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These American Pale Ales Are Fresh-Tasting Thirst Quenchers Ideal For Mid-May

The pale ale isn’t a new style. In fact, it’s been brewed since the 1700s. It’s been brewed in America as long as the lagers from families with names like Busch, Best, and Yuengling have been brewed. However, the “American pale ale” we know today is more rooted in the craft beer movement that sprouted in the 1980s in places like Chico, California and Seattle, Washington. While the classic version of a pale ale is known for its milder, sweeter flavors, an American pale ale can be bolder with bright citrus, vibrant floral, and resinous pine notes.

The crisp, floral, thirst-quenching, subtly bitter flavors of the American pale ale make it well-suited for warm-weather drinking (or year-round drinking if you prefer). As a bonus, it pairs really well with grilled meats and veggies.

Since our goal is to help you expand your beer palate while savoring spring, we’re highlighting eight of our favorite American pale ales to drink this time of year.


Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada

ABV: 5.6%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

No American pale ale list is complete without the OG. Way back in 1980, when there were only a handful of craft breweries in the county, Sierra Nevada made a pale ale using floral, crisp Cascade hops. At the time, few brewers were using this hop variety — which is now a staple of West Coast brewing.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll immediately be met with aromas of grapefruit, lime zest, sweet malts, and subtle pine. The palate is filled with caramel malts, pineapple, lemon peels, grapefruit, and just a hint of bitter hops. It all ends with a nice mix of tropical fruits, citrus, and bitter hops.

Bottom Line:

The chances that you already know Sierra Nevada Pale Ale are high. The brewery pretty much invented the style and it’s even better today than it was over forty years ago.

Pipeworks Lizard King

Pipeworks

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $10.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

Chicago’s Pipeworks is known for its tongue-in-cheek sense of humor with epic beers like Ninja Vs Unicorn IPA. With tongues firmly in their cheeks, the brewery claims that the Lizard King is going to finally end this historic blood feud. Whether Robert California is behind the recipe or not, this pale ale is crisp, hoppy, and extremely flavorful.

Tasting Notes:

Take a moment to breathe in the aromas of citrus zest, sweet malts, and subtle resinous hops. The flavor is loaded with tropical fruits, ripe, juicy grapefruit, caramel sweetness, and a nice hit of bitter hops presence. The close is a one two punch of nutty sweetness and subtle spice.

Bottom Line:

Many American pale ales rely on piney hops and citrus flavors to lead the way. Lizard King has a more complex, sweet, caramel flavor that’s a nice change of pace.

3 Floyds Zombie Dust

3 Floyds

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $14.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

Besides its annual releases that are almost impossible to find, Zombie Dust is arguably 3 Floyd’s most popular beer. Formerly known as Cenotaph, this pale ale is single-hopped using a massive amount of Citra hops. The result is a thirst-quenching, full-flavored citrus bomb.

Tasting Notes:

One of the most highly-regarded pale ales ever produced, Zombie Dust begins with a proverbial cornucopia of fruity aromas. It starts with notes of ripe, caramelized pineapple, fresh guava, sweet peaches, that work its way into tart raspberries, fresh flowers, and pleasing pine resin. The palate swirls with more citrus than is reasonable. It’s crisp, bright, and filled with grapefruit, tangerine, and seemingly a whole field of pine trees. The finish is dry and pairs sweet fruits and bitter hops nicely.

Bottom Line:

If you only purchase one pale al on this list, make it Zombie Dust. If you like ripe, bright citrus flavors, you can’t get better than this.

Lagunitas Born Yesterday

Lagunitas

ABV: 7.2%

Average Price: $12.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

You might think that referring to a beer as “Born Yesterday” would mean that there’s not a lot going on in the flavor department. Well, you’d be completely wrong. One of Lagunitas’ “One Hitter Series” beers, Born Yesterday begins as a Dogtown Pale that’s fresh hopped with Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic, and Sabro hops.

Tasting Notes:

It’s important to give a beer this brew a nice nosing. There you’ll find scents of ripe grapefruit, sweet tangerines, spruce tips, and a lot of resinous hops aroma. Take a sip and you’ll be met with subtly tart flavors of juicy mango, pineapple, lemon zest, and flavorful, bitter, piney hops. The finish brings together tart, sweet, and bitter in equal measures.

Bottom Line:

While this pale ale is loaded with citrusy, resinous hops, it’s not so overly hoppy that it would turn away non-IPA drinkers. It’s ripe, refreshing, and has just the right amount of citrus and hops presence.

Deschutes Mirror Pond

Deschutes

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

The Beer:

One of the most popular American pale ale on the market, Deschutes Mirror Pond is extremely well balanced. It’s made with a combination of 2-Row, Crystal, Carapils, and Munich malts, and Cascade hops. Quite simply, this thirst-quenching, sessionable beer is one of the most well-rounded on the market.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find scents of clover honey, candied orange peels, sweet peaches, and just a hint of resinous pine. On the palate, you’ll be greeted with flavors of grapefruit, pineapples, crisp green apples, a sweet, malty, caramel backbone, and a final kick of citrus and slightly bitter hops at the very end.

Bottom Line:

One of the most well-balanced American pale ales on this list, Mirror Pond ticks all the flavor boxes with caramel, sweet malts, and citrus, bitter hops.

Maine Beer MO

Maine Beer

ABV: 6%

Average Price: $9.99 for a 22-ounce bottle

The Beer:

Maine Beer is one of those brands where you honestly can’t go wrong with any of its beer. You can grab a bottle of Lunch, Dinner, Post Ride Snack, or its pale ale MO. Made with 2-Row, Carapils, Caramel, 40L, Red Wheat malts, as well as Simcoe and Falconer’s Flight hops, this brew is fruity, sweet, and filled with bright citrus flavors.

Tasting Notes:

Bask in the scents of grapefruit, pineapple, guava, subtle honey, and resin before taking your first sip. The palate dances with juicy orange, lemon peels, ripe peaches, and sweet malts. But there’s also a nice kick of slightly bitter, piney hops. The finish is filled with tropical fruits, citrus peels, and a veritable forest of pines.

Bottom Line:

This is an extremely complex pale ale. It’s filled with sweet malts, tropic, juicy flavors, and bright citrus notes.

Oskar Blue Dale’s Pale Ale

Oskar Blues

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $18.99 for a 12-pack

The Beer:

One of the most well-known pale ales on the market, Dale’s Pale Ale is Oskar Blues’ flagship beer. One of the first craft beers to ever be canned, it’s loaded with notes of sweet malts, floral hops, citrus zest, and a wallop of subtly bitter hops. It’s easy to drink and highly crushable on a hot day.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’ll find aromas of fresh flowers, recently cut grass, citrus zest, and pleasing, piney hops. The sip reveals a cacophony of citrus fruits like tangerine, grapefruit, and lime. This evolves into hints of nutty malts and fruity, spicy hops. The finish is sweet, bitter, and highly refreshing.

Bottom Line:

The ultimate lawn mowing beer, Dale’s Pale Ale is sweet, hoppy, refreshing, and pleasingly bitter. It’s hard to beat that combination on a hot day.

Half Acre Daisy Cutter

Half Acre

ABV: 5.2%

Average Price: $9.99 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans

The Beer:

One of the first beers ever brewed by Chicago’s Half Acre, Daisy Cutter was first launched back in 2009. It started as a limited release, but the fruity, citrus-filled, highly resinous flavor appealed to drinkers so much that it became a year-round offering. It’s remained one of the brewery’s most popular beers in the years since.

Tasting Notes:

Before your first sip, take a few moments to enjoy the fragrances of tropical fruits, citrus zest, caramel malts, and bright pine. The flavor is filled with sweet malts, fresh peaches, pineapples, grapefruits, limes, and a nice kick of resinous, bitter hops. The finish pulls together fruity sweetness, nutty notes, and pine.

Bottom Line:

There’s a reason this previously limited-edition beer became a full-time offering. It’s supremely balanced with sweet, biscuit-like malts, citrus, and bitter, dank pine.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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