Homebrewing Blog and Resource

The hobby of homebrewing beer

Brewing Tips for Northern English Brown Ale

We’ve decided to replace our fairly one side tasting videos with something new. We’re going to be offering our perspective on key tips for brewing better versions of our favorite beer styles. For the most part, we want to relate some points that we think have made better versions of beer for us. Its a way to highlight one mans brewing process to help improve, inspire or just simply give you something else to try in your brewing adventures.

Our first up video in this format is for Norther English Brown Ale!

Norther English Brown is one of my favorite styles to drink. I think its a well balanced malty but complex beer. Usually not as strong as a porter or stout from a flavor standpoint so you don’t fatigue to quickly with it on the palette.

When people thing Brown Ale they are normally thinking Northern English Brown Ale. Northern English Brown is nutty and rich. Subtly roasty with hints of chocolate and caramel. Warm toasted bread like finish. Hops in this beer really serve to keep the combination of chocolate and caramel malts from seeming too sweet.

Key points for making a successful Northern English Brown are as follows:
1. Roasted Malt. No other combination of malts really makes up for the toasty, mild roast like character of Roasted malt. I have found this malt to really be the back bone of a great nutty version of this style.
2. Chocolate Malt 350L color. Seriously there are so many chocolate malts on the market now for homebrewers its daunting. I got caught in a trap of 400-450L chocolate malt (normally UK derived malters) and could get the subtle chocolate notes I was looking for. Chocolate 350L (form Briess) to me delivers the chocolate notes needed without making the beer seem to porter like.
3. Lastly, water should lean towards the malty side. Stick with something that favors your Chloride ions. Using Calcium Chloride with deliver that and offer needed calcium to your brew. Of course some gypsum is needed to enhance the slight minerally character needed to really make the beer seem English like in character.

Lastly, this style and these recipe basics really are a great jumping off point for any brown ale style English OR American. To take this same concept and go American with it, I would simply back off on the chocolate malt slightly (keeping it to 3-3.5% of the grist) and sub American hops like Columbus and Cascade for the English Goldings in the English style.

That’s how The Brew Dudes do Brown Ale.
Leave us a comment or a question if you got ’em.


Crush It With A Barley Crusher Grain Mill


Summer Hops Profile


  1. whorst

    Ummmm.. Yeast is integral in this style. Why was it not mentioned?

  2. There are many more than 3 simple points critical to this style, or any style. In videos like this we wanted to hit on highlights that have worked for us in our own recipes. Things that stand out above other things that we think helped make a recipe we thought was great. We are still feeling our way through this type of format.

    With English style beers especially, there is much variety in yeasts available. Probably rivaled only by Belgian strains for Belgian beers. (Think about it. American ale…WLP001. Done.) I find with that variety comes great personal preference. If someone has an English yeast they like then they should use that. For all my English style brews I have begun to favor WLP013 London Ale. Its got higher attenuation then most of the other strains and I like the flavor profile. That said I still use WLP002 or Fermentis S04 in English beers.
    Any of those yeasts seem to make the same great Brown Ale… So I viewed it less critical in the three point space that we shot this video around.

    Sound good?
    Thanks for the comment whorst!

  3. whorst

    Well done. I prefer White Labs Burton Ale yeast, ’cause
    it’s bat shit crazy with a rather nice flavor profile.
    Cheers, W

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén