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AHA Guideline

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Old Ale

Old Ales are copper-red to very dark. Chill haze is acceptable at cold temperatures. Fruity-ester aroma can contribute to the aroma profile. Hop aroma is very low. They have a malty and sometimes caramel-like sweetness. Hop flavor is not perceived to medium. Hop bitterness is minimal but evident. Fruity-ester flavors can contribute to the character of this ale. Alcohol types can be varied and complex. A distinctive quality of these ales is that they undergo an aging process (often for years) on their yeast either in bulk storage or through conditioning in the bottle, which contributes to a rich, wine-like and often sweet oxidation character. Complex estery characters may also emerge. Very low diacetyl character may be evident and acceptable. Wood aged characters such as vanillin and other woody characters are acceptable. Horsey, goaty, leathery and phenolic character evolved from Brettanomyces organisms and acidity may be present but should be at low levels and balanced with other flavors. Residual flavors that come from liquids previously aged in a barrel such as bourbon or sherry should not be present. Body is medium to full. This style may often be split into two categories, strong and very strong. Brettanomyces organisms and acidic characters reflect historical character. Competition organizers may choose to distinguish these types of old ale from modern versions.


  • Original Gravity (°Plato) 1.058 - 1.088 (14.3 - 21.1)
  • Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (°Plato) 1.014 - 1.030 (3.6 - 7.6)
  • Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5.00% - 7.20% (6.30% - 9.10%)
  • Bitterness (IBU) (30 - 65)
  • Color SRM (EBC) 12 - 30 (24 - 60)