Beer Maverick

Old Ale

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Location: British
Category: Ale
BJCP Comparable Category: 17B - Old Ale

Style Description

This is the description of how the Old 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 Old Ale beer style.

Low level attributes typical of wood aging such as vanilla are acceptable. Brettanomyces and acidity reflect historical character; low level attributes such as horsey, goaty, leathery, phenolic, etc. and acidity may be present and balanced with other flavors. Residual flavors that come from liquids previously aged in a barrel, such as bourbon or sherry, should not be present. When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, competition organizers may choose to split this category into subcategories which reflect strong and very strong versions, or historic and modern versions.

  • Color: Copper-red to very dark
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Malt Flavors & Aromas: Fruity esters can enhance and complement the malt aroma and flavor profile. Old Ales have malt and sometimes caramel sweetness.
  • Hop Flavors & Aromas: Very low to medium
  • IBUs/Bitterness: Present but minimal
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters can contribute to the character of these beers. Alcohol types can be varied and complex. A distinctive quality of Old Ales is that they undergo an aging process, often for years. Aging can occur on their yeast either in bulk storage or through conditioning in the bottle. This contributes to a rich, wine-like and often sweet oxidized character. Complex estery attributes may also emerge. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels.
  • Common Ingredients: Composition varies, although generally similar to British Strong Ales. The age character is the biggest driver of the final style profile, which is more handling than brewing. May be aged in wood, but should not have a strong wood character.
  • Commercial Examples: Burton Bridge Olde Expensive, Gale’s Prize Old Ale, Greene King Strong Suffolk Ale, Marston Owd Roger, Theakston Old Peculier

Brewing Properties of Old Ale

These are the functional brewing properties of Old 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 - 9.1%
The International Bittering Units (IBU) scale is used to approximately quantify the actual (not perceived) bitterness of beer.
30 - 65 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 »
12 - 30 SRM
(24 - 59 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.
1.058 - 1.088
Final Gravity
The Final Gravity (FG) is how much sugar is left over in the beer when fermentation is complete.
1.014 - 1.030

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.