Whether you would like to know something about the color of pale ales, the history of it, the flavors or which glassware to drink your pale ale from. You’ve come to the right place. We bring you hop-forward beers in many different styles and flavors. But what exactly is a Pale Ale? Keep reading
Now that’s a broad term; pale ale. Between the Beer Judge Certification Program, the Brewers Association, and the closer-to-home Bierkeurmeestersgilde, it’s pretty much a catch-all for everything from Belgian-style blondes and ambers, golden ales, English bitters, to the lighter, less hoppy and lower-ABV brother of the IPA-family, American Pale Ale.
The introduction of coke — made by heating coal or oil in the absence of air — was a breakthrough for upcoming industrial areas in the early modern age. Using the material as fuel for stoves and forges meant considerably less air pollution, generating the needed heat without smoke and soot. Furthermore, this turned out to be very useful in the brewing industry when it came to kilning germinated grains, resulting in lighter malts and therefore beers.
To shy away from much discussion about the origins of pale ales, let’s just take a look at the aforementioned beer styles, introduced by our favourite quote from brewing historian James Sumner:
“Such general terms as ale, porter etc … cannot by their nature have any solid ‘correct’ definition over all time and space, in spite of the efforts of various prescriptive authorities.”
The name might give the impression that pale ales are commonly yellow-gold in appearance, but the amber-to-copper coloured Special Belge are considered pale ales as well. Examples of the Special Belge — or Belgian Pale Ales — are pretty common in the Netherlands and Belgium, with De Koninck and Palm dominating this field. Moderately malty, somewhat fruity, and easy-drinking are what characterize this style. They differ from their overseas cousin, the English Bitter, in its yeast character. The colour in the Special Belge usually comes from either the use of cara malt or added candy sugar.
Belgian Blond pales in comparison — heh — to the Special Belge; it’s often more gold than amber. Fruity esters and phenolic spices dominate the flavour profile, with malt aroma being more subtle. This style is often part of the classic Belgian Holy Trinity of abbey beers, being Blond, Dubbel, and Tripel.
Bitter and Pale Ale were often used interchangeably in England’s beer history. Nowadays Bitter is it’s own style, divided in Ordinary, Special/Best, and Extra Special Bitter (ESB), with colours ranging from golden to amber, and from deep copper to light brown. Low carbonation is a shared characteristic, with the biggest difference between the three being the increasingly perceived malt and hop aromas and flavors.
A beer bridge between England and The United States is formed by the Golden ale. This pale ale is slightly more hop-forward like the American Pale Ale, but carries British ingredients commonly found in Bitters; even though the hop profile is sometimes carried by the use of citrusy American hops. Golden ales tend to be in the 4,0% – 5,5% range, but their heavyweight brother, the Strong Golden Ale, is a pale ale with the capacity to knock you off of your barstool.
American Pale Ales are beers we are a bit more comfortable with. What can we say, we just love hoppy beers! Pale and refreshing, this is the style that put the modern day USA on the beer map. Youngtimers Anchor Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are downright classics, and have inspired a true beer wave in the past few decades. American Pale Ales are generally slightly more balanced than IPAs, and more accessible for beerdrinkers-to-be. Now well known hop varieties like Citra and Cascade have made their way into the hearts of breweries all over the world through their use in the American Pale Ale, derived from English pale ales but made with all American ingredients.
Talking about derived, there is a lot of variety found within this style. Session pale ales, juicy pale ales, hazy pale ales, milkshake pale ales, fruit pale ales; New England pale ales; you name ’em, there’s one to be found.
Like our Trackdown Juicy pale ale! Initially, this beer was meant for beginning ale drinkers. To give them an alternative for pilsners. However, many experienced craft beer gurus love this juicy, fruity and hazy beverage! Have a look at our pale ales and try them yourself!