71 of the Best Pale Ales, Blind-Tasted and Ranked

Learn about how we rate & review beers with our BJCP blind panel here


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hardywood Park Hardywood Singel (91)

Balance between citrus character and some spicy herbal notes. Fruit comes through as orange, lemon, a bit of pear, and white grape. Herbal notes add a bit of spice. Some toast. Slight bitterness, but not overpowering, and balanced with the taste. Nice dry finish and medium-high carbonation.

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.

Ritual Brewing Monk's Lunch (92)

The orange citrus comes out more in the flavor with honeyed cracker after. A moderate sweetness up front with a moderate bitterness after. Slightly spiced hops character. The beer is light overall without being watery.

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.

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.

Societe The Harlot (94)

More citrus, herbal, and grassy with a bit of bready malt in the finish. Peppery phenols. Moderate low sweetness with low bitterness and a nice dry finish with a bit of hops bitterness that’s not overpowering. Refreshing.

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.

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.

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.

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.