Beer is one of the most beloved beverages all across the globe. Beer has been around for centuries, transcending borders and cultures and is one of the most commonly drunk beverages in any social gathering. Despite there being various styles, with different ingredients, tastes, and flavours, however, pale ales still remain among the most popular choices.
History of Pale Ale
Pale ales originated in England during the 18th century and they were a result of experimentation, due to the improvement of the malting technology. English brewers were able to experiment and started brewing ales with varying intensities. As trade expanded, popular pale ale beers spread across continents and evolved into a diverse range of styles, enjoyed by many.
What is a Pale Ale?
Before we dive into the different styles of pale ale, let’s first see what it is. This type of beer is brewed by combining pale malt with ale yeast. It has a malty and fruitier flavour, a golden to amber colour and moderate strength, however, that can also vary from style to style since not every pale ale is the same.
Types of Pale Ale
Pale ales can be brewed in many different styles and vary in flavour from country to country and brewer to brewer. The brewing style can affect the intensity of the ale, making the taste and colour of each pale ale very unique, which means that there’s a style of pale ale beers for every kind of beer drinker to enjoy.
English pale ales are commonly referred to as extra special bitters, or just English bitters due to their moderate and sometimes high levels of bitterness. They are known for being medium-bodied beers with earthy and herbal hop flavours. What differentiates English pale ales from others is the noticeable sweetness that contrasts with the beer’s hoppy bitterness.
These pale ales are known for highlighting hops over malt flavours as well as some fruitiness that balances with the moderate levels of malt character, which imparts hints of toast and caramel flavour. They are presented as medium and possess distinct amounts of citrus fruits and fresh pine notes.
These ales are often compared to the British ones because many brewers prefer to accentuate the malt profile of the beer over the hops. What makes this style famous, though, is the distinguishable note of herbs and spices from the use of specialty hops, making it unique in the world of pale ales.
Ipas are probably the most beloved of all craft beers. They are known for their bitterness and aromatic hop profiles. They are divided into two categories: East Coast and West Coast. The East Coast is more balanced with stronger malt components, while the West Coast has a more aggressive hop flavour.
These pale ales are closer to their American counterparts, in the sense that the brewers of this style rely strongly on the use of hops over malts, therefore producing light to medium-bodied beers and they can be characterised by their tropical fruit flavours and bitterness.
How to Drink and Serve Pale Ales?
You can drink these beers however you like, but there are certain rules that beer enthusiasts follow strictly, just to fully experience the pale ale’s taste. From the glassware in which it is served, to the serving temperature and the serving technique, they can all affect the way the beer tastes. So, how do you drink pale ale?
There are different types of glasses in which you can serve beer, but the most frequent one to serve pale ale is the classic pint glass. However, if you want to make it feel more authentic, serving the beer in a stein is a must, since that’s how our ancestors used to drink it.
When it comes to serving the beer, serving temperature can be a critical factor that can significantly impact the flavour of the pale ale beers. Light beers should be served colder, whereas darker ones are preferred warmer because higher temperatures accentuate the flavour, so you can taste the sweetness when the beer is served warmer.
Foods to Pair With the Pale Ale
The pale ale beer tastes the best when paired with the right food and the beauty of this beer lies in its versatility, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of dishes. So, let’s explore these foods and see what is the best style to bring out the right flavour.
Cheese is an excellent choice for this type of beer since it can enhance the flavour. It’s flexible and you can try different combinations, you can try both hard and soft cheeses, honey and fruit jam until you find the one you like and it’s an amazing way to spend time with friends.
Another food that goes great with any type of beer, but especially pale ale, is pizza. The sweetness of the tomato sauce and the saltiness of the cheese make it a delicious option to pair with beer. You can even experiment with different pizza toppings, such as pepperoni or spicy sausage, to enhance the hoppy flavour.
With all kinds of tasty spices, Mexican food pairs very well with pales. Spices like hot jalapeño are enhanced by the hops, contributing to an amazing tasting experience, whereas avocado and sour cream will make the beer taste better. And, of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without some desserts. Mild and sweet desserts go great with pales, such as bananas Foster or vanilla bread pudding. For stronger IPAs, you can choose desserts that have bold flavours of spices such as nutmeg.
Since beer was invented, it has become a staple in the world of beverages, forming a close community of people who enjoy it. Regardless of the style, whether it’s English or American, we can all agree on one thing, there is nothing better than a cold or a slightly warm pale ale on a nice day surrounded by friends and good food. So, here’s to discovering new flavours and enjoying the versatile world of pale ales. Cheers!