6. AMERICAN PALE ALES
6A. American Pale Ale
Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. Citrusy hop aroma very common. Esters vary from low to high. Diacetyl moderate to none.
Pale golden to amber.
Often moderate to high hop flavor. Citrusy hop flavor very common (such as from Cascades), but also other American hop variety flavors are found. Malt flavor moderate relative to aggressive hop flavor and bitterness. Balance towards bitterness. Caramel flavor is usually restrained. Diacetyl moderate to none.
Many are rather light, refreshing and more highly carbonated than many other styles, but body can reach medium. Carbonation borders on effervescent in some examples.
Overall Impression: Should be refreshing.
An American adaptation of English pale ale.
In the past, this category also covered what is now called American amber ale. American pale ales differ from American amber ales notably by being lighter in color, but also in having less caramel flavor and usually being balanced more towards hop bitterness.
Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. Light to medium crystal malts. American hops, often the citrusy ones such as Cascade, Centennial and Columbus, but others may also be used (e.g., Brewer's Gold or Willamette). Water can vary in sulfate content, but carbonate content should be relatively low.
IBUs: 20-40 FG: 1.010-1.015
SRM: 4-11 ABV: 4.5-5.7%
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Summit Pale Ale, Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale.
6B. American Amber Ale
Often a mild to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. Some caramel aroma common. Esters vary from low to high. Diacetyl medium-high to none.
Light copper to light brown.
Moderate to high hop flavor from American hop varieties. Malt/bitterness balance can be on either side of even and is more likely to be on the malt side, but usually not too far from center. Caramel flavor is moderate to strong. Diacetyl medium-high to none.
Body is medium to medium-full. Carbonation typically moderate.
Caramel usually balances the bitterness.
Called West Coast amber ales by some authors, this sub-category was spun-off from the American pale ale style.
In the past, this category used to be part of American pale ale. American amber ales differ from American pale ales not only by being darker in color, but also in having more caramel flavor and usually being balanced more evenly even between malt and bitterness.
Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. Medium to dark crystal malts. American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Brewer's Gold, Columbus and Willamette, but others may also be used. Water can vary in sulfate and carbonate content.
IBUs: 20-40 FG: 1.010-1.015
SRM: 11-18 ABV: 4.5-5.7%
Big Time Atlas Amber, Bell's Amber, Mendocino Red Tail Ale, Rhino Chaser's American Amber Ale, St. Rogue Red Ale, North Coast Red Seal Ale.
6C. California Common Beer
May have a pronounced woody or rustic hop aroma (as from Northern Brewer, for example). Restrained fruitiness. May have a moderate toasted malt aroma. Diacetyl low to none.
Dark gold to copper to medium amber.
Malty, balanced with a pronounced hop bitterness. Rustic/woody (e.g., Northern Brewer) hop flavor medium to none. May have a toasted (not roasted) malt flavor. Balance is generally about even between malt and hops. Diacetyl low to none.
Medium-bodied. Medium to medium-high carbonation.
A beer with solid malt and hop expression, only mildly fruity and having woody/rustic hop character.
American West Coast original. Large shallow fermenters are used. Originally, in the absence of handy ice or refrigeration, the locally cool ambient temperatures of the San Francisco peninsula led to a beer that was fermented with lager yeast, but at temperatures that were at the cool end of the ale temperature range.
Similar to American pale ale, although typically less fruity. Hop flavor/aroma is woody rather than citrusy, although a slightly citrusy character has been noted by some in a commercial example back in the mid-1980s.
Pale ale malt, American hops (usually woody, such as Northern Brewer, rather than citrusy), small amounts of toasted malt and/or light caramel/crystal malts. Lager yeast, however some strains (often with the mention of "California" in he name) work better than others at the warmer fermentation temperatures (55 to 60oF) used (some German strains produce excessive sulfury character).Water should have relatively low sulfate and low to moderate carbonate levels.
IBUs: 35-45 FG: 1.011-1.014
SRM: 8-14 ABV: 4-5.5%
Anchor Steam, Old Dominion Victory Amber.