10 Best Pale Ale Beers

The American pale ale is the prince of all American beers. This type of beer is inspired by the British golden beers but has a makeup that keeps it standing alone as the perfect all-American beer. Developed in the United States, the best pale ales are still made here, but dozens of different companies. Each of them has their own distinctive notes and features. Here, you will read about the most recent top ten best American pale ales and discover what they are all about.


Three Floyds Zombie Dust

Three Floyds Brewery’s Zombie Dust is a pale American ale with quite a zombie butt-kicking state of mind. This robust brew has a color closer to an IPA. It is higher in alcohol with an ABV of 6.2%. This beer is brewed with Citra hops from the Yakima Valley. Zombie Dust gets a high rating across all beer review boards and is a favorite among the pickiest of beer snobs.

  • Pros
    • A perfect balance of bitter and sweet
    • Really cool bottle graphics
    • Great taste and easy to drink
    • Higher ABV than average
  • Cons
    • May be confused with IPA and held to different standards than average, paler ale
      Not brewed year round
    • Higher ABV than average pale ale (is a pro to some)
  • Price
    • The brewery sells Zombie Dust for around $ or $$ for a six-pack or $$ to $$$ for a case.

Double Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale

The Double Dry Hopped Fort Point ale is similar to the standard pale Fort Point ale, but as its name suggests it is double hopped. The beer contains an additional dry hop called the Citra. This beer is from the Trillium Brewing Company in Boston, Massachusetts. The combination of Colombus and Citra hops give this pale brew a full body of mango and pineapple fruitiness. This brewski also has a higher alcohol content with a 6.6% ABV.

  • Pros
    • Well-balanced with a beautifully crafted aroma
    • A nice carbonation that gives it a nice light feel
    • Very high rating across all the beer reviews
    • Nicely priced
  • Cons
    • Lingering bitterness that could be pro or con for some
    • Limited availability
  • Price
    • Four can packs cost around or under $$.

Monday Night Brewing Han Brolo

Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta, Georgia gives us the Han Brolo American pale ale. It is brewed with four different hops varieties: Simcoe, Mosaic, Mandarina, and Bavaria. This pale ale has a hazy yellow color. It is described as having a grassy aroma with notes of black pepper and a mouth full of citrus that never turns bitter. This beer has a lower ABV at 4.7% and is available at the brewery in Atlanta.

  • Pros
    • Doesn’t go bitter
    • Unfiltered
      Has the complexity of four hops
    • Brewed year round
    • Lower ABV
  • Cons
    • Limited availability
    • Flat finish
  • Price
    • Six-packs of cans are priced under $.

Fieldwork Brewing Co. Painted Gold

This moderately carbonated brew from Fieldwork Brewing of California is ranked high among other pale American ales. Painted Gold is described as zesty and full of citrus (especially orange and grapefruit), with peach aromas. A saturation of citrus hops leads with a spritz-like and a dry finish. The average ABV for this beer hits at 5.4%.

  • Pros
    • Available in 16-ounce cans
    • Citrus nose and zesty aroma
    • Lighter bodied feel
  • Cons
    • A little flat for some
    • Doesn’t hold much head
    • Musty, earthy
  • Price
    • Painted Gold cost under $ for a bottle.

Galaxy Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale

This pale American ale is yet another version of the standard pale Fort Point Ale. It features the Galaxy dry hop. The Galaxy Hop is known for its citrus and tropical fruit characteristics, especially peach, pineapple, and spicy lemon. This pale beer has a hazy blonde appearance. Its flavor is full of fruit undertones with an understated bitterness and a sweet base. This brew has a bread-like malt taste. The ABV is above average at 6.6%.

  • Pros
    • High ratings all around
    • Unique pale ale with robust fruit flavors
    • An additional variety to this brewery’s other pale beers
  • Cons
    • Limited availability
    • Not a typical take on the Pale standards
  • Price
    • Prices are under $$ for a six-pack.

Hill Farmstead Citra Single Hop Pale Ale

This Hill Farmstead Brewery pale option is dry hopped with only Citra hops from the Northwest region of the United States. This pale brew is described as having an opaque yellow color with a small white head. It has a citrus aroma, with mango, tangerine, and grapefruit. The flavor is lemongrass, grapefruit, and pale malt. It has a slightly lingering bitterness and an orange zesty finish. Citra Single Hop pale ale has a middle range ABV at 5.5%.

  • Pros
    • Dry hopped with Citra
    • Citrus aroma and flavor
    • Refreshing drinkability
  • Cons
    • Slightly bitter
    • Limited availability
  • Price
    • Prices are under $ for a bottle of this beer.

Steel String Brewery Brett Mon

Steel String Brewery makes the Brett Mon pale ale, which is described as having a tropically strong flavor and aroma with a dry finish. The beer is brewed in North Carolina in a pale Belgian ale style. This medium-bodied pale ale has a forward of tropical fruit, a middle that is somewhat leathery, and a dry and bitter finish. Highly rated, this is a favorite among the American-Belgian pale styles. It has a higher ABV of 6.8%.

  • Pros
    • Unique pale variety
    • Juicy and citrus
    • Subtle backbone of caramel
  • Cons
    • Has bitter finish
    • Limited availability
  • Price
    • They are priced under $ each for a large bottle.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale is one of the main pioneers of pale American standard ale. It is the most popular brew from the Sierra Nevada brewing company. It was first crafted in 1980. Later other pale American ales followed its brew formula. After this, Sierra Nevada got creative and bold, which is how we have so many unique options to choose from.

Sierra Nevada has always kept it simple and classy. Why mess with a perfect formula? Brewed with a generous amount of premium Cascade hops, this pale pure gold of ales has a beautiful floral front and spicy citrus flavor. It has a darker amber color than your average pale ale. Its ABV is 5.6%.

  • Pros
    • Full-bodied and bold
    • Made with premium Cascade hops
    • Available everywhere
    • Reasonably priced
  • Cons
    • Not as complex as many competitors
    • Slightly bitter
  • Price
    • Six-packs range between $ and $$.

AleSmith X

The AleSmith Brewing Company in California has a pale American ale called the AleSmith X. It is described as a very refreshing and easily drinkable pale brew that is full of citrus notes and a sweet maltiness. It has a crispy, light tone with a slight bitterness that often complements this pale ale style. It has an average ABV of 5%.

  • Pros
    • Sweet and Citrus
    • Refreshing and easy to drink
    • Smells really good
  • Cons
    • Limited availability
  • Price
    • An average six-pack costs around $ – $$

Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

The Daisy Cutter Pale by Half Acre Brewery in Chicago is highly rated. This classic pale American ale is full of delicious flavor. It has a clear, orange, and slightly hazy look. It is topped off with a billowy white and lacy head. The Daisy Cutter has a beautiful aroma of flowers and citrus. It has a grapefruit mouthful and a slightly bitter undertone. The beer has a modest ABV of 5.2%.

  • Pros
    • Delicious
    • Refreshing
    • Simple Pale recipe
  • Cons
    • Limited availability
  • Price
    • A four pack of 16-ounce cans cost under $$

The American Pale Ale

The American version was created in the late 1970s to early 1980s. The American version is inspired by English pale ales, but with a more go-getting twist.

What Is An American Pale Ale?

The British pale beers have a more robust, nutty maltiness. Pale American ales are rounded off with a softer malt and citrus hops. The pale versions of the U.S. are less bitter, have a fruitiness in the body, and are refreshingly easy to drink. They are pale in color; hence the name. They have a rounded hops blend and are topped off with a hint of citrus.

What Makes The Pale American Ale Special?

The local hops used in the American beer distinguishes it from its British and European big brother pale ales. In the American versions, it is typical for Cascade hops from the Northwest to be used in the brewing recipes. Cascade hops originated at Oregon State University. They were named after the Cascade mountain range running from California up to British Columbia.

The Cascade hop is known for its strong grapefruit characteristic and flowery quality. American pale ales do not always use Cascade hops but do always use American hops, typically from the citrus variety. All of these features provide the distinct aroma and flavors that make this style of beer distinctive.

How Is The Pale Ale Brewed?

Take a pub crawl and truly compare the various pale beer ales offered. Ask for a pale American ale at each stop to discover creative brew making at its finest. The average percent of alcohol by volume (ABV) of pale ale runs around 5%. They are brewed with a top-fermenting yeast that rises to the surface during the fermentation part of the brewing process. Typically used are pale malts such as caramel or crystal malts. To keep it American, the yeast is locally sourced.

Where Can You Buy Them?

As with other types of beers, you can buy the pale American ale in the bottle, can, or at any of your local craft beer stores, grocers, and delis. If you would like a delicious pale ale on draft, most bars serve at least one on tap. If you hit up a local craft beer bar, you may find a few versions on tap or in bottles.

What Is the Difference Between American Pale Ale and India Pale Ale (IPA)?

Brewing with pale malts gives the pale American ale a more equal malt-to-hop ratio than an IPA. The lighter colors and flavors in the light ale come from using pale malts. Pale ales typically have a lower ABV, hovering around 5%. IPAs are stronger in alcohol content and typically have a much hoppier nose.

The Creation Of IPA

The original India Pale Ale title arose when Brits in India were missing the pale ales found back home. Learning that the shelf life of the regular pale ales on offer at the time was not long enough to allow it to be shipped all the way to India, the brewmasters began making a stronger ale with an aggressive amount of hops and enough alcohol to survive the journey. This beer style became known as the IPA. A pale American ale can also be an IPA if it is brewed in the same fashion.

The Verdict

The American pale ale world has a plethora of delicious brews to try and to drink again. If you like a smooth, citrus, medium bodied, golden to amber brew, give these top ten a spin. The artistry of the brewmasters behind all these unique concoctions will surely delight your beer-loving tastebuds.

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