pale ale

Pale ale

Pale, and in no need for sun

Hop Character: 
strong, to aggressive, and then some more
Malt Type: 
pale malts, some can be darker
a "pale"

Ale is defined by as:

a malt beverage, darker, heavier, and more bitter than beer, containing about 6 percent alcohol by volume.

So “pale” must mean more pale than dark… right? Well, pale ale just means it uses a pale version of malt, and that any other type of beer will pale in comparison to it’s superior taste.

pale ale

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This may or may not be the distinction you would make, and depending on what you think is a good beer you may just hate this assumption of mine, out-right.

Overall, I am being biased, because I think the style of brewing that an ale requires, offers more ways to change it into something totally new, and creative, which is exactly what you’re getting from craft breweries all over the world today; and I love it! Plus it’s MY favorite kind of beer. An IPA, to be exact, is my favorite. Because these beers share parts of the same name (India pale ale, and pale ale), they should be referenced together, but because an IPA is my favorite, more will be said about it in it’s own special post.

Ale’s made pale, are warm-fermented or top-fermented: meaning the yeast used for this kind of beer rises in the fermenting process. Hops are added, and then MORE hops are added to the brew at different stage’s of the brewing process, owing to it’s bitter designation. The amount of hops in any kind of ale is meant to cover up some of the sweetness that the malts add, by making it a little more bitter. In some cases the hop profile is aimed to be the most pronounced flavor of the beer, depending on the style and daring of the beer maker.

Today, this classic brew is the cornerstone of most craft breweries. Because there are so many different ways to make an ale more creative, the definition of ale can get lost, sometimes just being a reference for a brewer to start with. For instance, Indeed Brewing Company, MN, has a beer called an American Black Ale. This is a variation on an IPA that uses more heavily roasted malts, and add’s sweet flavors like chocolate, and caramel. Rogue Brewery, OR, made an organic ale using hops from their own micro-hopyard, and modeled it after the American style-ales. What set’s this beer apart from even being called a pale ale is that different hops, malts, and sugars (all organically grown) are used to define it as organic- yet, when analyzed, what you are getting is just a new, clean take on the old, dry pale ale.

pale ale

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A pale American ale is a little more hop-crazy than a traditional English pale. This tradition started with Sierra Nevada, whom in 1980, couldn’t stand the bland, over-processed and under-variated American Lagers (much like me, and every other craft-head today), and decided to make a beer that veered off the traditional path- and PACKED it with hops. Now, we have a beer craft revolution where every American micro brewery has one of it’s own pale ales to offer.

History of the pale ale:
For almost 375 years people have been enjoying ale, the pale way. One of the world’s most popular types of beer, Pale Ale was first brewed in Burton, England, around the year 1642. It was not called “pale” until just after 1700. The beer was called pale because of its color. Prior to its introduction, beer was a dark brew made over a wood fire. Brewers in Burton improved the brewing process. They replaced the wood with coke (a high-carbon fuel, not the soft drink), and added pale colored malt and top quality yeast to the fermentation process. The result was a beer which was clear, light in color and had a strong, bitter taste.

Brewers have continued to refine the beer. Today there are brewers all over the world that bring their own unique flavor and style to the pale king. Different brewing techniques and practices along with varying hop levels create pale ales with different strengths and tastes. The original pale ale produced in Burton derived some of its unique flavor from the high level of calcium in the water.

Pale ales made with fresh hops are among the most popular. Many brewers of this ale, combine fresh and dried hops to create unique flavors. There is many a micro brewery using innovative brewing techniques to produce wonderfully flavored pale-ale varieties. But there are some popular styles that are loved by large groups of people. Three of the most popular types are American, Belgian or English pale ales. By far the most popular is the traditional English style IPA. Some craft breweries add salt from Burton, in an attempt copy its taste.

There are many rare beer mixes like coffee ales, cherry ales, pumpkin ales, my word….

The kinds of ale that can be created today will bare little resemblance to the age-old original from Burton. But it shouldn’t be neglected that, it was the Burton process that delivers our ale enthusiasm today, in the form of these new creations (coffee, and pumpkin variations, etc).

In much the same way that television programming resembles nothing like the programming of 50 years ago, we still pay homage to the pioneers of it. When you drink a glass of Dogfish Head’s Shelter pale ale, or Indeed’s Day Tripper Pale Ale, you’ll have to raise the glass in honor of the beer-curious Brit’s that paved the way.

I wonder if they called it “pale” because the Brit’s who created it were so pale… and they wanted to REALLY stamp it as their own…? Maybe.

Whatever it was, I thank em’ for it.

Interesting Nugget:

Most beers made before the mid 1600's were all dark, due to the cooking process. Once coke was used to cook liquids differently, and paler malts were identified as better ingredient's for beer, the pale ale was born!

Pale ale Beers: