Pale Ale – my reward for resisting lunch

I’ve [link2post id=”295″]mentioned that I am trying to shed some lard from my frame[/link2post]. As usual, today I have been crazily hungry and desperate to have a substantial lunch. Yet lunchtime has passed and I haven’t touched any food. This deserves a reward.

[image image_id=”1984″ align=”left”]A small bottle of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale seems like an excellent reward. It is bottle-conditioned, which gives it more life and complexity. It also results in there being a small amount of dead yeast in the bottle, which some people think is a bad thing, not a bit of it! Good to see this beer was once alive. I like its floral, hoppy flavours and its pronounced bitterness is very refreshing. A very satisfying bottle of Pale Ale.

Timothy Taylor's Landlord Pale Ale is one of my favourite styles of beer, and there are some good ones out there. My preferred variety is the much-loved Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, particularly when cask-conditioned although the bottled version is quite acceptable. When you see this beer in a boozer you should order it in a second, it is so excitingly livid and invigorating. For a pale ale the alcohol level is slightly on the low side at 4.3%. A cask of this was on offer at the wedding reception of two friends of mine; I found it so hard to choose between the Pol Roger Champagne, Arlaud Burgundy and the Landlord that I just had to keep cycling between the three.

There are two other good Pale Ales available from micro-breweries in my area of London. The Union in Greenwich is the tap boozer for the Meantime Brewery, their London Pale Ale is quite delicious. Again, not so high in alcohol and a bright, refreshing drink. Zero Degrees in Blackheath is quite a fun micro-brewery cum bar and restaurant. You can sit gazing at the brewery equipment behind the glass walls in bar as you drink their excellent Pale Ale and eat one of their (sometimes good, sometimes woeful) pizzas. Some of the beers at Zero Degrees can be a bit hit and miss, but I’ve never had a less than excellent pint of their Pale Ale (the Black Lager is reliable, too).

Full Sail Pale Ale I’ve been impressed by some Pale Ales from micro-breweries in the US. The first one I tried was Full Sail Pale Ale picked up when I was working in Alaska back in 1995. My chum Keithy and I purchased loads of this as it was such an enjoyable beer, really hoppy and refreshing (and preferable to the dreary Alaska Amber which seemed to be the beer on sale in most places). Sadly I have rarely seen this in the UK so have not had it for a few years. Bums.

The other US Pale Ale which has really done it for me is Burning River Pale Ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company. Its slightly higher alcohol level (6%) gives a richness and weight which balances the hoppy bitterness very well.

Little Creatures Pale Ale My final suggestion for good Pale Ale is a Western Australian brew: Little Creatures Pale Ale. This is well-flavoured with American hops and they also chuck some Tasmanian-grown flowers in it to add to its aromatics. This is also bottle conditioned, good! The ‘priced like Harrod’s’ corner shop in my housing development sells this and it is one of the few things in there that I do not resent paying their inflated prices for. Its good stuff.

Pale Ales can refresh and invigorate, one of my very favourite styles of beer. If you want more alcohol and more hoppy bitterness you should be going for India Pale Ale, and, as [link2post id=”318″]I have recently suggested, the [link2post id=”1180″]IPA of choice comes from the Meantime Brewery. That is my favourite beer of all time.

  • Keithy

    Full Sail Pale Ale – haven’t seen that for ages (and the last time I did was at The Real Ale Shop, on Lovat Road, Preston).

    Alaskan Amber was indeed as dull at ditch, but useful for washing down a couple of Todd’s “Chilli Dogs” (remember him in Cooper Landing?). The Alaskan Stout was better stuff (but obviously not great as I remember us resorting to draughtflow Guinness at $6 a can between trips out to the woods).

    Worth tracking down are “Innovation” and “Lighthouse” by Adnams. Both are excellent.

  • David Strange

    Thanks for dropping by, Keithy old bean. Alaska Amber (or ideally Everclear which seemed to be on sale everywhere in Alaska) was required when eating those chilli dogs in the hope that the alcohol might neutralise some of the more toxic life on them.

    I recall being told about the Alaska Amber cocktail: Drink half your bottle of Alaska Amber and then top it up with, you’ve guessed it, Everclear. I am pleased we never sank so low as to mix such hideous beverages.

  • Peter

    On form, Timothy Taylor Landlord is my favourite beer. And at James’s and Katie’s wedding it was on really top form, just a few miles from the brewery. But that’s the point. Get it up north, close to the brewery, and it has, in my experience, been invariably wonderful. It’s quite widely available in London nowadays, but, far from home, the quality is variable – not always as fresh and delightful as it should be. It’s a fragile thing.
    But to share a nice story from a London boozer. I recently entertained a French woman on her second ever trip to London, and was anxious to show her a good time (she was unimpressed on her first visit, before I knew her). After meeting her at St Pancras, we went to the Clachan, just round the corner from Hamley’s, where they were selling Landlord. I asked her whether she was familar with English beer? She was not, but would give it a go. As she gingerly took her first sip, I had the delight of watching her eyes light up. “It’s wonderful”, she proclaimed. She was right.

  • David Strange

    Ah it is always a delight to introduce people to a new pleasurable experience; when their eyes light up and a smile flits across their face you know you have done well. When on form Landlord is most definitely a very pleasurable experience. I hope this French lady was suitably appreciative. The only problem, I suppose, is that she may now think that all English beer is as good as Landlord: given the prevalence of dull, fizzy keg beers and the lack of attention a lot boozers pay to keeping their cask ales in good condition she might be in for some disappointments.

    The cask of Landlord at J&K’s wedding was the best example I’ve tried, but my appreciation for it could have been coloured by the happy occasion it was being used to celebrate. I seem to recall, Peter old bean, that you got through a healthy amount of it. All I can say about that is well done!

  • Steve

    Hi, I saw your comments on and thought I’d browse around around your blog. I appreciate (even if I don’t necessarily agree with) your unvarnished opinions.

    One thing we certainly do agree is that Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is one of the better US offerings. I live in the Portland, Oregon area – ostensibly a hotbed of microbreweries – but I find myself reaching for a Sierra Nevada as often as I do anything from our local brewers.

    One other pale ale you might look for is Wolaver’s, a certified organic brew from Vermont (Wolaver’s). I normally don’t give a rat’s ass for organic brews, but Wolaver’s is tasty stuff.

  • David Strange

    I appreciate you dropping by, Steve, and thanks for leaving a comment. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a very pleasing drink and, even more pleasingly, my internet supermarket sell it so I don’t even have to haul it back from the shops. I shall certainly look out for Wolaver’s offering, thanks for the recommendation!

  • Steve

    Oh, meant to point out one other area of agreement: Alaska Amber is indeed rubbish. But then, most Alaskans aren’t all that picky.

  • David Strange

    Indeed, Steve! Dreadful stuff and after a couple of weeks of drinking it I found myself craving a pint of slightly warm, effectively flat, English real ale. The Full Sail Pale Ale served in a most satisfactory manner when we found a shop with a broader range of beers.

    Thanks again for dropping by.

  • Keith

    I seem to recall one of our team boring on about the Alaskan Cocktail invovling amber beer and Everclear (though never actually drinking the stuff)

    And while thinking about drinking in odd locations of the Western US – Polygamy Pale Ale from Roosters (Ogden, Utah) is a fine brew, well crafted by lovely people.

  • David Strange

    A 50/50 blend of filth Alaska Amber and raw alcohol sounded so completely vile that only the desperate would drink such a concoction. We never got so distressed that we needed to fall back on this worrying mixture.

    Thanks for the new recommendation, I like the name very much.