5 great California pale ales
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
No craft beer list should be complete without Sierra Nevada; Anchor Steam may have been around longer, but there is no doubt the Chico based brewer has shot past in terms of profile and offer. Above all, it was Sierra Nevada who led the charge of the craft brewers and for that reason we should all be thankful. Pale golden in colour it has a piny citrus aroma; a complex and full bodied beer with good mouthfeel and lingering, moreish bitterness. At 5.6% it is a sessionable beer by US standards.
Bear Republic Racer 5
A big, bold American IPA, more heavily hopped than Sierra Nevada, but with the alcohol to balance it off. It has more of an apricot aroma, a strong bitterness with hints of peaches, is very fresh and very fruity. It weighs in at 7% - a good level for balancing off that bitterness, but despite that it has a pleasingly sweet drinkability.
Acme California Pale Ale
I partly love this beer because of its retro design; North Coast Brewing revived the name of one of the early icons of California brewing and stuck with the original design. The beer itself has a faint citrus and honey aroma and flavour. It’s a very smooth ale with some rich British style malty depth and a pleasing dry finish. At 5%, it’s slightly lighter than Sierra Nevada and Racer 5, but no less drinkable for it.
Taking the mantle of new kid on the block seriously, Lagunitas have surged in availability and popularity in the last couple of years. Shortly to open a brewery in Chicago they have pushed volumes up and improved quality to boot. This is one of the most sessionable IPAs on the market. It has trademark citrus aroma with light floral notes and a hint of caramel. It has medium full body with strong citrus flavours, some wonderful grassiness too and it finishes crisply. Beware the deceptive 6.2% abv.
Stone Cali-Belgique IPA
The beer that claims you are not worthy to drink it; this twist on an IPA – brewed with Belgian yeast is very intriguing. While it has all the usual Stone hoppiness, the resulting citrus is more tropical with green kiwi being a dominant aroma, whilst in the background there is a distinct musty “funk” contributed by the Belgian yeast. The bitterness is not as heavy as with many IPA’s – especially Stone – but whilst still noticeable, it lends a core to the beer which is very smooth albeit quite restrained. Eminently drinkable, even at 6.9%.