Skip to content
Craft Beer Times | Reviving the Classic: American Pale Ale Makes a Comeback

Reviving the Classic: American Pale Ale Makes a Comeback

Reviving the Classic: American Pale Ale Makes a Comeback

The History of American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale, or APA, has a rich history that dates back to the early 1980s. It was during this time that American brewers began experimenting with pale ales, inspired by the traditional British style. The goal was to create a beer that was less malty and more hop-forward, with a distinct and refreshing citrusy flavor.

Many credit the rise of APA to the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, which introduced its flagship beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, in 1980. The beer quickly gained popularity, and other American breweries began to follow suit, developing their own versions of the hoppy pale ale.

The Brewing Process

American Pale Ales are typically brewed using a combination of domestic and imported hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook, which give the beer its characteristic floral and citrusy notes. These hops are added during both the boiling and fermentation processes, creating a bold and flavorful brew.

The beer is also typically brewed with a high-quality, light malt, such as American two-row barley, which provides a smooth and well-balanced base. A variety of yeast strains may be used, depending on the brewer’s preference, with many opting for strains that enhance the beer’s hop character.

Tasting Notes

American Pale Ale is known for its bright and zesty hop flavors, balanced by a light and crisp maltiness. The beer typically has a medium body and moderate carbonation, making it a refreshing and easy-drinking brew.

The aroma is typically hop-forward, with notes of citrus, pine, and floral aromas. On the palate, the hops are front and center, with flavors of grapefruit, orange peel, and pine resin.

Despite its hop-forward nature, American Pale Ale is not overwhelmingly bitter, with a relatively low IBU (International Bitterness Units) count of 30-50. This makes it a great beer for those looking to explore the world of hoppy beers without being scared off by excessive bitterness.

The Comeback of the Classic

In recent years, American Pale Ale has experienced a resurgence in popularity, as craft beer drinkers have begun to rediscover this classic style. Many breweries are now putting their own spin on the style, experimenting with new hop varieties and techniques to create unique and exciting pale ales.

One trend that has emerged in the APA world is the use of New Zealand hops, which provide a different flavor profile than their American counterparts. These hops, such as Nelson Sauvin and Motueka, add a tropical and fruity character to the beer, with notes of passionfruit and mango.

Another trend is the use of dry hopping, a technique in which hops are added to the beer after fermentation, resulting in a more intense hop aroma and flavor. This technique is used in many modern pale ales, including popular examples such as Lagunitas IPA and Stone IPA.

In Conclusion

American Pale Ale may have been around for decades, but it continues to be a popular style among craft beer lovers. Whether you’re a fan of the classic Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or one of the many new and exciting pales ales that are popping up in breweries across the country, there’s no denying the refreshing and hoppy appeal of American Pale Ale.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *