Ah, the Pale Ale. Of British origin, the pale color of beers wasn’t possible until the mid-1600s when coke – a purified derivative of coal or oil with no smell – was developed for dry-roasting malts to a pale color. Pale ales developed in England as bitter beers. Today, the American Pale Ale joins a dozen other types of pale ales, including reds, ambers, blondes and IPAs.
The American Pale Ale is different from the European and British pale ales in that it generally uses hops common in America, features American two-row malt and downplays yeast flavors.
But Oregon brewers, if they can be counted on for one thing, can be counted on to flaunt the rules. The Central and Eastern Oregon pale ales featured below are proof of the variety brewed here: two use Australian hops, several others use European hops and one is a Belgian-style, fermented in the open – all pale ales!
Due to the small turnout for tasting this month, we have included all of the beers entered in our monthly tasting, along with their commercial descriptions. Try them all and judge for yourself!
Silver Moon Brewing Get Sum, Bend 5.2 % ABV, 44 IBUs
The gold medal winner at this year’s North American Brewers Association is light-bodied with a giant hop aroma and flavor. Hops include Chinook, Centennial and Citra.
GoodLife Sweet As, Bend 6% ABV, 18 IBUs
The 2013 gold medal Pacific Ale at the American Canned Brew Fest is brewed with New Zealand hops where “Sweet As” means “Really Good.” Ingredients include Northwest Two Row and Vienna malts, white wheat. Also, Australian Galaxy hops. This pale ale features tropical flavors, apricot, straw and flower aromas.
Oblivion Polar Star, Bend ABV 5.2%, 55 IBUs
Oblivion’s flagship pale ale is a classic NW pale with a medium body and is moderately hopped. The beer is fruity and refreshing.
Worthy Pale Ale, Bend ABV 6%, 50 IBUs
Worthy’s tip of the hat to East Siders everywhere is this hybrid of the British Extra Special Bitter and American Pale Ale. Hops are all Oregon-grown: Nugget, Centennial, Crystal, Meridian and Horizon.
Terminal Gravity’s TG033Pale, Enterprise 6.1% ABV
This pale ale from Eastern Oregon is in the tradition of the classic British style. More quaffable than an IPA, it has more flavor than a golden ale. The hops and malt are well balanced with moderate flavor. The beer is somewhat dry, but has layers of flavor from the malt, hops and yeast. With a clean finish, the ale has a light brownish copper color.
Sunriver Trail Pale Ale, Sunriver 5.7% ABV, 35 IBU
This American-style pale ale has a mild, grainy sweetness and a deep golden color. Galaxy hops give this beer its unique tropical fruit finish. Balanced, moderately hoppy and easy to drink – malts include NW 2-row, CaraFoam, Munich and Crystal 40 paired with Magnum, Chinook, Cascade and Australian Galaxy.
Bridge 99 Candle Creek Ale, Bend 5.9% ABV, 99 IBU
Light amber in color, it is a sweet Northwest ale with a bit of bitter hop for balance.
McMenamin’s Pale Copper Moon Ale, Bend 5.03%, ABV, 45 IBU
This summer seasonal has a bit more malt quality and hop character than most others. With a coppery orange luminescence, the malted barley used in every batch of Copper Moon is 100% organic. Low bitterness, high flavor and aroma: Citrus, flowery, slightly spicy. Nugget, Centennial, and Chinook hops.
Three Creeks Greenwash Semi-Organic Ale, Sisters 4% ABV, 43 IBUs
This ale was brewed for the recent North American Organic Brewer’s Festival and is on tap
at the Sisters pub while supplies last. Semi-organic and hop forward, this session beer uses imported organic malt and local, conventionally-grown Northwest hops. Amarillo and Cascade hops provide orange rind and grapefruit notes.
Deschutes Armory XPA, Bend 5.9% ABV, 58 IBUs
It’s fitting that this experimental pale ale was the first beer brewed at the Portland Pub. This XPA gets its bitter twist from Nugget and Northern Brewer hops, then delivers a pronounced citrus kick from Cascade, Centennial and Citra hops.
Crux Belgian Gale, Bend 4.9% ABV, 25 IBU
This is a Belgian-style pale ale with a close resemblance to a strong golden ale. It is open- fermented, uses Styrian Golding, Tettnang, and Czech Saaz hops. Its light to medium body has low malt aroma, but has a nice crisp hop flavor, like the gales blowing across West Flanders.
Platypus Pale Ale, Platypus Pub, Bend 5.5% ABV, 60 IBUs
This pale ale is brewed by Tom Gilles with Simcoe and Citra hops. On tap at the pub in August.
Oregon Beer Growler each month invites consumers to “blind” taste a different style or group of beers at various locations across the state.