Beer Journal

A quasi-daily examination of beer and things related to beer.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Favorite Pale Ales

There's a running gag at my house: whenever someone asks how I want my coffee, the answer is always, "I like my chocolate, coffee and beer like I like my wife - dark and bitter". (For the record, she added herself to the list.) But it's still mostly true, I love my beers when they bite me back; the hoppier the better. Recently, I was challenged to name my favorite India Pale Ales. Well, I could probably only come up with ten to 15 that I've actually tasted, so I expanded the list to include all pale ales, whether intended for the Asian subcontinent or not.

Pale ales are best enjoyed with pizza and/or pasta dishes, but for my money the only occasions that don't call for one are the beer-specific holidays. Here are my top ten, in reverse order, of course:

10. Blind Faith
Magic Hat (South Burlington, VT)
Unfortunately, this beer is no longer in production. During its heyday, however, it was one of those treat beers. You know, the one's that you buy on pay day because a six pack runs about nine dollars?

9. Dead Guy Ale
Rogue (Ashland, OR)
Drinking this beer won't kill you, but it will render you unfit to perform even the most everyday of tasks.

8. Fire Rock Pale Ale
Kona Brewing Company (Kailua-Kona, HI)
An on-premises-only beer that I have only enjoyed once, along side a brick oven pepperoni pizza, this is the lightest brew of the bunch. Maybe I like it so much because I love where it's from. But that's OK, right?

7. Broken Halo IPA
Widmer Brothers Brewery (Portland, OR)
See the post prior to this one for a full explanation.

6. Red Hook ESB
Red Hook (Seattle, WA)
I happen to be drinking this right now. It could be a smidgen hoppier, and maybe a little less acidic, but other than that, it's fantastic.

5. Snake Dog IPA
Flying Dog Brewery (Denver, CO)
I was originally drawn to this company's beers because of their Ralph Steadman's illustrated labels. Fortunately for me (and I guess the company, too), the art is a terrific representation of the beers contained within.

4. Celebration Ale
Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA)
As the name and label suggest, this beer is perfect for the winter holidays, especially when taken straight from the (ridiculously expensive) keg.

3. Saranac India Pale Ale
Matt Brewing Company (Utica, NY)
Graciously affordable and smoothly delicious. I love the entire run of Saranac beers, and this one is the best of the lot.

2. Syracuse Pale Ale
Middle Ages Brewing Company (Syracuse, NY)
This is a near-perfect ale, in my mind. For those of you in the CNY area, try foregoing the usual happy hour in favor of a visit to the Middle Ages brewery. The free samples come with zero stipulations. (Other than bringing a designated driver.)

1. Hop Devil Ale
Victory (Downington, PA)
Sweet Jesus! This is the sharpest IPA I can recall, a beer that perfectly embodies all three terms implied by its (let's face it) cartoonish name.


Blogger emilie said...

Gotta love the Celebration Ale! I (ok, drunkenly) discovered last year that garnishing with a candy cane makes for a surprisingly-tasty holiday treat.

If you could ever get your hands on some Racer 5 IPA from Bear Republic Brewing, I'm sure it would make it onto your list. It's the hoppiest beer I've ever had; I actually can't finish a whole pint.

May 30, 2007 at 4:29 PM  

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