Six Local Pale Ales

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My “usual” was once a Malibu and Coke.

There, I’ve admitted it. My standard reply to the “what are you having?” question was fake coconut-scented sugar concoction… In my (weak) defence, it’s what the other 17 year old girls were drinking too. — Hi, yes Officer, whoops, my bad, of course I was 18 years old.

This was ten years ago.

There wasn’t much else on offer. Archers and Lemonade, maybe. Vodka, Lime and Lemonade. Made with Poliakov. It was extra if you wanted Smirnoff.

The wines available at the pub were so non-descript I can barely remember what they were. Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet… I think. The lagers were Kangeroo-Piss, Wife-Beater and Numbers (the more common terms for Fosters, Stella and Kronenbourg, in case pub-lingo has moved on from those days.) On pump were Greene King IPA, Brakespeare, Hobgoblin and London Pride. Hardly inspiring either.

While he was working, my boss would have a constant stream of “alf-a-lager, babe.” Once the kitchen had closed, he would move onto red wine and coke – yep, in the same glass, and no, he was actually Italian! – or a triple vodka straight and a 1000mg paracetamol – this time not in the same glass.

How I ended up in this industry, given that this is how I started out, will remain a mystery!

I suppose my passion for discovering new liquids could be traced back to this, my nascent alcoholicsm. 😉
Today, I’ve taken a whole lot of pale ales that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently and chosen just six of them… just in case you ever see any of them in your local pub or retailer.


It’s impossible to talk about Pale Ales without first paying hommage to the SIERRA NEVADA (USA) Pale Ale (5.6%, 37 IBU) with its beautiful deep tangerine orange colour and the balance of the rather feminine aromas with the distinctly masculine structure of the spicy malt.

BREWDOG (Scotland) Dead Pony Club Californian Pale Ale Simcoe, Citra and HBC (3.8% ABV, 25 IBU.)

Damn, you’ve got to admit it – Brewdog gives great head. A beautiful thick mousse extends over the top of my glass. This beer is full, round, toasty. Despite containing a full-day’s worth of west-coast hops, there’s a warming gentle spice which makes it great to drink on a cold, rainy afternoon.

OUTLAND (France) Tasty American Pale Ale Simcoe, Citra, Colombus (3.9% ABV, 45 IBU.)

Huge citrus flavours – lemon, tangerine, grapefruit – with tropical fruit notes too. Bang. Hits a homerun straight out from the get-go. It was a winner with the tasting group. It’s short, though. Definitely lacking length.

MEANTIME (England) London Pale Ale Cascade, Centennial and Goldings (4.3% ABV.)

The thin mousse fades quickly revealing a deep brassy gold colour. On the nose, it’s fresh, light, inticing. Hoppy and hay barn. Biscuit in the mouth mouth. Not bitter but not sweet. Lovely balance. Drinks like water. Good English beer.

INNIS & GUNN (Scotland) Rare Oak Pale Ale (Seasonal Edition)  (5.8% ABV) Super Styrian, Whitbread Golding Variety

Not my favourite beer from Innis & Gunn but it deserves a place in this list as it’s one of the best beers I’ve bought from Tesco. Bright toffee colour. The nose is very mild – some hints of oak and malt. The European hops are clean on the palate and not overly present. It’s a very easy drinking beer, that I think even my mother might find acceptable. Sheez, it’s 5.8% ABV?? That’s gotta be a typo.

THE KERNEL (England) Pale Ale Mosaic (5.4% ABV)

For the purpose of writing this blog post, I opened both the Mosaic and the Chinook Amarillo Apollo which I bought on a recent trip to the brewery. Everything that I’ve tasted from these guys, I positively love, but in this case, the Mosaic just had the edge over its little brother. It hits the sweet spot in between clean, fresh and creamy. Citrus and pine forest. There’s only a little carbonation. The finish is bitter. So bitter, in fact, that you’re obliged to take another sip. Delicious!

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