118 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.

Alma Mader Brewing Small Oasis (84)

Honey guava note drives the nose, with a clever tension between sweet and funk. The sip gets a touch muddled, with sweeter notes running up against less-defined bitter and funky notes.

Bent Water Brewing Company Suborbital (85)

White table grape with a touch of grape pixie stick in the nose. The sip is pretty dry, leading with a rounded grapefruit bitterness that doesn’t fall back on malt sweetness. A bit sharp and unyielding straight through into the finish.

Moonraker Brewing Co. Bone Frog (85)

Orange-Creamsicle nose with soft vanilla rounding the edges. In the sip, a distinct bitterness—pithy and fruit-driven, but significant—gives it firm structure while remaining smooth and integrated. Finishes light and breezy, despite strong aromas and flavors.

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.

West Sixth Brewing Co Pennyrile Pale Ale (86)

Classic nose: orange, forest, toasted bread, light caramel. The sip follows the classic theme with an almost spongy orange sweetness and forest-hop bitterness. Bitterness is a touch rough and ragged but finishes convincingly.

Fremont Brewing Sky Kraken (86)

Dank nose with a layer of funky tropical fruit and a white-flower element—engaging and inviting without being obvious. The sip offers a touch of smooth, earthy bitterness and a tinge of sweetness, with a polished sheen that pulls everything together.

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.

Prison City Brewing 4 Piece with Strata (87)

On the nose, a defined and edgy lemon-tropical blend has a crisp linen through line. Curious and unexpected. On the sip, juicy lemon and tangerine with light peach and apricot, just enough bitterness to keep that edge, and a pleasing taut finish.

Uinta Brewing Co. Hazy Nosh (87)

Punchy grapefruit nose with just a touch of malt sweetness in the background. The sip continues that straightforward grapefruit, with a bit of pithy bitterness, a bit of fruit sweetness, and a simple drinkability.

Russian River Brewing Co - Santa Rosa Row 2, Hill 56 (87)

Grapefruit-pineapple nose, tightly defined, with zero excess. The sip brings light body with pointed pithy bitterness, lightest bread, and grapefruit notes around the edges. Bitterness is a touch intense. Definitely for West Coast fans.

Tampa Bay Brewing Co Production Brewery Reef Donkey (88)

Riotous nose of lemon-lime, cut grass, onion, cannabis, orange, and stone fruit—loud and brash. The sip is more restrained, with herbal bitterness pitted against stone fruit and light malt. Maintains constant energy and liveliness.

Indeed Brewing Co Day Tripper Pale Ale (88)

Orange marmalade and earthy cannabis compete in the nose, with classic C-hop notes for throwback appeal. The sip tilts heavily toward an ashy-earthy bitterness, distracting a bit from more pleasing notes. Austere and unyielding.

Sun King Brewing Osiris Pale Ale (88)

Bready caramel-orange nose with a touch of forest spice. The sip is classic pale—orange and pine, light caramel notes, and the warming comfort of nostalgia. Well executed.

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.

Light the Lamp Brewery Still Single (88)

“Melon and cucumber on the nose with very light pepper underneath. Crisp as it hints at refreshing. The sip crackles with a stiff carb, but the tropical-flavor notes are a bit of a departure for the style. Modern and intriguing.”

Tripping Animals Brewing Company Bandido (89)

Light melon notes in the nose, soft and pillowy. In the sip, a bit of bitterness peeks through, but with a curious tropical-fruit angle. Light and airy, with a perfectly balanced sweetness there to highlight the fun tropical flavors.

Deschutes Brewery Lil’ Squeezy Juicy Pale Ale (89)

Toasted bread and caramelized orange on the nose—juicy with ‘throwback’ pale-malt notes. The sip is somewhat neutral, balanced between that endearing malt and a bit of tight citrus, with a tweak of pithy bitterness.

Odell Brewing Co Drumroll Hazy Pale Ale (89)

Bright, bubbly, outgoing nose—lemon, tangerine, yuzu, passion fruit. The sip brings it back to earth with touches of tropical-fruit funk and a woody hop bitterness. Interesting contrasts create tension more than division.

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.

pFriem Family Brewers Pale Ale (90)

Decidedly dank nose mashed with citrus punch and bits of spruce and cannabis. On the sip, a confident and cogent body supports a modern hop approach, feeling classic while pushing into the future. Light, simple, characterful.

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.

Hop Butcher For the World Airglow (91)

Round and sweaty tropical fruit—passion fruit, guava—with a definite fruit-funk on the nose. Big and bold. The sip is endearingly sweet, riding that delicate line between just enough and too much. Tropical fruit owns the approach.

Rosenstadt Brewery LLC German-Hop Pale Ale (91)

Grape and red licorice in the nose—unexpected but joyful. In the sip, a pervasive sweetness highlights the licorice and candy notes, but the lilting earthy bitterness lends a disjointed element to it.

Dutchess Ales GB Pale Ale (91)

A slightly muddied nose captures a classic pale feel. The sip is a touch grainy and loose, allowing more fermentation character to push forward and compete with the hops.

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.

Green Cheek Beer Company SoMa Aroma (92)

On the nose, hops push through with linen, white flower, guava, and kiwi. Irresistible. Despite the haze, the sip is distinctly dry, with a tightly controlled bitterness and not an ounce of flab. In the finish, a touch of aspirin-like bitterness throws it slightly off course.

Alvarado Street Brewery & Grill Calculator Crazy (92)

Floral nose with crisp linen, herbs, vague sulfur, and a touch of tropical fruit. The sip has a softer edge, with hints of orange and a light sweetness that helps push that softer citrus note. Absolutely fabulous.

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.

De Ranke XX Bitter (92)

“The nose offers a play of earthy/woody with a bit of creamy orange and grapefruit. The sip confounds expectations for a fermentation-driven beer, throwing a wall of hop bitterness that only a few glimpses of fruit can shine through.”

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.

Fort George Brewery City of Dreams (93)

Guava nose with a tropical-bitter back note and softer tiki-like notes of coconut and vanilla. The sip continues the tropical theme, but a woody hop note with toasted bread and marmalade present an intriguing twist.

Wise Man Brewing Chosen Vehicle Mosaic (93)

Funky tropical guava and passion fruit with a touch of pineapple/piña colada. The sip leads with smart tropical bitterness and solid carbonic bite, quickly resolving into a blend of tropical, bitter, sweet, and funky. Rather pleasant.

American Solera Handsome Brothers (93)

Dank weed layers over grapefruit and orange in the nose, with softer tropical fruit on the fringes. The sip mashes these up with intensity; it’s a bit heavier than others, to balance that flavor intensity, but doesn’t feel out of whack. Quirky and characterful.

Rockwell Beer Company Byrd Up! (93)

Subtle orange and light toasty malt on the nose edge slightly away from the classic approach. On the sip, a strong orange-like note with strong, pithy bitterness and a touch of herbal spice offer structure to offset the bigger body. Retro-futurist.

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.

Schlafly Beer/The Saint Louis Brewery, LLC Pale Ale (93)

“Subtle citrus and floral nose with an earthy mossy-bark element. The sip is properly dialed back, with subtle earthy bitterness, slight citrus top notes, and a solid supporting malt middle.”

Brasserie de la Senne Taras Boulba (93)

“Boldly effervescent and profoundly hop-forward in the nose with a spicy herbal and pepper note. The sip drops into very dry white-pepper and floral notes with an energetic carb and a lingering soft Noble bitterness. Pulsing with quick staccato bursts that gradually fade.”

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.

Cerebral Brewing Muscle Memory (94)

Haze accentuates the pale color. The nose is herbal, dank, with soft rose and other floral notes as counterpoints. In the sip, light and earthy hops, forest and pine. Suitably dry, well-balanced—simple yet compelling.

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.

Breakside Brewery Strata Strata Strata (96)

Peach and apricot nose with a touch of herbal spice—a decidedly modern approach. Light and breezy sip, with a present but tightly controlled bitterness playing against gentle pale-malt sweetness. Not a retro pale ale, but firmly aimed at the future.

Maplewood Brewing Company Charlatan (96)

Beautiful foam. Earthy bitter note in the nose; caramelized orange and burnt bread crust emerge. The sip is beautifully balanced and light, with a fine citrus-pine balance and firm but rounded bitterness. Evokes the classics.

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.

Night Shift Brewing, Inc Whirlpool (97)

Aroma of tangerine, lemon, baked fennel-onion tart. The sip is incredibly light, its bitter edge more West Coast than New England. That light body accentuates earthier, more herbal hops at the expense of citrus, but it also makes the next sip easier.

Bend Brewing Co Killer Stashe: Amarillo (97)

Lightly fruity, but heavily dank, nose with a touch of bread malt behind it. The sip feels classic, with more toasted bread crust and a strong but well-integrated bitterness. Comforting and familiar, with an occasional wild streak.

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.

Cellarmaker Brewing Company Christopher Riwakan (98)

The aroma is unique, with a crisp floral note—there’s a white flower intensity with green herbs and high-key dankness. It’s thoroughly engaging as you plumb the depths. In the sip, the edges soften, that floral note complemented by lighter tropical notes. Gentle, clean, crisp, yet semisweet and endearing. Weird and wonderful.

Outer Range Brewing Co Tilted Pale Ale (98)

Tropical fruit—kiwi, papaya—with a sweaty funky note and a chalky gauziness adding a bit of bokeh blur. In the sip, the slightly sweet tropical-fruit body is accentuated by low bitterness and somewhat low carb. Never gets too big for comfort.

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.