Saturday, December 4, 2010

Category 10: American Ales

Got to have this one on the beach!

Beer: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Category: American Ale
Subcategory: American Pale Ale

For a category that originally started out as American versions of English Ales, the American ales of today really have found their own identity. Using very flavorful, citrusy American hops (particularly the ever-popular Cascade variety), these ales all tend to showcase delicious, refreshing hop flavor, and the subcategory is dictated by the varying types of malt backbone that these have. I decided to go totally definitive with this one, reviewing the classic example of the American pale ale, which is interestingly enough one that I had tasted but had never really drank critically before writing this review. Ladies and gentlemen, the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Appearance: a pretty, light golden amber, small white head with very nice lacing (even on my cheap plastic glass!)

Aroma: a bouquet of citrus. fresh American hops, a little earthy malt sweetness, and a little tang (perhaps from the hops themselves)

Flavor: Mmm mmm. Citrusy, fruity hops up front with a surprisingly nice malt background and a mall bit of complimentary sweetness. Moderate hop bitterness makes this a very balanced beer (this style can often be very unbalanced towards the hoppy side of things).

Mouthfeel: very smooth, medium body, and medium-high carbonation. not overcarbonated like other examples of this style can often be.

Overall: great example of the style, especially because it is not overdone on the hops. Honestly, I feel that this is what brewers should strive for when they brew American pale ales, because it is easy for this style to be too bitter with not enough malt support. Sierra Nevada did well with this one.

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