow in the north of Scotland and Ireland, so the alternative was to use a variety of roasted malts to enhance flavor. The exceptions are the well-hopped English bitters and pale ales of the south of England. The ale yeast used in these beers produces spicy and fruity characteristics.

Pale Ale Family

Pale is a relative term. When these beers emerged long ago, they were pale relative to the black beers then widely consumed at the time. Hops play an important role in these beers, although malt is important for balance. Pale ales range from mildly grassy and fruity to massively hoppy. All pale ales have a crisp finish and are typically low-alcohol session ales originally intended for an evening of drinking with the mates at the pub. India pale ales were brewed with copious amounts of hops as a preservative to survive the long voyage from Britain to India.

  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

paleale

Pale Ale

Brisk English hop nose with some fruitiness on top of malt that may be bready, nutty or lightly caramelly. Bitter, with dry, crisp often minerally finish.

A term encompassing a large family of golden-to-amber ales traditionally applied to bottled beer, but may be draught.

h3
b2

ABV: 3.5-4.2

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Deschutes Brewery, Mirror Pong Pale Ale,  2010 Gold GABF Classic English-style Pale Ale
  • Ska Brewing Co., Ska Special, 
    2010 Bronze Classic English-style Pale Ale
  • Summit Brewing Co., Summit Extra Pale Ale, 2010 Silver GABF Classic English-style Pale Ale
ESB

Ordinary Bitter, Best Bitter ESB

Soft to serious hop aromas plus fruitiness on top of malty, nutty woody flavors. Often light-bodied, with a dry, crisp finish.

Terms for draught (Real Ale) versions of pale ale, but may be bottled. Often made in several strengths.

h3 b2

ABV: 3.0-5.8

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Great American Restaurants, GAR Pale Ale, 2010 Gold GABF Extra Special or Strong Bitter
  • Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery, Colorado Boy IPA, 2009 Bronze GABF Extra Special or Strong Bitter
  • SweetWater Brewing, Motorboat ESB,
    2009 Silver GABF Extra Special or Strong Bitter

 

indiapaleale

India Pale Ale

Moderately to massively hoppy. Bready, caramelly malt character with fruity and/or nutty flavors. Crisp, bitter finish.

Originally an exported type of pale ale, generally stronger, paler and hoppier than those above.

h5
b2

ABV: 5.0-7.0

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Pizza Port Carlsbad, Beech Street Bitter,
    2010 Gold GABF English-style India Pale Ale
  • Brewer’s Alley Brewery, Brewer’s Alley India Pale Ale, 2009 Bronze GABF English-style India Pale Ale

Brown and Black Ales

Brown beers are the descendants of ancient English unhopped ales. Porter and stout achieved fame starting in the mid-eighteenth century. While nearly dying out in England, they are still thriving in Ireland. All feature toasted and/or roasted malts and light to medium hop bitterness. Brown ales have a sweet, nutty flavor and light to medium body. Porters are dark, lightly hopped, and mildly roasty with a dry finish. Roasted malts always dominate the with the aromas of a stout. They are full-bodied, and can be creamy, sweet or dry. Russian Imperial Stouts were the favorite beer of Catherine the Great. The British exported the strong, dark stout to Russia to appease the enlightened despot’s thirst. Imperial stouts were brewed with enormous quantities of malt and hops to survive the long journey from London to St. Petersburg. Russian Imperials are sipping beers with an intense hoppy and roasted nose, full body and intense flavor.

FLAVOR

ABOUT

QUALITIES

WINNING EXAMPLES

Brownale

Brown Ale

Light nutty maltiness with hints of toast. Crisp to medium-bodied. Lightly hopped.

Amber-to-brown beers with decidedly malty personalities.

h1 b1

ABV: 4.0-5.5

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Pizza Port Carlsbad, Good Grief Brown,
    2010 Silver GABF English-style Brown Ale
  • Rock Bottom Breweries, Old Elk Brown Ale, 2010 Gold GABF English-style Brown Ale
  • Ska Brewing, Buster Nut Brown,
    2009 Silver GABF English-style Brown Ale
MildAle

Mild Ale

Delicate roasty/malty aroma. Sometimes with a little malty richness but often crisp and dry.

Ruby-colored ale that was hugely popular in mid-20th century England.

h1 b3

ABV: 3.2-4.0

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Boulder Beer Co., Business Time Mild,
    2010 Gold GABF English-style Mild Ale 
  • Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery, Sara’s Ruby Mild, 2009 Gold GABF English-style Mild Ale 
  • Snake River Brewing, AK Session,
    2009 Silver GABF English-style Mild Ale 
Porter

Porter

Soft roastiness in nose. Lightly or firmly hopped, dryish or slightly rich. Paler than stout.

The original black beer of England, of which stout was a stronger variation.

h3 b4

ABV: 4.5-6.5

GLASS: Nonick Imperial Pint

  • Blackstone Brewery, St. Charles Porter,
    2010 Silver GABF Brown Porter
  • Ram Production Brewery, Total Disorder Porter, 2010 Gold GABF Brown Porter
  • Deschutes Brewery, Black Butte Porter,
    2009 Bronze GABF Brown Porter
Stout

Stout

No matter the substyle, roasted malt always dominates the nose. Flavor may be sweet, creamy, dry and/or bitter.

Black beers in a number of substyles: dry Irish stout, sweet London stout or creamy oatmeal stout.

h4
b9

ABV: 4.0-5.0

GLASS: Irish Imperial Pint

  • Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Pig Iron Porter, 2010 Gold GABF Robust Porter
  • Left Hand Brewing Co., Fade to Black, 
    2010 Gold GABF Foreign-Style Stout
  • Laurelwood Brewing Co., Space Stout,
    2009 Gold GABF Foreign(Export)-Style Stout
Russian Imperial Stout

Russian Imperial Stout

Massively roasty, often with considerable hopping. Intense, sipping-style beer.

High-gravity black beer once popular in the Imperial court of Russia.

h8
b7

ABV: 7.0-12.0

GLASS: Small Tulip or Snifter

  • Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Russian Imperial Stout, 2010 Gold GABF Imperial Stout
  • Great Divide Brewery, Yeti,
    2009 Silver GABF Imperial Stout
  • Foothills Brewing, Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout, 2009 Gold GABF Imperial Stout

Strong British-Style Ales

Varying in strength, bitterness and color, these beers are rich, full-bodied and especially enjoyable in the cold weather months. These are the most ancient style of English ales and hearken back to the time of William the Conqueror. Strong ales, like the name suggests, have a high alcohol content. They have notes of caramel with hints of leather and toast. Old ales are often strong ales that have been aged in wood then blended with fresh beer. The result is an earthy, barnyard flavor imparted by the wood. Barleywines are the most burley of this group, often topping out around 14% alcohol by volume. They have a strong caramel taste with hints of leather, nuts and toast, with ample hops added for balance. Scotch ales have very little bitter hop character. Rather, they possess a round malt sweetness and mild roastiness to balance the flavors. Scotch ales tend to be fermented slowly at low temperatures to create a smooth finish.

FLAVOR

ABOUT

QUALITIES

WINNING EXAMPLES

StrongAle

Strong Ale

Lightly to strongly caramelly, often with hints of toast, leather, wood. Varying hoppiness.

A loose group of strong amber-to-brown ales.

h6 b7

ABV: 7.0-11.0

GLASS: Small Tulip or Snifter

  • Founders Brewing Co., Curmudgeon,
    2010 Silver GABF Old or Strong Ale
  • Silver City Brewery, Old Scrooge ’98,
    2009 Gold GABF Old or Strong Ale

 

OldAle

Old Ale

Like the style above, but drier, and with wood-aged character that may be earthy, barnyard, even a touch tart.

Strong beers that have been aged, often in wood, then blended with fresh.

h5 b6

ABV: 6.0-9.0

GLASS: Small Tulip or Snifter

  • Bend Brewing, Outback X,
    2010 Bronze GABF Old or Strong Ale
  • Kuhnhenn Brewing, Fourth Dementia Olde Ale, 2010 Gold GABF Old or Strong Ale
BarleyWine

Barley Wine

Plenty of caramel, dried fruit, nuts, toast, leather, and usually, hops.

Broad term for very strong ale. Intense, sippable.

h3
b2

ABV: 8.4-12.0

GLASS: Small Tulip or Snifter

  • The Brew Kettle Production Works, Jack Hammer, 2010 Bronze GABF Barley Wine Style Ale
  • Valley Brewing Co., Old Inventory Barley Wine, 2009 Gold GABF Barley Wine Style Ale
Thistle

Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy)

A huge malty nose, often with hints of roastiness. A full, sweet palate with very little hops.

This strong mahogany-colored beer is the Scots’ unique specialty.

h3
b2

ABV: 6.2-8

GLASS: Stemmed ‘Pokal’

  • Pizza Port Carlsbad, Reed’s Wee Heavy,
    2010 Gold GABF Scotch Ale
  • Erie Brewing Co., Railbender Ale,
    2009 Gold GABF Scottish-Style Ale
  • Kettlehouse Brewing Co., Cold Smoke Scotch Ale, 2009 Bronze GABF Scottish-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.