Simply owning a novelty-sized beer stein with your name misspelled upon it doesn't make you a true beer lover. Instead, a nerdishly deep knowledge of your favorite brew is the qualifying factor. If some uppity stout-quaffing know-it-all gets in your face, arm yourself with some facts and figures. Once you convert them away from the dark side, just take care that they don't drink up all your American Pale Ale.
Others "Pale" in Comparison:
What defines pale ale is the predominance of pale malts in the brewing process. This results in a lighter color when compared to many other beers. There's a wide array of pale ales out there, including amber, English bitter, India pale ale, Scotch ale, blonde, Irish red and more. Different combinations of malts and hops allow for some pretty distinct flavors, but their heavy reliance on pale malts is what makes them one big happy family.
Today's American History Lesson:
According to Michael Jackson (the writer, not the moonwalking fellow), the first modern American pale ale dates back to 1975. Brewed by Anchor Brewing Company, the Anchor Liberty Ale was released to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere's midnight ride. You can't get more American than that!
A few years later, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was the first to commercialize the use of American hops in pale ale. Their brew hit the market in 1981 and is still going strong as one of the best-selling beers in the world. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is generally considered the best example of a classic APA.
Why Choose APAs?
The defining characteristic of a good APA is a clean, lightly hoppy flavor. How APAs stand apart from other pale ales is the use of American hops, usually Cascade. Cleaner yeast and American malt are also leveraged, placing APAs apart from European pale ales. While it's fairly close to India Pale Ale, American Pale Ale is less overwhelmingly hoppy in flavor.
American pale ales pair well with smoky meats, cheddar cheese and apple pie. It's no stretch to see that a Philly cheesesteak with pie for dessert is the perfect complement for your high-quality APA selection.