Pale ales are light-colored ales and are known for their smooth taste. Within the category of pale ales, however, there is a wide variety of styles. Here are some of the most common types of pale ale beers, along with when to enjoy each one.
India Pale Ale
The India pale ale is one of the most popular variations, and many brewers and bars offer IPAs. The term "India pale ale" stems from the ale's origins. These ales originated when merchant ships brought beer from India to England.
The six-month voyage was brutal on standard beer, and it was often ruined by the time it arrived at port in England. Adding hops helped better preserve the beer's characteristics during transport. The ales from India became known as India pale ales and had added hops.
Hops often have light, floral notes. The extra hops in IPAs give these beers their light, floral, and fruity flavors. These flavors make the beers perfect for hot days in summer when you want something refreshing and not too heavy. They can also go surprisingly well with the light, vegetative flavors of salads.
American Pale Ale
American pale ales are often contrasted with their British counterparts (see below). American-style tend to have slightly more flavor and slightly higher alcohol content, perhaps partially because England has a longer culture of drinking beer regularly.
The bigger flavor and higher alcohol content of American pale ales make them popular choices among homebrewers. Even if you make a mistake, the characteristics of an American pale ale should still be evident in your homemade beer. Beers with more subtle flavors can lose those flavors if you make an error when brewing.
British Pale Ale
The British pale ale is medium-bodied like the American version, and the British one also has flavors that are similar to the American one. British pale ales tend to be somewhat muted, however, having slightly lower alcohol contents and slightly less vibrant flavors.
The lower alcohol content makes British Pale Ales ideally suited for business functions, where drinking beer may be commonplace but you don't want to become too inebriated. They also go well with food that you don't want to overshade the flavor of.
Brown ale still falls within the category of pale ale, although it looks distinctively darker than many of these other beers. Brown ale has a more roasted and malty flavor and less of a hoppy and floral flavor. It goes well with red meats and other rich foods.
To find pale ale beer in your area, look for a local liquor store, such as Daveco Beer, Wine & Spirits