New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, California, Oregon
Once again, this time in lighter tones. I found the six darks a bit hefty for a heat wave but here we have again a range in a style: a pale ale or three, a bitter, a India Pale Ale and a Double India Pale Ale. It is like collecting saxophones.
These represent perhaps the middle range of the pales - and only US versions, none of these English ones or Canadians. We are also missing at the light end small beer, kitchen ale, light ale, ordinary bitter or best bitter. In the middle we may have no ESB or extra Special Bitter, though I suspect the Rogue. We also have no heavy weight, barley wines like the 7 oz bomb that is Old Foghorn. Winter is long enough for those monsters. Terry Foster in his brewing text Pale Ale discussed the fuzzy distinctions amongst these graduations of the pale:
...there is a considerable overlap betwee pale ale, India pale ale and bitter ale. You might think that the confusion of styles could be clarified by looking at the versions of these beers sold in England today. Surely the brewers know their own beers, and they will have labeled htem properly? Not a chance. They are even more confused than we are! A survey of all the traditional draught beers offered by English brewer, under the names pale ale, IPA and bitter, reveals that there is a total of 461 such beers. Only 11 of these are called pale ale with a mere five earning the IPA designation the remainder being called bitter...pale ale is difficult to define because it is a living style; like language it change all the time.Fabulous. Reason enough to seek out the 461 is that, by the 461st, the 1st has changed.
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: from Chico, CA. A thin white rim over bright orangey-amber active ale. This is a ubiquitous beer in grocery stores and corner stores anywhere I visit down south. Usually around 5.99 or 6.99 a six-pack. A thin white rim over bright amber active ale. Not strongly armomatic, the first thing is a round malty sweetness which opens to a mainly bitter hop edge that transforms into pins of effervescence. It has a medium body with some heat from the 5.6% and green hop in the finish. A worthy entry into the US version of the style but expect more. Advocatonians are up.
- Syracuse Pale Ale: from...you guessed it Syracuse, NY. Fine white head, low bubble, bright medium straw body. I like this beer a lot as I recently wrote. The body of the beer is refreshingly light but with some hoppy bracing around the edges that gives integrity. The malt is incredibly fruity - apples, pears and apricot - over top of slightly sour rich light yeast. On tap at the Blue Tusk it is even better. Perfect lighter ale.
- Rogue Brutal Bitter: from Newport, Oregon. A thin whispy white rim over cloudy straw ale. Lively but not overly carbonated. Lots of yeast and hops in the nose. An English style pale ale described by the brewer as being between "a Very Extra Special Bitter and an Indian Pale Ale." I just think it is an ESB, in the nature of Harpoon's or Propeller's. What is wrong being just and ESB? Lots more description from Rogue here. The mouthfeel reminds me a lot of their Yellow Snow Ale reviewed last fall, kind of thickish. I am having a bit of a hard time separating out some of the hops from the hops as well as the malts from malts. There is a strong rich biscuitiness or french breadiness from the fine pale malt used. The hops are citrus - including seville orange - but also edge and green in waves of flavour - sort of expected with Rogue. Earthiness, fruitiness, hoppiness, breadiness, yeastiness. A quieter finish than you might expect with a nice hint of white pepper. Lots and lots of flavour well ordered, playing out in sequence. Can people actually just suck on a bottle by Rogue. They demand so much attention.
- Doggie Style Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale: from Denver, Colorado. This beer is a great education in pale ale. Like the Syracuse, it is lighter in body but like a bigger beer, it is loaded with hops. On off-white head resolves to a rim and skim with lace over orange-amber ale. A big floral wave of hops finishes to a quiet edge over fresh grainy and sweetish malt. Light yeast touch. Not quite complex in the big beer sense but extremely fine - a real deft touch. The beer I want in a heatwave. I have no idea what the guys at the low end of the BA's list were thinking or even drinking. Sweet sweet '70s Rolling Stone style Ralph Steadman labels.
- Flower Power India Pale Ale: from Ithaca, NY. I love this beer from the flowery fron to the remarkable chocolate malt in the finish. I have reviewed it twice here and here so I don't know what new to tell you. I dropped by the brewery last month and will pop in again likely in about ten days when I pass through Ithaca again. Hey - that chocolate note in the end is a new idea. Only a great beer tells you new things.
- Stoudts Double India Pale Ale: from Adamstown Pennsylvania. For a 10% beer, this is subtle. Little in the way of direct heat, this beer relies on a mix of weight and hops to hide 1.2 oz of pure ethel alcohol in every bottle... and the brewery says it has 75 IBUs of hops which in itself makes the balancing act "Flying Zombinis"-like. The beer pours a nice light beige head over medium straw with a hint of red but not enough to trigger amber in my mind. The front end of sweet orange marmalade cut with green and lime hops. The body is rich and creamy even though it is a heavy weight. The alcohol is there, wrapped in the bitter of the hops like a cool but spicy spring roll. A fantastic ale.