Interested in the lighter side of life? Join us as we learn all about pale ale, a beer that’s growing in popularity all the time.
Jump To a Section Below
- What Is Pale Ale?
- What Is The History Of Pale Ale?
- Pale Ale’s History In America
- What Are The Different Types Of Pale Ales?
- Who Drinks Pale Ale Beer?
- How Are Pale Ales Made?
- What Is The Difference Between Pale And Other Ales?
- What Does Pale Ale Taste Like?
- What Type Of Glass Should You Serve Pale Ale In?
- What Are The 8 Best Pale Ales To Try Right Now?
- What Is The Most Popular Pale Ale Brand In The World?
- What Foods Can You Pair With Pale Ale?
What Is Pale Ale?
Pale ale is normally a golden to amber coloured style of ale that is brewed utilising an ale yeast and predominantly pale malt. The term appeared first around 1703 for beers made from malts that are dried with high-carbon coke, which resulted in a lighter colour as opposed to other beers that were popular at that time.
Different brewing practices and hop quantities have led to a range of tastes and strengths within the pale ale family.
What Is The History Of Pale Ale?
Coined firstly in England, the term “pale ale” originally described the English ales which were not as dark as the porter which was favoured among most. Up until the 18th century, beers in England were mostly deep brown or black in colour. As malting technology improved, so did the capability to control the intensity of roast and flavour. The rise in prominence of pale ales as a style started to take form in the late 18th century and well into the 1800s.
Pale ales were usually amber or copper in colour and could include styles such as English Bitter, India Pale Ale and Belgian Pale Ale. Even today, darker pale ales occasionally are considered to be amber ales. The area of Burton-on-Trent in England, which is known for its pale ales, has water that is rich in calcium sulphate. The minerals encourage a hop flavour in a lighter-coloured beer.
Throughout the first and second World Wars, access to raw materials became limited. As a result, the alcohol content in English beers was lowered. The easy-drinking bitter became more and more popular, even into the 1960s as beer and alcohol taxes rose in Britain.
Pale Ale’s History In America
As the American craft beer revolution increased in momentum in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was a natural journey to brew a pale ale. The style was approachable and balanced. In addition, it was not too far from a departure from the often-drunk American commercialised beer style at the time – a lager.
The craft brewer wanted to themselves apart from macro brews. So straight away they went to a classic English style of beer which could then be adopted and they could put their signature stamp on it.
The American craft brewers upped the alcohol content of the low ABV English pales ale beers. With more malt also came more hops. The pale ale also became highly carbonated – a desirable trait for the American beer lover – and was served cooler as opposed to the traditional English cask variety.
What Are The Different Types Of Pale Ales?
Pale ales are normally hoppy however carry a lower alcohol content than IPAs. Most kinds of pale ale – which can include brews such as American amber ale, American pale ale, blonde ale and English pale ale – are malty, medium-bodied and very easy to drink.
Who Drinks Pale Ale Beer?
The age group of weekly craft beer drinkers (the category that pale ale falls under) in the United States are those people between the ages of 35 and 44 years old. 52% of craft beer drinkers within that age range drink the pales ale beer weekly. Craft beer drinkers are 31.5% female and 68.5% male.
How Are Pale Ales Made?
Pale ale is a usually golden-to-amber-coloured style of ale that is brewed utilising an ale yeast and mainly pale malt.
What Is The Difference Between Pale And Other Ales?
Pale ales are often hoppy but carry a lower alcohol content than India Pale Ales (IPAs). Most types of pale ale – which can include brews such as American amber ale, American pale ale, blonde ale and English pale ale – are malty, medium-bodied and easy to drink.
What Does Pale Ale Taste Like?
A pale ale usually has an average-to-low malt taste and an equal “hoppy” taste. Pale ale beers also tend to have a citrusy taste from the extra hops that are included.
What Type Of Glass Should You Serve Pale Ale In?
While there are multiple different types of pint glasses, the American pint glass is perhaps the most widely used glass for beer, in the United States at least. This is the glass that you will likely be served in a bar or restaurant.
The American Pint Glass, frequently called a Shaker glass, has a simple and somewhat skinny cylindrical shape that becomes wider as it goes up. This kind of pint glass usually holds 16 oz. and is common to use with most brews of beers, including pales ales.
What Are The 8 Best Pale Ales To Try Right Now?
When it comes down to sociable and quality beer, it’s challenging to top a pale ale. The genre calls in even casual beer fans. This is because the style tends to be mellow and balanced. Look at it as the IPA’s toned-down cousin, less hoppy and frequently a bit less alcoholic.
Almost like a lager, the pale ale is constructed for the common palate. It is both refreshing and inviting. You have the impact of hops and grain, however, there’s an overall subtlety and well-roundedness overall. For those people who are just getting into beer and looking for something with a little bit more character, the pale is a great entry point.
Here are our eight best pale ale picks.
Sierra Nevada Pale
As the grand-daddy of the category, this refreshing pale ale beer helped to jumpstart the craft movement way back when. Over its long lifespan, this beer has kept the refined character that made it a star in the first place.
Maine Brewing Company Pale Ale
There’s a nice hint of tropical fruit with this beer, which is balanced out by a pair of hop varieties and an exquisitely smooth malt bill. Some say that pale ales aren’t really worthy of the pouring-in-the-glass and sniffing that, say, every wine seems to be treated to. Not so, as this multi-layered and very well-rounded number proves.
Deschutes Mirror Pond
As the ultimate summer holiday beer, Mirror Pond is named after a striking body of water in Deschutes Brewery’s hometown of Bend, Oregon. It’s as refreshing as any pale ales come, made with Cascade hops and three kinds of malt. At a pleasant 5% ABV, it’s easy to have several beers and still function.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale
Occasionally, you need a portable and reliable pale ale that can be thrown into your backpack or a pocket of your fishing vest. This is that beer. Better, it’s full-bodied and is packed with bitterness, maltiness and a bracing kick of citrus. It still impresses which is why it’s been around for nearly two decades.
Odell Brewing Drumroll Pale
Another Colorado pale ale brew on the list, this hazy from Odell shows that a good-old foggy beer doesn’t always have to be an IPA. It’s hop-forward without ruining your palate. And it boasts the type of texture and refreshing build you only get from a hazy.
3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale
If Indiana brewery 3 Floyds makes a terrible beer, we don’t know about it. Their pale ale is a real class act, demonstrating the fruitier side of the category. You’ll love what’s in the bottle of beer as much as the cool, comic book-inspired label.
Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale
This gem of a pale ale from Chicago is dry as a bone and is backed by some fresh and dank hops. Biscuity notes give way to a bang of green, grassy, herbaceous-ness.
We don’t always want to be eating gluten-rich foods, for health reasons or just because we don’t like them. Omission’s attempt at a pale is noteworthy, providing plenty of personality despite lacking a major ingredient in most beers. If you taste it blind, most people probably wouldn’t even know that it is gluten free.
What Is The Most Popular Pale Ale Brand In The World?
The “American Pale Ale (APA)”, which is also known as “West-Coast Pale Ale” and “Northwest Pale Ale”, is golden to light amber coloured, refreshing and average-strength hop-forward ale. However, it has sufficient supporting malt to make it generally balanced and more accessible as opposed to modern American IPAs. The clean hop presence can showcase classic or modern American or New World hop varietals with a broad range of characteristics.
The American Pale Ale will often be cleaner, have a less caramelly malt profile, less body, and frequently more finishing hops as opposed to its English counterparts. In addition, the APA will have lower levels of] bitterness in the balance and alcohol strength in relation to an American IPA. It is more balanced and drinkable, and less intensely hop-focused and bitter than Session IPAs.
Here are some of the most popular American pale ales in the world:
- Three Floyds Zombie Dust
- Three Floyds Alpha King
- Lagunitas Born Yesterday Pale Ale
- Cellarmaker Mt. Nelson
- Maine Beer MO
- Holy Mountain Lush Land
- Russian River Row 2 / Hill 56
- Cellarmaker Citrasaic
- Fremont Cowiche Canyon – Citra & Simcoe (Fresh Hop)
- The Kernel Pale Ale Nelson Sauvin Columbus Chinook by the Kernel Brewery
What Foods Can You Pair With Pale Ale?
Pale ales pair well with the following foods:
- Cheese: The toasty, bready malt backbone and aromatic hops of the pale ale beer style pair deliciously well with tangy and subtly fruity Cheddars, like Leicester Cheddar.
- Pizza & Mexican Food: The bready malt complexity and bright hop aromas are a perfect match for pizza (think about spicy toppings and meat). The strong hops found in American Pale Ales also complement spices such as cumin, jalapeño and cilantro, and cut through rich avocado and sour cream.
Pale ale is simpler to produce and requires less capital investment as opposed to lager. This is why most craft brewers chose this.
These were entrepreneurs and inventive individuals, and just copying British beers was not enough. They wanted to return back to the very roots of pale ale. They wanted to explore the possibilities of the wide variety of American hops that were available to them. The result of these efforts was that American IPA became a brand-new style.
A stronger version was dubbed by some as “double IPA,” and the pale ale family of beer styles was lifted and then carried forward into the future.