Monday, April 16, 2012

Pale Ales — 10 Barrel vs. Alameda vs. MacTarnahan's

10 Barrel Brewing Co. ISA
(India Session Ale)
ABV 5.5%

Alameda Brewing Co.
Klickitat Pale Ale
ABV 5.3%

MacTarnahan's Sling Shot
Extra Pale Ale
ABV 6.2% 

Featuring guest tasters, Peter & Susan.

Eventually the weather is going to get better here in the Northwest and when that day comes we recommend celebrating with a nice craft-brewed Pale Ale. We recently had some friends over and put three such beers against each other for a battle. Note: the 10 Barrel ISA is essentially a Pale Ale. ISA stands for India Session Ale, which implies that the beer is a lower alcohol (session) India Pale Ale. Since Pale Ales are usually lower in alcohol than their India Pale Ale brothers, we think it is fair to categorize the ISA as something akin to a Pale Ale.

Colors: Sling Shot was clear golden, ISA was hazy golden and Klickitat was hazy amber.
Aromas: Sling Shot was simple, grainy and lager-like, ISA had funky, earthy hop notes and Klickitat was dominated by sweet, honey maltiness with some floral notes in the background.
Flavors: Sling Shot was simple and malty with not much hop presence, ISA had real nice crisp citrus hop character and Klickitat was very malt heavy with brown sugar and molasses overwhelming the minor floral hops.
Finishes: Sling Shot had a sweet honey finish, ISA had a nice moderate citrusy bitterness and Klickitat finished with a sweet and herbal roasted maltiness.

Definitely three different approaches to the style. Ellen and I were immediately drawn to the citrusy hoppiness of the ISA, finding the Sling Shot to be too simple and the Klickitat to be too malt-heavy. Our friends preferred the easy-drinking, clean refreshment of the Sling Shot. So, in the end, the battle was a draw. The Klickitat was the loser of the night but it's not a bad beer by any stretch, it was just a very malty interpretation of a Pale Ale that might surprise you if you're looking for a more traditional, hoppy and refreshing Pale Ale.
Draw: Ellen and I chose the 10 Barrel ISA, Peter and Susan chose the MacTarnahan's Sling Shot.