American Strong Ale

BJCP 22b

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.

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.

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.
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.
Commercial Examples
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale, Great Lakes Nosferatu, Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster, Port Brewing Shark Attack Double Red, Stone Arrogant Bastard