With all of these funky new beers, many of which were unimaginable even a few short years ago (and I say that as a guy with a vivid imagination when it comes to beer), I often forget that a good pale ale is one of the true treats of the beer world: delicious; low enough in alcohol to drink several without causing the world to spin, yet flavorful enough to thoroughly enjoy; and strikes the right balance of bold flavors and drinkability for a craft beer neophyte to enjoy. Few things make me happier than seeing the inroads Sierra Nevada has made with marketing its flagship Pale Ale. No matter how lame the bar is (and I have been in plenty of lame ass bars), these places will usually now carry Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale as a sop to beer snobs like me. No matter how lame the pizzeria (or now that I am in Texas, a taqueria is more likely), they usually have a few bottles of it handy, or better yet, a tap devoted to it.
Let’s try some new pale ales:
No Label is a new Texas brewer, and while I was not a fan of their Jalapeno Pale Ale that the rest of the world loved, their Pale Horse Pale Ale is quite nice. It has a bitter citrus aroma from the dry hopping, but the taste is not nearly as bitter as the aroma would indicate. It is somewhat maltier than I expected but has a nice dry finish. This may be too tame for hopheads, but on the other hand, I am a hophead, and I enjoyed it, 7/10.
Stranger American Pale Ale from Left Hand Brewing is brewed with rye malts, and that peppery spiciness is prominent in both the aroma and the taste. There are some piney hops as well, but it is the rye that truly stands out in this beer. It is as flavorful as many IPAs without the mouth puckering bitterness associated with that style. Smooth, drinkable, and accessible, 7.5/10.
Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company’s entry in the pale ale race is the Deep South Pale (formerly known as the ‘Reb Ale’ according to their website*). It pours a golden amber with good head retention. The hops are citrus with a touch of pine (by far the hoppiest of these pale ales) but the hops are balanced by biscuit like malts. It is not quite as smooth as the Left Hand, but is a fine beer nonetheless, 7/10.
*A note on the name change from ‘Reb Ale’ to Deep South Pale Ale – This beer never should have been called Reb Ale in the first place. The South lost the Civil War, and while I do not doubt the bravery of the Confederate soldiers, they fought in support of an abominable institution, namely slavery, and do not come back to me with any bullshit about how they were fighting for state’s rights or against tariffs or other nonsense. Each state that seceded drafted and ratified Articles of Secession, and each state listed slavery as the first or second reason as to why they were seceding. The Articles of Secession are primary documents. They are not historians’ interpretations as to why events occurred. Rather, they are the actual historical actors telling you why they seceded. With that being said, Lazy Magnolia’s explanation of the name change, that “consistent growth into new distribution areas, we had to change the name to accommodate our growth” is spectacularly lame. If you do not want potential customers in new distribution areas to think you are paying homage to the South’s ugly racist past, do not reference that ugly racist past in naming your beers. Simple enough to me, but I am just a Yankee carpetbagger, so what the fuck do I know?