Friday, 1 June 2012

The Session no.64: Pale in Comparison

This month's brief from The Beer Babe is to blog about two pale ales. I had been under the impression that pale ales are at the lower end of the beer spectrum, taste-wise and ABV-wise. Drinkable beers, fit for a long session of drinking, requiring minimal thought and effort, and easy to drink with food and friends.

Recently, however, I tried a pale ale from Camden Town on keg. Not only did it fit the bill for an easy to drink, not too strong beer, but it stood up to the flavour profile of the "big boys" on the bar, the IPAs and IIPAs.

It hit me that my ignorance had got in that way of appreciating this particular style of beer.

I decided to approach this session by picking two pale ales from the same brewery, at different strengths.

51: Wild Swan White Gold Pale Ale, Thornbridge, 3.5%
Appearance of a lager, very very pale. Served out of a bottle and was quite carbonated. Lots of aroma considering it is low in alcohol not as bitter as other stronger styles. It isn't sweet, and there is definitely lemon thyme somewhere in there. I have to say I mostly agree with the label "tastes of light bitter lemon, hints of subtle herb spiciness and a long, hoppy, refreshing finish." There wasn't a long finish for me, and it is not as intense as an IPA, but it tips it's hat towards the hoppiness. A very crisp texture, a perfect beer for a hot summer day.

52: Kipling South Pacific Ale, Thornbridge, 5.2%
Very passion fruitlike aromas. Rounded bitterness. Very carbonated. No where near as pale. More of a head than the other beer. Peachy flavours as well as passion fruit, and a more intense bitterness than Wild Swan. A single hop pale ale,  made from Nelson Sauvin.  A really tasty beer. Is this effectively an IPA? Is it outside the guidelines for pale ale, or did they have to make it this strong to hold up to the Nelson Sauvin hop because it is so bitter?

I think that the Kipling is really tasty, and I preferred it over the Wild Swan. However, the Wild Swan, being packed with flavour despite being a pale ale and low in ABV, has so far in my beerticking quest been a rare find, and therefore I think it is a winner too.

I hope I've learned from being judgemental and learned not to overlook any style of beer due to previous conceptions.

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