Style Details

Spe­cial­ty IPA - Brown IPA
BJCP Style Code
21 B3
Color ran­ges from red­dish-brown to dark brown but not black. Fre­quent­ly opaque, but should be clear if visi­ble. Unfil­te­red dry-hop­ped ver­si­ons may be a bit hazy. Medi­um-sized, cream-colo­red to tan head with good persistence.
A mode­ra­te to modera­te­ly-strong fresh hop aro­ma fea­turing one or more cha­rac­te­ristics of Ame­ri­can or New World hops, such as tro­pi­cal fruit, stone fruit, citrus, flo­ral, spi­cy, ber­ry, melon, pine, res­i­nous, etc. Many ver­si­ons are dry hop­ped and can have an addi­tio­nal fresh hop aro­ma; this is desi­ra­ble but not requi­red. Gras­si­ness should be mini­mal, if pre­sent. A medi­um-low to medi­um mal­ty-sweet aro­ma mixes in well with the hop sel­ec­tion, and often fea­tures cho­co­la­te, nuts, dark cara­mel, tof­fee, toas­ted bread, and/or dark fruit cha­rac­ter. Frui­tin­ess from yeast may also be detec­ted in some ver­si­ons, alt­hough a neu­tral fer­men­ta­ti­on cha­rac­ter is also accep­ta­ble. A res­trai­ned alco­hol note may be pre­sent, but this cha­rac­ter should be mini­mal at best. Any Ame­ri­can or New World hop cha­rac­ter is accep­ta­ble; new hop varie­ties con­ti­nue to be released and should not cons­train this style.
Hop fla­vor is medi­um to high, and should reflect an Ame­ri­can or New World hop cha­rac­ter, such as citrus, flo­ral, pine, res­i­nous, spi­cy, tro­pi­cal fruit, stone fruit, ber­ry, melon, etc. Medi­um-high to high hop bit­ter­ness. Malt fla­vor should be medi­um-low to medi­um, and is gene­ral­ly clean but mal­ty-sweet up front with milk cho­co­la­te, cocoa, tof­fee, nut­ty, bis­cui­ty, dark cara­mel, toas­ted bread and/or dark fruit malt fla­vors. The cha­rac­ter malt choices and the hop sel­ec­tions should com­ple­ment and enhan­ce each other, not clash. The level of malt fla­vor should near­ly balan­ce the hop bit­ter­ness and fla­vor pre­sen­ta­ti­on. Low yeast-deri­ved frui­tin­ess is accep­ta­ble but not requi­red. Dry to medi­um finish; resi­du­al sweet­ness should be medi­um-low to none. The bit­ter­ness and hop fla­vor may lin­ger into the after­tas­te but should not be harsh. A very light, clean alco­hol fla­vor may be noted in stron­ger ver­si­ons. No roas­ted, burnt, or harsh-bit­ter malt character.
Medi­um-light to medi­um body, with a smooth tex­tu­re. Medi­um to medi­um-high car­bo­na­ti­on. No harsh hop-deri­ved astrin­gen­cy. Very light, smooth alco­hol warm­ing not a fault if it does not intru­de into over­all balance.
Over­all Impression
Hop­py, bit­ter, and modera­te­ly strong like an Ame­ri­can IPA, but with some cara­mel, cho­co­la­te, tof­fee, and/or dark fruit malt cha­rac­ter as in an Ame­ri­can Brown Ale. Retai­ning the dry­ish finish and lean body that makes IPAs so drinkable, a Brown IPA is a litt­le more fla­vorful and mal­ty than an Ame­ri­can IPA wit­hout being sweet or heavy.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Simi­lar to an Ame­ri­can IPA, but with medi­um or dark crys­tal malts, light­ly roas­ted cho­co­la­te-type malts, or other inter­me­dia­te color cha­rac­ter malts. May use sugar adjuncts, inclu­ding brown sugar. Ame­ri­can or New World finis­hing hops with tro­pi­cal, frui­ty, citru­sy, piney, ber­ry, or melon aspects; the choice of hops and cha­rac­ter malts is syn­er­gi­stic – they very much have to com­ple­ment each other and not clash.
A more modern craft beer name for a style that has long been popu­lar with US home­bre­wers, when it was known as a hop­pier Ame­ri­can Brown Ale or some­ti­mes Texas Brown Ale (despi­te ori­g­ins in California).
Pre­vious­ly might have been a sub-gen­re of Ame­ri­can Brown Ales, hop­pier and stron­ger than the nor­mal pro­ducts, but still main­tai­ning the essen­ti­al drin­ka­bi­li­ty by avo­i­ding sweet fla­vors or a hea­vy body or finish. The hops and malt can com­bi­ne to pro­du­ce inte­res­t­ing interactions.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Dog­fi­sh Head Indi­an Brown Ale, Grand Teton Bitch Creek, Har­poon Brown IPA, Rus­si­an River Janet’s Brown Ale
Spe­cial­ty IPA isn’t a distinct style, but is more appro­pria­te­ly thought of as a com­pe­ti­ti­on ent­ry cate­go­ry. Beers ente­red as this style are not expe­ri­men­tal beers; they are a coll­ec­tion of curr­ent­ly pro­du­ced types of beer that may or may not have any mar­ket lon­ge­vi­ty. This cate­go­ry also allows for expan­si­on, so poten­ti­al future IPA vari­ants (St. Patrick’s Day Green IPA, Romu­lan Blue IPA, Zima Clear IPA, etc.) have a place to be ente­red wit­hout redo­ing the style gui­de­lines. The only com­mon ele­ment is that they have the balan­ce and over­all impres­si­on of an IPA (typi­cal­ly, an Ame­ri­can IPA) but with some minor tweak. The term ‘IPA’ is used as a sin­gu­lar descrip­tor of a type of hop­py, bit­ter beer. It is not meant to be spel­led out as ‘India Pale Ale’ when used in the con­text of a Spe­cial­ty IPA. None of the­se beers ever his­to­ri­cal­ly went to India, and many aren’t pale. But the craft beer mar­ket knows what to expect in balan­ce when a beer is descri­bed as an ‘IPA’ – so the modi­fiers used to dif­fe­ren­tia­te them are based on that con­cept alone.
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.056 - 1.070 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.008 - 1.016 SG
11 - 19 SRM
5.0 - 7.0 %vol
40 - 70 IBU