Stylin' Brews: Australian Pale Ale

March 14, 2018

Stylin' Brews: Australian Pale Ale

Well we had to cover this one, didn’t we… Not only do we make two great examples of this beer, our Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy and our Aussie Ale, but we’re Australian! Alright then, enough warbling.


Profile: Australian Pale Ale

The pale ale originates from Britain and has been taken abroad to many of her colonies, all of whom have tweaked it and made it their own in their own way. We here in Australia have done just that and, as a comparison to others styles of pale ale, the Aussie pale ale has distinctly fruity notes, especially tropical fruits. These fruity flavours come from the Australian hops used to produce these beers such as Galaxy and Pride of Ringwood hops. Aussie pale ale can often be hazy, although this isn’t considered a defining characteristic of the style.

The defining characteristics of the Aussie pale ale have been up for debate, and indeed the category didn’t really exist until 2001 (more below). Tropical fruits are currently the defining characteristics, and the newer guidelines put forth by the AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards) focuses on hops and yeast that complement each other and work together. Although Aussie pale ale is definitely its own style it is currently quite open to interpretation and variation.


The History

The term “pale ale” first appeared in Britain in the early 1700’s. It was coined to describe beers which were being made with lighter malts that had been dried and roasted using coke; a process started in the mid-1600’s that was deemed to improve the all-round quality of the beer. The lighter malts led to a lighter beer, and although they’re by no means light in colour they’re much lighter than the beers the British Public were drinking at the time.

As the century progressed the term “pale ale” became synonymous with the term “bitter”. This was a term used only by the public and not by the brewers and has been thought to describe those beers that were noticeably hoppier than other forms of ale such as porters and milds.

Although we’ve been brewing beer, and pale ales, down under for centuries the term Australian pale ale didn’t really exist until 2001. It was in this year that Nail Brewing founder John Stallwood entered his Nail Ale into the AIBA under the category “Other - Australian Pale Ale”. It won no award because the style didn’t exist. However, the year after the style was added as a standalone award category and since then Nail Brewing has gone on to win 3 gold medals for Nail Ale.


If you want to see what can be done with an Aussie pale ale then pop down to the Tumut River Brewery and give our Aussie Ale a taste; this beer captures the fruit essence first described above. After that, you can try our Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy and see how it’s possible for the style to take a slightly different direction.