American Amber Ale


American Amber Ale



American Amber Ale or Red Ale is a fairly recent style that was initially popular in the Pacific Northwest before spreading elsewhere.

The style overlaps somewhat with American Pale Ale but with the Amber Ale having a stronger caramel flavour, more body, darker in colour, and a balance between bitterness and maltiness. Pale Ales tend have a lighter maltiness and push the hops more.

American Amber Ale is recognized by the 2015 Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) as style 19A. Our example here tends to run fairly close to the middle of the style guidelines, a good all around example that is well balanced.

Looking for an amped-up version of this beer? Check out our American Red IPA.

Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!


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American Amber Ale

Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Attenuation: 78.4%
Calories: 168 kcal per 12 fl oz 
Original Gravity: 1.051 (style range: 1.045 - 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (style range: 1.010 - 1.015)
Colour: 13.5 SRM (style range: 10 - 17)
Alcohol: 5.2% ABV (style range: 4.5% - 6.2%)
Bitterness: 33 IBU (style range: 25 - 40)

14.5 lb Pale ale malt (2.5-3.3L) (77.5%)
1.5 lb Dark Munich malt (9L) (8.0%)
1.2 lb Crystal malt (40L) (6.5%)
0.75 lb Crystal malt (120L) (4.0%)
0.75 lb Victory malt (28L) (4.0%)

1 oz Magnum hops (14.4%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min [22.5 IBU] 
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
1 oz Centennial hops (9.2%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min [5.7 IBU] 
1 oz Amarillo hops (8.2%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min [5.1 IBU]

1 oz Centennial hops (9.2%) - added immediately after boil 
1 oz Amarillo hops (8.2%) - added immediately after boil

Fermentis Safale US-05 dry yeast* (36g recommended or make an equivalent starter)

Dry hop: 
1 oz Centennial hops (9.2%) - added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days 
1 oz Amarillo hops (8.2%) - added to fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days

*If you prefer to use liquid yeast, Wyeast 1056 American Ale or White Labs WLP001 California Ale are excellent choices as they are the same clean fermenting Chico strain as US-05. You'll need ~430 billion cells (4-5 fresh packs) or an equivalent starter.

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Notes / Process

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
  • Water treated with brewing salts to our Hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher's ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less sulfate). For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
  • 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 152F for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
  • ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on after post-boil hops are added, start chilling immediately.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 66F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate or oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 8-10 ppm dissolved oxygen. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 66-68F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
  • Add dry hops once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from terminal gravity) and raise the temperature to 70-72F. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Steep hops for 3 days while fermentation finishes. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
  • Before packaging you may optionally rack to a brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys) that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatin dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 5 gallons of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days. Gelatin may "round off" some hop flavour / aroma so we tend to skip this step with hop forward beers like this. As well, the less you handle the beer through racking and potentially expose it to oxygen, the better.
  • Package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. We chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like all hop forward beers this American Amber Ale is best consumed fresh so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Some hop bits will have invariably made their way into the keg during transfer so we use a Hop Stopper Keg Edition filter to ensure that hops do not clog the dip tube and/or end up in the glass. Force carbonating at high pressure and using a Hop Stopper filter allows us to serve this beer 24 hours after kegging. There's no need to wait a few days for any hop bits that made their way into the keg to first settle out.

For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.


Questions? Visit our American Amber Ale forum thread


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Pictures / Videos

Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.

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A couple of recent videos of the HOP STOPPER 2.0 (standard size) in action with hoppy beers in my 20 gallon kettle. First video is Janet’s Brown Ale with 12oz of hops, the second is an American Amber Ale with 8oz. Same results with 16-32oz when brewing NEIPAs. In all cases 12 gallons of wort were chilled from boiling to pitch temp in 15 minutes. The pump speed was not touched at all and the kettle was completely emptied. Probably less than a cup or two of wort left behind (all soaked in the hops anyway). 👉 SEE LINK IN BIO 👈 . ‪ ... A step by step guide to building your own brewery‬ . #theelectricbrewery #electricbrewery #electricbrewing #homebrewing #homebrewingonly #homebrew #homebrewery #brewing #craftbeer #beer #dohomebrew #homebrewer #nanobrewery #picobrewery #pilotbrewery #homebrewporn #buildingabrewery #brewery #basementbrewery #hopstopper #brewday

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Dry hop time for my American Amber Ale near the tail end of fermentation with 1oz each of Amarillo and Centennial per 5 gallons. With this Chico yeast (US-05/WLP001/WY1056) I like to start fermentation around 62F and ramp up to room temp by the end. Dry hopping during the tail end of fermentation also helps with attenuation as it helps stir things up a bit. The increased bubbling at the end of the video is mostly CO2 coming out of solution from having added hops (which create thousands of nucleation points). 🍻 . ‪ ... A step by step guide to building your own brewery‬ . #theelectricbrewery #electricbrewery #electricbrewing #homebrewing #homebrewingonly #homebrew #homebrewery #brewing #craftbeer #beer #dohomebrew #homebrewer #nanobrewery #picobrewery #pilotbrewery #homebrewporn #buildingabrewery #brewery #basementbrewery #dryhop #americanamberale #amberale

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Kegging American Amber Ale. I always purge my kegs with CO2 first (CO2 is heavier than air) and am careful to avoid splashing or any motion as I don’t want to oxidize the beer. I definitely would NOT do this outside or in a windy area. Closed transfer works too of course, and is recommended if you’re all thumbs, but don’t think it’ll guarantee you better beer. Just like brewing electric vs gas, neither necessarily produces better results. I’ve done both closed and straight racking split batches and typically go this way for simplicity (less setup, less cleaning). Cheers! 🍻 . ‪ ... A step by step guide to building your own brewery‬ . #theelectricbrewery #electricbrewery #electricbrewing #homebrewing #homebrewingonly #homebrew #homebrewery #brewing #craftbeer #beer #dohomebrew #homebrewer #nanobrewery #picobrewery #pilotbrewery #homebrewporn #buildingabrewery #brewery #basementbrewery #AmberAle #AmericanAmberAle #beerrecipes

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