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American Strong Ale

American Strong Ale is an unofficial style that encompasses many of the unbounded creations coming out of American craft breweries. Most brews in the American Strong Ale style are uniquely American and aptly described as “strong.” Samuel Adams Utopias, at 25.5+ percent ABV, is one example of such a beer.

Other beers are given this style name simply because their flavor characteristics don’t fit within another existing beer style. Strong consumer appeal can create demand and inspire other brewers to create their own interpretations, and in time, a new officially identified beer style is born. American Black Ale is one such example – with the name recently bestowed on it by the Brewers Association and adopted by BeerAdvocate.com – of a hoppy, dark-colored beer with caramel and roasted malt character. American Imperial Red Ale, on the other hand, represents brewers taking an existing style – in this case, American Amber/Red Ale – and amping it up with assertive hops and higher alcohol. It’s a good idea to enjoy these strong drinks with a bite to eat. The best American Strong Ale food pairings will vary, depending on the style of the specific beer you’re serving, but hearty dishes and strong cheeses are a reliable match.

Unconstrained by a narrow definition of appearance, aroma, flavor and strength, American Strong Ales are exciting to explore. Keep an eye out, though, as many of these beers are only available on a special-release basis.

Characteristics: Complex, malty and/or hoppy, high-alcohol, medium- to full-bodied
ABV range: 7-14% IBU: 25-100
Popular American Strong Ale-style brands: Arrogant Bastard Ale (including the OAKED and the Double Bastard Ale versions) from Stone Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Immort Ale, Mendocino Eye of the Hawk, Clown Shoes Eagle Claw Fist, Rogue Double Dead Guy, Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life & Limb, The Lost Abbey Angel’s Share, He’Brew Origin Pomegranate Ale, RJ Rockers Bell Ringer, Holy Mackerel Mack In Black, Tommyknocker Imperial Nut Brown, Samuel Adams Utopias
Serving Temperature: Cool, 46-54°, to warm, 58-61°
Cheese Pairing Ideas: Asiago, Brick, Colby, Cheddar, Edam
Food Pairing Ideas: Robust entrees

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