Pale ale, a variety of beer which uses a top fermenting yeast and predominantly pale malt, is one of the world's major beer styles.


A pale ale has two basic characteristics:

  • It is top fermented
  • It is pale, that is, generally between 8 and 14 degrees SRM in colour. While this colour is not "pale" compared to, say, a golden ale or Pilsener, the pale malts used in making pale ale at its inception gave the beer a far lighter colour than the porterscommon in England at the time.

Brief History

Pale ale was a term used for beers made from malt dried with coke. Coke had been first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it wasn't until around 1703 that the term pale ale was first used. By 1784, advertisements were appearing in the Calcutta Gazette for "light and excellent" pale ale. By 1830, the expressions bitter and pale ale were synonymous. Breweries would tend to designate beers as pale ale, though customers would commonly refer to the same beers as bitter. It is thought that customers used the term bitter to differentiate these pale ales from other less noticeably hopped beers such as porter and mild. By the mid to late 20th century, while brewers were still labeling bottled beers as pale ale, they had begun identifying cask beers as bitter, except those from Burton on Trent, which tend to be referred to as pale ales regardless of the method of dispatch.

Amber Ale

Amber ale is a comparatively recently coined term (as are many other commonly used terms describing beer "styles") used in North America for some pale ales; the colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown.[1] A small amount of crystal[2] or other coloured malt[3] may be added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales.[4] In France the term used is ambrée, and the hop bitterness is modest, as in Pelforth Ambrée and Fischer Amber.[5] In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, though few examples are particularly hoppy. In Australia the most popular Amber Ale is from Malt Shovel Brewery, branded James Squire in honour of Australia's first brewer, who first brewed beer in Sydney in 1794.[6] The term is common in France, Australia and North America, and in North American–style brewpubs,[7] though not generally used elsewhere.

Golden Ale

In the United Kingdom, golden or summer ales were developed in the late 20th century by breweries to compete with the pale lagermarket. A typical golden ale has an appearance and profile similar to that of a pale lager. Malt character is subdued and the hop profile ranges from spicy to citrus; common hop additions include Styrian Golding and Cascade. Alcohol is in the 4% to 5% range ABV. The style was marketed in 1989 by John Gilbert, a former brewer at Watney in Mortlake, London, who had opened his own operation, theHop Back Brewery, in Salisbury, England. His aim was to develop an ale that could be as refreshing as lager, which was quickly gaining popularity at that time. The result was a drier and hoppier pale ale he called "Summer Lightning", after a novel by PG Wodehouse; it won several awards and inspired numerous imitators.

Irish Red Ale

Irish red ale, red ale, or Irish ale gains its slightly reddish colour from the use of a small amount of roasted barley.[10] The term red aleor red beer is used by brewers in countries other than Ireland; however, the name Irish Red is typically used when roasted material is used.

In America the name can describe a darker amber ale, and some breweries may produce a "red" beer that is a lager with caramel colouring.

American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale (APA) is a style of American beer based at least originally on beers of the British pale ale tradition. They are gold to amber in color and generally their flavor and aroma is centered around the citrusy and pine character of Americanhops with caramel-like malt flavors and fruity esters from the ale yeast playing a supporting role. The style evolved in tandem with a renewed interest in ales and the resurgence of microbreweries in the United States which brought about a new focus on American hops.

Strong pale ale

Strong pale ales are ales made predominantly with pale malts and have an alcohol strength that may start around 5%, though typically starts a bit higher at 7 or 8% by volume and may go up to 12%, though brewers have been pushing the alcohol strength higher. In 1994 the Hair of the Dog Brewing Company produced a Strong Pale Ale with an abv of 29%.[11]

American Strong Ale

American strong ale is a broad category used in America to describe ales of 7.0% abv or higher. Beers in this category may also be classified as double India Pale Ales, barley wines, or old ale depending on the style.

English Strong Ale

English Strong Ale is the name given to strong pale ale brewed in England above the strength of 5% abv but which are not quite as strong as a barley wine. They are malty and usually sweet with some fruity esters. [12] Some oxidative notes may be present, similar to those found in port or sherry. In colour they tend to range from medium amber up to a dark red-amber. Alcoholic strength is usually felt, though not overwhelming. They are medium to full body, with the alcohol contributing some warmth.