You’d think I’d be used to this by now. I go to the bottle shop, ready to buy a beer or two in the style Mariah and Katie have selected for Into the Pint Glass…and find next to nothing. In that style, at least. Instead, the shelves seem to be overflowing with the previous style. I don’t know specifically scouting out a particular style gets me to pay attention to it more, or the brewers are all a couple weeks behind us, or what. But I sweat it’s like all I can find now are porters/stouts, fruit beers, sours and farmhouse ales, saisons, and witbiers.
And this week we’re looking for pale ales! I mean, you’d think those are the second-most common beer in San Diego. I thought my toughest challenge would be finding one I haven’t tried before. But noooo. I scoured that bottle shop end to end, only find a shit-ton of IPAs (of course), stouts, ambers, wheat beers, and sours. So weird.
Anyway, pale ales are probably my favorite style. They’re basically less-hoppy (lower IBU) IPAs. (Although, last weekend, I had a conversation about how West Coast or San Diego pale ales would probably be called IPAs by many East Coast brewers, because the west is typically all about HOW MANY MORE HOPS CAN I GET IN THIS BATCH?)
Not that I’m complaining. Usually.
I do tend to find several West Coast IPAs a little too hoppy and heavy for my taste. With pale ales, you still get a good deal of hops, but the flavors can be more subtle. And because there’s so freaking many hop, you can get a huge variety of flavors, from floral to pine to citrus. For me, it’s hard to go wrong here.
El Segundo Citra Pale Ale (5.5% ABV)
Color/appearance: This poured a nice pale golden/yellow with a thick cream-colored head, which settled for a bit instead of dissipating right away. You could see a nice steady stream of bubbles rising to the top.
Aroma: Citrus and hops
Taste: This was actually more bitter than I was expecting, but still nicely balanced with a light-to-medium mouthfeel. The citrus was pretty subtle, and after reading the label more closely I told myself I could pick up a hint of the Vienna malts they used.
Overall: A very solid, drinkable pale ale. Not really a standout for me, but I’d probably still put it in the upper tier and would drink it again.
If you’re looking for a particularly fantastic pale ale, I have to recommend Karl Strauss’ Pintail Pale Ale. It’s not the easiest to find in bottles (or even in bars/restaurants), but if you can track it down, you should most definitely pick it up.