There’s no denying that the farther west one travels in the United States, the hoppier the local IPA will be. I expected the same for pale ale, but when I tracked down craft brewers from the western, midwestern, southern, and northeastern United States to speak to their respective quadrant’s pale ale, I found that wasn’t always the case.
Close to Kölsch
Here is the condensed spectrum of American pale ales according to Colby Chandler, the executive director and specialty brewer at Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen in San Diego, California: The pale ales made in the United States get hoppier—often from the addition of nouveau hops—and drier as you head west. They lose some of the malt profile that’s more apparent in English-style pale ales and take on the profiles of traditional German pale ales, inspired by crisp, refreshing Kölsch ales.
For Ballast Point, pale ale was a bridge beer from light macro lagers to beer that’s not too bitter and still incredibly flavorful, Chandler explains. The brewery came out of the gate with its original Pale Ale that uses American and Munich malts and German hops. This beer is hopped like a lager and fermented like an ale to create a smooth, bright taste that has just a hint of fruit and spice.