Brown ale recipes (sometimes) get a bad rep. Craft beer lovers often think of this style as… well, boring. Maybe it doesn’t pack the same punch as a porter, or the zesty bitterness of an amber or a red.
Don’t let that fool you though – the brown ales offer an understated, wide-ranging complexity of flavors and aromas that few other beer styles can.
The truth is, brown ales are anything but boring. There is a shocking amount of brown ale variations, styles, and luckily for you, home brew recipes that offer a wide range of flavors and tastes.
Like its name suggests, this beer style is mild. It has a very light, fruity malt aroma, and the taste is light and malty with either a sweet or dry finish. The malt can take on a variety of aromas and tastes, including caramel, chocolate, toffee, toast, coffee, plum and others.
This mild beer can be found in medium amber, light brown, copper, dark brown or even in a mahogany color. The mouthfeel has a light to medium body. Hops are nearly non-existent in this beer; it has less of the hop-bitterness of a pale ale.
Once the most popular brew in England, it was out of public favor for years, until the craft beer movement came along. If you are interested in learning more about mild brown ales, check out Brew’s article "Mild Ale: It's Not Dead Yet!"
Best to drink: when you want a refreshing and light (but still flavorful!) beer. This style of brown ale is great when you want to drink in quantity, since it’s not overpowering and has a low alcohol content (ranging from 2.8 – 4.5%).
The extremely popular Newcastle Brown Ale is classified as a Northern English brown ale. It is a dryer brown ale, with light and refreshing traces of hops. It has more of a nutty character than a caramel one.
The aroma is a mild, sweet malt, with light hops. Like other brown ales, the malt can give off a toffee, nutty, or caramel aroma and taste.
The Northern English brown ale is distinct in color: dark amber to reddish-brown, and clear. The mouthfeel has a medium body and the taste offers mild malt sweetness, a nutty character, and a dry finish.
For Northern English brown ale history and brewing tips check out Winning-HomeBrew.com.
Best to drink: when you are craving a bit of bitterness – but not too much. This style ranges from medium to medium-low bitterness. This style pairs nicely with aged cheese and (surprise, surprise!) nuts.
This is a sweeter, richer malt-oriented brown ale. The aroma tends to have hints of caramel or toffee, and can be moderately fruity but never with traces of hops. It has a medium body, but the sweetness of the beer may make it feel heavier than it really is.
It has a creamy and smooth texture, and can range in color from light brown to almost black. It offers deep flavors with relatively little alcohol content (2.8 – 4.1%).
For tips and tricks on how to make the very best Southern English brown ale visit Beer & Brewing Magazine.
Best to drink: if you’re craving a sweeter version of a dark mild, or want something rich in flavor without any hop aroma.
The classic English brown ale adapted to American taste: higher alcohol content and bolder hop taste. It has the same caramel richness as all brown ales, but it differs from English brown ales and porters by more aggressive hops with a fresh citrus flavor cutting into the malt quality.
Color ranges from dark amber to dark brown, but all American Brown Ales have a medium body. Alcohol content ranges from 4% - 8%, making it the brown ale with the highest level of alcohol content.
If you’re interested in learning more about American brown ales, including the best food pairings and a description of the mouthfeel, check out the Kegerator.
Best to drink: when you want a brown ale that has just a touch more alcohol, flavor, and hops.
This brown ale differs from all the others since Belgian yeast is used in the fermentation process. This makes Belgian brown ales a bit spicier and fruitier than other brown ales. It stays true to the brown ale style with minimal hop notes, and malts dominating the aroma and flavor.
If you want to learn more about Belgian brown ales or want to take a stab at brewing a Provisional Sour Belgian Brown Ale, check out the Growler.
Best to drink: when you’re feeling a little spicy.
Of course, we needed to start this list off right with a clone recipe for one of the most popular brown ale brews around. Newcastle English Brown Ale was once the best-selling bottled beer in the United Kingdom. Now, it dominates the brown ale beer scene in the United States.
Many consider it a “gateway beer” to other traditional beer styles from around the globe. If you are nervous about brewing your own brown ale, this is a good introductory recipe, as it offers a classic nutty, malt-flavor.
Chai tea latte? How boring. Chai tea beer? Much more exciting.
This delicious and spicy chair tea brown ale recipe creates six gallons of golden, satisfying brew. A cautionary warning: stick to the recipe instructions and don’t use real tea – it has too much tannin.
Another clone recipe of a popular brown ale brew! This beer has a medium body with tastes of dark chocolate, pine hops, citrus and sweet caramel malt. It has a dry finish with just the right amount of hop bitterness.
Not a fan of chocolatey taste in your beer? This recipe has absolutely NO chocolate aroma or flavor. It DOES has a tinge of sweetness, a hint of roastiness, and the perfect amount of hops.
This is another recipe reminiscent of Newcastle Brown Ale. It’s quite close to it in terms of appearance and taste, but it does differ from the clone recipe above. It’s a classic malty, medium-bodied ale with a bit of a bitter undertone to the malty sweetness.
On a brewing budget? This mild brown ale is inexpensive to make and is the perfect casual “house beer” for guests. It’s easy to drink with a smooth, chocolatey-malty taste.
There’s a bit of extra prep involved with this recipe, due to the roasted pumpkin and toasted pecans, but it all pays off in the end. This brew has a smooth and malty finish with flavors of caramel, cinnamon and spice, with a final taste of medium hop bitterness.
This delicious brown ale recipe is made with London ale yeast and Irish moss. If you are looking for a bit of a different spin to a straightforward brown ale, this is a great option.
With a name like that, you can bet this beer is an American Brown Ale. The perfect brown ale recipe for fall, this beer has toasted and roasted notes, a dark color, and a rich stone fruit sweetness.
Ready to get your hop on? E. C. Kraus has a brilliant American brown ale recipe that is hoppy, full of deep chocolate malt flavor, and gives off a spicy, citrusy hop aroma.
This recipe uses a technique called “first wort hopping” to enhance the aroma and bitterness. It’s a simple method that might make a big difference in your home brew.
If you love brown ales, but also love hop bitterness, this is a great beer for you to try. It definitely walks on the hoppy side for what some consider a brown ale!
The name says it all! This partial mash brew has medium body and a classic American brown ale taste.
Be careful, with too many of these you might just black out (we couldn’t help ourselves).
This Northern English brown ale recipe comes from Matthew Hicks, the vice chair of the Craft Brewing Alliance. This recipe calls for five specialty malts and a Maris Otter base. The outcome? A delicious, malt-forward Northern English brown ale with a touch of hop aroma and bitterness.
Whether you’re a fan of the real thing, or just a fan of hazelnuts, this brown ale offers some great nutty tastes. This beer is a dark brown ale with a decadent hazelnut aroma, rich nutty flavor, and a silky-smooth malty finish.
This all-grain American brown ale recipe from the Mad Fermentationist has a fruity, apricot hop aroma, with dank herbal notes.
The taste is more bitter than malty-sweet, and there is a mild taste of chocolate with a touch of charcoal.
This beer should turn out dark brown or almost black, and have a medium body mouthfeel, with medium carbonation. This recipe might be a bit complex, but it all balances out in the end for an easy drinking American brown ale brew.
If you want a straightforward nutty brown ale, look no farther. The Brew Hut has a simple and classic extract method recipe just for you. You won’t be disappointed with delectable tastes of toasted barley, chocolate, and malt.
If you want to brew a quality, low-alcohol beer, this one is for you. This recipe from Life, Fermented comes to you after multiple attempts (that’s right, you get the version that truly works!).
This recipe is based on Zainasheff’s beer in Brewing Classic Styles. It has a nutty, slightly roasted aroma with a taste of roast nut, fading to a light hop and dark grain bitterness. With a medium body and low carbonation, this beer goes down smooth – but you don’t need to worry, with only 4% ABV, you can indulge in several!
If you are looking to impress your friends, Jay has your back (and so does BeerSmith Recipe Cloud, where we found this great recipe). This mild brown ale recipe is easy to make, easy to drink and refreshing. This is a great recipe to make if it’s your first time attempting a home brew.
Miracles do happen… Peanut butter and beer can be combined! This is an American-style brown ale recipe that offers a peanut buttery aroma with a subtle peanut butter aftertaste. Mmmmm.
Developed by a microbrewer, this all grain brown ale recipe isn’t kidding around. The recipe comes from the National Honey Board and involves ¾ of a pound of drool-worthy clover honey.
If you still aren’t convinced that brown ales offer complex flavors, make this home beer recipe. With buckwheat, oats and millet as the grains, this beer can hold its own next to a traditional barley-based beer.
You might be surprised that this beer is only 5.1% ABV! It’s fairly light on alcohol, but definitely big on taste.
The key to flavoring this ale just right? 4 ounces of wood chips soaked in four shots of Makers Mark 46 Bourbon.
Just because your gluten-free doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a delicious home brewed brown ale. This beer is full bodied with earthy, sweet tones.
Pull out the roasted chestnut chips, oats, millet, maple, and molasses. Your taste buds will be delighted!
This dark ale resembles a porter, but the taste is brown ale all the way. BeerSmith Recipe Cloud has a fun suggestion to lighten this beer up if you so desire: replace half of the English chocolate malt with a pale chocolate.
TastyBrew brings you a light (3.90%), mild brown ale, with tastes of roasted and nutty flavors in the finish. These flavors become more pronounced with age.
We promise there is zero pickle taste.
This “naughty” ale certainly isn’t putting up a fight going down! It is easy to drink and has a smooth finish. If you don’t like dark beers, this is a great, lighter alternative.
If you enjoy crafting your own brew, there’s a good chance you enjoy cooking for yourself. If you don’t enjoy cooking, we might be able to change your mind with these delicious brown ale-centric recipes.
When we’re talking about a snack to go with a brown ale, technically chocolate and red meats pair best. English brown ales go best with pork, and American brown ales go nicely with beef. Other foods that go well with brown ales include cheddar cheese, a variety of soups, and apple pie.
Brown ale also goes well with, well, brown ale.
Cooking with beer is a great way to add acidity to rich dishes, and it adds a flavorful punch to any lackluster recipe. That is, of course, if you use the right beer.
You want to stay away from heavily fruited and highly sweet beers. The best beer to cook with is a versatile, full-bodied brew that can stand up to intense heat and not breakdown. You might have guessed it by now: brown ales are ideal to cook (and bake!) with.
This recipe features the current #1 brown ale in American right now: Newcastle Brown Ale. It adds a delicious punch to your typical chili recipe. We doubt you’ll go back to your original chili after tasting this one.
There’s a lot more cooking you can do with Newcastle Brown Ale – for example, a flavorful marinade. This marinade is the perfect accompaniment to any red meat. Top off your creation with some caramelized onions and fresh cracked pepper to make it a home run.
This recipe has the full brown ale taste yet happens to be surprisingly healthy. It’s a slow cook dish that anyone can make. With only 429 calories per serving, you might just be able to indulge in an extra beer with this meal.
It might not seem like a likely combo, but Shiitake mushrooms, pasta and Newcastle Brown Ale (or really, any brown ale) make a killer dish. Mix some darker brown ale in with vegetable stock, fresh chopped thyme, and a splash of heavy cream for one rich, appetizing sauce.
A cross between a Boston Brown Bread and a Beer Bread, this recipe makes a dense and lightly sweetened bread with texture similar to Soda Bread. It’s also (relatively) healthy.
Of course we had to include a classic Fish ‘N Chip batter recipe! Although this one calls for Newcastle Brown Ale, substitute it for your favorite brown ale, or better yet, one that you created from the brown ale recipes above.
This indulgent soup is made of cheese, brown ale, and bacon – some of the finest things life has to offer. It’s not the healthiest recipe, but it is packed full with amazing flavors. Just make sure you have time to sit and digest this one.
The pork rub includes garlic, cumin, and orange; onions and nut brown ale add complexity to the slow-braised pork. Are you drooling yet?
You may have notice that a lot of the brown ale recipes use Newcastle Brown Ale. Well, here's yet another winning recipe featuring Newcastle Brown Ale! Nachos are a common go-to snack when drinking beer, so the combination of the two seems like a natural transition. The beer adds a taste of caramel sweetness that goes perfect with duck.
Another favorite snack to pair with beer, why not flavor your chicken wings with the real thing?
Let’s keep the pub food going! This recipe is perfect for when you are really ready to indulge. Instead of regular poutine gravy, this recipe is for Newcastle Brown Ale gravy that adds another dimension to this already drool-worthy meal. Of coarse, you can use one your own home brew brown ale recipes, too!
Okay, okay, so before you judge this recipe, take a minute to look a little deeper. This may not seem like the most natural pairing, but this concoction only highlights the flavors brown ale has to offer. The waffle has a dash of sweetness, while the onions and capers add a spicy bite. The lox helps out the balancing act. Go on… try it!
This is one of the simples of the brown ale recipes, yet is so soft and delicious. Featuring an American brown ale beer, this cookie offers the rich taste of hops.
Given that brown ale is supposed to be paired with red meat, this brown ale recipe should be considered genius. A hearty meat sandwich with beer in the recipe? Yes, please.
The Beeroness brings us another winner. This delectable recipe takes only 20 minutes, and it features beer. What else could you possibly want in a meal? This sauce would also be incredibly tasty on red meat or freshly made pasta.