As we make our way down the tapline at The Mayor of Old Town, last week with wheat beers and this week with pales, I get more excited. It is a way for those of us who have already dabbled with the style to learn more about their complexities, and a chance for those who haven’t to try something new. Kelly, a Betty member, mentioned that when she first started coming to the club, she wouldn’t even touch an IPA. Her palate just couldn’t handle the bitterness. Now, it is among one of her favorite styles. Exploring new beers is the reason I have a passion for barley, hops, and yeast.
With our fearless leader, Michelle, out of town for a much needed vacation, we had a couple of guest speakers for our class. Jack and Andy from Upslope Brewing Company brought along 3 of their pales for us to compare and discuss. Upslope, in North Boulder opened in 2008 with a pale ale and an IPA being canned. Now they are working on upgrading their canning line as they have 7 beers being canned, including their new limited edition Belgian Style Pale Ale. Knowing their history, this was the perfect brewery to showcase for a class on pales.
Pale ales are beers made with a lighter malt, and more hops than other light styles. Their aroma, appearance and taste can run the gamut. Some beers in the style could easily be classified with other styles. Jack poured us samples of Upslope’s Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and Belgian Style Pale Ale while Andy discussed the types of malts and hops in each of the beers. We also got a taster of Firestone Walker Pale 31. Jack decided to include this beer as a comparison as he thinks it’s a great example of a pale.
Pale 31 (4.9%ABV)- I thought it was interesting Jack mentioned this as a good example of a pale because it was very different from the 3 he provided us from Upslope. It had a stronger hop nose and taste, while still being well balanced. It was clear golden in color and has a light head. Balancing the hops were fruit and citrus notes and a bit of an earthy after taste after a crisp finish.
Pale Ale (5.6% ABV)- Also an American Pale Ale like Pale 31, this brew has an interesting story. When Upslope began brewing there was a hop shortage in the US. Being such a new and small brewery, they were often overlooked for their requests for hops. One of the founders, Danny, is from Argentina and he decided to resource his home country for ingredients. They imported Patagonia hops to use, a variety many other brewers don’t use. This pale ale had a much lighter aroma, malty, piney and slightly sweet with just a hint of hops. The brew wasn’t as bitter as I expected and the hops were on the vaguely there side and had more malt and grass flavors. The bright finish ended smooth and floral.
IPA (7.2% ABV)- A more traditional IPA than some American versions, it uses a mix of both American and English hops. It was darker in color, using a few darker malts. A full hop aroma with some caramel hues, I was surprised by how much more roasted the nose was with a little more kilning of the malt. The floral and roasted flavors meddled together well to have a clean, smooth slightly bitter finish.
Belgian Style Pale Ale (4.5% ABV)- This pale ale uses Belgian yeast, and a smaller profile of hops including the Patagonia variety. It poured a golden haze, as it is unfiltered. With lots of fresh coriander added to the boil, it was very obvious in nose along with the fruity aromas from the yeast. The malts and hops were hidden by the Belgian yeast and coriander in the taste. I was also just getting over a cold, so I am sure that that had something to do with my lack of finding flavors in this beer.