The beer branch of “pale ales” was created when coke, a fossil fuel derived from coal, was first used for the roasting of malt in the 17th century. This method, which didn’t produce any smoke, resulted in a lighter malt that was commonly referred to as pale ale by the 1780s.
Thanks to their generally light hoppiness, pale ales are a popular choice for daytime drinking out in the sun, when you aren’t quite prepared to ingest a heavy stout or IPA. With summer quickly approaching, UnderTheLabel determined the 50 best American pale ales using its Smart Rating, which consolidates rankings from annual brewing competitions and expert/user reviews from RateBeer and BeerAdvocate.
The popular Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (pictured above) lands just inside the top 25, but it’s not the best pale ale brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, according to UnderTheLabel – that’d be the Southern Hemisphere Harvest, which lands at 15th with a Smart Rating of 94.
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Stone Brewing Co. placed three variations of its notoriously strong Arrogant Bastard Ale in the top 10, with the Double Bastard Ale (11.2 percent ABV) ranking fourth. Also placing well is Three Floyds Brewing Company, which swept the top three thanks to its Zombie Dust, Permanent Funeral and Alpha King ales.
With 38 Smart Rating scores of at 90 or higher, there’s plenty of palatable pale ales for you to sample this summer.