Pale ale

Pale ale
A glass of bitter, a form of pale ale

Pale ale is a beer which uses a warm fermentation[1] and predominantly pale malt. It is one of the world's major beer styles.

The higher proportion of pale malts results in a lighter colour.[2][3] The term "pale ale" was being applied around 1703 for beers made from malts dried with coke, which resulted in a lighter colour than other beers popular at that time. Different brewing practices and hop levels have resulted in a range of taste and strength within the pale ale family.[4]



Pale ale was a term used for beers made from malt dried with coke. Coke had been first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it wasn't until around 1703 that the term "pale ale" was first used. By 1784, advertisements were appearing in the Calcutta Gazette for "light and excellent" pale ale. By 1830, the expressions "bitter" and "pale ale" were synonymous. Breweries would tend to designate beers as pale ale, though customers would commonly refer to the same beers as bitter. It is thought that customers used the term bitter to differentiate these pale ales from other less noticeably hopped beers such as porter and mild. By the mid to late 20th century, while brewers were still labeling bottled beers as pale ale, they had begun identifying cask beers as bitter, except those from Burton on Trent, which tend to be referred to as pale ales regardless of the method of dispatch.

Types of Pale ales

Amber ale

An Amber Ale

Amber ale is a term used in Australia, France and North America for pale ales brewed with a proportion of crystal malt to produce an amber colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown.[5] A small amount of crystal or other coloured malt is added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales.[6] In France the term "ambrée" is used to signify a beer, either cold or warm fermented, which is amber in colour; the beer, as in Pelforth Ambrée and Fischer Amber,[7] may be a Vienna lager, or it may be a Bière de Garde as in Jenlain Ambrée.[8] In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, although very few examples are particularly hoppy. In Australia the most popular Amber Ale is from Malt Shovel Brewery, branded James Squire in honour of Australia's first brewer, who first brewed beer in Sydney in 1794.[9]

American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale (APA), was developed around 1980.[10] The brewery thought to be the first to successfully use significant quantities of American hops in the style of APA and use the name Pale Ale, was the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company,[11] who brewed the first experimental batch of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in November 1980,[12] distributing the finished version in March 1981.[13] Anchor Liberty Ale, a 6% abv ale originally brewed by Anchor Brewing Company as a special in 1975 to commemorate Paul Revere's midnight ride in 1775 which marked the start of the American War of Independence, was seen by Michael Jackson as the first modern American ale.[14] Fritz Maytag, the owner of Anchor, visited British breweries in London, Yorkshire and Burton upon Trent, picking up information about robust pale ales, which he used when he made his American version using just malt rather than the malt and sugar combination common in brewing at that time, and making prominent use of the American hop, Cascade.[14] The beer was popular, and became a regular in 1983.[14] Other pioneers of a hoppy American pale ale were Jack McAuliffe of the New Albion Brewing Company and Bert Grant of Yakima Brewing.[15][16]

American Pale Ales are generally around 5% abv with significant quantities of American hops, typically Cascade.[17] Although American brewed beers tend to use a cleaner yeast, and American two row malt,[18] it is particularly the American hops that distinguish an APA from British or European pale ales.[19] The style is close to the American India Pale Ale (IPA), and boundaries blur,[20] though IPAs are stronger and more assertively hopped.[21] The style is also close to Amber Ale, though Amber Ales are darker and maltier due to use of crystal malts.[22]

Bière de Garde

Bière de Garde, or "keeping beer", is a pale ale traditionally brewed in the Pas-de-Calais region of France. These beers were usually brewed by farmhouses in the winter and spring, to avoid unpredictable problems with the yeast during the summertime.

The origins of the name lies in the tradition that it was matured/cellared for a period of time once bottled (and most sealed with a cork), to be consumed later in the year, akin to a Saison.

There are a number of beers named Bière de Garde in France, but some of the better known brands include:Brasserie de Saint-Sylvestre, Trois Monts (8.5%abv); Brasseurs Duyck, Jenlain (6.5%abv); and Brasserie La Choulette, Ambrée (7.5%abv).

Burton Pale Ale

Later in the second half of the nineteenth century, the recipe for pale ale was put into use by the Burton upon Trent brewers, notably Bass; ales from Burton were considered of a particularly high quality due to synergy between the malt and hops in use and local water chemistry, especially the presence of gypsum. Burton retained absolute dominance in pale ale brewing[23] until a chemist, C. W. Vincent discovered the process of Burtonisation to reproduce the chemical composition of the water from Burton-upon-Trent, thus giving any brewery the capability to brew pale ale.

English Bitter

The expression first appeared in the early 19th century as part of the development and spread of Pale Ale.[citation needed] Breweries would tend to designate beers as "pale ale", though customers would commonly refer to the same beers as "bitter". It is thought that customers used the term bitter to differentiate these pale ales from other less noticeably hopped beers such as porter and mild. Drinkers tend to loosely group modern bitter into "session" or "ordinary" bitter (up to 4.1% abv), "best" or "regular" bitter (between 4.2% and 4.7% abv) and "special" or "strong" bitter (4.8% abv and over).

Golden or summer ales have an appearance and profile similar to that of a pale lager. Hop Back Brewery brewed one of the first, called "Summer Lightning", in 1989.[24]

India Pale Ale was a British October pale ale or keeping beer bought for export to India. Worthington White Shield, originating in Burton-upon-Trent, is a beer considered to be part of the development of India Pale Ale.

Irish Red ale

Irish red ale, red ale, or Irish ale is a name used by brewers in Ireland; Smithwick's is a typical Irish red ale.

There is some dispute as to whether Irish Red Ale is a genuine style or the same as English keg Bitter.[25]

In the United States, the name can describe a darker amber ale or a "red" beer that is a lager with caramel colouring.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

India Pale Ale or IPA is a style of beer first brewed in England in the 18th century, though the expression "India pale ale" was first used (in an advertisement) in the Liverpool Mercury of January 30, 1835. For much further detail, see this reference[26].

Strong pale ale

Strong pale ales are ales made predominantly with pale malts and have an alcohol strength that may start around 5%, though typically starts a bit higher at 7 or 8% by volume and may go up to 12%, though brewers have been pushing the alcohol strength higher. In 1994 the Hair of the Dog Brewing Company produced a Strong Pale Ale with an abv of 29%. Brewdog recently released "Sink the Bismark", a 41% alcohol volume pale ale.[27] Orval typifies the Belgian pale ale style, and is fermented with some Brettanomyces in addition to Saccharomyces yeast.

American Strong Ale

American strong ale is a broad category used in America to describe ales of 7.0% abv or higher. Beers in this category may also be classified as double India Pale Ales, barley wines, or old ale depending on the style.

Strong Ale

Strong Ale is the name given to strong pale ale brewed in England above the strength of 5% abv.[28]

Scotch ale

Scotch Ale is the name given to a strong ale believed to have originated in Edinburgh in the 18th century.[29] Beers using the designation Scotch Ale are popular in the USA where most examples are brewed locally. Examples of Scotch Ale brewed in Scotland are exported to the USA, though may be available in Scotland under a different name. For example, Caledonian's Edinburgh Scotch Ale is sold from the cask in Scotland as Edinburgh Strong Ale or as Edinburgh Tattoo.[30]

Strong Scotch Ale is also known as "Wee Heavy". Examples of beers brewed in the USA under the name Wee Heavy tend to be 7% abv and higher, while Scottish-brewed examples, such as Belhaven's Wee Heavy, can be found between 5.5% and 6.5% abv. On the other hand, Scottish brewed exceptions include Traquair House Ale which is brewed to a strength of 7.2% abv, and Traquair Jacobite Ale which is 8% abv. McEwan's Scotch Ale is also 8% abv.[31]

As with other examples of strong Ales, such as Barley Wine, these beers tend toward sweetness and a full body, with a low hop flavour and aroma. Historical hop levels are debated. Examples from the Caledonian brewery would have toffee notes from the caramelizing of the malt from the direct fired copper. This caramelizing of Caledonian's beers is popular in America and has led many American brewers to produce toffee sweet beers which they would label as a Scotch Ale.

Even though the malt used by brewers in Scotland is not generally or traditionally dried by peat burning, some Scottish whisky distilleries use low nitrogen barley dried by peat burning. The distinctive flavour of these smoked malts when used in beers is reminiscent of whisky, and such beers are popular in France, Belgium and America. These beers are often named Whiskey Ale or Scotch Ale by the brewers.[32] The brewer Douglas Ross of the Bridge of Allan brewery made the first Scottish example of one of these Whiskey Ales for the Tullibardine Distillery in 2006.[33] In North East England, Best Scotch refers to a beer similar to Mild Ale but with a drier, more burnt palate.[34]

See also


  1. ^ "Roger Protz on India Pale ale". Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  2. ^ Paige Williams (May 2003). Atlanta, Vol. 43, No. 1. Emmis Communications. p. 104. ISSN 0004-6701. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  3. ^ D. E. Briggs, J. S. Hough, R. Stevens, Tom W. Young (1982). Malting and Brewing Science. Springer. p. 810. ISBN 0834216841. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  4. ^ India Pale Ale, Roger Protz,
  5. ^ James Squire Amber Ale - Michael Jackson 1 October 2001: "The designation Amber Ale is to be taken seriously".
  6. ^ American Ales
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Duyck Jenlain Ambrée". 2011 [last update]. Retrieved 11 August 2011. "Jenlain Ambrée" 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Randy Mosher (2011). Tasting Beer. p. 212. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Sam Calagione. Brewing Up a Business. John Wiley and Sons, 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "Sierra Nevada History". 2009 [last update]. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  13. ^ Maureen Ogle (2006). Ambitious Brew. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 305. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  14. ^ a b c Michael Jackson (1997). Michael Jackson's beer companion. Running Press. pp. 161–162. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  15. ^ John Holl (2011 [last update]). " | Featured Brewery: New Albion Brewing". Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  16. ^ Michael Jackson (2011 [last update]). "Michael Jackson's Beer Hunter - How Bert Grant Saved The World". Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  17. ^ " | American Ales". 2011 [last update]. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Chris Wright (2007). The Beer Journal. p. 38. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Eric Asimov (28 June 2010). "Sampling American Pale Ales -". The New York Times (New York: NYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  20. ^ Andy Crouch (2010). Great American Craft Beer. Running Press. p. 126. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  21. ^ Chris Wright (2007). The Beer Journal. p. 56. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  22. ^ Marty Nachel (2008). Homebrewing For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 128. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  23. ^ The dictionary of trade products ... - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  24. ^ "Hop Back Summer Lightning " Beer Culture with Des de Moor". Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  25. ^ "The Irish Red Paradox". Beoir. 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  26. ^ "India Pale Ale". 
  27. ^ Hair of the Dog Dave from Hair of the Dog Brewing Company, a Barley Wine style beer: An unofficial page for Hair of the Dog Dave from Hair of the Dog Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon , United States of America
  28. ^ "Beer Styles -". Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  29. ^ The Younger Centuries, by David Keir, 1951, page 22
  30. ^ Caledonian Edinburgh Scotch Ale from Caledonian (S&N, Heineken), an English Strong Ale style beer: An unofficial page for Caledonian Edinburgh Scotch Ale from Caledonian (S&N, ...
  31. ^ "McEwan's Scotch Ale". BeerAdvocate. 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 
  32. ^ The Prague Post Online
  33. ^ "All you need to know about beer". Retrieved 2008-04-25. 
  34. ^


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • pale-ale — [ pɛlɛl ] n. f. • 1856; mot angl. ♦ Bière anglaise blonde, ale claire. Des pale ales. ● pale ale nom féminin (anglais pale ale) Ale de couleur blond clair. ⇒PALE ALE, subst. fém. Bière anglaise blonde, très légère. Sur chaque vitrine on lit (...) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Pale Ale — [ peɪl eɪl], das; , (Sorten:) [engl. pale ale, aus: pale = blass, bleich u. ale, ↑Ale]: helles englisches obergäriges Bier …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Pale Ale — [ peil eil] das; <aus gleichbed. engl. pale ale zu pale »blass« u. ale (vgl. ↑Ale)> helles (engl.) Bier …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • pale ale — noun uncount a type of light colored beer a. count a glass of pale ale …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Pale Ale — (engl., spr. pēl ël, »blasses Ale«), s. Bier, S. 846 …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Pale Ale — (engl., spr. pehl ehl), helles Ale (s.d.) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • pale ale — n [U and C] BrE old fashioned a type of light coloured beer that is sold in bottles …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Pale Ale — [ pe:l e:l ], das; [s], [s] <englisch> (helles englisches Bier) …   Die deutsche Rechtschreibung

  • pale ale — noun an amber colored ale brewed with pale malts; similar to bitter but drier and lighter • Regions: ↑United Kingdom, ↑UK, ↑U.K., ↑Britain, ↑United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ↑Great Britain • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • pale ale — UK / US noun Word forms pale ale : singular pale ale plural pale ales a) [uncountable] a type of light coloured beer b) [countable] a glass of pale ale …   English dictionary

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