123 of the Best Pale Ales, Blind-Tasted and Ranked
How We Taste & Test Beers
Composed entirely of Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) judges who have all studied, trained, and been tested on their ability to discern characteristics in beer, our panel is independent and doesn’t include any CB&B editors or staff. The panel tastes all beer blindly—they do not know what brands and beers they are tasting until the tasting is complete.
Our goal is to inform you about the strengths and weaknesses of these beers as well as their relative differences (not everyone has the same taste in beer, so accurate descriptors are more valuable than straight numerical values). The quotes you see in the reviews are compiled from the review panel’s score sheets to give you a well-rounded picture of the beer.
As our reviewers judge, they score based on the standard BJCP components: Aroma (max 12 points), Appearance (max 3 points), Flavor (max 20 points), Mouthfeel (max 5 points), and Overall Impression (max 10 points). We’ve listed these individual component scores, and the bottom-line number is derived from adding then doubling these component scores to produce a rating on a 100-point scale. Note that we round the component scores to the nearest whole number, so the math won’t necessarily add up.
Our judges use the following scale in valuing scores:
95–100 » Extraordinary World-class beers of superlative character and flawless execution
90–94 » Exceptional Distinguished beers with special character, style, and flavor
85–89 » Very good Well-crafted beers with noteworthy flavor and style
80–84 » Good Solid, quality, enjoyable beers
75–79 » Above Average Drinkable and satisfactory beers with minor flaws or style deviations
50–74 » Not recommended
We’d like for you to keep one thing in mind as you read our reviews: Your perception of a beer is more important than that of our review panel or editorial staff. Reading reviews—on the Web, in a magazine, or in a book—is no substitute for trying the beer yourself.
Evil Twin Brewing Hipster Ale (78)
“Perhaps you’ve heard of a beer movement that tributes favorite hipster neighborhoods across the globe. If you feel excluded because you’re hip but your city isn’t, this hip-without-borders pale ale is an homage to you, the global hipster.”
Mad River Brewing Company Steelhead Extra Pale Ale (78)
Malt is definitely the most interesting thing about this beer, which isn't always the best thing said about a pale ale. Hops character is muted and subtle but some notes of grapefruit creep through. Toffee and butter character lead to a finish that’s a little sweet for a pale
Biscayne Bay Miami Pale Ale (79)
Very light grain bill with minty, woody, fruity, spicy hops with hints of cinnamon. Some fusel alcohol amplifies the thin body. Bitterness is appropriate, but the thin body doesn’t work well with the bitter finish.
Omission Beer Pale Ale (79)
The sweetness of this beer hits first with some biscuit notes, then the hops march in and provide complexity. Orange and grapefruit are present with hops that evoke mint, flowers, and citrus. Light malt bread flavor and a low caramel in the finish as it warms; not as assertive on hops character as desired for the style, but still very pleasant.
EPIC Brewing Company Element 29 Pale Ale (82)
“This hops-forward APA highlights the Amarillo hops’ sweet, ripe citrus aroma and flavor reminiscent of Valencia oranges and tangerine. It has a medium body with a malt character ranging from light crust to mild graham cracker.”
New Holland Brewing Company Paleooza (82)
“Our classic pale ale, with Michigan-grown, Cascade hops. Bright hoppiness and pleasant aromatics are framed with balancing sweetness of pale malts.”
Ghostfish Vanishing Point (82)
Banana candy (although not very sweet). Slight cidery/grape note. Some butterscotch malt sweetness. Mild grapefruit hops. Assertive bitterness is out of balance—hops are bitter but not flavorful.
Full Sail Brewing Company English Style Pale Ale (83)
Big malty caramel burnt sugar up front, balanced with a blunt bitter and nice grassy hops flavor. Very British in character and effect. Rich melanoidin finish—overly complex for the style but tasty. Hops bitterness has a hard time contending with the malt. Malt is bready with caramel and strong crystal notes. Lightly bitter finish.
Terrapin Beer Company Rye Pale Ale (83)
A bit more subdued on hops flavor than most APAs, with the hops flavors competing a bit with rye and maybe even caramel malt notes. This pale doesn't make the hops the star of the show; it’s more a bit player behind an intriguing maltiness with bread crust, caramel, and biscuit notes. Earthy and spiced notes of rye add complexity.
Devils Backbone Striped Bass (83)
Nice lightly toasted malt character paired with grassy, citrus hops notes and lingering light fruit on the finish. Well-balanced on the finish, which leaves a lingering soft bitterness with fruity notes from the malt and hops. Moderate carbonation.
Squatters Full Suspension Pale Ale (83)
Light bodied, lightly flavored, and the flavor fades quickly. Medium bitterness up front, grassy with light pine and earthy flavors. Caramel malt is out of balance. Some lightly toasted bread notes in the background.
Mosaic IPA Lost Nation (83)
Moderate bitterness, with a chalky, orange-flavored vitamins character most likely derived from the malt, with some pineapple in the background. Low tropical and peach fruit flavors, along with some sweetness from the malt. The hops taste a bit muddy, muted, and grassy and fading to vegetal. There’s a bit of a catty hops note with an herbal sting.
Upslope Brewing Company Pale Ale (84)
Sweet and lemony with hints of orange and tropical fruit. A very unique grape-juice-like flavor with some intense gooseberry and tart cherry notes. The malt is just enough to showcase the hops character. Similar mineral profile in the aroma. A mix of citrusy hops and a touch of malt sweetness and perhaps even a perception of sweetness from the hops (maybe tropical fruit) work to balance this one out, both in flavor and finish.
Founders Brewing Company Dry Hopped Pale Ale (84)
Clean malt barely balanced with crisp hops bitterness. Clean fermentation produces light fruit esters and malt is bready and fairly complex for style. Hops are slightly piney and fruity (red apple again). Finishes fresh and inviting—pleasantly mild hops flavor and a clean bitter finish that leans a bit toward the British style.
Oskar Blues Brewery Dale's Pale Ale (84)
Sweet clean hops citrus character with juicy grapefruit and orange complexities, though everything is a bit restrained. Sweet, nutty, and slightly fruity hops flavor balanced with pine and a higher bitterness that helps to mitigate the sweetness.
Mission Brewery El Conquistador (84)
Moderately hoppy with a piney and leafy character—balance tilts hoppy over malty but both are a bit one-dimensional. Clean and light malt flavors eschew caramel or darker malt to leave it bright. Finishes pretty dry—sharp and bitter, ready for another sip. Bitterness lingers with a touch of smoky phenol.
Elysian Brewing Company Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale (84)
The orange character is pronounced up front but quickly fades behind a pithy bitterness and a touch of malt sweetness and becomes a fruity citrus with the swallow. Simple and estery with hints of cherry and banana and just a touch of caramel malt sweetness. Woody, earthy, and herbal hops lend a note of bitterness that’s not overwhelming. Light on carbonation and body, and a delicate flavor profile overall.
Great Divide Brewing Company DPA (85)
The hops come through with nice earthy and spiced character and moderate bitterness. Smooth round malt flavors, caramel and dark crystal notes with a nice clean finish for an English pale. Mid-level hops bitterness balances well with the malt body. There is a noticeable amount of herbal and floral hops flavor, but they aren't allowed to shine behind the overly British yeast character.
Ska Brewing Company Euphoria Pale Ale (85)
Malt sweetness balances well with the hops. The hops come through more in the end with some bright citrus notes and a little grass-like character as well. Finishes slightly bitter but still clean. Hops flavor are much brighter than the aroma suggested—more juicy, tropical fruit flavors than in the aroma.
New Image Single By Choice: Motueka (85)
Smooth and creamy with a muddled juicy citrus and berry presence. Chewy mouthfeel throughout with a slightly sweet finish. Very low bitterness.
Mikerphone Mikerphone Drop (85)
Chewy and hazy with rich, bright tropical-fruit notes. Starts out a little on the sweet side. Bitterness is well moderated for the style. A touch of herbal hops burn gives you an idea of just how much green stuff they packed in the dry hops. Finish has a nice puckering tart quality that accentuates the fruit notes well.
Grand Teton Sweetgrass APA (86)
Rich bready sweetness that pairs well with citrus and pine hops character. Finish is balanced, not particularly bitter, so both the malt and hops character linger. Hints of caramel and darker coffee malt give a somewhat chewy impression. Not a lot of hops complexity.
New Belgium Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Pale ale (86)
Simple malt bill is balanced very well with the bitterness level. Hops on taste buds match those on aroma. The creamy body has a touch of slickness and despite the voluminous, persistent head retention, the carbonation on the tongue is somewhat low.
The Alchemist Broken Spoke (86)
Lots of hops going on, with a slight tartness up front and a sturdy body behind it. The sharp, hoppy, earthy flavors have a touch of pine, resin, and dankness with moderate-to-high bitterness. Notes of tangerine, pineapple, and mandarin show through and are not smooth and straight fruit, but more like a more aggressive West Coast IPA. The bitterness and hoppy resin linger on the tongue after the taste.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company DBA (Double Barrel Ale) (87)
The hops character in this beer is earthy, woody, a bit spicy, and floral, with mild bitterness—more than the nose would suggest. Notes of caramel and toffee come through well with a light body. Some tart notes in mid-palate. Hops flavors clash with the fruity yeast esters, though as it warms these work better together. Bitterness is a little low for the style, allowing the malt to linger a little too long.
Boulevard Brewing Company Pale Ale (87)
Big hops flavor up front. Hops bitterness and malt sweetness are well-balanced, and stone fruit abounds. Malty hit with just a touch of tart. Bitterness is appropriate and well balanced. Low astringency, finish is quick and inviting. Moderate hops flavor and a big ester punch.
Boulder Beer Company Hoopla Pale Ale (87)
A moderate hops bitterness, balanced by a decent malt backbone and slight mineral character. Light on the body and the juicy orange and bitter grapefruit hops character carries through to a dry and crisp finish. Balanced and just slightly bitter but doesn't linger long in the finish.
Alaskan Brewing Company Freeride APA (87)
Earthy, grassy hops flavor with a touch of spicy. Bitterness is here but not pronounced. Finish is as much ester as it is hops. Reasonable malt backing provides medium sweetness against the prominent fruity hops profile. Finishes dry with a nice bitterness. Peach and orange hops flavor is more subdued than the aroma promises. Body is full, but high carbonation lightens body. Sweet malt flavors linger.
101 North Brewing Co. Indigo Pale Ale (87)
It’s a pale ale, all right. Earthy, slightly woody hops flavor with an herbal edge that we surmise is the agave, but it’s not easy to identify. It does linger into the finish.”
Schlafly / The Saint Louis Brewery Pale Ale (88)
This beer definitely leans more toward the malt than the hops. Interesting malt notes— bread crust, graham cracker, and some biscuit. A little thin for style. Hops flavors of citrus and orange are almost absent with just enough bitterness to provide some balance. Tart notes in the mid-palate, plus an interesting mineral note that provides a bit of needed complexity. Crisp and carbonic with a dry finish.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Pale Ale (88)
Nice up-front hops, balanced wonderfully with a soft malt character. Citrus rind dominates hops flavors with some floral notes. A slight juiciness may be related to the slight caramel note from the malt. Restrained yeast notes provide a subtle fruitiness that works well. Light and carbonic—very drinkable. Definitely hops forward but not out of balance, with a slight lingering bitterness.
Grand Teton Brewing Company Sweetgrass APA (88)
Grassy dank character carries through in the flavor. Unique hops flavors, a bit like pine and passion fruit, give way to a crisp, dry finish. Malt backbone helps support without interfering. Similar spicy and floral hops notes in flavor as indicated by the aroma.
Goose Island Beer Company 312 Urban Pale Ale (88)
Super rich malt character with just enough bitterness to balance. Sweet and sunny with enough hops to keep the rich malt from being cloying. Nicely balanced APA with strong fruity esters. Low-in-the-mix hops offer some floral and bitter notes despite being buried under raw grainy malt. Tastes a bit like they used a decoction mash or a very long boil.
Stone Brewing Company Pale Ale (88)
Rich bread and caramel/burnt sugar malt flavors underpin a slightly woody, resinous, and crisp hops flavor that’s much more assertive than in the aroma. Bitterness hides just underneath the malt richness, giving support without lingering in the finish. Carb and balance are spot on.
4 Noses Proboscis Simcoe (88)
Great light toasted malt sweetness. The hops are lemony and slightly grassy as noted in the aroma and bring a smooth bitterness. The finish is pretty aggressive, bordering on harsh, for such a light beer, but it grows on you over time. Lemon, mint, and pine linger on a dry finish.
Boulevard Brewing Company Tropical Pale Ale (88)
On the first swallow, overripe fruit flavors come through, with sweet, tart passion fruit that dominates and lingers. Juicy and fresh, with a balancing bitterness from the grapefruit rind and hops that lasts into the finish. Bready biscuit malt sweetness adds complexity, and the same spicy, estery character in the aroma is in the flavor.
Prison City 4 Piece Pale Ale Simcoe (88)
Light body with a touch of wheat malt-like sweetness. Hops bring lemon and peach with a slightly grassy note. Bitterness is low-medium and lingers. Then comes a hoppy pineapple character with some dank undertones with an earthy mushroom-like flavor. Thin body with a lack of chewiness that the style is known for. Toward the end of the sip there’s a light green coffee spiciness. Finish tends toward sweet, which accents the high fruit hop contribution.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Sidecar Orange Pale Ale (88)
The orange-peel flavor is light and wedged somewhere between the malt and hops but doesn’t heighten either. The hops are grassy, floral, resinous, and bitter, and the malt is clean and bready. A little astringency in there, with a light, crisp body. Mildly soapy character, with a bit of bitterness in the finish.
Boise Brewing Syringa Pale (88)
Hops are predominantly fruity with some floral supporting characteristics. Big hops bitterness, but good balance for the style with a relatively dry finish. Malt is clean with a touch of toast and light caramel. The residual caramel sweetness is backed by a resinous bitterness that lets the hops character linger.
Deep Ellum Brett Pale ale (88)
Moderate lactic acidity is well-balanced by the toasted malt character. Very light tartness on the finish. Cherry and lemon esters, possibly from the hops, add a light bitterness and a slightly astringent finish that likely comes from malt tannin. A creamy lactic sourness checks the touch of sweetness in the body. Most will find this funky and tart, trending toward wild ale territory.
Fort Collins Brewery 1020 Pale Ale (89)
A straightforward pale malt bill with strong bitterness and mellow citrus hops notes. Hops flavors tend toward grassy, with a bit of grapefruit accentuating the bitterness. Very light bread flavors, some sweet esters detract from crisp finish.
Deschutes Red Chair NWPA (89)
Strong caramel malt sweetness pairs well with the West Coast– pine and citrus hops character. The hops have a dry, grassy edge on the finish that comes across a bit rough. Full-bodied, balanced bitterness keeps the sweetness in check.
Odell Brewing Drumroll APA (89)
Citrus is strong enough here to hit first, with an earthy, somewhat grassy, backdrop. Nice soft, grainy, and subtly sweet malt character. The hops pair well and add spicy and light citrus notes. Finishes super dry and slightly bitter with light cherry notes.
Saranac American Pale Ale (89)
Caramel and simple malt sweetness up front with a touch of clean bitterness. Fruity throughout with peach, cherry, orange, lime, and medium-light pine. Slight mineral character on the swallow. Tastes like a earlier stop on the pale-ale evolution from English-style to today’s APA—a bit throwback, but not too far back.
Braxton Moving to the Country (89)
The clean malt bill that brings a touch of toasted character blends well with the fleshy peach character. Hops are citrus in nature and blend well with the rest of the beer. Finishes a little sweet.
Commonhouse aleworks Park Circle Pale (90)
Bright, juicy hops notes with predominantly orange but also some lemon zest, grapefruit pith, and pine. A light malt sweetness up front adds to the fruity impression from the hops. Chewy mouthfeel with a slightly drying effect on the finish. Nice balance of sweetness and bitterness.
Station 26 Pale Ale (90)
Herbal and spicy hops with a slight hint of citrus up front with a light sweetness. Bitterness quickly steps in. Finish reveals a touch of sweet malt, which softens the brunt of the bitterness. A medium carbonation and light body keep it crisp.
Upslope Citra Pale Ale (90)
Clean malt bill with lingering fruity bitterness. Same floral and lemon and blueberry as in the aroma. Bitterness grows in the aftertaste and lingers around. The fruitiness subsides and is left with a bitter, dank hop profile. Light sweetness remains in the background. Nicely balanced.
Alaskan Big Mountain Pale Ale (90)
Slightly malt-forward with toast, caramel, and a touch of chocolate above a clean base-malt character. Bitterness balances this beer very well, and the hops flavor is of orange, apricot, and pine. One of the more complex malt bills we’ve had tonight.
Urban Artifact Finn (90)
Light lactic sourness with a pleasant hop bitterness. Floral and lime play well off of the tartness, but that runs all over the sweetness of the malt. There’s a salty character and a light lemon and ripe-apple fruitiness. It finishes dry.
Snowbank Brewing Cranknbrew (90)
Lots of coffee and little beer—this beer really is about coffee, first and foremost. There’s a slight chocolate character with nice caramel and toast notes if you go digging for them. The finish has hints of vanilla, could probably stand to be a bit more bitter. Hops selection worked well to highlight the positive complexity of coffee’s green pepper flavors.”
Uinta Brewing Company WYLD (91)
Perfectly balanced malt and bitterness. The raw hops flavors are a bit over the top but fun. Low caramel notes in the finish keep it interesting and refreshing. Heavy hops flavor, again very resinous, with that fresh-hops-just-dropped-into-the-boil smell. Finishes clean with a very slight lingering bitterness.
Tröegs Brewing Company Pale Ale (91)
Malt sugary sweetness peeking out from behind some intriguing hops flavors. Green onion, tamarind, and fenugreek. This is a weird, well-balanced not-a-typical-APA beer. Fruity floral hops meld smoothly into bitterness. Light-medium body and medium-high carbonation. Malt is fairly simple with some subtle biscuity undertones. Finishes clean.
Flying Dog Brewery Pale Ale (91)
The intense citrus and tropical fruit flavor shine, while the malt does enough to keep it interesting and balanced. Similar flavors as displayed in the aroma. Bitterness is spot on. Juicy and complex hops flavors come through as resiny, dank and a touch musty. Incredibly balanced and finishes clean, making it extremely drinkable.
Southern Tier Brewing Company Live (91)
Hops jump in at the front and are sweet and juicy to the finish. The malt character only stands behind to showcase these hops and does not provide much more for the beer. Wonderful intense sweet orange and lemon hops notes contrast with a perfectly balanced bitterness set against slight malty sweetness. Complex hops flavors are accentuated by the dry finish of the beer, without being too bitter.
Lagunitas Sumpin' Easy Ale (91)
Malt is about as simple as it can get—likely using some Pilsner malt to brighten things up beyond just plain 2-row pale malt. Hops are fruity (peach) and floral with just a touch of pine. Underlying spice notes add complexity. Finishes clean with a smooth lingering bitterness.
Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale (91)
Lots of hops flavor but rather low on bitterness. There’s a bright fruitiness in the beginning with a light earthy characteristic. Medium bitterness balances out the fruit with mild carbonation. Light bready malt provides sweetness mid-palate but drops out for a drier, mild finish that has an interesting hops character with hints of tobacco and resin.
Ninkasi Pacific Rain Northwest Pale (91)
Light caramel malt with hints of toast. Nice grassy, lemon hops character balances nicely. Finish is relatively dry, well-balanced, with lingering bitterness and fruity hops character.
Heavy Seas AmeriCannon (91)
Bright hops character throughout—lots of lemon and pine with a touch of grass. The underlying beer is clean, has a nice caramel malt backbone, and supports the hops. The finish has really nice clean pine notes with a grassy dry hops profile.
Summit Brewing Company Extra Pale Ale (92)
Assertive bitterness up front that mellows with a nice malt breadline. Hops flavor takes a little work to discern behind the bitterness and malt, but floral character remains. The beer finishes and lingers on the tongue with some biscuit malt sweetness with the floral hops notes. Very dry with medium-high carbonation.
Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale (92)
Medium body for an APA, medium to high carb. Honey character and citrus tartness return in the aftertaste. Reasonable bitterness but could use a bit more hops flavor. Malt is sweet but flat. Alcohol evident. Balance is a bit on the malt sweet side, but the lack of bitter is made up in hops flavor.
Fremont Brewing Universale Pale Ale (92)
A slightly muted pale, with nice malt complexity and interesting hops flavors, but everything is restrained. Ripe, juicy grapefruit and pine hops notes with a bit of musk and dankness. Missing some body, causing the hops bitterness to come off slightly astringent. Completely balanced with the bitterness trailing off immediately.
Three Floyds Brewing Company Alpha King (92)
Grapefruit and citrus hops notes pair well with a subtle malt sweetness. Very balanced with both sweet and bitter flavors shining through. A juicy hops flavor with an intriguingly crisp malt bill that finishes slightly sweet. It may get a little sweet for the style, but the piney and resinous hops flavors balance the fruit notes while the malt backbone supports the hops flavors.”
Societe The Statesman (92)
Unusual perceived sweetness up front is quite fruity (could be the hops). Crisp and clean with a light body and moderate carbonation. Mild fruitiness (lemon, strawberry, and light grapefruit). Bitterness plays a supporting role with hops flavor up front and malt sweetness in the background. The finish is crisp and dry, with a pleasant lingering bitterness.
Two Roads S.H.O.P. Series Pale Ale (92)
Light, clean, simple body. Hops bitterness slightly overpowers the malt and lingers. Same citrus and pine as in aroma. Aftertaste is dry with a moderate lasting of hop spiciness.
Four Peaks Pitchfork Pale Ale (92)
Well-balanced malt sweetness and hops bitterness. Bready malt notes. Hops are citrus and berry in nature with some fun lingering esters. Finishes fairly dry, given the caramelized malts.
Lawson's Finest Liquids Super Session #2 (92)
Big hops flavors of citrus, lemon, lemongrass, floral, and grassy notes up front, with a medium bitterness. Light bready toasted malt and fruity esters that complement the hops. Well- balanced for the style, hops-forward, with just enough sweetness from the malt that gives way to a fruity hops profile that dominates through the finish.
Hi-Wire Brewing Brett Pale Ale (w/ red roselle hibiscus) (92)
Moderate tartness and carbonation upfront with hibiscus and light sweetness. Mild hop bitterness that blends well with the leather and barnyard Brett flavor. Moderate acidity, with a touch of bubblegum.
Samuel Smith Old Brewery Organic Pale Ale (93)
Caramel and toasty malt sweetness with a touch of floral and spiced hops notes. That blend of fruity yeast esters plays off the complex and delicious malt profile. The apple and pear flavors work wonderfully with the bread crust. Lingering bitterness is just a touch harsh
Odell Brewing Company 5 Barrel Pale Ale (93)
Hop-tastic initial blast of flavor races ahead of the malt. Medium-high carbonation accentuates hops impact. Hops are floral and earthy, with some sweet citrus fruit notes as well. Bitterness is well balanced against a medium body of complex malt, with bread crust, biscuits and jam, and light caramel.
SweetWater Brewing Company 420 Extra Pale (93)
Slightly bready malt bill balanced to style by classic West Coast citrusy hops. Spicy, almost Belgian phenolic yeast character with a light wheat tartness, decent floral hops flavor under the spice, pineapple. Peach and cranberry notes. Malt is bready and slightly sweet with a clean finish. Lingering bitterness in finish without harshness.
Bear Republic Brewery Grand-Am (93)
Citrus and pine hops flavors dominate with nearly no malt or yeast character. It leans more towards bitter, both in flavor and finish, than some of the others we’ve tasted. The hops grapefruit sweetness is evened out with a touch of grapefruit bitterness and lemon notes that add depth. The finish is refreshing and dry.
Bale Breaker Field 41 Pale Ale (93)
Fairly light body, and a moderate carbonation gives it a nice bite mixed with the crisp and clean hops bitterness at the end of the sip. Finishes with moderate bitterness—pine mostly—and a touch of supporting sweetness. There’s less fruit flavor than promised by the aroma, but it’s very clean and balanced with a dry, refreshing finish.
Lord Hobo Glorious (93)
Lemon dominates and is supported by peach and lemongrass. There’s a creamy character, like a meringue. Malt plays second fiddle, and the ferment was clean aside from some esters kicked by the yeast typical of style. The sweet finish emphasizes fruity elements of hops.
Bootstrap Stick's Pale Ale (93)
Fruit-forward pale ale with cantaloupe and orange notes. Bitterness is nicely restrained and lingers for a while. Slightly astringent and grassy, but not to the point of being distracting. Malt is clean beneath and adds complexity to the perceived sweetness from the fruity hops. Well-placed fermentation esters highlight the fruit notes of the hops.
Sun King Osiris Pale Ale (93)
Orange, grapefruit, pine, touch of lemon, and strawberry. Caramel sweetness with a lingering toasted bread character. Balance is slightly sweet from all of the perceived esters, but the bitterness supports things well and finishes clean. Has just enough English pale-ale character to remind you where American pale ales came from.
Lone Tree Peach Pale (94)
The peach tastes as much like it is baked as it is fresh. This plays well off of the honey and lightly toasted malt notes. It’s light bodied, with medium carbonation and well-balanced. Finishes dry with lingering peach and a touch of bitterness and acidity.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company Pale 31 (94)
The fruity, estery character dominates the flavor. Pilsner malt comes through over time. It’s moderately hoppy and sweet with strong peach, apricot, and strawberry character. First taste is of stone fruit and refreshing light malt toast. Low bitterness and delicate toast work well.
Schlafly / The Saint Louis Brewery Dry Hopped APA (94)
Grapefruit and orange rind with a bit of pine and lemon sits atop a clean fermentation and very little malt backbone. Finish is dry and a touch bitter but doesn't linger. Put together well with nice bright flavors, hops, and malt that play off each other nicely.
AleSmith Brewing Company X Extra Pale Ale (94)
Light malt flavor lends a dry, crisp finish. Strong carbonation really makes the clean and well-defined hops flavor pop out! Assertive hops flavor is spicy with some grassy-citrus notes and a bitterness that lingers just enough. Very light, spritzy body.
Against the Grain A Beer (94)
Soft, subtle light fruit from the malt (pineapple, candy sugar) pairs nicely with the rich hops character that displays pine, grass, strawberry, and hints of citrus and/or lemon balm. The bitterness is very restrained, but it works well in this case. Moderate carbonation helps keep the bitterness on top of the malt sweetness.
pFriem Mango Pale Ale (94)
Big tropical presence from the mango that dances on top of the citrus and floral hops. Low bitterness is countered by moderate carbonation at the end of the sip. This has a touch of fruit tartness and finishes with a light bitterness and a peach skin-like flavor.”
Karbach Weekend Warrior (94)
Very balanced. Pine hops give a Christmas tree welcome. Citrus hops flavor tends toward grapefruit. The bready malt helps you relax, and the bitterness is restrained. A touch heavier body than other examples with a moderate carbonation level. Finishes with bitterness and a light hops spiciness.
South County Sound Machine (94)
Rich, creamy mouthfeel from the lactose. Rich and fruity, like freshly squeezed OJ, as on the aroma, with low-moderate bitterness that lingers softly on the palate. Finish is lightly bitter and slightly sweet.
Ritual Pale Ale (94)
Spicy floral hops (chrysanthemum) hit strong, then medium rich malt, then a solid wall of bitterness to wrap it up. Light bread character in the background.
Bissell Brothers Baby Genius (94)
Bright, light, and crisp, with a dry hops bitterness and light fruitiness. The citrus hops flavors pop up front, with light lemon, grapefruit, and orange. Majorly juicy, like hops candy. Mild malt sweetness quickly drops off to a nice backend bitterness—it’s very clean and showcases the hops well. The body approaches thin, but that’s understandable at this ABV.
Heavy Seas Beer Powder Monkey (95)
A curious and delicious balance of bready maltiness with light toffee and caramel notes and an assertive bread crust flavor. The fruity and floral hops flavors work perfectly with the malt, and just a touch of yeast esters add to the complexity.
Breckenridge Mango Mosaic (95)
Bright citrus character carries through, but any malt character is covered up. Bitterness is spot on. A touch of phenol toward the end of the sip (not uncommon for mango beers) that goes into a fruity tart finish. Like a German stollen (holiday fruitcake)—layered bready malt and fruit notes.
New Belgium Brewing Snapshot (95)
Moderate sweet wheat malt profile. A bit of lactic acidity in the front end. Some lemon notes. Very malty with some acidic fruit. High carbonation, finishes dry but with a lingering grainy sweetness.
The Veil Brewing Co. Master Shredder (96)
The malt character is light, but delivers the hops well. Notes of pine, herbal, lemon, pineapple, and grapefruit pithiness give way to some stronger, dank earthy flavors. It’s a bit dry with some warmth. The herbal tea flavor and malt sweetness up front transition to a bitter finish with medium spiciness throughout the sip.
Victory Brewing Company Headwaters Pale Ale (96)
Full bodied with a sweeter malt finish and hops bitterness to match the body. Hops are mostly piney and resinous with a touch of lemon. Moderate hops flavor—peach, pear, and some cherry, with a proper bitter finish. Initial flavor is much more simple than aromatics suggest—a good surprise. Lovely.
Half Acre Beer Company Daisy Cutter Pale Ale (96)
Very even malt/bitter balance with low bread notes and plenty of grassy and floral hops flavor coming through that wasn't apparent in the nose. Same fruits as nose—peach, slight banana. Strong clean bitter hops bite with a bit of resinous hops character. Malt is not as sweet as expected given the aroma.
Prison City 4 Piece Pale Ale Citra (96)
Moderately fruity up front with melon, lemon, strawberry, and light white grape toward the end. A medium bitterness comes right after the fruit and grows throughout the sip. A light orange Creamsicle sweetness mixes with bitterness toward the end. Finish is soft, with a delicate mineral/chewy mouthfeel. It’s not particularly bitter, just enough to balance and accentuate the fruit on the swallow.
Surly Xtra-Citra Pale Ale (96)
The hops flavor hits with a strong citrus, then fades for a moment to come back as tropical fruit. Punctuated by a fairly clear bitterness that lingers just a bit. The fruit and a bit of returning lime create a lasting aftertaste. Moderate carbonation mixes with the hops to create a pleasant bite at the end of the sip.
Transient Artisan Ales Cromulent (96)
Hops-forward with pine and citrus dominant, and as it warms, some pineapple notes appear. There is a moderate fruity sweetness up front that’s almost like candy. Medium malt body that’s sufficiently complex without distracting from the hops. The mouthfeel is slightly sweet through the mid-palate, but it gives way to a dry and slightly bitter finish that entices you to take the next sip.
Brew Gentlemen Tree Star (96)
Balanced like an Orange Julius—fruity and sweet throughout, with bitterness to balance, and a bit of tartness mid-palate. Resinous and spicy piney hops characters add just enough bite to help temper the light malt bread-crust sweetness but don’t linger too long. Good carbonation makes the right parts of the beer pop. Finishes slightly dry and bitter, with notes of mango and tropical fruit.
Drake's Brewing Company 1500 Pale Ale (97)
Very juicy for a pale ale. The hops are present and showcased but not overpowering. Amazingly clean pale that allows the hops flavor to dominate and shine! Over-ripe citrus flavors, mostly orange, with very nice resiny, piney hops flavors. Finishes slightly dry with a lingering grapefruit sweetness and slight bitterness.
Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale (97)
Big citrus and clean medium bitterness up front. Some spice. Nice esters: melon, tropical fruit.
Seventh Son Humulus Nimbus (97)
West Coast hops to boot, showcasing the piney, resinous character with a touch of light citrus. Light bready malt sweetness pairs well with the softly orange, lemon, and resinous hops character. Finish is very clean, with a pleasant lingering bitterness and pine, lemon hops notes.
Cerebral Dreamy Thing (97)
Definitely gets the dry character of a saison right, great grainy body followed by hints of light fruit on the swallow. Finishes quite dry, but not astringent.
Birds Fly South Petite Galaxy (98)
Light body, high carbonation, low but balancing bitterness for such a low-gravity beer. Light mint character mixed with a light grapefruit and mango-like flavors. The Brett plays off of a very light malt backbone and carries everything through. Makes the citrus and tropical notes shine.
Hill Farmstead What is Enlightenment (98)
Rich and fruity with just enough tartness to bring everything together. Same list of fruit as on the aroma and really nice Brett character. Light hops flavor in the middle of the sip. This has a soft malt body—bready and a bit of oat. Light sweetness throughout with a nice dry, crisp finish.
Lagunitas Brewing Company New DogTown (99)
Very juicy and citrusy with lemon, orange, and tangerine notes—the aroma promises, and the flavor over-delivers. The hops fruity sweetness carries through to the dry and clean finish. The complex floral and spice rack pungency in the hops flavor is beautiful and yet quite different from what was suggested in the aroma. Very carbonic and juicy yet dry.
Three Floyds Brewing Company Yum Yum (99)
The juicy hops character carries through the beer from the start to finish with lemon, orange, grapefruit, and an almost bubblegum sweetness. The malt body is bright with a clean, crisp finish. Intense juiciness, with wild candy sweetness and lavors, ranging from citrus, to banana, to a butter rum hard candy and a touch of bitterness to balance the sweetness.”
Three Floyds Brewing Company Zombie Dust (100)
Hops present complex fruit notes with a little more citrus character. The onion notes are there too, but not overpowering and provide depth and contrast. Drinks super clean and malt and hops are in balance. Juicy hops flavors up front, reminiscent of grapefruit and pine, along with tropical fruit notes and an appropriate level of bitterness. Finishes dry and clean.