Tag Archives: Pale Ale

Little Creatures Pale Ale


I’ve liked this beer for a long time. It’s an Australian craft ale from the Little Creatures brewery, which was founded in Fremantle, Perth, in 2000. The team behind it were previously involved in another brewery, Matilda Bay, but this had been bought by a big company, and one of the three founders, Phil Sexton, has a wine connection, too: he founded Devil’s Lair in Western Australia, and later Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander in the Yarra Valley. This Pale Ale is brewed with Cascade and Chinook hops, and it’s beautifully balanced.

Little Creatures Pale Ale
5.2% alcohol. A thoroughly decent beer. Not extravagant, but nicely savoury with subtly bitter hops and herbal notes with a green hint to the fine malty character and a citrus twist. There’s a bit of honey and a trace of pine too. 8

Beerd Brewery Slivertip New Zealand Pale Ale, from a Bristol craft brewery


This is interesting. It’s a bottled beer from Bristol craft brewpub Beerd, which is owned by Bath Ales. I’m not sure it’s so clear describing it as a ‘New Zealand Pale Ale’, when it’s an English beer, but this is probably the wine part of me being sensitive. It is made exclusively from New Zealand hops, including the famous Nelson Sauvin variety. Maybe New Zealand-style is better? I think this is something the beer fraternity need to address. But it’s a really nice beer. This bottled version is available as an exclusive from Bibendum to the on-trade.

Beerd Brewery Slivertip New Zealand Pale Ale
4.7% alcohol. Full gold colour. Lovely aromas of herbs, citrus and hops. The palate is fresh with a light sweet maltiness and savoury, hoppy, herby notes as well as bright lemon and grapefruit characters. Very refreshing and not as exotic as many craft beers. 7.5/10

Some beers from Renaissance, Marlborough, New Zealand

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve come across Renaissance Brewing Company beers a few times before on my trips to New Zealand. They’re based in Blenheim, which is in Marlborough, the largest of the Kiwi wine regions, and you can get the beers on tap at Dodsons (which is next door to the brewery) – as well as in bottle across most of the country. Here I tried a few in London with Roger Kerrison, at the Craft Beer Rising show where these beers made their UK debut.

Renaissance Discovery American Pale Ale
4.5% alcohol
Lovely fresh, bright citrussy beer with nice hoppiness. A bright, lemony style with some herbiness. 8/10

Renaissance Voyager India Pale Ale
6% alcohol
Some sweet noes. Rich, tangy and a bit spicy with powerful flavours and lovely spicy depth. Fresh, tangy and intense. 8/5/10

Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale
7% alcohol
Made from nine malts, blended together, to produce what they call the ‘red wine’ of their range. It’s not my favourite, but it is food friendly. Malty and rich with some weight. Sweet, tangy and herby with some toffee and spice notes. Richly textured. 7/10

Renaissance Abundance Baltic Cherry Porter
7.6% alcohol
Brewed with cherries. Powerful and intense with spice and chocolate notes, as well as herbs and black cherries, with a hint of sourness. Rich but a little odd. Amazingly complex. 8/10

renaissance black IPA Ripa Renaissance Enlightenment Black IPA The RIPA
6.5% alcohol
A black ale brewed with rye. Powerful, fresh and tangy with a lively citrus edge to the malty, chocolatey stout character. Nice depth and balance here. 8.5/10

You can see some pictures of Dodsons (effectively the brewery tap, in Blenheim, New Zealand) at the bottom of this blog post from my last visit to Kiwi land.

Hophead, Dark Star Brewing Co.


After a day’s wine judging, there’s only one thing to drink. Beer.

Today at the International Wine Challenge, my panel tasted 138 wines. We then retired upstairs (at The Oval cricket ground, where the tasting was being held) for a spot of beer. There were a few offerings, including Chapel Down’s Curious Brew and Brewdog’s Punk, but I chose Dark Star’s Hophead from cask-in-bag-in-box (I don’t know the technical term for this format, but it’s cask-conditioned ale decanted into a bag with a tap on it, inside a box).

I like cask-conditioned ales a great deal, but I usually find the bottle-conditioned equivalents very dull. As long as they are fresh, these mini-keg equivalents work pretty well. But freshness is the key. Dark Star are based near Horsham in Sussex.

Dark Star Hophead Pale Golden Ale
3.8% alcohol
With Cascade hops adding a slightly bitter, aromatic, exotic edge, this is a light-styled ale with lovely fresh citrussy notes as well as some subtle herbal notes. In this format, from cask in a bag-in-box, it just seems to work so well, and is thoroughly drinkable and elegant. 7.5/10

Bloody ‘Ell, Blood Orange IPA, Beavertown Brewery

Bloody 'Ell IPA
Beavertown Brewery was founded in 2011 in Hackney. Beavertown was the old cockney name given to the historic ‘de beauvoir’ area, famed across Victorian London for its rich characters and infinite revelry. It is a front runner in exciting experimental beers.

Bloody ‘Ell, Blood Orange IPA, Beavertown Brewery, Hackney, London
7.2% alcohol
Bloody ‘Ell Beavertown, this is clever. It is actually brewed with blood oranges. Much preferred to the Gamma Ray and perfect for the Spring Saison (get it?). This full bodied but elegant IPA still has the underlying pine resin bitterness I associate with Beavertown, but it’s not remotely overpowering and is complementary to the restrained orange flavour. If I had been asked blind, I would not have said it had been brewed with oranges in the mix, I’d have said it was from the likes of the Citra hop. This is extremely clever beer brewing, in that it is highly original, will appeal to fans of citrus hop IPA and is a very pretty colour to boot. 8.5/10

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

SierraNevada It’s a classic. A legend among craft beers. It tastes OK.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: the beer that started the explosion in US craft beer in 1980. Today, Sierra Nevada tastes quite tame: it’s nice, well balanced and has attractive hoppy flavours, but compared with the current crop of US IPAs, it comes across as shy and reserved. But this beer would have seemed extreme 34 years ago.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, California
5.6% alcohol
Orange/bronze colour. Sweet and balanced nose with some herby, aromatic, floral hop notes as well as sweet malty characters. The palate is smooth and textured with just a hint of sweetness and lovely spicy, herby hoppiness. Quite restrained, showing balance. Tame by modern standards, but very drinkable. 7.5/10

Five Points Pale Ale

Five Points Ale
The Five Points Brewing Company is another great brewery, from beer central, also known as Hackney. They make just 3 styles of beer. One of the owners also owns The Duke of Wellington pub in Dalston.

Pale Ale, Five Points, Hackney, London
4.4% alcohol
Brewed with malted barley, a little wheat, and Amarillo, Centennial and Citra hops. I have yet to discover if there is bottle variation in beers such as these. I first drank this beer on draught at The Bull & Last near Gospel Oak, and it was a great session ale with character and balance. This bottled version was extremely hoppy and overly bitter to my taste, to the point I couldn’t really taste the good beer under the hops. Verdict: more research needed. ?/10

Hawkshead Windermere Pale Ale


Founded in 2002, independent brewer Hawkshead is now the largest in Cumbria. I really liked this Pale Ale, which fuses the traditional and modern characters to good effect. It’s made with Maris Otter malted barley and full flower hops, with English varieties supplemented by the fabulous American variety Citra.

Hawkshead Windermere Pale Ale, Lake District
4% alcohol. Three English hops plus Citra. Very fruity and lively with peach, pear, spice and some citrus. Exotic but balanced with lovely fruity qualities. Finishes hoppy and slightly bitter. 8

Brewdog Dead Pony Club California Pale Ale

Daniel will probably disagree with me about this particular beer. We have differing views over Brewdog, one of the most controversial of all brewers. Personally, I love their beers, and I think this one is a very clever brew indeed.

Brewdog Dead Pony Club Californian Pale Ale
3.8% alcohol
Hoppy as hell but with low alcohol, so it tastes less sweet than some craft pale ales, and is really refreshing. Bitter, floral, aromatic and delicious with a hint of banana under the bitter hops. 8/10


Pale Ale, Rocky Head Brewery

Rocky Head Brewery is a micro brewery set up in Southfields, London by a group of friends inspired by the American Craft Brewing scene.

Pale Ale, Rocky Head Brewery, Southfields, London
6.5% alcohol
On par with the best from The Kernel, this is the inaugral brew from Steve Daniels, the craftsman behind the brewery. This is how you use bags of hops at every stage of the brewing process and not end up with a beer that tastes like someone has put Bitrex in it. Bottle conditioned, so when allowed to settle and poured correctly, it is clear, bright and deep amber. Brewed with malted and toasted barley, the weighty mouthfeel effuses with tangy neroli and a hint of mango. Long tropical subtle bitterness to the finish and some campfire. Flew down barely touching the sides. 9.5/10