Old Ale – British Origin Ale Styles

Old Ale Style

  • Color: Copper-red to very dark
  • Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures
  • Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavor: Fruity esters can enhance and complement the malt aroma and flavor profile. Old Ales have malt and sometimes caramel sweetness.
  • Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavor: Very low to medium
  • Perceived Bitterness: Present but minimal
  • Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters can contribute to the character of these beers. Alcohol types can be varied and complex. A distinctive quality of Old Ales is that they undergo an aging process, often for years. Aging can occur on their yeast either in bulk storage or through conditioning in the bottle. This contributes to a rich, wine-like and often sweet oxidized character. Complex estery attributes may also emerge. Diacetyl is usually absent in these beers but may be present at very low levels.
  • Body: Medium to full
  • Additional notes: Low level attributes typical of wood aging such as vanilla are acceptable. Brettanomyces and acidity reflect historical character; low level attributes such as horsey, goaty, leathery, phenolic, etc. and acidity may be present and balanced with other flavors. Residual flavors that come from liquids previously aged in a barrel, such as bourbon or sherry, should not be present.
    When using these guidelines as the basis for evaluating entries at competitions, competition organizers may choose to split this category into subcategories which reflect strong and very strong versions, or historic and modern versions.

Old Ale Vital Statistics

  • Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.058-1.088 (14.3-21.1 °Plato)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.014-1.030 (3.6-7.6 °Plato)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.0%-7.2% (6.3%-9.1%)
  • Bitterness (IBU) 30-65
  • Color SRM (EBC) 12-30(24-60 EBC)

2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines used with permission of Brewers Association.

Credit: 2020 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines – Ale Styles – British Origin Ale Styles – Old Ale