Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beer Style #1....The American Pale Ale

People often ask me what my favorite beer of all-time is.  I struggle, usually, to come up with an answer.  I obviously have favorites, but comparing Two Hearted to KBS for me is like apples and oranges.  Both are awesome in their own ways.  So this got me to thinking about different beer styles and I decided to start writing about them.  Not sure how many styles I will write about, but at the end I will provide recommendations and some of my favorites.  Today let's talk American Pale Ale.

American Pale Ales are usually quite different from British Pale Ales.  Typically with an American Pale Ale you get a significantly higher hop characteristic.  Not enough to make it an IPA, but the lines between the two styles are much more blurry.  British Pale Ales generally have a much more prominent malt profile, making them sweeter, a good example of this is Bass Pale Ale.  The American Pale Ale tends to usually have a more dominant hop presence.  Still, the APA is usually clean, crisp, and refreshing.  The American Pale Ale is also usually relatively low in alcohol content.  They typically hover in the 5%-6% range, which makes them quite drinkable.  The balance of hops and malts make the American Pale Ale a perfect beer for those drinkers who aren't quite ready to have their palate thrashed by an IPA or a Double IPA.  I have a buddy who generally hasn't been all that into craft beer, but then I introduced him to Sun King Osiris and he loved it.

The American Pale Ale is a great "gateway" style to getting into craft beer because it's usually suitable to many palates.  It's not intimidating in the flavors it puts out there.  There are some that are hoppier than others, but that's the fun in trying things out.  Probably the first true craft pale ale I tried was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  It definitely has a more dominant hop profile, but upon my first sip I did not find it to be offensive.  But there are lots of great APA's out there.  So let's take a look at some of my favorite American Pale Ale's.

1. Three Floyds Zombie Dust:  Generally only available at Three Floyds Brewpub, this is in the conversation for me of my favorite beer of all time.  If you ever have the opportunity, it's highly recommended, and it consistently ranks as one of the best American Pale Ales in the country.  If you can't find it, then I suggest...
2.  Three Floyds Alpha King:  Usually easier to find and just as awesome in its own way.
3.  Schlafly Dry Hopped APA: Generally easy to find and full of awesome flavors.  Great beer.
4.  Upland Helios Pale Ale:  One of the less intimidating APA's out there, very drinkable and rather easy to find in Indiana.
5.  Victory Headwaters Pale Ale: Nice citrus hops to this Pale Ale.
6.  Founders Pale Ale:  Some crisp malt and hop flavors.  Well balanced.
7.  Flat 12 Walkabout Pale Ale:  If you are ever in Indianapolis, this one is a must try.  The use of Galaxy hops gives this APA a distinctly sweet and passionfruit hop profile.  The sweetness plays well with the malt tones.  Truly an awesome APA, but only available at the brewery.  My favorite local APA.
8.  Sun King Osiris Pale Ale:  My second favorite local APA.  A really good every day drinking pale ale.  My buddy Matt really enjoys it, so trust me, you will too.

Those are just some of my favorites, and most of them are easy to get if you are here in Indiana.  My favorite American Pale Ale is Zombie Dust, by just a hair over Alpha King.  If you are unsure about craft beer and pale ales, my recommendation is to go to your local shop and do a mix and match six pack of pale ales, have some friends over, and have a good tasting.

Cheers to the American Pale Ale....what are some of your favorite American Pale Ales?

1 comment:

  1. Some favorite apas in no particular order:
    - alpha king (3 floyds)
    - iron fist (revolution brewing co.)
    - full frontal pale ale (piece)
    - Endurance pale ale (founders)

    Unfortunately, all my favorites are from the midwest. This is due in part to the preference of enjoying them fresh (like an ipa).