British Origin Ale Styles

2021 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines
Ordinary Bitter

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.033-1.038 (8.3-9.5 °Plato)
Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006- 1.012 (1.5-3.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.4%-3.3% (3.0%-4.2%)
Hop Bitterness (IBU) 20-35
Color SRM (EBC) 5-12 (10-24 EBC)

Ordinary Bitter

Color: Deep gold to deep copper
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium residual malt sweetness should be present
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium at the brewer’s discretion
Perceived bitterness: Medium and not harsh Fermentation Characteristics: Low carbonation traditionally characterizes draft-cask versions, but in bottled versions, a slight increase in carbon dioxide content is acceptable. Fruity esters are acceptable. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at low levels.
Body: Medium

Special Bitter or Best Bitter

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.038-1.045 (9.5-11.2 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006-1.012 (1.5-3.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.3%-3.8% (4.2%-4.8%)
Hop Bitterness (IBU) 28-40
Color SRM (EBC) 6-14 (12-28 EBC)

Special Bitter or Best Bitter

Color: Deep gold to deep copper
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium residual malt sweetness should be present
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium at the brewer’s discretion
Perceived bitterness: Medium and not harsh Fermentation Characteristics: Low carbonation traditionally characterizes draft-cask versions, but in bottled versions, a slight increase in carbon dioxide content is acceptable. Fruity esters are acceptable. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at low levels.
Body: Medium

Extra Special Bitter

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.046-1.060 (11.4-14.7 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.010-1.016 (2.6-4.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.8%-4.6% (4.8%-5.8%)
Bitterness (IBU) 30-45
Color SRM (EBC) 8-17(16-34 EBC)

Extra Special Bitter

Color: Amber to deep copper
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium to medium-high
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium to medium- high
Perceived bitterness: Medium to medium-high Fermentation Characteristics: Low carbonation traditionally characterizes draft-cask versions, but in bottled versions, a slight increase in carbon dioxide content is acceptable. The overall impression is refreshing and thirst quenching. Fruity esters are acceptable. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at low levels.
Body: Medium
Additional notes: Entries in this subcategory exhibit hop aroma and flavor attributes typical of traditional English hop varieties.

Scottish-Style Light Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.030-1.035 (7.6-8.8 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006-1.010 (1.5-2.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.2%-2.8% (2.8%-3.5%)
Bitterness (IBU) 9-20
Color SRM (EBC) 6-15(12-30 EBC)

Scottish-Style Light Ale

Color: Gold to light brown
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malty, caramel aroma may be present. A low to medium-low, soft and chewy caramel malt flavor should be present. Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Should not be present
Perceived bitterness: Low
Fermentation Characteristics: Yeast attributes such as diacetyl and sulfur are acceptable at very low levels. Bottled versions may contain higher amounts of carbon dioxide than is typical for lightly carbonated draft versions. Fruity esters, if present, are low.
Body: Low
Additional notes: These beers differ significantly from Scotch Ale, especially regarding original gravity, alcohol content and malt attributes. While there are conflicting theories as to whether traditional Scottish Light Ale exhibited peat smoke character, the current marketplace offers many examples with peat smoke character present at low to medium-low levels. Peat smoke attributes may be absent or present at low to medium-low levels. Versions exhibiting higher levels of smoke character are categorized as Smoke Beer.

Scottish-Style Heavy Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.035-1.040 (8.8-10 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.010- 1.014 (2.6-3.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.8%-3.2% (3.5%-4.1%)
Hop Bitterness (IBU) 12-20
Color SRM (EBC) 8-30 (16-60 EBC)

Scottish-Style Heavy Ale

Color: Amber to dark brown
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malty, caramel aroma is present. The style exhibits a medium degree of sweet malt and caramel. The overall impression is smooth and balanced.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Should not be present
Perceived bitterness: Perceptible but low
Fermentation Characteristics: Yeast attributes such as diacetyl and sulfur are acceptable at very low levels. Bottled versions may contain higher amounts of carbon dioxide than is typical for lightly carbonated draft versions. Fruity esters, if present, are low.
Body: Medium with a soft chewy character
Additional notes: These beers differ significantly from Scotch Ale, especially regarding original gravity, alcohol content and malt attributes. While there are conflicting theories as to whether traditional Scottish Heavy Ale exhibited peat smoke character, the current marketplace offers many examples with peat smoke character present at low to medium-low levels. Peat smoke attributes may be absent or present at low to medium-low levels. Versions exhibiting higher levels of smoke character are categorized as Smoke Beer.

Scottish-Style Export Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.038-1.045 (9.5-11.2 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006-1.012 (1.5-3.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.3%-3.8% (4.2%-4.8%)
Hop Bitterness (IBU) 28-40
Color SRM (EBC) 6-14 (12-28 EBC)

Scottish-Style Export Ale

Color: Medium amber to dark chestnut brown
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Sweet malt and caramel aromas and flavors define the character of a Scottish Export
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Should not be present
Perceived bitterness: Low to medium Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters, if present, are low. Yeast attributes such as diacetyl and sulfur are acceptable at very low levels. Bottled versions may contain higher amounts of carbon dioxide than is typical for lightly carbonated draft versions.
Body: Medium
Additional notes: These beers differ significantly from Scotch Ale, especially regarding original gravity, alcohol content and malt attributes. While there are conflicting theories as to whether traditional Scottish Export Ale exhibited peat smoke character, the current marketplace offers many examples with peat smoke character present at low to medium-low levels. Peat smoke attributes may be absent or present at low to medium-low levels. Versions exhibiting higher levels of smoke character are categorized as Smoke Beer.

English-Style Summer Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.036-1.050 (9-12.4 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006-1.012 (1.5-3.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.9%-4.0% (3.7%-5.1%)
Bitterness (IBU) 20-30
Color SRM (EBC) 3-6(6-12 EBC)

English-Style Summer Ale

Color: Straw to gold
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Residual malt sweetness is low to medium. Torrified or malted wheat is often used in quantities of 25 percent or less. Malt attributes such as biscuity or low levels of caramel are present.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Low to medium, expressed as floral, herbal, earthy, stone fruit, citrus or other attributes. Hop flavor should not be assertive and should be well balanced with malt character.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium-low to medium
Fermentation Characteristics: Mild carbonation traditionally characterizes draft-cask versions, but in bottled versions, a slight increase in carbon dioxide content is acceptable. Fruity esters are low to medium. Diacetyl and DMS should not be present.
Body: Low to medium-low
Additional notes: The overall impression is refreshing and thirst quenching

Classic English-Style Pale Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.040-1.056 (10-13.8 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.008-1.016 (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.5%-4.2% (4.4%-5.3%)
Bitterness (IBU) 20-40
Color SRM (EBC) 5-12(10-24 EBC)

Classic English-Style Pale Ale

Color: Gold to copper
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Low to medium malt aroma and flavor is present. Low caramel character is allowable.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium-low to medium-high, expressed as floral, herbal, earthy, stone fruit or other attributes.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium-low to medium-high
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are medium to medium-high. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels.
Body: Medium

English-Style India Pale Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.046-1.064 (11.4-15.7 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.012-1.018 (3.1-4.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.6%-5.6% (4.5%-7.1%)
Bitterness (IBU) 35-63
Color SRM (EBC) 6-14(12-28 EBC)

English-Style India Pale Ale

Color: Gold to copper
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium malt flavor should be present
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium to high, expressed as floral, herbal, earthy, stone fruit or other attributes from high hopping rates.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium to high
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are medium to high. Traditional interpretations are characterized by medium to medium-high alcohol content. The use of water with high mineral content results in a crisp, dry beer with a subtle and balanced character of sulfur compounds. Diacetyl can be absent or may be present at very low levels.
Body: Medium
Additional notes: A wide range of hop varieties may be used for bitterness or for approximating traditional English hop character. The use of water with high mineral content may result in a crisp, dry beer rather than a malt-accentuated version.

Strong Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.060-1.125 (14.7-29 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.014-1.040 (3.6-10 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.5%-8.9% (7.0%-11.3%)
Bitterness (IBU) 30-65
Color SRM (EBC) 8-21(16-42 EBC)

Strong Ale

Color: Amber to dark brown
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium to high malt and caramel sweetness. Very low levels of roast malt may be present.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not present to very low
Perceived Bitterness: Present but minimal, and balanced with malt flavors.
Fermentation Characteristics: Rich, often sweet and complex fruity ester attributes can contribute to the profile of Strong Ales. Alcohol types can be varied and complex. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels.
Body: Medium to full

Old Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.058-1.088 (14.3-21.1 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.014-1.030 (3.6-7.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.0%-7.2% (6.3%-9.1%)
Bitterness (IBU) 30-65
Color SRM (EBC) 12-30(24-60 EBC)

Old Ale

Color: Gold to copper
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium malt flavor should be present
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Medium to high, expressed as floral, herbal, earthy, stone fruit or other attributes from high hopping rates.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium to high
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are medium to high. Traditional interpretations are characterized by medium to medium-high alcohol content. The use of water with high mineral content results in a crisp, dry beer with a subtle and balanced character of sulfur compounds. Diacetyl can be absent or may be present at very low levels.
Body: Medium
Additional notes: A wide range of hop varieties may be used for bitterness or for approximating traditional English hop character. The use of water with high mineral content may result in a crisp, dry beer rather than a malt-accentuated version.

English-Style Pale Mild Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.030-1.036 (7.6-9 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.004-1.008 (1-2.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.7%-3.4% (3.4%-4.4%)
Bitterness (IBU) 10-20
Color SRM (EBC) 6-9(12-18 EBC)

English-Style Pale Mild Ale

Color: Light amber to medium amber
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt flavor and aroma dominate the flavor profile
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to low
Perceived Bitterness: Very low to low
Fermentation Characteristics: Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels. Fruity esters are very low to medium-low.
Body: Low to medium-low

English-Style Dark Mild Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.030-1.036 (7.6-9 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.004-1.008 (1-2.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.7%-3.4% (3.4%-4.4%)
Bitterness (IBU) 10-24
Color SRM (EBC) 17-34(34-68 EBC)

English-Style Dark Mild Ale

Color: Reddish-brown to very dark
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Malt attributes such as caramel, licorice, roast or others may be present in aroma and flavor.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low
Perceived Bitterness: Very low to low
Fermentation Characteristics: Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels. Fruity esters are very low to medium-low.
Body: Medium-low to medium

English-Style Brown Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.040-1.050 (10-12.4 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.008-1.014 (2.1-3.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.3%-4.7% (4.2%-6.0%)
Bitterness (IBU) 12-25
Color SRM (EBC) 12-24(24-48 EBC)

English-Style Brown Ale

Color: Copper to dark brown
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Roast malt may contribute to a biscuit or toasted aroma profile. Roast malt may contribute to the flavor profile. Malt profile can range from dry to sweet.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low
Perceived Bitterness: Very low to low
Fermentation Characteristics: Low to medium-low level fruity esters are appropriate. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels.
Body: Medium

Brown Porter

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.040-1.050 (10-12.4 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.006-1.014 (1.5-3.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.5%-4.7% (4.4%-6.0%)
Bitterness (IBU) 20-30
Color SRM (EBC) 20-35(40-70 EBC)

Brown Porter

Color: Dark brown to very dark. May have red tint.
Clarity: Beer color may be too dark to perceive clarity. When clarity is perceivable, chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures.
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Low to medium malt sweetness. Caramel and chocolate attributes are acceptable. Strong roast barley or strong burnt or black malt character should not be present.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium
Perceived Bitterness: Medium
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are acceptable. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at low levels.
Body: Low to medium

Robust Porter

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.045-1.060 (11.2-14.7 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.008-1.016 (2.1-4.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 4.0%-5.2% (5.1%-6.6%)
Bitterness (IBU) 25-40
Color SRM (EBC) 30+(60+ EBC)

Robust Porter

Color: Very dark brown to black
Clarity: Opaque
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium to medium-high. Malty sweetness, roast malt, cocoa and caramel should be in harmony with bitterness from dark malts.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium
Perceived Bitterness: Medium to high
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters should be present and balanced with all other characters. Diacetyl should not be present.
Body: Medium to full

Sweet Stout or Cream Stout

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.045-1.056 (11.2-13.8 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.012-1.020 (3.1-5.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 2.5%-5.0% (3.2%-6.3%)
Bitterness (IBU) 15-25
Color SRM (EBC) 40+(80+ EBC)

Sweet Stout or Cream Stout

Color: Black
Clarity: Opaque
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Medium to medium-high. Malt sweetness, chocolate and caramel should contribute to the aroma and should dominate the flavor profile. Roast flavor may be present. Low to medium-low roasted malt-derived bitterness should be present.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Should not be present
Perceived Bitterness: Low to medium-low and serves to balance and suppress some of the sweetness without contributing apparent flavor and aroma
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters, if present, are low. Diacetyl should not be present.
Body: Full-bodied. Body can be increased with the addition of milk sugar (lactose).

Oatmeal Stout

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.038-1.056 (9.5-13.8 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.008-1.020 (2.1-5.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.0%-4.8% (3.8%-6.1%)
Bitterness (IBU) 20-40
Color SRM (EBC) 20+(40+ EBC)

Oatmeal Stout

Color: Dark brown to black
Clarity: Beer color may be too dark to perceive. When clarity is perceivable, chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures.
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Coffee, caramel, roasted malt or chocolate aromas should be prominent. Roasted malt character of caramel or chocolate should be smooth without bitterness.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Optional, but if present should not upset the overall balance.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium
Fermentation Characteristics: Oatmeal is used in the grist, resulting in a pleasant, full flavor without being grainy. Fruity esters are not present to very low. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels.
Body: Full

Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.072-1.085 (17.5-20.4 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.016-1.028 (4.1-7.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.2%-6.7% (6.6%-8.5%)
Bitterness (IBU) 25-35
Color SRM (EBC) 15-30(30-60 EBC)

Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy

Color: Light reddish-brown to very dark
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Scotch Ales are aggressively malty with a rich and dominant sweet malt aroma and flavor. A caramel character is often part of the profile. Dark roasted malt flavors may be present at low levels.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Not present to very low
Perceived Bitterness: Not present to very low
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters, if present, are generally at low levels. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at low levels.
Body: Full
Additional notes: Pleasant, low level oxidation is acceptable in Scotch Ales. Examples exhibiting more prevalent oxidation are categorized as Aged Beer.

British-Style Imperial Stout

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.080-1.100 (19.3-23.7 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.020-1.030 (5.1-7.6 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.5%-9.5% (7.0%-12.0%)
Bitterness (IBU) 45-65
Color SRM (EBC) 20-35+(40-70+ EBC)

British-Style Imperial Stout

Color: Ranging from dark copper typical of some historic examples, to very dark more typical of contemporary examples
Clarity: Opaque in darker versions. When clarity is perceivable, chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures.
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Extremely rich malty flavor, often expressed as toffee or caramel, and may be accompanied by very low roasted malt astringency.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium, with floral, citrus or herbal qualities.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium and should not overwhelm the overall balance. The bitterness may be higher in darker versions while maintaining balance with sweet malt.
Fermentation Characteristics: High alcohol content is evident. Fruity esters if present are medium to high. Diacetyl should not be present.
Body: Full
Additional notes: This style was also originally called “Russian Imperial Stout.”

British-Style Barley Wine Ale

Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.085-1.120 (20.4-28 °Plato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.024-1.028 (6.1-7.1 °Plato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 6.7%-9.6% (8.5%-12.2%)
Bitterness (IBU) 40-65
Color SRM (EBC) 11-36(22-72 EBC)

British-Style Barley Wine Ale

Color: Tawny copper to deep red/copper-garnet
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Residual malty sweetness is high
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Hop aroma and flavor are very low to medium. English type hops are often used but are not required for this style.
Perceived Bitterness: Low to medium
Fermentation Characteristics: Complexity of alcohols and fruity ester attributes are often high and balanced with the high alcohol content. Low levels of diacetyl are acceptable. Caramel and some oxidized character (vinous aromas and/or flavors) may be considered positive attributes.
Body: Full

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