Style Details

Ame­ri­can Strong Ale
Strong Ame­ri­can Ale
BJCP Style Code
22 B
Medi­um amber to deep cop­per or light brown. Mode­ra­te-low to medi­um-sized off-white to light tan head; may have low head reten­ti­on. Good cla­ri­ty. Alco­hol level and vis­co­si­ty may pre­sent “legs” when glass is swirled.
Medi­um to high hop aro­ma, most often pre­sen­ting citru­sy or res­i­ny notes alt­hough cha­rac­te­ristics asso­cia­ted with other Ame­ri­can or New World varie­ties may be found (tro­pi­cal, stone fruit, melon, etc.). Mode­ra­te to bold mal­ti­ness sup­ports hop pro­fi­le, with medi­um to dark cara­mel a com­mon pre­sence, brea­dy or toasty pos­si­ble and back­ground notes of light roast and/or cho­co­la­te noti­ceable in some examp­les. Gene­ral­ly exhi­bits clean to modera­te­ly frui­ty ester pro­fi­le. Mode­ra­te alco­hol aro­ma­tics may be noti­ceable, but should not be hot, harsh, or solventy.
Medi­um to high dex­tri­no­us malt with a full ran­ge of cara­mel, tof­fee, dark fruit fla­vors. Low to medi­um toasty, brea­dy, or Mail­lard-rich mal­ty fla­vors are optio­nal, and can add com­ple­xi­ty. Medi­um-high to high hop bit­ter­ness. The malt gives a medi­um to high sweet impres­si­on on the pala­te, alt­hough the finish may be slight­ly sweet to some­what dry. Mode­ra­te to high hop fla­vor. Low to mode­ra­te frui­ty esters. The hop fla­vors are simi­lar to the aro­ma (citru­sy, res­i­ny, tro­pi­cal, stone fruit, melon, etc.). Alco­hol pre­sence may be noti­ceable, but sharp or sol­ven­ty alco­hol fla­vors are unde­si­ra­ble. Roas­ted malt fla­vors are allo­wa­ble but should be a back­ground note; burnt malt fla­vors are inap­pro­pria­te. While stron­gly mal­ty on the pala­te, the finish should seem bit­ter to bit­ters­weet. Should not be syru­py and under-atte­nu­a­ted. The after­tas­te typi­cal­ly has malt, hops, and alco­hol noticeable. 
Medi­um to full body. An alco­hol warmth may be pre­sent, but not be exces­si­ve­ly hot. Any astrin­gen­cy pre­sent should be attri­bu­ta­ble to bold hop bit­ter­ness and should not be objec­tionable on the pala­te. Medi­um-low to medi­um carbonation. 
Over­all Impression
A strong, full-fla­vor­ed Ame­ri­can ale that chal­lenges and rewards the pala­te with full mal­ty and hop­py fla­vors and sub­stan­ti­al bit­ter­ness. The fla­vors are bold but com­ple­men­ta­ry, and are stron­ger and richer than avera­ge-strength pale and amber Ame­ri­can ales.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Well-modi­fied pale malt as a base; some cha­rac­ter malts would be appro­pria­te, medi­um to dark crys­tal malts are typi­cal. Citru­sy or piney Ame­ri­can hops are com­mon, alt­hough any Ame­ri­can or New World varie­ties can be used in quan­ti­ty, pro­vi­ded they do not clash with the malt cha­rac­ter. Gene­ral­ly uses an atte­nua­ti­ve Ame­ri­can yeast.
While modern craft ver­si­ons were deve­lo­ped as “impe­ri­al” strength ver­si­ons of Ame­ri­can amber or red ales, the style has much in com­mon with his­to­ric Ame­ri­can stock ales. Strong, mal­ty beers were high­ly hop­ped to keep as pro­vi­si­on beers pri­or to pro­hi­bi­ti­on. The­re is no con­ti­nuous lega­cy of bre­wing stock ales in this man­ner, but the resem­blan­ce is con­sidera­ble. Stone Arro­gant Bas­tard was born out of a batch of pale ale that was mista­ken­ly made with excess ingre­di­ents, thus crea­ting what may have been the pro­to­ty­pe for the impe­ri­al amber/red ale. Gre­at Lakes first bre­wed Nos­fe­ra­tu in the ear­ly 1990s and cal­led it a stock ale, alt­hough they now call it an impe­ri­al red ale. So whe­ther by direct his­to­ri­cal inspi­ra­ti­on or by acci­dent, the style deve­lo­ped inde­pendent­ly in the craft beer era and has sub­se­quent­ly beco­me quite popular.
A fair­ly broad style that can descri­be beers labe­led in various ways, inclu­ding modern Double/Imperial Red/Amber Ales and other strong, mal­ty-but-hop­py beers that aren’t quite in the Bar­ley­wi­ne class. Diver­se enough to include what may be view­ed as a strong Ame­ri­can Amber Ale with room for more inter­pre­ta­ti­ons of other “Impe­ri­al” ver­si­ons of lower gra­vi­ty Ame­ri­can Ale styl­es. Many “East Coast” type IPAs might fit bet­ter in this cate­go­ry if they have con­sidera­ble crys­tal malt or other­wi­se more of a mal­ty-sweet finish.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Bear Repu­blic Red Rocket Ale, Gre­at Lakes Nos­fe­ra­tu, Ter­ra­pin Big Hop­py Mons­ter, Port Bre­wing Shark Attack Dou­ble Red, Stone Arro­gant Bastard,
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.062 - 1.090 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.014 - 1.024 SG
7 - 19 SRM
6.0 - 10.0 %vol
50 - 100 IBU