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American Pale Ale

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One of the standard beers of West Coast American craft brewers, American Pale Ale or APA is a light-colored ale with a light malt flavor and a significant hop flavor and aroma, usually featuring clearly American hop varieties. American pale ales are frequently dry-hopped for additional hop character.

Contents

History of American Pale Ale

American pale ales come from British origins and its cousin, the English Pale Ale. In general, this style is going to be a very balanced style, resulting in a not too hoppy, not too malty taste. This equilibrium is in large part a function of the ingredients. When craft brewing started to gain some ground on the West Coast, brewers wanted to give the public something that they enjoyed. They decided to turn to British Ales, but could not afford to ship the ingredients from Britain. Thus American ingredients are used to replicate the classic English Pale Ale.

EG Souza 11:40, 25 November 2009 (PST)

Brewing American Pale Ale

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Competition Styles

Both the BJCP and the GABF recognize this style.

BJCP Style Guidelines

American Pale Ale

10A. American Pale Ale Vital Statistics
BJCP Style Guideline Definition (2004)
IBUs: 30-45+ SRM: 5-14 OG: 1.045-1.060 FG: 1.010-1.015 ABV: 4.5-6
Aroma: Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. A citrusy hop character is very common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity). Fruity esters vary from moderate to none. No diacetyl. Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.
Appearance: Pale golden to deep amber. Moderately large white to off-white head with good retention. Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.
Flavor: Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. A citrusy hop character is very common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity). Fruity esters vary from moderate to none. No diacetyl. Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Carbonation moderate to high. Overall smooth finish without astringency often associated with high hopping rates.
Overall Impression: Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. A citrusy hop character is very common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity). Fruity esters vary from moderate to none. No diacetyl. Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.
History: An American adaptation of English pale ale, reflecting indigenous ingredients (hops, malt, yeast, and water). Often lighter in color, cleaner in fermentation by-products, and having less caramel flavors than English counterparts.
Comments: There is some overlap in color between American pale ale and American amber ale. The American pale ale will generally be cleaner, have a less caramelly malt profile, less body, and often more finishing hops.
Ingredients: Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. American hops, often but not always ones with a citrusy character. American ale yeast. Water can vary in sulfate content, but carbonate content should be relatively low. Specialty grains may add character and complexity, but generally make up a relatively small portion of the grist. Grains that add malt flavor and richness, light sweetness, and toasty or bready notes are often used (along with late hops) to differentiate brands.
Commercial Examples: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale, Full Sail Pale Ale, Three Floyds X-Tra Pale Ale, Anderson Valley Poleeko Gold Pale Ale, Left Hand Brewing Jackman's Pale Ale, Pyramid Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond

GABF Style Listings

American Style Pale Ale

42. American Style Pale Ale
GABF Style Listing (2007)
American pale ales range from deep golden to copper in color. The style is characterized by fruity, floral and citrus-like American-variety hop character producing high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Note that “floral and citrus-like American-variety hop character” is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. American pale ales have medium body and low to medium maltiness. Low caramel character is allowable. Fruity-ester flavor and aroma should be moderate to strong. Diacetyl should be absent or present at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.
Original Gravity (ºPlato): 1.044-1.050 (11-12.5 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato): 1.008-1.014 (2-3.5 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume): 3.5-4.3% (4.5-5.5%)
Bitterness (IBU): 30-42
Color SRM (EBC): 6-14 (12-28 EBC)