Rye Brown Ale: English and American

BJCP category 31 Alternative Fermentables is generally a very lowly entered category, as a result it is a good place to try and earn a easy medal. I enjoy a good rye ale and a brewery here in town had a solid rye brown that I decided to try and mimic.  The grain bill I wound up with became the base for 2 medal wining beers in two different categories, Brown British and Alternative Fermentables, as a American Rye Brown.

I brewed this beer as a stovetop 2 gallon BIAB batch both times I have done it.

My initial plan for this beer was for a Rye brown that I could sneak out a medal in category 31.  The recipe has close to 30% rye in various forms.  However, my first attempt only had little rye character.  It was there, but the English yeast (1469) and the chocolate notes really took over the beer creating a very enjoyable English Brown.


On my second attempt a month or so later I wanted to get closer to a beer brewed here in town.  I kept the same base recipe but used and American yeast (US-05) and a American hop schedule.  In this beer the rye shined.  The US-05 brought the hops and spicy rye to the forefront while subduing the chocolate and crystal malts.    Or at least that is my working theory.


These beers were sampled side by side by a few friends and the marked difference was noted by everyone.


The great thing about this recipe, which I intend to try at some point is you could do a single mash at 153° collect your wort and then split into two separate boils for 2 completely different beers from one brew day.  Just be sure to account for 2 boil off rates when setting up your volumes.



The only difference in the original grain bills for these beers is for the English Rye Brown I targeted 1.057 and for the American Rye Brown I target 1.060. If you were trying two beers from one mash just pick a target gravity in that range.  Grain percentages are the same.

English (Rye) Brown

O.G. 1.057

IBU 30

Mash @ 153°

American Rye Brown

O.G. 1.060

IBU 35

Mash @ 153°

Grain Bill:

68.5% Maris Otter

16.2% Rye Malt

6% Cara Rye

3.2% Melanoidin

4% Pale Chocolate

2% Flaked Rye


English version

60m East Kent Golding 12.5 ibu (.25oz 5.6%aa in a 2g batch)

30m Brambling Cross 17.5 ibu (.5oz 5.1%aa in a 2g batch)


American Version

60m Centennial 20.3 ibu (.25oz 9%aa in a 2g batch)

30 Cascade 6.1 ibu (.13oz 7%aa)

15m Cascade 3.9 ibu (.13oz 7%aa)

10m Willamette .9 ibu (.06 oz 4.5%aa)

5m Cascade .8 ibu (.06 oz 7%aa)

Dry hop in a 2 gallon batch

.25oz Cascade

.15oz Willamette



English Brown Wyyeast 1469

American Rye US-05

Fermented at 66-68°


I used 100% RO water and targeted “Amber Malty” in Brun Water.


The English Brown version had some bready pumpernickel qualities but was for the most part a malty lovely brown ale.  It scored a 41.5 and earned a Gold in Brown British.  I did not try and enter this version as a Rye beer.  I think it would have scored mid 30’s because you had to look for the rye notes.


The American Brown version also scored a 41.5 at a separate competition earning Bronze in Alternative fermentables.

I am brewing the American version again this week for an upcoming competition although for pure enjoyment the English version was my favorite.



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