Style Details

Lon­don Brown Ale
His­to­ri­cal Beer
BJCP Style Code
27 A4
Medi­um to very dark brown color, but can be near­ly black. Near­ly opaque, alt­hough should be rela­tively clear if visi­ble. Low to mode­ra­te off-white to tan head.
Mode­ra­te mal­ty-sweet aro­ma, often with a rich, cara­mel or tof­fee-like cha­rac­ter. Low to medi­um frui­ty esters, often dark fruit like plums. Very low to no hop aro­ma, ear­thy or flo­ral qualities.
Deep, cara­mel or tof­fee-like mal­ty and sweet fla­vor on the pala­te and las­ting into the finish. Hints of bis­cuit and cof­fee are com­mon. Some frui­ty esters can be pre­sent (typi­cal­ly dark fruit); rela­tively clean fer­men­ta­ti­on pro­fi­le for an Eng­lish ale. Low hop bit­ter­ness. Hop fla­vor is low to non-exis­tent, pos­si­bly ear­thy or flo­ral in cha­rac­ter. Modera­te­ly-low to no per­ceiva­ble roasty or bit­ter black malt fla­vor. Modera­te­ly sweet finish with a smooth, mal­ty after­tas­te. May have a suga­ry-sweet flavor. 
Medi­um body, but the resi­du­al sweet­ness may give a hea­vier impres­si­on. Medi­um-low to medi­um car­bo­na­ti­on. Quite cre­a­my and smooth in tex­tu­re, par­ti­cu­lar­ly for its gravity.
Over­all Impression
A luscious, sweet, malt-ori­en­ted dark brown ale, with cara­mel and tof­fee malt com­ple­xi­ty and a sweet finish.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Eng­lish pale ale malt as a base with a healt­hy pro­por­ti­on of dar­ker cara­mel malts and often some roas­ted (black) malt and wheat malt (this is Mann’s tra­di­tio­nal grist – others can rely on dark sug­ars for color and fla­vor). Mode­ra­te to high car­bo­na­te water. Eng­lish hop varie­ties are most authen­tic, though with low fla­vor and bit­ter­ness almost any type could be used. Post-fer­men­ta­ti­on sweetening with lac­to­se or arti­fi­ci­al sweeten­ers, or sucro­se (if pasteurized).
Deve­lo­ped by Mann’s as a bot­t­led pro­duct in 1902. Clai­med at the time to be “the swee­test beer in Lon­don.” Pre-WWI ver­si­ons were around 5% ABV, but same gene­ral balan­ce. Decli­ned in popu­la­ri­ty in second half of 20th cen­tu­ry, and now near­ly extinct.
Incre­asing­ly rare; Mann’s has over 90% mar­ket share in Bri­tain, but in an incre­asing­ly small seg­ment. Always bot­t­led. Fre­quent­ly used as a sweet mixer with cask mild and bit­ter in pubs. Com­mer­cial ver­si­ons can be pas­teu­ri­zed and back-sweeten­ed, which gives more of a suga­ry-sweet flavor.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Har­veys Bloomsbu­ry Brown Ale, Mann’s Brown Ale
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.033 - 1.038 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.012 - 1.015 SG
22 - 35 SRM
2.0 - 3.0 %vol
15 - 20 IBU