Craft Brewers’ Roundtable: Preserving Pale Ale

Attention hopheads—if you’re not careful, you might miss out on the broad spectrum of hops aroma and flavor that the American craft pale ales have to offer, especially as of late.

Emily Hutto Jun 18, 2016 - 3 min read

Craft Brewers’ Roundtable: Preserving Pale Ale Primary Image

“We’re getting to the point [in craft brewing, and specifically on the West Coast] where regular single pale ales are starting to taste more like IPAs,” says Colby Chandler, the executive director and specialty brewer at Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen in San Diego, California. “They’re losing the malt base, and they have more hops aroma than ever before.”

Last year, Justin Tilotta of Twisted Pine Brewery in Boulder, Colorado, weighed in on hoppier pale ales when the company announced it would designate its former Hoppy Boy IPA as a pale ale going forward. The beer might have been a perfect example of an American IPA fifteen years ago, he said, but now the style is characterized by “a less prominent malt backbone and a lean toward bitterness.”

Increasingly, consumers think of pale ale as IPA’s little sister. In Issue 5 (Feb/Mar 2015) of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®, brewers make a case for pale ale and explain that it can be just as hops-forward as IPA and is often more nuanced. Here are more of their perspectives on pale ale.

“I see the pendulum swinging back to lower alcohol beers [such as] pale ales—which are lower in ABV than IPA. IBUs are lower on the pale ale, making it more sessionable.” — Colby Chandler, executive director and specialty brewer at Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen (San Diego, California)


“IPA is just pale ale with more alcohol and bitterness. I like pale ale because I can drink it without the palate fatigue that I associate with that higher intensity of IPA.” — Jeff O’Neil, brewmaster at Peekskill Brewery (Peekskill, New York)

“Some pale ales are just as hoppy as IPAs. A beer like Zombie Dust would have been one of the hoppier IPAs on the market back in the mid-1990s when I started brewing.” — Chris Boggess, head brewer at 3 Floyds Brewing Co. (Munster, Indiana)

“There’s an amber, almost caramel color to a lot of the pale ales in the East, while pale ales from the West Coast tend to be pale in color, and of course much [bitterer] in every way.” — Will Golden, head brewer at Austin Beerworks (Austin, Texas)

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