Pale ale is popular type of ale which includes a number of different styles of ale. Pale ales are produced using ale yeasts and pale malts. They tend to be golden to copper coloured with a strong flavour as a result of the hops. They tend to have an intense bitterness with a dry flavour and high alcohol content. Pale ales are common in most ale producing countries, and many countries have their own particular style. Many of the variations which exist between pale ales are due to regional variations. Britain for example produces Bitter, America produces American pale ale and Germany produces Altbier.
Indian Pale Ale (IPA)
A particularly well known style of pale ale is Indian Pale Ale (IPA) which is an ale originally created by the British at the start of the 20th century for British soldiers stationed in India. It was designed to be able to withstand the long transport times by boat from Britain to India. It is suggested that English pale ales were derived from Indian Pale Ale. Generally, pale ales tend to have an ABV under 6, however there are some pale ales with an ABV over 6 and these are usually classified as strong pale ales. Barley wine, Scotch ale, American Pale Ale and Tripel are all examples of Strong pale ales.
The term ‘pale ale’ was first used in 1703 as a name for beers made with malt which had been dried using coke. By the 1830’s the terms ‘bitter’ and ‘pale ale’ had become synonymous, the term ‘bitter’ was more regularly used by customers, while the breweries still used the term ‘pale ale’. It is thought that the use of the term ‘bitter’ developed because of the drink’s strong bitter taste. Gradually pale ale became increasingly known as bitter, however the breweries still referred to cask beers as pale ales. Today the two terms are still used, but bitter is the more common name and is used to refer to both bottled and cask beer. While it is true that all pale ales are bitter, there are bitter ales which aren’t pale ales.
Wide Range of Styles of Pale Ale
As previously noted, there is a wide range of styles of pale ale. Indian pale ale, American pale ale and English pale ale, or Bitter, are perhaps the most common. Amber ale is a term used more commonly used in America for pale ales which range from light brown to light copper in colour. In such pale ales small amounts of crystal, or a different coloured malt, is added to the base of the pale ale to produce a darker colour. A variation on this term, Ambrée, is used in France where this particular style of pale ale is more modest in the bitterness of the hops. Amber ale is an adaptation of English pale ale but with a shift in the specific type of ingredients in order to use more indigenous hops, malts, yeast and water. Amber ale tends to be paler in colour, containing fewer fermentation by-products, with less of a caramel flavor. This type of ale tends to have a moderate to high hop flavour and may often have a citrus taste to it. Popular brands of amber ale include Full Sail Pail Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale and Rogue American Amber.
Other styles of pale ale include Bière de Garde, a French brewed beer; Saison, brewed in Belgium; and a variety of strong pale ales including Scotch ale.