Beer Style: American Pale Ale

The popularity of these pale ales have truly skyrocketed in the industry, and any bar owner serious about beer, should be stocked with at least one kind. Pale ales originate from England, but they have taken on a whole new flavor, here in the states.

The term “pale ale” refers to the original brewing process, where people used pale malt. These type of ales in the mid-18th century were lightly hopped, and differ vastly to what we are accustomed to in America today.

Most pale ales from Great Britain run medium to high in hop bitterness, have buttery flavors, and a ceiling ABV of 5.5%. The American version uses a native strain of hops called Chico, which produces a much cleaner, fruitier taste, that will truly knock your socks off!

One of the most prevalent types of pale ales in the U.S., is the American Pale Ale. It was the first of it’s kind in the market, and is said to be one of the original products of the craft beer industry.


San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Co. has been around since 1896 and is said to have created the first American Pale Ale (APA). Known as Liberty Ale, it was brewed in 1975 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the historic ride of Paul Revere.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of the most popular APA’s and is brewed at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, CA. SNBC is one of the top craft breweries in the country and was established in 1981 with a goal to introduce flavorful craft beer, into the stale American market.

What makes American Pale Ales so different from it’s English grandfather, is the use of domestic hops and malt. In the 1980’s, ingredients for craft brewing were pretty limited and thus recipes were formulated with what people could get their hands on. This resulted in a darker, stronger beer, that America has adopted as it’s own.

Due to the brewing process, APA’s typically have a higher than normal hop bitterness, aroma, and flavor. Most American Pale Ales are brewed with a high alpha (bittering) hops, and have a clean mouth feel. Unlike the English version, there are no buttery traces, and minimal fruity esters.

Just as the name suggest, the color of these beers are a rich golden, but some have been known to be as light as a pilsner, with copper and amber hues. They have a clear to slight haze in terms of clarity, and fast rising carbonation. APA’s should be served in a tulip glass, at 45-55 °F. They pair great with grilled meats, mild cheddar and apple pie.

Popular Choices
The following are some well known APA’s that are sure to encourage repeat business in your bar.

  • Liberty Ale: (Anchor Brewing Co, San Francisco, CA) Flavors of this beer range from grainy to pungent bitter hops, and uses local products in the brewing process. With a fruity flavor profile, the quintessential American Pale Ale clocks in at an ABV of 5.9%
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA) – This craft beer gives the big dogs a run for their money. Perhaps the most popular of all APA’s, the trademark cascade hops infuse a citrus flavor and crisp pale maltiness. The beer registers at a 5.6% ABV.
  • Blue Heron Pale Ale: (Mendocino Brewing, Saratoga Springs, NY) – What makes this APA one-of-a-kind is the use of raw hops and fresh milled grain.       The flavor profile is a heavy mix of citrus, spicy, and floral tones. At 6.1% ABV, this Beer is truly a kick in the pants!

Get the Word Out
When stocking your bar and exploring a new beer style like an American Pale Ale, the flavor will keep the customer coming back, but it’s up to you to draw them in first. Don’t cheat yourself when it comes to marketing such a tasty product.

When you change out a tap for an incredible craft beer, TapHunter is a great bar management software program that can help you get the word out. Forget about chalkboards! They can install digital drink boards to display information about the new brew, and they can even help you blast your social media platforms; all from one dashboard.

No matter what style you choose, keeping it fresh is what sets the standard for any establishment showcasing craft beer. The industry is growing exponentially, and the styles and flavors will just keep coming. Dive in!


Bar owners – want to save hours daily and drive thirsty patrons through your door? Click here to learn more about how TapHunter can help your business today!