🍺 Top-down Brew: British Brown Ale

Original Gravity

Enter the desired original gravity as specific gravity (1.0XX) or degrees plato (°P).

Specification: 1.040 to 1.052; 10 to 12.9 °P

Target volume

Enter the desired volume at the end of the boil. The volume units can be either liters, gallons, or US barrels.

Measurement Units

Select the preferred unit of measurement for the inputs and outputs. Metric uses liters, grams, and kilograms. US uses gallons, ounces, and pounds. US Barrels (31 gallons = 1 barrel) is in barrels, pounds, and ounces.

Mash Efficiency

Enter the anticipated mash efficiency percentage. If this is not known, try the following values based on the sparge method: Steeping (50%), No-sparge or brew-in-a-bag (65 to 75%), Batch sparge (80%), or Continuous (fly) sparge (85 to 90%).


The most common malts from Brew-Analytics are chocolate (median: 2.7%), British base malts like Maris Otter (median = 77%) or pale ale malt (75%), medium crystal 60L (7.2%), biscuit malt (5%), or dark crystal malts (120L, 4%). Adjuncts like torrified wheat and maize are possibilities.

Zainasheff recommends using no more than 10% crystal malts for a northern English brown ale. Biscuit or Victory malt can be used with American malts to simulate British pale ale malts or to bump up nutty flavors. Sugars or adjunct grains are possibilities, but Zainasheff recommends against these.

Daniels' analysis suggested 10 to 15% crystal malt and 2 to 3% chocolate malt (Table 20.9 and p. 228).


Dark invert sugars are a possibility.


Enter the desired bitterness in international bittering units (IBUs).

Style specification: 20 to 30 IBUs. The beer-analytics.com averages suggest a BU/GU of .49.


The typical hops are British strains like Golding varieties, Fuggle, Target, and Challenger. US hop possibilties might be Willamette or Cascade. Many recipes are 100% bittering. Small late hop additions are possible. Daniels reports that late boil additions (last 10 minutes) are "fairly common" and about .5 oz for 5 gallon batches (.74 g/l).

Late Boil Additions

Spices are not typically used.

Dry Hops

Dry hopping may be used, but this is not common.


Select the yeast type, ale or lager.

British ale yeasts that attenuate well are recommended. The most common yeasts are Fermentis S-04, Fermentis US-05, Nottingham, Windsor, and White Labs English ale (WLP 0002).

← Click here when the data entry is done.


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2021 BJCP British brown ale: "Characteristic Ingredients: British mild ale or pale ale malt base with caramel malts. May also have small amounts darker malts (e.g., chocolate) to provide color and the nutty character. English hop varieties are most authentic."

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.040 – 1.052; IBUs: 20 – 30, FG: 1.008 – 1.013, SRM: 12 – 22, ABV: 4.2 – 5.9%

Older style guidelines made a distinction between northern and southern English brown. The northern version was stronger (4.4 to 5.2% compared to 2.7 to 3.2%) and more bitter.


Beer-analytics.com British brown ale analysis

Daniels, R. (2001). Designing great beers: The ultimate guide to classic beer styles. Brewer's Publications.

Foster, T. (2007, September). Brown ale. Brew Your Own, 26 - 31

Strong, G. (2024, May-June). British brown ale: An old sytle with a much more recent history. Brew Your Own, p. 18 - 20.

Zainasheff, J. (2010, March-April). British balance: Northern English brown ale. Brew Your Own, 21 - 25

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