Friday, June 1, 2012

The Session #64: Pale Noise

Carla Companion laments the fact that most people don't get too excited about Pale Ales, so she encourages us to try a couple to explore this unappreciated style for this month's Session.

Imagine a world where everyone speaks only in a whisper or a scream. Suppose the only shows on TV were "Masterpiece Theater" or "Keeping Up with the Kardashians". What if we made our homes either on roller coasters or in sensory deprivation tanks? Now consider if the only two beers in the world were MGD 64 and some Belgian Quadruple Black Imperial IPA aged in Cabernet barrels and you'll understand how the humble Pale Ale makes the world a better place.

While life's highs and lows tend to get most of our attention, the vast majority of our time on earth is spent amidst a humdrum background noise. It's the balance between the tone, intonation, and intensity of this background noise that creates life's diversity. Maybe I'm getting way too philosophical for a blogging discussion on Pale Ales, but if you ask me, life is about balance, and Pale Ales are about balance, so logically speaking, the humble Pale Ale style epitomizes life itself. OK, the malt and hops balance may not be the same as finding the balance between relaxing bliss and hard work, or altruism and selfishness, but you get the idea.

Encouraged by this month's Session, I focused on rediscovering the diversity of the Pale Ale in three widely distributed examples of the style in my home state of California. Here's what I found.

Widmer Drifter Pale Ale
There's a definite caramel character to the underlying malt with a very light, slightly earthy but mostly citrus hop presence. Refreshingly juicy.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Is there any greater irony that this Session devoted to throw-away craft beers includes arguably the most important beer of the modern American craft brewing revolution? The malt is toasty, the hops earthy with a light savory herbal note. Familiarly yummy.

Anderson Valley Poleeko Gold Pale Ale
Nearly clear, cracker-like malt lets the piney, astringent hops with noticeable flavors of grapefruit peel shining through. Warmly cleansing.

Find balance in your life's noise. Or just find a good beer.

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