Style Details

Bri­tish Strong Ale
Strong Bri­tish Ale
BJCP Style Code
17 A
Deep gold to dark red­dish-brown color (many are fair­ly dark). Gene­ral­ly clear, alt­hough dar­ker ver­si­ons may be almost opaque. Mode­ra­te to low cream- to light tan-colo­red head; avera­ge retention.
Mal­ty-sweet with frui­ty esters, often with a com­plex blend of dried-fruit, cara­mel, nuts, tof­fee, and/or other spe­cial­ty malt aro­mas. Some alco­hol notes are accep­ta­ble, but shouldn’t be hot or sol­ven­ty. Hop aro­mas can vary wide­ly, but typi­cal­ly have ear­thy, res­i­ny, frui­ty, and/or flo­ral notes. The balan­ce can vary wide­ly, but most examp­les will have a blend of malt, fruit, hops, and alco­hol in vary­ing intensities.
Medi­um to high malt cha­rac­ter often rich with nut­ty, tof­fee, or cara­mel fla­vors. Light cho­co­la­te notes are some­ti­mes found in dar­ker beers. May have inte­res­t­ing fla­vor com­ple­xi­ty from bre­wing sug­ars. Balan­ce is often mal­ty, but may be well hop­ped, which affects the impres­si­on of mal­ti­ness. Mode­ra­te frui­ty esters are com­mon, often with a dark fruit or dried fruit cha­rac­ter. The finish may vary from medi­um dry to some­what sweet. Alco­ho­lic strength should be evi­dent, though not over­whel­ming. Diace­tyl low to none, and is gene­ral­ly not desirable. 
Medi­um to full, che­wy body. Alco­hol warmth is often evi­dent and always wel­co­me. Low to mode­ra­te car­bo­na­ti­on. Smooth texture.
Over­all Impression
An ale of respec­ta­ble alco­ho­lic strength, tra­di­tio­nal­ly bot­t­led-con­di­tio­ned and cel­lared. Can have a wide ran­ge of inter­pre­ta­ti­ons, but most will have vary­ing degrees of mal­ty rich­ness, late hops and bit­ter­ness, frui­ty esters, and alco­hol warmth. Jud­ges should allow for a signi­fi­cant ran­ge in cha­rac­ter, as long as the beer is within the alco­hol strength ran­ge and has an inte­res­t­ing ‘Bri­tish’ cha­rac­ter, it likely fits the style. The malt and adjunct fla­vors and inten­si­ty can vary wide­ly, but any com­bi­na­ti­on should result in an agreeable pala­te experience.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Grists vary, often based on pale malt with cara­mel and spe­cial­ty malts. Some dar­ker examp­les sug­gest that dark malts (e.g., cho­co­la­te, black malt) may be appro­pria­te, though spa­rin­gly so as to avo­id an over­ly roas­ted cha­rac­ter. Suga­ry adjuncts are com­mon, as are star­chy adjuncts (mai­ze, fla­ked bar­ley, wheat). Finis­hing hops are tra­di­tio­nal­ly English. 
The heri­ta­ge varies sin­ce this cate­go­ry gene­ral­ly reflects a grou­ping of unre­la­ted minor styl­es with limi­t­ed pro­duc­tion. Some are his­to­ri­cal recrea­ti­ons while others are modern. Some direct­ly des­cend from older styl­es such as Bur­ton ales, while others main­tain a his­to­ri­cal con­nec­tion with older beers. As a grou­ping, the noti­on is rela­tively modern sin­ce beers of this strength cate­go­ry would not have been abnor­mal in past cen­tu­ries. Do not use this cate­go­ry grou­ping to infer his­to­ri­cal rela­ti­onships bet­ween examp­les; this is almost a modern Bri­tish spe­cial­ty cate­go­ry whe­re the ‘spe­cial’ attri­bu­te is alco­hol level. 
As an ent­ry cate­go­ry more than a style, the strength and cha­rac­ter of examp­les can vary wide­ly. Fits in the style space bet­ween nor­mal gra­vi­ty beers (strong bit­ters, brown ales, Eng­lish por­ters) and bar­ley­wi­nes. Can include pale mal­ty-hop­py beers, Eng­lish win­ter war­mers, strong dark milds, smal­ler Bur­ton ales, and other uni­que beers in the gene­ral gra­vi­ty ran­ge that don’t fit other cate­go­ries. Tra­di­tio­nal­ly a bot­t­le-con­di­tio­ned pro­duct sui­ta­ble for cellaring.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Fuller’s 1845, Harvey’s Eliza­be­than Ale, J.W. Lees Man­ches­ter Star, Samu­el Smith’s Win­ter Wel­co­me, Young’s Win­ter Warmer
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.055 - 1.080 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.015 - 1.022 SG
8 - 22 SRM
5.0 - 8.0 %vol
30 - 60 IBU