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Beer Reviews: Pale Ales and IPAs

Updated on January 29, 2013

A beer drinker's reviews of Pale Ales and IPAs

In this page I will review different IPAs and Pale Ales.

These reviews are my opinion only and have no commercial purpose whatsoever.

Also, the picture attached to this introduction has nothing to do with ale or beer reviews. It is an antique photo I found, but honestly, doesn't this lady look like she could use a good cold brew?

IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale
IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale

What is an IPA (India Pale Ale)?

Back in the days of British Imperialism, the soldiers stationed in India wanted and needed beer ... not as a recreational beverage but as a source of clean water. Since this was before the time of refrigeration, it was too hot to brew in India. Beer had to be shipped from elsewhere. A beer was developed that would last the 6 week ship journey without spoiling. It had a high level of hops as a preservative and was pale in color as lighter colored malts were starting to be used by brewers. These pale malts were more economical as you could extract more sugars from them than you could from darker malts. Also around this time the cost of glass dropped considerably and people liked the appearance of a lighter colored ale in a glass vessel.

Pale Ale, Revised: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes
Pale Ale, Revised: History, Brewing, Techniques, Recipes

What is a Pale Ale?

A variation of IPA came into vogue in England, brewed for the most part in Burton-on Trent. It was the beginning of pale ale.

Pale Ales tend to be lower in alcohol than IPAs and lighter in flavor, though they can and are aggressively hopped. American Pale Ales and IPAs tend to be more "in your face" than English style IPAs and Pale Ales. Also, in England, Pale Ales are referred to as Bitters.

Hoppy Trails IPA
Hoppy Trails IPA

Hoppy Trails IPA

Appalacian Brewing Company, Harrisburg PA

Appalachian Brewing Company is a solid regional brewery in South-Central PA. They have brewpubs in Harrisburg, Camp Hill and Gettysburg PA.

Appearance: Pours a deep gold with a solid white head. The head has good staying power. The beer is clear and has a constant stream of bubbles rising through it.

Smell: Citrus and pine balanced by an almost cracker-like aroma. Balanced.

Taste: The flavors of citrus and pine from the hops dominate but are backed up by a sweet bready malt flavor. A nice bitter aftertaste typical of the style is present.

Mouthfeel Medium bodied and no real carbonation sting. Refreshing

Overall:A good representative of the style. Lots of American hops flavor and well balanced. This beer would go great with sharp cheese and would balance any sweet dessert.

Misery Bay IPA

Erie Brewing Company, Erie PA

This is another IPA from a PA brewery. I prefer to support local and regional breweries.

Appearance: Pours a nice amber, crystal clear and topped by a thick head of various sized bubbles. The head leaves lacing around the glass.

Smell: As soon as I opened the bottle I was able to smell grapefruit and pine from the hops. The aroma from the glass also includes caramel and malt

Taste: Nice. Bitter and good hops flavor come through first but is backed by caramel and malt. The hops bitterness lingers after.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and no carbonation bite

Overall: This is a good example of an American IPA. Well balanced and puts domestic hops to good use. Would pair very well with a sharp flavored cheese, a sweet dessert or a beef dish.

Double Old Thumper Ale

Shipyard Brewing Company, Portland ME

Style: Bitter is another name for pale ale in England. This is a double strength bitter so I am not really sure what category to place it in.

Appearance: Pours a coppery brown in the glass with a thick white head that is long lasting

Smell: Sweet and malty with dark fruit and a definite alcohol presence

Taste: Sweet, malty, fruity and hoppy followed by a strong alcohol aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with no carbonation or alcohol bite

Overall: Warming. This is a beer to sip slowly and savor.

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico CA

Rye is a grain that more and more brewers are using in their beer. It has a distinctive flavor that goes well with sweet malts and spicy hops.

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a thick white head that is long lasting and fluffy

Smell: Spicy hops and peppery rye dominate the smell with tones of sweet malt and caramel

Taste: Sweet caramel and malt flavors are balanced and contrasted with spicy hops and rye. Nice flavor. No alcohol in the aftertaste, just citrus and spicy hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a smoothness that makes it very drinkable

Overall: A good IPA. It would go well with steak or any other meat dish. It is well balanced and satisfying.

Please leave feedback! - I really like feedback!

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    • Geordie T profile image

      Geordie T 4 years ago

      Great start! Keep at it. I love getting a chance to see other smaller brews to review if I'm out and about.

    • Glorymiller profile image

      Glory Miller 5 years ago from USA

      Page looks like it will have great potential. I didn't know there was difference between a pale ale and an India pale ale...now I know.