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Expanding Your Beer Palate: Pale Ales

Like I covered stouts before porters (as a stout is just a variation on the porter) I covered IPAs (India pale ales) before this current essay on pale ales. So, to briefly recap, the name pale ale comes from the use of pale malts in the ale. With that said, let?s examine the 2011 winners for the various pale ale categories from the Great American Beer Festival together, shall we?

Clear Creek Pale Ale

The winner of the Classic English Style Pale Ale, this brew hails from Silver City Brewery of Silverdale, Washington, across the water from Seattle out on the Olympic Peninsula. A very popular beer at the festival, it has also won a silver medal and another gold in previous years. This brewery might be in one of the four corners of the continental U.S., but it doesn?t mean it isn?t easily available. Check out Marina Market or Northwest Liquid Gold and you can have Silver City Brewing products shipped to you. Unfortunately, you?ll have to check back to see if Clear Creek Pale Ale will be available for shipping, as it isn?t listed right now.

MacTarnahan?s Amber Ale

Pale Ale

The silver medal winner in the same category comes from MacTarnahan?s Brewing Company in the northwest section of Portland, Oregon and is a previous gold medal winner. If you stop by you can accompany this classic pale ale with a classic Scottish Pie, described on the menu as, ?Savory meats with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese.? They had me at ?meats.?

Boulevard Pale Ale

The first pale ale I ever tried is the winner of the International Style Pale Ale category from the Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, Missouri and it gave me the first hint of citrus notes within a beer. For a good place to drink one, head over to the Beaumont Club of Westport, and you can enjoy a beer and catch The Jayhawks on November 12th.

Pale 31

A tribute to the 31st state (California) where the winner of the American Style Pale Ale resides, Pale 31 comes from the Firestone Brewing Co. of Paso Robles, California. (The silver medal winner Mission St. Pale, is also from Firestone, but brewed specifically for Trader Joe?s.) If you?re in Buellton, CA (and don?t go to Andersen?s for the split pea soup, trust me, you?ll understand later) then you can go to the Tap Room Restaurant. Thursday is the Buttermilk Fried Chicken night.

Pako?s Eye PA

The play on word name of the beer aside, this brew from Snake River Brewing Co. of Jackson, Wyoming won the American Style Strong Pale Ale ? a category different from IPAs. You can get the brews shipped to you, but my advice is to strengthen your hiking legs, pack a 12 with your tent and sleeping bag and find a great hike in the Tetons or Yellowstone after visiting the brewery in person. Once you have finished a good long slog in the mountains, a couple of nice pale ales will really hit the spot as you set up camp for a night. Trust me on the tastiness of the hikes and the beer. Of course, you also really need to trust me on the strength of your hiking legs as well; otherwise, you?ll pull off the side of the trail and just start drinking less than a mile from the trailhead to lighten your load. Well, at least you?ll be doing it with a good beer.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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