In the mood for a Pale Ale
So now the question: what's the right moment for a Pale Ale? What part of the drinking repertoire does it fit? For a start, it’s a social beer, ale’s answer to the chit-chat of a Pilsner or Helles. It’s bright and breezy, zealous in its entertainment, heady in the way it hops out of the glass. It’s a hoppy beer, but it’s not got the heft and weight of IPA. Though given the way that particular style is splintering into so many shards of interpretation (fruit, double, NE, Brut, black, etc. etc.), perhaps Pale Ale will soon be seen as yet just another expression of IPA.
Pale Ale also has a gastronomic side. For starters its light fruitiness means it is able to dovetail straight into a serving of grilled sole, with its bitterness cutting through the butter melting on the top. It’s also a BBQ beer, with the twin tag-team of bitterness and fruitiness standing up to grilled chicken. Stronger versions are also a wow with the kind of aged blue cheese that slides on the plate when placed there.
The strength of a Pale Ale
Is it strong? It could be, but sometimes subtlety is enough as you discover when cracking open a can of Moor Revival. This is only 3.8%, though as it rises in the glass there is rich ripe mango, pine and a hint of spice on the nose. Every swig reveals a light snappiness with tropical fruit, grainy sweetness and a long bitter finish. Refreshment is the key to the enjoyment of this beer. Approach it with an idea of refreshment and that will be the key to open the door to its charms.
A Pale Ale, whether American or English, used to be about the hops and malt. But now in these ecumenical times, we have fruit-flavoured variants, such as Scotland’s Fallen’s Peaches and Cream Pale Ale, which uses vanilla, peach and lactose in the mix. It isn’t bad if a little heretical.
Pale Ale. What’s in a name? A lot, it seems.