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American-Style Black Ale

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Location: North American
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 21B - Specialty IPA: Black IPA

Style Description

This is the description of how the American-Style Black Ale style of beer should taste, feel and look. However, there may be perfectly fine beers in this style that fall outside of these ranges and descriptions. This information is just to show the most commonly accepted ranges for the American-Style Black Ale beer style.

Black ales that don’t meet the specifications for American-Style Black Ale may possibly be categorized as Experimental India Pale Ale category.

  • Color: Very dark to black
  • Body: Medium
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: Low to medium-low caramel malt and dark roasted malt aromas and flavors are present. Astringency and burnt character of roast malt should be absent.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Medium-high to high, with fruity, citrusy, piney, floral, herbal or other aromas derived from hops of all origins.
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Medium-high to high
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are low to medium. Diacetyl should not be present.
  • Common Ingredients: Debittered roast malts for color and some flavor without harshness and burnt qualities; American or New World hop varieties that don’t clash with roasted malts. Hop characteristics cited are typical of these type of hops; others characteristics are possible, particularly if derived from newer varietals.
  • Commercial Examples: 21st Amendment Back in Black (standard), Deschutes Hop in the Dark CDA (standard), Rogue Dad’s Little Helper (standard), Southern Tier Iniquity (double), Widmer Pitch Black IPA

Brewing Properties of American-Style Black Ale

These are the functional brewing properties of American-Style Black Ale beers, as descided by the Brewers Association. These guidelines reflect, as accurately as possible, the historical significance, authenticity or a common profile in the current commercial beer market.

The alcohol by volume is shows the amount of alcohol this style of beer should have.
6.3 - 7.6%
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
40 - 70 IBUs
SRM is a scale for measuring the color intensity of a beer. Low SRM grains impart a pale straw color while higher values mean it will add a darker color to the wort. Learn more »
35 SRM
(69 EBC)
Original Gravity
Original Gravity (OG) is a measure of the sugar content in the wort before alcoholic fermentation has started to produce the beer.
1.056 - 1.075
Final Gravity
The Final Gravity (FG) is how much sugar is left over in the beer when fermentation is complete.
1.012 - 1.018

If you see an error in our data, please let us know!

Based on Brewers Association 2020 Beer Style Guidelines with changes. Used with permission of Brewers Association.