The days are getting longer, the sun is out and you’re thirsting for a lighter brew.
Consider the pale ale — a brew of British origin produced using a higher proportion of lighter, or “pale,” malts. It was first created in the 1700s, when brewers used coke, a fossil fuel derived from coal, to roast malt. The method didn’t produce any smoke and resulted in a lighter-colored malt.
Thanks to their tasty balance of malt and hops, pale ales are a popular choice for daytime drinking in warmer months, when you aren’t quite ready to drink a heavy stout or IPA. With summer quickly approaching, UnderTheLabel determined the 50 best American pale ales using its Smart Rating, which consolidates rankings from annual brewing competitions and expert/user reviews from RateBeer and BeerAdvocate.
Some of them are strongly regional. Three Floyds Brewing of Munster, Indiana, landed the three top-rated pale ales — Zombie Dust, Permanent Funeral and Alpha King — but it’s currently distributed only in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin. Ask your local specialty store to help you find others.
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The popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale landed just inside the top 25, but it’s not even the best pale ale brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, according to UnderTheLabel — that’d be the Southern Hemisphere Harvest, which ranked 15th with a Smart Rating of 94.
Stone Brewing Co. placed three variations of its notoriously strong Arrogant Bastard Ale in the top 10, with the Double Bastard Ale (11.2 percent ABV) ranking fourth. Also placing well is Three Floyds Brewing Company, which swept the top three thanks to its Zombie Dust, Permanent Funeral and Alpha King ales.
With 38 Smart Rating scores of 90 or higher, there’s plenty of palatable pale ales for you to sample this summer.
UnderTheLabel.com is an alcohol comparison site with information and ratings on beer, whisley, tequila, vodka and gin.