American Pale Ale is one of the most popular beer styles in the United States. In fact, it’s also the beer that started the American craft beer movement, when Jack McAuliffe first brewed New Albion Ale in Sonoma, CA in 1976.

America’s version of the Pale Ale resembles its venerable relative, the English Pale Ale, but instead of earthy tones, our version relies on Pine-y and Citrus-y flavors from American hops such as Cascade and a clean dry finish.

Probably the most famous example of American Pale Ale is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale also gave birth to the West Coast American Ale Yeast that now powers most American beers, and especially Pale Ales and IPAs.

Alcohol content for the style is usually around 5%, but that’s open to individual interpretation and preference. For example, Oskar Blue’s flagship Dale’s Pale Ale, weighs in at 6.5%. On the other hand, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale comes in at 5.6%.

Pale Ale Brewing considerations

American Pale base malt is used with a little bit of light Crystal Malt added for color and flavor.

Hops should be exclusively American, with the classic “C” hops (Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Columbus) being a good choice.

A clean, well-attenuated American Ale Yeast such as White Labs WLP001 (California Ale), Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) or Fermentis Safale US-05 is the proper choice for this style. The style ranges in bitterness, but 40% seems to be a happy medium.

Commercial examples

As such a popular style, there are many commercial examples, but here are a few tried and true examples:

  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Dale’s Pale Ale
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond

Check out some recipes that you can brew in under an hour.