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What makes a pale ale pale?

December 5, 2016

If you like your beers bitter, hoppy, and crisp, the family of pale ales is the place to go. Curious what makes a pale ale pale? Or an India pale ale distinct? 

 

You can think of these beers as a spectrum with more mild pale ales on one end and aggressively-hopped double IPAs on the other. There is a lot of variation within the spectrum and an exception to every rule, of course, but you can follow this as a general rule of thumb.

 

• Pale Ales - So called because they are brewed with more lightly roasted "pale" malts, pale ales typically have a more equal malt-to-hop balance. The hops are definitely present, but fairly moderate. Beers to Try: Maule's Hika Pale Ale, Runaway Pale or a Northern Monk's communion.

 

• English India Pale Ales (IPAs) - IPAs were originally brewed as an extra-hopped beer for the long sea voyages from England to India, taking advantage of the special preservative properties of hops to keep the beer fresh. These IPAs were - and still are - brewed with English hops and tended toward earthy, woodsy, and spicy flavors. Beers to Try: Yeastie Boys Digital IPA and Buxton Axe Edge is one of the best we have tried.

 

• American India Pale Ales (IPAs) - While the English style of IPAs is still brewed today, American brewers have also put their own spin on it. Our IPAs tend to be even more aggressively hopped, with the balance of hops-and-malts definitely tipping in favor of the hops. American IPAs typically feature resinous pine and bitter grapefruit flavors. Beers to Try: Beavertowns Gamma Ray or a local favourite Nobby's APA.

 

• Double IPAs Also called "Imperial" IPAs, this uniquely American style takes the craving for hops and runs with it. These usually use double or even triple the typical amount of hops, but also add more malts to balance. The resulting beer has huge hoppy highs and deep malty depths with an high

 

ABV to match. Beers to Try: Stone Ruination IPA from Stone Brewing Co or we love Cloudwater Version 3.