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Pale Ale

Beer used to be dark stuff in eighteenth-century England. After all, they rarely succeeded in producing light malt. When, perchance, the beer coming out of the keg was lighter, the ale was called – pale.

Burton-upon-Trent, 1790: George Hodgson made a name for himself. His „October Beer” was strong, aged for a long period, rather “pale” and very popular.

It was a smash hit export product and went as far as the Indian colonies. Allegedly, it gave its name to „India Pale Ale”. But that’s another story.

Bitter, the soft version, became the most popular beer style during the war, when raw materials were scarce in England. Later on, lager took over as the most popular type of beer.

Another high point for the Pale Ale beer style and its strong brother IPA came when the craft beer revolution kicked in. Young „wild” US brewers got their inspiration from the leading beer countries in Europe. Pale Ale and IPA – with hops added in the fashionable manner – became the iconic styles of the movement.

Since 2016, the European Beer Star has drawn a distinction between „New-Style” and „Traditional- Style” variants. The terms „English-Style” and „American-Style” became a thing of the past. This takes into account that flavor hops are used in many countries.

Traditional-Style Ales are brewed with classical hop varieties from Czechia, Germany or England. Fuggles, Saazer and Tradition give the beers resinous and floral characteristics.

In New-Style Ales fruity, citrus or exotic bouquets unfold. These are due to flavor hops from America – Cascade, Amarillo, Citra; from overseas – Nelson Sauvin – or Germany – Mandarina Bavaria, Hallertau Blanc. Cold dry hopping is allowed in both styles.

Photo: Thorsten Jauch, Master Brewer at Hirsch-Brauerei Honer checks “pale” goods at the expert tasting.
© Volker Martin