American Pale Ale

Glassware: Shaker pint
  • USA
  • Ale
  • ABV = 4.5 – 6.2% (Normal)^
  • IBU = 30-50
  • SRM = 5-10

A pale, hop-forward American ale

Typically lighter in colour, with a cleaner fermentation profile and less caramel flavour than Best Bitter. There can be some overlap in colour between American Pale Ale and American Amber Ale. The American Pale Ale will generally have a less caramelly malt profile, less body, and often more finishing hops. Less bitterness and alcohol strength than American IPA.

Appearance:

  • Colour^ = Light gold to light amber
  • Clarity = Generally clear

Key Aromas & Flavours:

Aroma
  • Malt = Low to moderate; neutral to grainy (low level of bread, toast, biscuit, or caramel optional)
  • Hops = Moderate; citrus, floral, pine, resin, spice, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, or melon (A fresh dry hop aroma is optional)
  • Yeast = None to moderate; fruity, if present
Flavour
  • Malt = Low to moderate; neutral to grainy (low level of bread, toast, biscuit, or caramel optional)
  • Hops = Moderate; citrus, floral, pine, resin, spice, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, or melon (A fresh dry hop flavour is optional)
  • Yeast = None to moderate; fruity, if present, otherwise clean
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Pronounced
  • Balance = Towards the hops (bitterness and flavour), with malt in support
Aftertaste/Finish

Medium to dry finish with lingering hop flavour and bitterness

Mouthfeel:

  • Body = Medium
  • Carbonation = Medium to high

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Two-row or pale ale malt (May contain a small amount of specialty malts for character and complexity)
  • Hops = American or New World hop varietals
  • Yeast = American or English ale yeast with a clean or lightly fruity profile

Historical Development:

A modern American craft beer era adaptation of English pale ales, like Best Bitter, reflecting indigenous ingredients (hops, malt and yeast). Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was first made in 1980 and helped popularise the style.

Prior to the explosion in popularity of IPAs, this style was the most well-known and popular American craft beer.


Commercial Examples:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale 2.0, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale


^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus (Version 5.0)
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines


Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.


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