The American Pale Ale is a fascinating style, with few rules. Starting as an English Bitter, but with the US Cascade hop, this style has barely changed and some of the original APAs are still available. Considered the original US craft style, this truly is the progenitor of all US craft beer. Overall the goal of this style is balance between the three main flavor characteristics: hops, malts, and yeast. Most APAs have very little yeast characteristics as they use a clean fermenting yeast, however having a solid malt base with caramel malts gives this style a balanced sweetness to work with the hops. APAs are generally around 5% ABV and between 30-50 IBUs. There are variants of the style, specifically the American Strong Ale, but with no set rules on which hops to use the flavor combinations are nearly endless. Personally this is one of our favorite styles and is a great barometer of your local craft brewery, if they can make a balanced and tasty APA you can trust them to make good beer.
Tasting Notes of American Pale Ales
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
The original APA, this beer is brewed with all Cascade and is a perfect balance of caramel and piney hops. Easy drinking and pale blonde color, perfect for any time of year.
Sugar Creek Pale Ale
A more robust nose than the Sierra Nevada with a lot of pine. There is a little bit of bitterness, but a nice toastiness on the flavor with some grapefruit to balance out the sweetness.
Tree Meadows Three-eyed Squirrel
A homebrew special from Andrew using BIAB style. The New Zealand hops really bring out the orange flavors. The nose and palate have strong orange marmalade tones. There is a bunch of lingering bitterness, and really needs to be balanced better to be a true APA. For the recipe click check out our homebrew corner.
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
Very floral in the aroma with a touch of grapefruit. Unlike the Sierra Nevada, this is not too balanced and is much more bitter with a big beer feel. The hops really shine through with the malt really taking a back seat.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery Spoaty Oaty
This beer is most similar to the Sierra Nevada Pale with a nice creamy oatmeal mouthfeel. Nice and smooth with a touch of citrus and pine. A really good beer that is a great iteration on the OG APA.
Final Thoughts on American Pale Ales
We really like this style as it allows for a lot of variety in the flavor and it is a great way to get into craft beer. Because of the balance this style generally goes well with any food. Andrew’s favorite beer of the night was the Sugar Creek and Travis thought it was the most unique. If you want to try out an APA, we highly recommend trying out the OG Sierra Nevada.
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