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  • Writer's pictureCalgary Brewery Tour Guy

The Story of Pale Ale - From England to Calgary by YYCTOURS Calgary Brewery Tours

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

A flight of pale ales beer at Village Brewery Calgary by YYCTOURS
A Flight of Beer at Village Brewery in Calgary.

Until the early 1700's, beer in England was made with malt that been roasted over peat or wood, creating a dark, smoky black or brown beer. The invention of coke as a fuel source allowed more control over the malting process and left a cleaner and lighter product and led way for the English Pale Ale. As this beer was made with lighter malts, it created a lighter color beer than what was standard for the time and therefore was referred to as 'pale'.

Pale Ale is a general term that includes several styles of beer, but mostly encompasses copper coloured, hop forward and bitter beers.

If one were to think of English Pale Ale as a main trunk of a tree, its branches would include Amber Ale, IPA, American Pale Ale, Blondes, Biere De Garde, Irish Reds and Bitters to name but a few.

When it comes to judging a Pale Ale, one would have to first decide which category the beer should be in from many areas of the BJCP guidelines such as Belgian Ales, Pale American Ales, British Bitters, Pale Commonwealth Beer, IPAs, Strong British, Strong American and more.

New England IPA from Village brewery in Calgary by YYCTOURS

Pale Ales are said to have been brewed prior to the 1700's, but it wasn't until George Hodgson started shipping beer to India (India Pale Ale) in 1790 that the style became a household name. From there, once the style reached outside England's walls, each region began incorporating its own techniques and native ingredients when brewing, making way for an entire subset of beer.

The first 'Pale Ale' brewed in North America is believed to be San Francisco's Anchor Brewing "Liberty Ale" in 1975. Although Pale Ale was brewed in North America prior to this by settlers that had travelled with their recipes, prohibition essentially wiped out any brewing operations until 1933. After that, lagers were the most popular beer style as they were cheap to make.

To learn more about beer and where to find Pale Ale in Calgary, (read our Village Brewery Review here) be sure to join one of YYCTOURS' Calgary Brewery Tours which are packed full of great beer and information.

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