The strength of English Strong Ale

The other day I was drinking Little Bastard Ale from Stone’s Berlin operation. On RateBeer it is listed as an English Strong Ale, despite its rather low ABV of 4.7%.

Now although I’ve only tried a very small number of ESAs, looking back, none have them have been below 6% in terms of ABV. The RateBeer style guidelines state: “An ale of significant alcoholic strength, though usually not as strong or rich as barleywine.”

So is Little Bastard an exception here, or just wrongly classified as an English Strong Ale?

I would agree. An ESA should be more alcoholic than an ESB. Should the Stone beer be relabelled as ESB or as a Bitter perhaps. But then again, English Strong Ale is not a real style but rather a catch all for stronger English ales than are neither IPAs or Barley Wines… seeing as the style includes everything from Yorkshir Stingo to various Winter Warmers and other such beers.


Sounds like a Golden Ale to me.


Seemed a bit harsh for a golde.

If it’s golde and it’s an ale, then it’s probably a golde ale.

After reading reviews on various sites, it sounds like an Amber.

Classic Chestnut Ale.

This. As far as I’m concerned it’s just a home for things in the higher (in UK terms) abv range that don’t easily fit anywhere else. 4.7% seems distinctly low.