JBU > Intermediate

Beer Styles 201 – Amber and Dark Ales

These ales are brewed in the US, Ireland and England. Sometimes seen as the predecessor to Porter style beers. Their complex malt character, pronounced bitterness and strong hops flavour makes them great for grilling season.

Beer Styles 201 – Amber and Dark Ales

Style Name: Amber Ale & Dark Ale

Substyle/Region: In North America, this is called Amber Ale. Irish Red Ale is, of course, from Ireland and Brown Ale or Mild Ale are both English.

Appearance: These beers range from amber to copper in colour. They have variable clarity and head retention. Darker ales are brown and tend to be opaque.

Flavour & Aroma: Amber and Dark Ales have a complex malt character with a fruity character from the yeast. There are some that have a pronounced hop flavour and bitterness from it.

Palate & Mouthfeel: Amber and Dark Ales have a light to medium carbonation and weight. Their texture is smooth and the complex malt flavours linger on the finish.

Food Pairings: Grilled meats are an obvious choice with Amber and Dark Ales think steak, sausages, and grilled lamb, but they also go surprisingly well with cheeses.

Comments: These beers are the predecessors to the Porter and Stout styles, so while some of the dark ales are similar in colour, they are darker in mouthfeel.

Serving Suggestions: In North America these are often served in Shaker pints while in England Nonic pints are more common. They are pretty much your standard beer glasses. If you’d like to be a bit fancy try a Weizen glass which will highlight the beers beautiful colour with its narrow bottom, but still enable you to take big satisfying gulps with its large, round top.

Similar Beer Styles: Mild ales come in dark and pale versions.

Learn more about beer styles:

Beer Styles 201: Golden Ales

Beer Styles 201: Berliner Weisse

Beer Styles 201: Gose

Beer Styles 201: Pilsners


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