pale ale
Photo credit: Simon Taylor Photography.


By far the most regularly brewed style in craft breweries around the country, pale ales don’t tend to dominate beer headlines like their hoppier, scene-stealing cousin the IPA. But as Luke Robertson reports in the Autumn issue of Beer & Brewer, they’re quite often a brewery’s top seller.

Pale ales: just about every brewery has one, and you probably drink a lot of them. They are making headway into major chains and it’s not unusual to find a pale ale as the lone independent beer amongst a row of contracted taps at your local. However, most beer lovers don’t give them too much thought. They are the workhorse – the six pack you pick up to punctuate your week and to complement the special releases and new beers in your shopping basket.

The brewers we spoke to for this story tended to agree, although despite it being a style we all take for granted, they all spoke fondly of their own and other brewery’s pales. Names like Balter, Pirate Life, and Sierra Nevada are all talked about with reverence and more often than not, it’s the pale that people reach for (or in the case of Balter, their XPA… but we’ll get to that later).

At Dainton Brewing in Carrum Downs (VIC), founder Dan Dainton says having a pale ale is a must, and theirs is definitely their biggest seller. “It’s one of those things you have to have,” he explains. “It’s something that most people know and they want. It’s in some of the larger chains now and that’s because it sells. That’s why there’s so many of them out there.”

At Australian Brewery in Sydney, it’s also their top selling product. Marketing manager David Ward says that since rebranding the cans it’s seen a bit of a bump in sales. He likes to keep an eye on social media to see not only who is buying it but where they are drinking it. “I’ve been noticing in all the main social media craft beer groups, on a table littered with rare one-bottle beers, are a lot of our tinnies sitting amongst them,” he says.

In WA, Cheeky Monkey’s Pale Ale is also their biggest seller, however finding the right version was a challenge. They used to make an English-style, which brewer Ross Terlick loved – and it even won medals at a number of industry events – but it just didn’t sell.

“As it is with a commercial enterprise, if you’ve got a product that doesn’t sell, then you can’t keep running with it,” he says. “It holds up your stock, you can’t get it on tap and if people do put it on tap then it doesn’t move.”

Pairing with food?

Most of the brewers were a little blasé about pairing their pale with food. Dainton probably says it best when he says: “it’s a drinking beer”, however he concedes that a six pack and a pizza wouldn’t be a bad pairing. At Cheeky Monkey, Terlick says he likes his with fried food, but doesn’t like to think too hard about it all. Philter’s Sam Fuss also says she hasn’t thought about it too much, and given Australia’s diverse cuisine, she believes it’ll go with just about any style of food.

The one straight answer was from Ward at Australian Brewery. He says theirs is great with prawns. So I guess that means prawn pizza with a side of chips is the way to go?

For the rest of the feature, subscribe to Beer & Brewer here.  

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