British Strong Ale

BJCP 17a

Overall Impression
An ale of respectable alcoholic strength, traditionally bottled-conditioned and cellared. Can have a wide range of interpretations, but most will have varying degrees of malty richness, late hops and bitterness, fruity esters, and alcohol warmth. Judges should allow for a significant range in character, as long as the beer is within the alcohol strength range and has an interesting ‘British’ character, it likely fits the style. The malt and adjunct flavors and intensity can vary widely, but any combination should result in an agreeable palate experience.

As an entry category more than a style, the strength and character of examples can vary widely. Fits in the style space between normal gravity beers (strong bitters, brown ales, English porters) and barleywines. Can include pale malty-hoppy beers, English winter warmers, strong dark milds, smaller Burton ales, and other unique beers in the general gravity range that don’t fit other categories. Traditionally a bottle-conditioned product suitable for cellaring.

The heritage varies since this category generally reflects a grouping of unrelated minor styles with limited production. Some are historical recreations while others are modern. Some directly descend from older styles such as Burton ales, while others maintain a historical connection with older beers. As a grouping, the notion is relatively modern since beers of this strength category would not have been abnormal in past centuries. Do not use this category grouping to infer historical relationships between examples; this is almost a modern British specialty category where the ‘special’ attribute is alcohol level.
Grists vary, often based on pale malt with caramel and specialty malts. Some darker examples suggest that dark malts (e.g., chocolate, black malt) may be appropriate, though sparingly so as to avoid an overly roasted character. Sugary adjuncts are common, as are starchy adjuncts (maize, flaked barley, wheat). Finishing hops are traditionally English.
Commercial Examples
Fuller’s 1845, Harvey’s Elizabethan Ale, J.W. Lees Manchester Star, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome, Young's Winter Warmer