Pale Ales get their name from the lightly roasted, pale colored malts with which they are brewed. The balance of malts to hops is relatively equal, and this high proportion of light-colored malts results in a lighter colored beer. Thus, Pale Ale.
Unlike its’ sibling the IPA, Pale Ale’s hops are much less pronounced, and, as a result, actually taste pretty decent (you may recall that I don’t care for IPAs). I tried three different Pale Ales this round, and enjoyed them all. It was akin to drinking an IPA if it didn’t taste like liquified tinfoil. All the good and none of the bad. Why isn’t there a Pale Ale craze right now? I could get into that.
According to the bottle, Bass was “the world’s first Pale Ale.” Introduced in 1777, it is certainly one of the oldest beer styles I’ve tried. And even though it is today brewed and sold by Anheuser Busch, it claims that “it is still brewed according to its original recipe.”
As one of the world’s longest-produced beers, Bass Pale Ale has an impressive history. It’s iconic red triangle was the first trademark to be registered in the UK in 1876. Manet painted it into his famous A Bar at the Folies-Bergère in 1882. It was a favorite of Napoleon, Edgar Allen Poe, and Buffalo Bill. It was also served onboard the Titanic.
I can see why this beer has been popular for nearly 240 years; it’s taste is refreshing, full-bodied, and well-balanced. By far my favorite of the pale ales that I sampled.
Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Mirror Pond boasts a much hoppier flavor than Bass, but still not overpowering. Of the three pale ales, it tastes the most like an IPA. There’s a hint of citrus and a definite bitterness. The body is light and slightly dry. I would drink it again, but only if I didn’t have a more appealing option.
Kona Brewing Company’s Fire Rock Pale Ale
I tried this in a sampler while visiting Kauai last week (more on that soon!), which is why I don’t have photos of this particular beer. It classifies itself as a Hawaiian-style Pale Ale, which is a subcategory of American Pale Ale. It’s slightly bitter and citrusy, but again, not overwhelming. The hops seemed much more balanced.
Admittedly, I had a few drinks before I ordered this sampler, so I don’t remember all the intricate details. The sampler included Castaway IPA, Longboard Lager, Koko Brown, and Fire Rock Pale Ale. I liked all the flavors, even the IPA, which for me is extremely rare. My favorite was the Koko Brown: it’s made with real coconut which lends its flavor perfectly. Too bad it’s only available in Hawaii.
In two weeks we’re talking about cider! Who’s excited?
Like this post? Check out the rest of the series.