There’s an interesting article in the current issue of Opening Times – the Stockport & South Manchester CAMRA newsletter – by Gazza Prescott on the rise of pale, highly-hopped “mid-Atlantic” pale ales. There’s an extended version on Gazza’s website here.
Now Gazza is well known for his trenchant opinions, but this is an enthusiastic and readable survey of the development of this particular beer style. I have praised the likes of Oakham JHB and Thornbridge Jaipur on here before. It’s a bit much to say “Pale’n’hoppy beers are slowly taking over the beer culture of the UK”, although he does acknowledge that it is a phenomenon largely confined to specialist beer pubs. There isn’t much sign of these beers “going mainstream”. Realistically it is just adding another colour to the palette of British beer styles – I can’t really see them replacing the traditional balanced bitters in the general run of pubs.
It’s probably also fair to say that these beers are the beer world’s equivalent of highly-peated malt whiskies such as Laphroiag and Talisker – very well-respected, but too much biased towards one extreme end of the flavour spectrum to appeal to many people as a regular tipple. You might well enjoy one or two during an evening’s sampling of a variety of beers, but few would want to drink them all night.
It should be said that there is a marked difference between the kind of intensely hoppy beers Gazza is talking about and those “gold” beers with an insipid, floral hoppiness than can so easily become wishy-washy, which is what I was complaining about here.