Editors' Picks: American Pale Ale

From old school to new and from breweries across the country, here are a few of our favorite American pale ales.

Craft Beer and Brewing Aug 26, 2020 - 3 min read

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Boulevard Pale Ale

A foundational classic, this beer launched Boulevard in 1989—but by the time the brand went nationwide, the style had fallen out of fashion. It’s a shame because this is one of the best in the country—with a bready malt backbone, light kiss of caramel, refreshing snap of bitterness, and a subtle floral-fruit-punch hop smack that has evolved over three decades, finishing dry and lively on the tongue.
ABV: 5.4%
Loc: Kansas City, Missouri

Fremont Brewing Cowiche Canyon

While pale ales brewed with fresh hops have become a common fall seasonal these days, no other brewery quite achieves what Fremont consistently delivers with each year’s release of Cowiche Canyon—bright and pungent hop notes without the vegetal distraction to reduce the punch. It’s a beer we look forward to every year and miss dearly when it’s gone.
ABV: 6%
Loc: Seattle, Washington

Pipeworks Lizard King

Punchy and bright mango and pineapple notes entice with a confidently unabashed bitterness, cementing its position as both a modern and distinctly American pale ale. Lizard King feels creative yet comfortable with a perfectly crafted body that amplifies the gorgeous tropical-hop notes without losing a crisp edge all the way through the sip.
ABV: 6%
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

Cellarmaker Tiny Dankster

Don’t call it a New England-style pale, as the folks at Cellarmaker have very intentionally designed this unfiltered, kind-of-hazy pale ale with a flavor profile that’s more new-school West than East. Relatively dry, with a tropical fruit undertone that feels more Marlborough sauvignon blanc than fruit smoothie, it’s exquisite in its tight editing and balance.
ABV: 5.7%
Loc: San Francisco, California

Old Ox Alpha Ox

Other northern Virginia breweries get more hype; all Old Ox does is nail a range of styles with consistent excellence and character. This one sits where session IPA dovetails back into American pale. Emanates bright orange peel in the nose; shining citrus-hop flavor gets juicy depth from lightly sweet malt. Refreshingly bitter, never harsh, fully quaffable. No need to break new ground when the execution is flawless.
ABV: 4.5%
Loc: Ashburn, Virginia

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