Welcome to the Mr.Beer Palate Perfection Challenge. Each month we feature a specific style of beer, and every week 2 random craft beers will go head to head, and Mr.Beer Facebook fans will vote on their favorite. At the end of the month, the beer with the most weekly votes will be crowned the monthly champion.
Throughout the month of June Mr.Beer will be posting blogs and podcasts discussing pale ales and their characteristics.
If beers were people, Pale Ale and I would have an epic friendship. This beer has everything I need in a support system: He's a perfect balance between light and dark, with good substance, and just a little bit of an attitude. At once comforting and challenging, drinking this beer reminds you that you're alive, alerting you to almost every single individual taste receptor in your mouth. A Pale Ale has such presence that you feel like you can almost take a bite out of it, yet slides down smooth, easy, and clean, leaving you thoroughly titillated and refreshed. Yep, the makings of a best bud forever, alright, and apparently many other craft beer fans feel the same way, as pale ales are one of the most popular craft beer styles.
Pale ales encompass a wide variety of styles and flavors and can vary greatly from country to country. The pale ale style as we know it today originated in England in the early 1700's in conjunction with the advent of coal as a fuel. This cleaner burning fuel allowed for lighter, less aromatic malts as opposed to the dark and smoky malts made using wood fires. As pale ales continued to gain popularity in England, the style soon spread to other countries including Belgium and the U.S. Each country would add their own unique signature to the pale ale style, resulting in slight variations in flavor and appearance.
Modern American Pale Ales can sometimes be thought of as milder versions of the ever popular India Pale Ale style. They should be hoppy but drinkable, with a smooth malt character and a clean fermenting yeast. The apparent hoppiness of the beer varies greatly in American Pale Ales. England is also very well known for their pale ales that are often referred to as bitters. English Pale Ales are much more malt forward and smooth. They should be very drinkable with moderate hop flavor and light yeast esters. Belgian Pale Ales are unique in that the yeast character is much more apparent. Hop flavor is low with an estery, and slightly fruity yeast flavor commonly used.
All in all, much like you'd want your sassy best friend should be, pale ales are approachable with high drinkability and good flavor. Go out and try one today! Better yet, go out and buy our two examples for this week's palate perfection challenge. Really consider, when quaffing each brew, the qualities we've listed here. Do you taste a smooth flavor with a balance of malt and hops aimed toward drinkability? A session beer, if you will, that slides down easy and clean? What else do you taste? We'll delve deeper into the wonderful Pale Ale as the month goes on, but if you're interested in the full details of this style, you can always check out the BJCP style guidelines; get them here.
Mr.Beer examples include the prolific West Coast Pale Ale, which likely came with your starter kit. If you haven't tried it since, consider instead of the Standard Booster refill, the Deluxe All-Malt refill version, which has a potential ABV yield of 4.6%. If you like it high octane, you can add a Booster (to that or any MB Deluxe Refill) for closer to a 6% ABV. The English Victorian Bitters is a great English Pale Ale...and you can further explore our recipes by style here.
We're keeping it patriotic this week with two awesome American Pale Ales.
Dale's Pale Ale - Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery - 6.5% ABV
It's America's first ever canned craft beer! Makes you want to invest in a canning machine for your home brew. It's a serious high octane pale ale...otherwise known as a party in a can.
Stone Pale Ale - Stone Brewing Co. - 5.4% ABV
It's Stone's flagship ale, and it's well worth a taste.
Again, it was neck in neck all the way. Just goes to show how many awesome examples of a style can abound. Makes you wanna run home and create a brew right now, doesn't it?
The Winner: Stone Pale Ale!