JBU > Intermediate

Beer Styles 201: What is a Pale Ale?

Pale Ales: where they come from, their appearance, flavour & aroma, palate & mouthfeel, food pairings and serving suggestions are all explained in this Beer Styles 201 article.

Beer Styles 201: What is a Pale Ale?

What is a Pale Ale?

Pale Ales are one of the most popular style around the world but pale ales aren’t as simple and “pale” as they seem.

Pale Ale beers often have moderate happiness and balancing malt flavours. Brewers like to make pale ales approachable but also, interesting.

 

American Pale Ale vs. Belgian Pale Ale vs. English Pale Ale: What’s the difference?

American, Belgian, and English Pale Ales are all very common styles of beers. The main difference between them? Where they originated from and where they are brewed. American Pale Ales tend to come off more bitter than the English and Belgian brews. English Pale Ales are often compared to Extra Special Bitters, as they showcase both the flavours and bitterness of the hops. Belgian Pale Ales were first brewed in the early 1700s so it is thought that the English and American Pale Ales were first brewed to copy this beer. Even though there are some differences, all three beer styles are very popular, versatile, easy-drinking, and pair well with a range of food options.

 

Pale Ale Essential Information:

 

Style Region of American Pale Ales:

North America.

Style Region of Belgian Pale Ales:

Belgium.

Style Region of English Pale Ales:

United Kingdom.

Appearance of a Pale ale:

Pale Ales often pour a pale golden to amber/copper colour. The head size and colour of pale ales vary from brew to brew.

Pale Ale Flavour & Aroma:

There is usually a moderate to strong hop aroma present in Pale Ales. This is from the dry hopping or late additions of hops. Low to moderate maltiness helps balance how the hop flavour. Fruit, floral, and citrus flavours are often present in Pale Ales.

Palate & Mouthfeel:

Pale Ales are medium-light to medium bodied with high carbonation. Overall, Pale Ales have a smooth finish.

What foods pair well with Pale Ales?

Because Pale Ales often feature fruity and floral notes and have a range of bitterness, they make a great pairing partner for a wide variety of food. Pale Ales taste best with all kinds of cheeses, shrimp, burgers, and Asian cuisine.

How to serve a Pale Ale:

When brewing American, Belgian, and English Pale Ales, brewers tend to play around with malts, and fruit and citrus flavours. In order to take full advantage of these flavourful beers, you’re going to want to drink your American Pale Ale at around 45-50° F (7-10° C). Because English Pale Ales and Belgian Pale Ales are brewed with different types of yeasts, they tend to come out fuller-bodied and bolder. You should drink English and Belgian Pale Ales closer to 55° F (12.5° C).

Want to try some Pale Ales?

Here are some of our favourites:

Super SteezeAlpine Dog Brewing Company
Full MoonAlley Kat
The DukeMedicine Hat Brewing Company

 

Now that you’re an American Pale Ale & Belgian Pale Ale expert, learn more about other beer styles below:

Amber Ale / Dark Ale
Amber Lager / Dark Lager
Barleywine
Belgian IPA / White India Pale Ale
Berliner Weisse
Bock
Double IPA / Imperial IPA
Golden Ale / Blonde Ale
Golden Lager / Pale Lager
Gose
Gruit Beer
India Pale Ale (IPA)
Pilsner
Porter
Saison
Sour Ale / Wild Ale
Stout
Strong Ale
Weizenbock
Wheat Beer

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