Friday 20 May 2022

American Amber Ale - Recipe Creation Guide

Style Overview

An amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavour. The balance can vary quite a bit, with some versions being fairly malt and others being aggressively hoppy. Hoppy and bitter versions should not have clashing flavours with the caramel malt profile.


Amber to coppery-brown in colour. Moderately large off-white head with good retention. Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.


Low to moderate hop aroma with characteristics typical of American or New World hop varieties (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, or melon). A citrusy hop character is common, but not required. Moderately-low to moderately-high maltiness (usually with a moderate caramel character), which can either support, balance or sometimes mask the hop presentation. Esters vary from moderate to none.


Moderate to high hop flavour with characteristics typical of American or New World hop varieites (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry or melon). A citrusy hop character is cmmon, but not required. Malt flavours are moderate to strong, and usually show an initial malty sweetness followed by a moderate caramel flavour (and sometimes other character malts in lesser amounts). Malt and hop bitterness are usually balanced and mutually supportive, but can vary either way. Fruity esters can be moderate to none. Caramel sweetness and hop flavour/bitterness can linger somewhat into the medium to full finish.


Medium to medium-full body. Medium to high carbonation. Overall smooth finish without astringency. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth.

Vital Statistics

ABV: 4.5% - 6.2%
IBU: 25 - 40
SRM: 10 - 17
OG: 1.045 - 1.060
FG: 1.010 - 1.015


Pale Malt - 80%
Munich - 1% - 10%
Crystal Malt - 1 - 10%
Biscuit Malt - 1 - 5%
Chocolate - 1 - 2%

Pale malt will make up the majority of your grain bill. Munich malt can be added from 1-10% as an alternative to  the pale malt, for some depth of flavour and to also aid in providing some of the required amber colour.

Crystal malts are added at 1-10% to also aid in providing colour, as well as imparting the desired caramel flavour as recommended for this style of beer. Dial it back if you're not so big on the caramel notes.

Biscuit malt is a slightly darker malt as it is roasted and puts it somewhere between munich and chocolate malt that will help with depth of flavour by providing some cracker like notes.

Lastly, a small amount of chocolate malt can be included to assist with colour, and provide some complex vanilla and caramel undertones, in addition to a nutty, roasty flavour. These sorts of flavours should be sublte which is why it's inclusion is kept small at 1-2% of the total grain bill.


Hops are typically added at the beginning of the boil (60 minutes) for bittering, with later additions being added at any or all of 15, 10, 5 and 0 minutes for flavour and aroma. 

30 minute additions are redundant and should be avoided (unless you're doing a 30 minute boil instead of 60 minutes) which is becoming increasingly common.

There's no shortage of hop options and varieties, but some popular combinations are;

Ahtanum, Centennial, Simcoe
Galaxy, Nelson, Columbus
Cascade, Chinook, El Dorado, Mosaic
Chinook, Simcoe
Columbus, Citra
Chinook, Mosaic, Citra
Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo
Galaxy, Citra
Columbus, Centennial, Cascade
Citra, Mosaic
Centennial, Nelson, Citra
Centennial, Chinook, Columbus
Centennial, Amarillo - (research has proven this combination to be incredibly popular)

If in doubt, look to the five C's - considered to be the cornerstones of modern American craft beer brewing. Any or all of these hops in combination will work very well and give that classic american flavour;

Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Chinook, Citra

Whirlpool Hop Additions 

Whirlpool hop additions are also optional but can certainly be done to help impart even more hop flavour and aroma in addition to (or instead of) late hop additions to the boil. Typical whirlpool hopstand would be for 15 minutes at approx 80 degrees celsius.

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping is optional - typical rate is 2-4g/L - being too aggressive can lead you into IPA territory

Mash (Temperature & Time)

Mash @ 67C (to create a slightly less fermentable wort to leave a slightly higher final gravity for a sweeter and less dry finish at the end of fermentation)
Mashout @ 75C for 10 minutes


Go for a neutral American style yeast. Some popular/common options are below

  • WY1272 American Ale II
  • WLP 001 Californian Ale
  • Mangrove Jacks M36 Liberty Ale
  • Fermentis US-05
  • Lallemand BRY-97

You can also go for something a little different and use something like Voss Kveik yeast if you're looking for something different from the usual American style ale yeasts.

Fermentation Temperature

Begin fermentation at the lower end of the yeasts recommended temperature range. After at least 5 days of fermentation, begin raising the temperature 1C per day for 3 days (for a 3C total increase in temperature). Raising the temperature towards the end of fermentation helps the yeast clean up after itself and is often referred to as a "diacetyl rest".

Pressure Fermentation

Pressure fermentation can be beneficial for this style of beer as fermenting under pressure will help to suppress any off flavours from being created. Typical pressure used is around 10psi.

Cold Crashing

Cold crashing can be beneficial to this style of beer. If you are dry hopping, it can help the hop debris settle to the bottom of the fermenter with the rest of the trub. Can also help improve the clarity of the beer.

Sample Recipe

American Amber Ale Recipe

Related Articles

All Recipe Creation Guides

All-Grain Recipe List

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