American Pale Ale: The beer that started a revolution
In 1910, there were approximately 1,500 breweries in the United States. At midnight Jan.16, 1920, Prohibition - the Volstead Act went into effect. Many breweries closed their doors, never to open again. Yuengling managed to stay alive by selling 0.5 percent near beer and opening a dairy.
In 1979, The Beer Institute counted only 44 breweries. Most of them were run by large corporations and produced the same style - a pale bland lager lacking any hop character. English beer writer Michael Jackson noted that the beers "do not all taste the same, but the differences between them are of minor consequence." American beer was at its nadir, the butt of jokes worldwide.
Then something akin to a miracle happened. Jim Koch dusted off his grandfather's beer recipe and began brewing the flavorful Sam Adams Boston Lager. But the revolution didn't happen in Boston this time. In California, homebrewer Ken Grossman opened Sierra Nevada Brewing and created a new beer style - American Pale Ale, or APA.
Based on English Pale Ale, APA used indigenous ingredients, such as Chico Ale yeast and hops from the Pacific Northwest. The yeast has become famous for its neutral flavor profile that lets the malt and hops shine through. And American Pale Ale was all about the hops, then unheard of amounts of citrusy Cascade hops in multiple additions. It was an instant hit. Other breweries followed suit, and the craft beer revolution was under way. Today, America has more than 2,700 breweries, more than any country in the world, producing some of the finest beers anywhere.
American Pale Ale is delightfully quaffable. Its satisfying dryness, lighter body and lower alcohol level makes it perfect for the coming warmer months. Enjoy these selections in a traditional pint glass. They pair well with grilled steak or spicy Thai curry, but my favorites are pizza and cheesy calzones that complement the Cascade hops perfectly. Cheers!
Pale Ale; Tröegs Brewing Co.: Hershey: This is one of my favorite summer beers. It pours golden amber with a thin, but lacy head. The aroma reveals citrus and grapefruit notes. The flavors have a hint of breadiness with an initial sweetness from the crystal malt that's quenched by a healthy dose of bittering hops.
Pale Ale; Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.: Billed as Cascade hops in a glass, this APA is dry-hopped, meaning that hops are added after fermentation is complete to infuse more hop oils, enhancing the aroma. Its color is hazy orange. Carbonation is higher than the other selections, allowing more grapefruity aromas to waft to the olfactory senses.
Pale Ale; Selinsgrove Brewing, Selinsgrove: Nestled in the cozy confines of the Governor Snyder Mansion, Selinsgrove Brewing is a regular on "Best Places to Have a Beer Before You Die" listings. This exceptional APA is somewhat experimental. Rather than having a set hop regimen, classic Cascade hops are rotated with other varieties, such as Citra, Columbus, Amarillo, Simcoe and Zythos for a massive complexity of hop aromas and flavors. If available on the beer engine, opt for that choice. The small, silky bubbles from the hand-pull beer engine carbonation enhance an already ethereal hop experience.
Pale Ale; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif.: Known simply as SNPA, the recipe is unchanged since its debut in 1980. It's a masterpiece of simplicity and complexity - old, yet new. It pours a golden straw color with thick carbonation to fortify a grapefruity hop nose. The perfect ratio of pale and caramel malts provides sweetness that's balanced by a satisfying bitterness. This is a non-filtered, all-natural beer that's bottle-conditioned. Rather than artificially injecting CO2 for carbonation, sugar is added at bottling and the beer is capped. Fermentation continues inside the bottle, producing carbonation. Pour the beer into a glass in one motion and leave the yeast layer behind in the bottom half-inch of the bottle. The yeast is harmless. In fact, it's full of vitamins and minerals, the same brewer's yeast that's sold at health food stores.
(The Brew Dude will be published every other week on the Food and Drink Page. For comments, suggestions, or questions, email Mark Pasquinellli at firstname.lastname@example.org.)