I'm no expert on British ales, but I can't think of any American versions that recreate a fundamental character shared by beers like Fuller's ESB, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and Old Peculier. Oxidation of the British beers is definitely a contributing factor, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Thanks to Ron Pattinson, who shares his research of European brewery logs online, I've learned that a lot of British beers are made with inverted sugar at various stages of refinement. In one of today's posts, he calls out American brewers for applying an all-malt philosophy to British beer recipes.
Not knowing where to buy British brewing sugars, I've been using Belgian Dark Candi Syrup as an alternative. So far, the results have been promising. My latest Old Ale was a step in the right direction, and I brewed a mild last week that I'm pretty excited about. Unfortunately, I won't have anything to compare the mild with because British session beers are too fragile to sell in the states. Maybe I'll be able to visit England in ten years or so, when I've recovered from the financial trauma of trying to open a brewery.