Sunday, 19 April 2015

THE STORY OF PALE ALE

STATS
  • Country: Australia
  • Style: (Broadly) Pale Ale's
  • ABV: 5.0 - 6.3%
  • Serving Type: 500ml Bottles
  • Price: Slightly Pricey 
4 Pines was a brewery who's beers I didn't particularly rate. They were solid examples of the styles they purported to be, but were nothing special. A friend of mine recommend I revisit them and in particular their Keller Door range.

I was skeptical after revisiting the Pale Ale, which you can read about here, and the Kolsch. However the Citrus IPA and India Brown Ale from the Keller Door limited release range were both excellent. Which leads us to this pack...

The idea behind this pack is to take you on a beer journey through history. With the 5 Bastards being divergent from the original English Pale Ales. The first beer is a typical English IPA, that supposedly would be similar to those on the voyage to Australia, right through to modern day and the 4 Pines Pale Ale. I feel this could go one of two ways and be really good or really bad. I devoted my Easter Saturday afternoon drinking to this pack while I prepared ribs for dinner.

I started off bang on 12 with The First Bastard, the English IPA. This is the most similar beer stylistically to an English Pale Ale as it uses the same hops and malts, just more of them. The combination of extra ABV and hops preserved the beer making it the perfect beer to bring on long boat journey's back in the late 1700's.  

True to style; the English IPA had a great malt base with the hops prominent although not providing much bitterness. The hops were both earthy and lightly grassy while there was good biscuity flavours coming from the malts. I'm normally not a big English IPA fan but this one was quite drinkable.

The Second Bastard is one of the most talked about styles of craft beer today; the American IPA. This style has really only come into it's own in the 1980's, however it's roots date back to the end of the Civil War. German settlers in American, who favored lager, and the English, who favored English Pale Ale, began brewing. As the hops began to grow in American, the flavour profile of the style diverged from the typical English Pale.

This divergence is particularly evident in this IPA. with the citrus and in particular grapefruit flavours - that have become synonymous with American IPA's - being very prominent and you even get some pine towards the end.

New Zealand was the geographical setting for The Third Bastard. As in the case of the American IPA, the New Zealand Pale Ale gains it's major characteristics from the hops. New Zealand is producing some brilliant hops lately and these hops are beginning to infiltrate the American craft beer scene.

This beer is a really nice example of a New Zealand Pale Ale. It was mildly earthy at first until the tropical fruit and stone fruit flavours from the hops come through. They are not particularly bitter and the beer finishes with a slightly dry chalky feeling. It's particularly sessionable and a beer I could drink all day!

The Australian Pale Ale was next up; and it's a style that is fast gaining traction - so much so that people are beginning to suggest it become it's own distinct style from American Pale Ale. For those of you who are wondering the difference, Australian Pale Ale's have lighter bodies and less hop bitterness - basically they are more suited to our hot climate. 

I've received a few emails about my statement the other day about this being a hoppier Coppers Pale Ale. I stand by it; in no way was it intended as a derogatory comment. Everyone reading this review has probably had a Coppers Pale Ale and it's a point of comparison. The hops are fruity and floral and make this beer very sessionable.

Belgian Pale Ale has been brewed since the 1700's, however never really gained a strong foothold until after World War 2. The British soldiers influenced the hops and yeast used in the style and from all reports made the style more sessionable than it had been prior. Typically they are maltier than the other styles in this pack and the yeast plays a larger role in the taste.

True to form the malt was more prominent and had good biscuity and caramel characteristics. There was nice earthiness and more fruitiness coming from the hops, which blended brilliantly with the spicy aromas of the yeast. It certainly wasn't heavy on the Belgian funk, but there enough there to appease most Belgian fans.

The pack finishes at the inevitable place; the standard 4 Pines Pale Ale. Those of you who are regular readers will be aware of my feelings towards this beer. I feel it could be so much more than it is. That's why I was particularly surprised when I poured this bottle...

It had a strong, almost pungent, hop aroma! Something I've never associated with this beer. The flavour was also surprisingly juicy, with grapefruit and pine both quite prominent. I'm not sure if this was a chance for a recipe re-tweak, a case of much fresher stock or just the rest of the beers set up this beer to seem better than it was...

4 Pines have done a good job with this pack. It's a nice trip through the "bastardization" of the English Pale Ale. If you go into this pack expecting brilliant beers, you will be disappointed. All of these are serviceable examples of their various styles and all have one thing in common; they are very drinkable! You have to take this pack with a grain of salt; at the end of the day it's designed to sell more of their flagship pale ale. It's certainly worth getting your hands on if you can find it.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

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