Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's with the pale ale thing, anyway?

Something's been bugging me a bit recently. Bugging me a lot, actually. What constitutes a Pale Ale? I have a general idea in my mind, but half of the pales I try shoot down my preconceptions. With a 10 gauge.

Anyone out there have any ideas? I want to know if there are certain guidelines to be met, or can, as it seems, thirty hundred vastly different beers be lumped into one category? If not based on color, is it based on malt used? I don't think this is likely, since even the darker styles still use a majority of pale malt. I have this inkling that it may have more to do with hops than with the color itself. If a pale blurs into the amber color range, are hops the remaining determinant? Does gravity have anything to do with it?

Somebody please answer me. At least lie to me, and make up some entertaining history lesson of how the name came to be.

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