British & North American Ales
Posted: May 5, 2014
By Thomas Sulinski
We devote one session of the World Beer Championships entirely to British and North American ale styles that aren’t stouts or porters. Ranging from milds to barley wines and bitters to imperial IPAs, these are styles that appear in nearly every brewery’s portfolio. Often appearing in context with words such as year-round, core or even flagship, many of these are styles that comprise the staple of a brewery’s portfolio. While rare and seasonal beers may build new excitement around a brewery, it’s these core offerings that truly support it.
Although many of these styles originated in the United Kingdom, American interpretations have long been recognized as unique and separate styles. Although sharing the same surname, English and American IPAs are not to be confused. English versions can be said to be more austere in comparison, featuring the spicy, earthy and herbal flavors and aromas of English hop varietals, while American examples feature the more bold and brash floral, citrus and resin-like qualities of American hops. Standouts amongst participating English-style IPAs included Port City Brewing Monumental IPA (94 points), Goose Island India Pale Ale (94 points) and Grand Rapids Brewing 1826 IPA (90 points); while American-style standouts included Top of the Hill Brewery Ram’s Head India Pale Ale (94 points), Rogue Ales Rogue Farms 7 Hop IPA (93 points) and Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA (92 points).
Similar to IPAs, American and English-style brown ales differ greatly in respect to each other. While both styles feature a sweet, rich and nutty malt profile, American versions of the style incorporate a healthy dose of American hops balancing the rich, sweet malt flavors commonly associated with the style. While both styles can compliment hearty dishes of roast chicken, pork and root vegetables, the versatility of American-style brown ales expands beyond these hearty, roasted dishes. An ideal pair for barbeque and grill fare, the sweet malt backbone of American-style brown ales compliment sweeter sauces and char of the grill, while the healthy dose of American hops work to help cleanse the palate, especially with fattier barbeque. Top awarded English-style brown ales this year included Sweetwater Georgia Brown Ale (93 points) and Full Sail Nut Brown Ale (91 points); while top awarded American-style brown ales included Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale (93 points), Hopcat PT Brown (92 points) and Samuel Adams Hazel Brown (92 points).
Other notables from this year’s British and North American ales session included Rogue Ales 2012 Old Crustacean Barley Wine (98 points), Stone Brewing Sublimely Self-Righteous Black I.P.A. (93 points), Mother Road Brewing Roadside American Ale (92 points), Epic Brewing Mid Mountain Mild Ale (91 points), Gaslight Brewery Slalom Ale (93 points), Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle Scottish-Style Ale (95 points) and Top of the Hill Brewery Singleton Strong Ale (96 points).
While some of the beers featured in the pages that follow may be limited or seasonal in availability, many more are year-round offerings composing many breweries core portfolios. Regardless of the availability, we hope the pages that follow help you show some core support for a favorite long-time, or perhaps even new, brewery. Cheers!