Tag Archive: American Pale Ale


Northern Monk: Don’t Mess With Yorkshire (England: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon coloured body with a massive white bubbled head that leaves some, but not many suds.

Nose: Rhubarb and custard sweets. Custard slices. Sugar dusting. Light orange. Slight apple.

Body: Wheaty. Moderate bitterness. Gentle custard. Hard sweets. Slight rhubarb. Slight orange skin. Slight milk and lactose.

Finish: Flour. Good bitterness. Dry. Peppery. Slightly earthy. Gentle custard. Slight tart rhubarb.

Conclusion: This is a much more straightforward beer than you would expect from the description, and from the first impressions you get from the aroma.

So, since I just brought it up, let’s start with the aroma. It is full on, full of rhubarb and custard sweet notes. Yes, I know generally hard sweets don’t have that much smell to them, imagine them all crushed up and sweet dust is in the air or something, this smells like that. It is very sweet, not super artificial smelling, but definitely calls to the hard sweet style.

The rest of the beer has none of that.

The body, by comparison, is fairly dry and slightly peppery with a moderate amount of hop bitterness. It is not overly attenuated like some APAs, but it still feels within the dry APA range, with all that entails.

The custard notes come across along with a gentle, milky to lactose thickness, and only a hint of the actual custard flavour, and very little of the sweetness. Similarity there is a light tartness from the rhubarb, but it is generally coming across as the unsweetened, earthier rhubarb rather than rhubarb and custard sweets. So, I have no idea where that aroma came from as that is not the beer you get!

It is a solid APA, with a gently used twist to it. Far more subtle in expression that I expected, and probably a better beer for that, if not as showy and silly fun as I hoped. The base APA is not special and without the extra twist would be very middle of the road, as is it is not a must have, but decent enough and a bit different with its subtle enhancements from the extra ingredients.

Background: I spent most of my teenage years in Yorkshire, I have a soft spot in my heart for the place. So, yep, this beer caught my eye. I am also a fan of Rhubarb, Custard and also Rhubarb and Custard, so another thing in its favour as this is a Rhubarb Custard Pale. What does that mean? Well looking at the can it is made with vanilla, rhubarb extract and custard extract, so I’m guessing that. Anyway another one grabbed from Independent Spirit – I put on a band I have only just discovered to listen to while drinking – Bloodywood – an Indian street metal band that rocks!

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To Øl: Cloudwater : CPH – Quick Splash (Denmark: APA: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot. Large mound of white head.

Nose: Flour. Dry peach. Flour like hop prickle. Slight custard.

Body: Moderate hop character and bitterness. Purple peppers. Dry grapefruit. Pink grapefruit. Flour. Vanilla. Slight custard.

Finish: Purple peppers. Grapefruit. Flour like hop character. Lychee. Pink grapefruit.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ll admit I was wrong. In what way? Well when I looked at this and saw that the New England virus had spread from IPAs to its nephew style, the APA, I was worried. Was this to be the beginning of the end? Were we to see NE Saisons, NE Brown Ales or even NE Stouts. IS? THIS? THE? END? OF? EVERYTHING!?

Ok, I exaggerate, NEIPAs are not that bad, even if they are often not for me, but I was worried that- like how we ended up with every kind of IPA under the sun, we would end up with everything being NE style. I still don’t know if that will happen, but you know what, this is genuinely pretty good.

The drier APA character here is compensated for by the tart fruit character, while the lower bitterness of the NE style gets reinforced slightly as the drier APA character makes what bitterness there is punch harder, but unlike some APAs, due to the freshness the flour like hop character doesn’t get gritty. It feels like a lot of the possible issues I have with some APAs and NEIPAs actually offset each other here by the other style pushing back the other way to create an actual balance between the two.

So, tart matched by a dry, well pushed grapefruit notes that go a touch outside the standard tart grapefruit flavour range for a bit of variety. There is even a touch of soft vanilla from the malt, but general that side of things just gives that New England style extra thickness and mouthfeel.

It is a good APA, and an area where I genuinely think the New England take on things works, adding to rather than detracting from the beer style. I am impressed. Nicely done, I applaud everyone involved.

Background: As you may have guessed from the notes I am generally not taken by the New England IPA style. Still, this is a beer made at To Øl’s brewpub, so is a rare chance to try something from there. Even more than that it is made with Cloudwater, who have a good hand with hop heavy beers, so I was interested to see how it works out. Oddly this is a New England Pale Ale, not an IPA, something I did not even know existed until this moment. Not much else to add – bought at Independent Spirit, put back on Visceral by Getter while drinking for some nicely done backing music.

Pomona Island: Pew Pew Pew Pewpewpew Pew Pew (England: American Pale Ale: 5.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale, hazy lemon juice. Inch of white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Apricot. Clean hop character. Light bitterness. Light popcorn. Light custard. Slight nettles.

Body: Flour mixed with hops. Slightly milky. Kiwi touch. Grapes. Milky fudge. Slight prickle. Apricot. Slight hop oils.

Finish: Flour. Apricot. Light fluffy hop feel. Sulphur touch. Grapes. Light bready. Ovaltine.

Conclusion: You know, for a beer with such gently done flavour, this is actually pretty satisfying. Usually vaguely milky beers get right on my tits and just feel empty. This does neither of those things. Unless I spill it, in which case it may end up on my tits in a less metaphorical manner. Anyway, I digress.

It is milky, with gentle prickling hops, but the fruit seems to hand around there in the middle just enough to actually work rather than getting lost in the mix that all too often happens with milky beers.

There is milky fudge, milky apricot, milky kiwi. Ok, you get the gist, right? In a worse beer this would be infuriating and terrible, resulting in badly defined flavours and general empty character. Here it is soothing and gently enjoyable.

It feels like it should be a tad lower abv in order to make it a great session beer, rather than a slightly heavier APA – Though in saying that I am realising that maybe it is the extra grip from the extra malt that gives that higher abv that makes the unusual character work so well. But if it could be reduced a tad and keep that – then sorted.

It slides down so very easily, with a touch of hop oils giving grip so you still feel it. It is examinable, if not heavy – easy drinking with milky thickness. Gets a tad overly bready over time, but generally very enjoyable.

Make finger guns – pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew.

Background: yeah I bought this beer because it is called Pew Pew Pew, however many times that is written. It both calls to old video games and Laura Dern in Star Wars, both of which make me want to like it. Anyway, not tried any thing from the brewery before so few expectations, this is a Ukuanot BBC, Simcoe, Mosaic DDH Pale. Because of course. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Put on The Royal They’s self titled album while drinking, it is endlessly endearing and yet vulgar, which I like.

Ironfire: Synner Hoppy Pale Ale (USA: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Very large mounded white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Clear main body.

Nose: Musty hops. Some charred and wet wood notes. Apple. Greenery.

Body: Apple. Pineapple. Slight cardboard. Hop bitterness. Grapefruit. Slight hop oils. Slight peach.

Finish: Hop bitterness and charring. Malt toffee. Peppery. Grapefruit. Hop oils. Slight peach. Choc toffee.

Conclusion: This is another one that slowly grew on me after a very rough start. Or more correctly a rough finish. Also a rough start. I’ll get to that in a moment. Anyway, let’s start at the top.

So, to put it bluntly, the aroma is a bit shit. Slightly musty and slightly charred, with not a huge amount going on. Now this could be because the hops they used fade fast and it takes a while for USA beer to reach the UK, or maybe it was always shit. I may never know.

The first sip is ok – a mix of fresh apple and tart pineapple and grapefruit notes. Its got a slight cardboard style to it, but uses the tart and fresh notes well enough to mostly push past that. Mostly. Then you get a charred and rough finish which is just not welcome. It is slightly pepper, but in general it is not showing the choice hops to their best – instead giving a slight rough hop burn. An unexpected but not entirely unwelcome note here is a slight malt toffee notes which calls to a sweeter APA than this which generally has an out of the way malt character in the main body.

The finish never really recovers from this – it gains a bit more malt and chocolate to balance it so it is less ruinous, but I would never go so far as to call it good. What does improve is the main body which steps up with soft peach roughing, more of the appealing tart notes and a better defined hop character. All of which are much appreciated.

So, still not great top and tail, but the improved main body means it isn’t the complete write off it originally seems. Wow I am killing it with faint praise today. Not one I’d recommend but it has its good points.

Background: Managed to get a chance to drop over to Corks Of Cotham in Bristol recently so grabbed a few beers while I was over there. They have been around since before craft beer became huge and have always had a good selection, so was nice to drop back there again. I mainly grabbed this one as the can looked pretty – similarly to keep in theme I put on White Zombie – Astro Creep 2000 while drinking. It all makes sense. From the can’s description this is dry hopped with Citra. A good hop, hope it pays off here.

Bone Machine: Green Machine (England: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to brown clear body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white loose bubbled head that leaves suds (The photo is after I let the head go down a bit if you can believe it)

Nose: Bitter hops. Pepper. Pine cones. Wheat. Zesty lime.

Body: Zesty lime. Mild gherkins. Milky main body. Peppery base. Tart pineapple. Greenery. Moderate bitter hop character. Melon.

Finish: Mild gherkin. Lime. Wheaty. Earthy hop bitterness. Brown bread. Melon. Resinous. Mild peanut butter late on.

Conclusion: Ok, this is indeed a “Green Machine” as the beer is named. I will give it an A++ for honesty in naming. From the tart end of the spectrum it comes in with lime, gherkin and such, to the more savoury end where it comes in with greenery amongst the hop oils – this is a very green tasting beer. It is very tingly feeling as well, calling to very fresh hops resulting in prickles of zesty flavour stabbing into your tongue.

The base has a dry touch and an attenuated feel but they’ve put a milkiness under that so it avoids the harsh, over dry character that some APAs run into. While that is good it does mean that the malt load feels slightly generic here – it relies on the hops to do the heavy lifting.

The hops do good work though. They bring moderate bitterness that then grows into quite the peppery and earthy bite. Against that is a nice tart pineapple set of notes that back the varied green notes mentioned before – it all results in something fresh and very zesty.

Oh, a quick digression at this point – pour this bloody carefully and give it a lot of time to settle. This thing froths up very easily and will fill the entire glass with head if you are not careful.

Overall this is fresh, has good bitterness, well used tart and green fruit flavours that leads out into heavy earthy and peppery bitterness by the end. It could do with a rework of the malt if they were to make it the complete package, but its still decent as is. A mouth tingling zesty take on an APA that will awaken your mouth.

Background: This was a bit of a whimsy pick up – I liked the look of the beer, the name brought the Pixies song Bone Machine to mind, and it was from a new brewery, so I grabbed a can. Actually, looking back, I totally should have put the Pixies on while drinking. Ah well, missed opportunity. Had put on Bad Rebellion – Stranger than Fiction instead as that band is an old favourite of mine. Something familiar and welcoming for drinking music. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Neon Raptor: Island Party DDH Pale Ale (England: American Pale Ale:4.3% ABV)

Visual: On first pour clear lager yellow colour with huge yellow-whitehead. Tons of small bubbled carbonation. Later pours are cloudy and opaque.

Nose: Dry bitter hops. Soft pineapple. Floral. Chalk touch. Flour.

Body: Dry, hoppy bitterness. Flour. Soft vanilla. Soft apricot. Prickly. Light gherkin. Mango. Strawberry touch.

Finish: Strawberry. Flour. Soft pineapple. Vanilla yogurt. Crushed love heart sweets. Solid bitterness. Kumquat.

Conclusion: This pours oddly. The first pour was utterly clear and lager like, with a massive head. However it seems I should have given the can more of a shake before pouring as later pours were cloudy in a NEIPA style. (or maybe not – again, massive head already – but you get the gist).

So, once I had let the head settle a bit I found that this was pretty subtle in the aroma. Soft pineapple and dry, bitter notes. While it never hits that super dry, super harsh take that some APAs do, this still leans into the drier take throughout the rest of the beer.

It has a fairly creamy mouthfeel, but very dry around that. Kind of a flour dryness that seems to be a common APA shtick. There is some soft apricot and pineapple notes packed around that which freshens it up a touch, along with some savoury vegetable notes and sour gherkin notes rounding out the range.

Altogether it is ok, but gets wearing as times goes on and the drier notes take over, leaving more flour notes on your tongue as a desiccating experience. It is a just slightly too far into the harsh dryness in style, rather than the super drinkable dry style.

So, it had good first impressions, before the flour notes got too heavy, as the soft fruit is appealing, but it just gets bogged down over time. Ok at the start, but definitely sub-optimal and gets worse as time goes on.

Background: Neon Raptor. Neon. Raptor. There was no way I wasn’t going to try something from this brewery. Decided to go for the APA as been trying a lot of IPAs recently. Also the IPAs were New England style. I’m trying to not hate on NEIPAs too much, but the way they are saturating the market at the mo is not exactly my scene shall we say. Anyway, not much else to add – picked this up from Independent Spirit and put on B. Dolan’s House Of Bees Vol 2 while drinking. Should be seeing the Epic Beard men live soon, so gets me in the mood for cool socially conscious rap.

Cassels and Sons: Extra Pale Ale (New Zealand: American Pale Ale: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow with lots of small bubbled carbonation and a small yellowed head.

Nose: Turmeric. Earthy bitterness. Orange zest.

Body: Orange zest and orange skin. Dry. Vanilla. Earthy bitterness. Sour dough. Cereal and shredded wheat. Light sour grapes.

Finish: Turmeric. Dry. Slightly rocky. Moderate bitterness. Nettles. Peppery.

Conclusion: This feels a very Birtish influenced pale ale rather than the American take which I think is more its aim. It is especially odd as this is Nelson Sauvin hopped – a hop I associate more with grapefruit and pineapple rather than the earthy, turmeric and pepper notes that we get here.

Another element that makes me think of English Pales is that light orange note and solid dry bitterness that is an oft overlooked part of the style – it is a less obvious note that the earthy character that just shouts UK hops, but still there – and odder still because this does not use UK hops. At all I think.

Maybe it is the well attenuated character combined with a lower abv that makes the hop express itself differently. I mean, 4.9% isn’t a low abv, but it is a lot lower than a lot of the bursting beers that I usually encounter Nelson Sauvin in, so that may make the difference. The attenuated character makes it super dry, so maybe there is little for the tart fruitiness to grab hold of, instead you get light fresh notes in a tart grape style, just below the earthy bitterness.

It is pretty drinkable though – there area a lot of heavy bitterness notes, along with some rough notes that should prevent it being so, but the dry character is used well and instead of hindering, instead gives a lager like drinkability, backed by just a touch of vanilla to wash the rougher bitterness down down.

It is a solid beer, not showy, nor showcasing the hop, but solid and easy to drink. It does the British pale style brilliantly, even if it seems that was not the style they were aiming for.

Background: Ever since my Sister spent some time in New Zealand, which made it easier for me to get hold of their beers, I have been interested and excited by the NZ beer scene. So when this new brewery on me turned up at Independent Spirit I decided to give one of their beers a try. This beer in fact. Went for their Pale Ale as it seemed a reasonable entry point, especially as it uses the Nelson Sauvin hops which are one of the utter gems of the NZ hop scene in my opinion. Had been at a 90’stastic gig in Bristol the day before drinking this, so put on some Terrorvision as seeing them live reminded me they are still a bloody good band.

Halfacre: Daisy Cutter Pale Ale (USA: American Pale Ale: 5.2% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to apricot. Large white mounded bubbled head. Tiny bubbled carbonation. Head leaves suds.

Nose: Flour. Peach. Lemon curd. Dry. Watermelon.

Body: Stewed apricot. Dry. Flour. Vanilla. Apple pie jelly centres. Moderate hop character. Low to middling bitterness. Pineapple.

Finish: Dried and stewed apricot. Moderate hop prickle and bitterness. Bitterness grows over time. Gelatinous fruit pie centres. Tart apples. Vanilla. Watermelon. Pineapple.

Conclusion: You know, I started off not enamoured with this, but each sip had it grow on me more and more. Initial impressions are dry with a flour touch, which are dominant, only allowing small amounts of fruit come out behind. A good base, but not much else.

As time goes on the fruit rises in a way that I can best describe as if it mixed half stewed fruit and half dried fruit, all mixed up in that gelatinous stuff that you get in fruit pies. It gives a real thickness of feel and flavour is what I mean.

The bitterness has a similar path. It starts low but rises quickly. Never into IPA territory, but solid enough to really give it an edge for a hophead like me. Then, as if that was not enough, time brings out delicious watermelon notes with tart pineapple behind that pick up the beer, dust it off and refresh it for the latter half of enjoyment.

Often for me the dryness of an APA can be an off-putting note and a failure in the beer, making it too harsh to drink. This shows how to get the dryness, matches it with huge flavour and sets out something challenging, rewarding and always giving good character. Definitely in the top few APAs I have encountered.

Background: This was a pretty random grab – A brewery I haven’t tried before from America – figured it was worth a try. Went for their APA as I spend less time with that style – it is hit or miss for me – sometimes great, some times far too dry. Thought it was a good time to roll the dice again and see how this did. Anyway, another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to At The Drive In – Relationship Of Command. Had an odd thought while drinking – I love that album, absolutely love it, but have never checked out any other At The Drive In stuff. I should correct that at some time. Incidentally on googling I found that this is described as “A west coast Pale Ale chock-full of dank, aromatic hops.”. Much as I enjoyed it, I would not call it “Dank” in any way. Maybe something was lost in the journey to the UK.

Odyssey: Spottieottiehopaliscious Pale Ale (England: American Pale Ale: 5.4% ABV)

Visual: Very cloudy lemon juice look with a yellow to white head of good size. Some small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Dried mango. Apricot. Lemon. Creamy. Light hop character. Cake sponge.

Body: Lemon. Gritty hop feel. Tangerine. Good hop character. Peach. Gritty bitterness. Cheese puff touch. Vanilla and light custard. Light syrup feel.

Finish: Lemon. Low level bitter hop feel and hop oils. Shortbread. Apricot. Cheese puff touch. Syrup.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve had a fair few lemony and slightly creamy pales ales and IPAs recently, which were refreshing but kind of simplistic for the most part. I will admit on pour I thought this was going to be one of them, and it does share some characteristics. However it ends up very different. So, why does this lemony, creamy pale ale appeal to me so much when the others did not impress me that much?

Well, for one it has range – initially the lemon is the main characteristic, but after that you get full on apricot and peach taking over – so, over time you get progression in the beer and you can keep appreciating new nuances each time. The weight of the beer helps as well – the beer starts off quite clean, then a syrup thickness pitted against moderate, gripping, gritty hop character which really helps you get a handle on each flavour. Finally it has a slight funky cheese puff styling, giving just the slightest savoury offset. It all comes together to make a beer a world apart from all the other light, fruity, lemon dominated beers.

Overall it is a very juicy, lemon backed beer, that develops a wealth of fruit in the middle, a beer that uses hop bitterness but is not dominated by it. Easy to drink, but flavoursome and weighty. Again Odyssey manage to knock it out of the park with their hoppy beers. The only reason this is not in the “My favourites” section is because it is competing against other Odyssey beers.

A beer with too high abv to be technically sessionable, yet I still want to session it as it is a delicious beer.

Background: I think I spelt that right. I mean seriously, that beer name was written just to fuck with me. This is an oat infused APA made with Ekuanot, Simcoe, Columbus and Citra hops, then dry hopped with mosaic and simcoe. I knew none of this when doing notes on the beer – I looked it up after. That is a big set of hops. I very much trust Odyssey when it comes to hopped beers, so this was a nigh instant grab when it turned up at Independent Spirit. Decided to go for some big moody classic tunes for this as Odyssey beer deserve it – Mezzanine from Massive Attack.

Warpigs: Lervig: Socks ‘N’ Sandals (Norway: American Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy lemon juice looking body with a moderate sized crisp white head.

Nose: Lemon – fresh to lemon meringue in style. Slightly wheaty. Becomes dry, salted lemon over time.

Body: Fresh lemon. Brown bread. Light milk. Light kiwi and lime. Light chalk. Salted lemon. Dried pineapple. Sweet vanilla to vanilla toffee.

Finish: Nan bread. Moderate hop character and bitterness. Lemon. Drying. Slightly peppery. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: Flavour-wise this is simple and refreshing – it is another beer where the complexity comes with how it feels. Frankly, it declares everything about its flavour to the eye. It looks like lemon juice; It tastes like a range of lemon based substances backed up by a dry APA character, moderate hops and bready backing.

Anyway – about that feel – it is slightly wheaty feeling against the traditional APA breadiness, against a slight fresh feel from the lemon side of things, into slightly chalky texture on the way out. Not a world shaking set but it is an ever changing range that keeps the simple flavour from getting samey. It also helps that, as time and warmth affects the beer you do get some variety late on. Some toffee sweetness gets added to the body in the middle and a peppery outro helps draw a line under each sip to break things up.

It is both solid and satisfying – a mix of fresh lemon and dry bready APA that balances both elements resulting in something that is not too heavy a drink. The flavour does expand slightly as I indicated before – even the fruit range expands with some pineapple and such joining in – not much and not for long, each time doing just enough to keep you interested. It never reaches the level where you go “wow” but each time you think you are going to get bored, it throws out a little bit more to bring you back in.

One you are never going to complain about, not a must have but solid craftsmanship.

Background: This is listed as a mixed fermentation double dry-hopped APA. Which sounded interesting, also the can looked interesting, and I don’t see why people rant about socks and sandals so much. If they look stupid, but you like them, then who cares? Anyway, so this was a beer for me it seemed. Another beer grabbed from good old Independent Spirit, drunk while listening to a bit of Carcass – on a general metal kick currently.

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