What Pale Ale Beer Is: Taste, 3 Popular Brands + 5 Best Beers
Pale ale is a popular choice for beer lovers around the world. It is a healthy choice for anyone looking for a refreshing and enjoyable drink. Plus, since it’s low in calories, it’s a good choice for all weight-conscious beer lovers. Here you’ll learn everything about the popular beer type.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned drinker, this post will help you learn about pale ales. Read on to learn more about the history, flavor profile, ingredients, and styles of pale ales available. Further, you’ll learn about the world’s best pale ale beers and breweries. Let’s dive in.
What Pale Ale Beer Is: Explained
Pale ale is a hop-forward, golden-amber-colored beer with moderate strength. The beer is brewed with ale yeast and pale malt and is packed with flavors, but they aren’t too bitter or heavy. A hop-forward beer is one in which the brewers improve the flavor of the hops.
This beer is on every bar’s menu and is the favorite of many drinking enthusiasts. It is also available in different styles, which include:
American Pale Ale
American Pale Ale, or APA, is a pale ale that originated in America. It is one of the most popular beers in America and has a pale golden to deep amber color.
The beer has moderate to high carbonation, hop flavors, a touch of citrus, and an ABV of 4.5 to 6.2 percent. American pale ales are best paired with fried foods, pizzas, grilled meats, and cheddar cheese.
Indian Pale Ale
Indian pale ale, or IPA, is bold, bitter, and available in various flavors. IPA is hoppier than other pale ales and has a higher alcohol content.
The ABV in IPAs can range between 5 and 10.5 percent, which indicates that it’s not a session beer. This pale ale has a notable citrus taste and is quite bitter. Besides being bitter and citrusy, other flavors influencing this type of beer are floral, piney, and earthy.
English Pale Ale
English or British pale ale is characterized by mild alcohol content. It offers a more refreshing experience and is more versatile than other pale ales.
English Pale Ale is golden to bronze in color and features moderate hop character and medium bitterness. It has an ABV of 4.5 to 5.5 percent, which makes it a good session beer.
This beer is best paired with fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, cheddar cheese, and double Gloucester.
Belgian-style Pale Ale
Belgian-style pale ale is clear amber to copper in color and features a toasted malt or caramel flavor. It has an ABV of 4.8 to 5.5 percent and a mid-low to medium body.
Besides the toasty and biscuit-like flavors, the beer has light fruit flavors too. This beer can be best paired with a crisp salad, lamb chops, grilled fish, or pork sausage. Also, since the alcohol level is low, the beer has low-warming characteristics.
Origin, History, and Founders of Pale Ale
Pale Ale originated in England around 1703. At that time, the term 'pale ale' was used for beers that contained high-carbon coke and were made from malts. At that time, George Hodgson was an exporter known as the inventor of IPA (Indian Pale Ale). He started brewing pale ale in 1752 in East London.
Historians also state that pale ale was invented off the back of the development of coke. The maltsters could create a light-colored beer from the clean-burning form of coal. Before 1700, every beer was charred, dark, and roasty.
During the 1800s, pale ales were known as 'bitters,' generally copper or amber. So, pale ales started to become famous as a style in the 19th century.
During the two world wars, the popularity of English beers declined because there was no access to raw materials. At that time, people relied on readily available and affordable beers.
American beers became popular again in the 1970s and 1980s as people started brewing pale ales. Brewers started adding more malt and more hops to the beer, and slowly the beer became more carbonated.
At that time, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale was the first to introduce hoppy beers. More styles emerged from the classic pale ale, which was more bitter and higher in alcohol.
Their popularity grew as interest in bitterness increased among beer drinkers. Today, many breweries worldwide produce pale ales, which vary according to the local ingredients.
Ingredients of Pale Ale
Pale Ales have a pale golden to deep amber color that is very clear unless it is dry-hopped. The head is medium-large with good retention and a white to off-white color. The following are the main ingredients in pale ale:
- Base grains
- Water profile
- Specialty grains
A good water profile is essential for beer. Additionally, the base grains used in them impact the pale ales. The American pales contain domestic 2-Row, and any hop can work.
Hops are added for bittering, flavoring, and aroma. For APAs, the most popular yeast strain is 'chico,' made by the Sierra Nevada.
Alcohol in Pale Ale
The alcohol content in pale ales varies according to the style. Generally, the alcohol content in pale ales ranges between 4 and 6 percent.The following is a list of the alcohol content according to the different pale ale styles:
- American pale ale: ABV 4.5 to 6.2 percent
- Indian pale ale: ABV 7 to 10 percent
- English pale ale: ABV 4.5 to 5.5 percent
- Belgian-style pale ale: ABV 4.8 to 5.5 percent
Overall, Indian pale ales have the highest alcohol content; thus, they are quite different from other pale ales. Beers with a lower ABV are considered session beers, which means we can have more per serving in one sitting.
However, beers with higher alcohol content, like IPAs, should be consumed in moderation.
Taste of Pale Ale
Pale Ales have a high hop flavor and citrusy notes. These beers have a dominant malt character with notes of biscuit, toast, and bread. There is a light taste of caramel too, but it’s usually very mild. Speaking of American pale ales, they have a medium-to-strong aroma of American hops.
However, the maltiness balances out the strength of the hops. In addition to being malty, the aroma has toasty, biscuity, and bready flavors. Pale ales have a medium-light to medium body with a smooth mouthfeel and moderate to high carbonation.
Beers are packed with empty calories that are produced from alcohol and carbs. Most beers are 95 percent water and 5 percent hops, grains, and yeasts, and all of them have lesser nutrients and more calories from alcohol and carbs.
60 percent of the calories in the beer come from alcohol, and 40 percent are from carbs. To make it simple, beers that have a higher alcohol content have more calories than beers that have a lower alcohol content. In general, pale ales have 182 calories.
Pale Ale Versus IPA
Pale ales are available in different styles, and Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is one of them. The main difference between pale ales and IPAs is that IPAs have higher hop flavors and alcohol content.
While most pale ales have an ABV between 4.5 and 6.2 percent, IPAs have an ABV between 7 and 10 percent. However, all pale ales have more notes of malt flavors, such as bread and biscuit, with a light touch of caramel.
Since IPA is a pale ale, it shares many characteristics with pale ales. For example, both have a higher concentration of hops, but IPAs have the strongest hops among all types of pale ales.
Indian Pale Ale versus American Pale Ale Beers
Indian pale ale, or IPA, has a hoppier and spicy taste with a higher ABV.
On the other hand, American pale ale, or APA, has a palatable, soft, and not very bitter taste with a lower ABV.
IPAs are also created with a longer shelf life, while APAs have a lighter character with a balance of malts and hops.
Benefits of Pale Ales
Malted-barley-rich beers like Indian pale ales are packed with several health benefits.
Besides being a source of fun and enjoyment, these beers have been used for centuries for relief. Beers are alcoholic beverages of hops, water, yeast, and grains.
These beverages evolve into different flavors, styles, and types as the years pass. If consumed in moderation, these beverages have a few benefits, which are as follows.
Flavorful and Refreshing
Pale ales are refreshing and flavorful because they are brewed with higher amounts of hops. These beers have a distinct flavor because of the hops. Overall, malty flavors with fewer hops provide a refreshing experience.
Packed with Antioxidants
Besides that, pale ales have polyphenols that provide a good source of antioxidants. A study states that craft beers have antioxidant activities that prevent cell damage. These antioxidants also help neutralize the effects of harmful free radicals in the body.
Strengthen the Bones
Barley-rich beers provide an excellent silicon source that helps maintain healthy bones. Besides that, these beers also contain orthosilicic acid, which helps with metabolization. Orthosilicic acid also prevents menopausal osteoporosis. A study states that a beer a day keeps hip fractures away.
Best Pale Ale Beers
Pale Ales are available in various styles and flavors; you can enjoy a huge variety from reputable brands. But which one is the best pale ale on the market?
Though it’s all about your taste and preference, a few factors make a few pale ale beers better than others.
If you’re having difficulty choosing the best pale ales, here’s a list of our top picks.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of the most beloved beers of all. If you have yet to taste it, try this delicious beer with a unique flavor profile and a beautiful amber-colored body.
Plus, it has a creamy and dense head that enhances its visual appeal even more. Its aroma features notes of pine, sweet malt, and citrus mixed with herbal hops.
The beer features a citrusy, dry finish and is moderately carbonated. Millions of beer lovers in the United States and worldwide enjoy this refreshing liquor with a medium-bodied feel.
BrewDog’s Clockwork Tangerine Citrus Session IPA
BrewDog Clockwork Tangerine is a perfect summer beer with citrus-infused, fruity, and fresh flavors. To beat the heat, you can have this beer during the summer or at the beach.
It consists of 4.5 percent ABV and has a medium-to-light body. The beer has tropical fruit flavors and a citrus kick with mellow tropical notes. Besides that, it is also characterized by a toasty background.
All BrewDog beers are carbon negative; the brand removes double the carbon dioxide it takes to make them.
Boulevard Pale Ale
Boulevard Pale Ale is a lively alcoholic beverage with a refreshing and fruity taste. It has a golden amber color and a beautiful white-retained head.
The beer has a sparkling touch because of the carbonation. Speaking of its aroma, the beer has flavors of caramel and hops with a crisp feel.
Besides that, it has a blend of toffee malt sweetness and earthy hops. If you’re looking for a full-bodied beer with a dry finish, the Boulevard pale ale won’t disappoint you.
Brooklyn Brewery’s East Indian Pale Ale
Brooklyn Brewery’s East Indian pale ale has a dark golden color and a high-retention head with an off-white color. The beer has an herbal and toasty malt smell with a few touches of pine.
The malt flavor is dominant, and the finish is pleasantly bitter. The Brooklyn Brewery produces high-quality pale ales with balanced hops and malts. The East Indian pale ale by this brand is perfect if you’re looking for something that goes smoothly and is suitable for all occasions.
Fat Tire Ale
Fat Tire Ale is characterized by sweet and herbal tastes. It is a Belgian-style pale ale with a little fruity flavor and is excellent for pairing with barbecue foods.
The beer features an ABV of 5.2 percent and has a refreshingly light taste. The Fat Tire Ale shouldn’t be missed if you’re craving something sour and fruity.
Most Popular Pale Ale Beer Brands and Breweries
Several popular breweries manufacture high-quality pale ales. The best pale ale breweries have a variety of pale ales, new categories, and different flavors, and they continuously experiment to improve their brewing methods.
They have experienced bar owners and brewers producing high-quality and delicious craft beers. Though there are many popular beer brands, the following are our top picks.:
The Australian beer brand. Coopers Brewery, passionate about introducing the best-tasting and highest-quality beers. They offer a variety of beers, including pale ales and lagers.
The company also offers tours where drinking enthusiasts go through every step of the brewing process and learn more about brewing methods. Cooper’s Brewery has a lot of distinct flavors to offer.
Their beers have a good amount of carbonation and an ABV of around 4.5 percent. Coopers Brewery’s pale ales have a foamy head and a deep golden color.
When it comes to pale ales, Sierra Nevada is one of the leading breweries in the world. Their beers feature a dense white foam head and a transparent amber body.
Their beers are characterized by a full-bodied character and aromatic flavors. Sierra Nevada uses Cascade hops that make the beer more flavorful. Overall, Sierra Nevada pale ales have a smooth mouthfeel and a strong flavor profile.
Bass Brewery is one of the oldest breweries in the world. It was founded in 1777 in England, and today its beers are famous across the globe.
Their Ale is an English pale ale with a creamy head and a copper-colored body. This beer contains 5.1 percent ABV and has visible carbonation.
The brewery is among the most popular in the United Kingdom, and its pale ales are quite popular in European countries.
Perfect Food Pairing with Pale Ale
Pale ales have a strong hoppy taste and have citric and fruity notes. They are bitter and have a tropical touch, so pairing them with various foods is difficult. For this reason, they don’t go well with some foods, like salmon or red mullet.
To pair pale ales with foods, you must consider a few factors. For instance, you must avoid pairing them with intense or strong flavors. These beers are mainly used as palate cleansers. The following foods pair well with pale ales:
- Fish and Chips
- Mexican foods
- Roasted duck or quail
Whether you’re looking for a refreshing beer or a hoppy one with higher carbonation, a pale ale is the perfect choice for all drinkers.
With its light body and low sweetness, the beer provides a unique and distinct drinking experience for those who want something different from traditional beers.