|The BOTB Guys take on Pale Ales (and a few tunes)|
We have never dedicated a BOTB meeting to Pale Ales. Ron pointed this out and I found it so hard to believe that I sifted through every blog post since we started this club back in 2008. And he is correct (Oh me of little faith!). We have done IPAs, ESBs, Porters, and Stouts; Autumn Ales, Summer Ales, Winters and Springs; Oktoberfests, Bocks, Reds and Ryes - but not Pale Ales! Wow! Now, we have included Pales in our reviews of Boat Beers, Lawnmower Beers, Session Beers and when we've reviewed various breweries. But we have never dedicated an entire meeting to these terrific brews.
So we finally decided to right this wrong. It is the American Pale Ale that was the earliest style to break away from the light lager lockdown that held sway over US beer drinkers (Sierra Nevada or Anchor Brewing, depending on how you look at it).What we decided to do was to choose Pale Ales we had not reviewed in some other context - not an easy task. Luckily, Ron did a little blog research and sent us all a list of the beers to avoid. What makes a Pale Ale a Pale Ale? We'll get to that later.
|Sherman on the Mount|
We have a tendency to look down our collective BOTB noses at lagers, and that isn't really completely fair. Lagers can be hoppy and they can be malty. Lager is not a style, it merely refers to the process of brewing. There can be light lagers and black lagers. Bock Beers are lagers. The difference between lagers and ales is one of complexity in taste. Ales tend to be the more complex of the two. To quickly recap the difference between lagers and ales: lagers use a yeast which ferments at a lower temperature than ales. Because they ferment at a lower temperature, lagers derive less of their flavor from the yeast than do ales. The yeast used in ales can impart flavors that range from spicy to bready to banana-like. Depending on the ale and the strain of yeast, these flavors will be more or less prominent, but the presence gives ales a fuller flavor, often described as complex. Lagers are more likely to be described as crisp with a cleaner finish. Pilsners are Lagers and Victory's Prima Pils is a great example of a hoppy Pilsner, as is Sam Adams Noble Pils .
Ales have been around a lot longer than lagers, so there is a certain level of irony in the fact that the American craft brew revolution owes its very raison d'etre to the rediscovery and appreciation of ales. A sort of everything-old-is-new-again turn of events.
I purchased a bottle of Batch 19 nonetheless, as part of a make-your-own-six-pack (the other five were Hop Wallop, an awesome beer). A little research quickly brought to light that this beer was brewed by Coors Brewing, which did not surprise me. I decided to try it and give it an honest evaluation, putting aside the annoyance that Coors worked hard to hide the fact that they brewed it. I took into consideration the fact that it was a lager, not an IPA or a Pale Ale and therefore it would be judged as such. I opted to see where it would fall if placed on an imaginary line on which I placed Miller, Coors, Bud on one end and Sam Adams Lager at the other end. Just for kicks I'll stick Yuengling somewhere in the middle.
Millers Yuengling Sam Adams Lager
In other words, I did not want to compare it to, say, Firestone Jack IPA or any other IPA, because for a hophead there would be no comparison. Anyhow, what follows is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of this brew.
The BOTB Guys