Top 10 California Pale Ales

The Classic American Pale Ale
The Classic American Pale Ale
Jake Ogle

American Pale Ales, arguably the most popular beer style for craft brewers, tend to range between 5-6 % alcohol by volume (abv). That makes them what some beer geeks call "sessionable," meaning you can enjoy quite a few of them in a single sitting without a high risk of faceplanting in front of your friends. Brewed with significant quantities of American hops that differentiates our pales from their older British counterparts, the style emulates the American India Pale Ale though IPAs are higher abv and more aggressively hopped.

We're focussing on what we know best, which are the West Coast-style pales that tend to be even hoppier and less malty than the rest of the country. We think California has the best craft breweries in the USA, so we're going to keep our top ten pale ales list right here among Golden State brewers. Turn the page for our list of Top 10 California Pale Ales.

An Assortment of West Coast-Style Pale Ales
An Assortment of West Coast-Style Pale Ales
Daniel Drennon

10. Anchor Liberty Ale (San Francisco, 6% abv). Trailblazing brewer Fritz Maytag first brewed this pale in 1975 to commemorate Paul Revere's historic ride in 1775. Thirty-six years later, it is as smooth and drinkable as it was on day one.

9. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (Chico, 5.6 abv). A tip of the cap to the iconic pale ale that makes all the others on this list possible. First brewed in 1980, Sierra was the craft that started appearing next to Bud and Miller handles, thus shifting the beer landscape of what people wanted to drink. It was a victory of flavor over, uh, liquid.

8. Stone Pale Ale (Escondido. 5.4 abv). Stone Brewing took craft beer to a whole new level that turned into what is now a revolution. This was the signature pale that won over whole new legions of fans. More robust than previous pales, founder Greg Koch took the complexity in a pale to higher plane.

7. Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Breaker Pale Ale (Long Beach, 5.5 abv). To show how far craft brewing has come, we go from the three pioneering pales above to a beer that was just recently released. You read that right. Award-winning home brewer turned pro Julian Shrago shows how creative brewers get by dry hopping with Columbus, Centennial, and Cascade hops for a burst of fresh aromatics.

6. Green Flash 30th Street Pale (San Diego, 6 abv). Like Breaker above, this smooth offering is dry-hopped to give it the bite of an IPA. Named for the street in San Diego that is lined with a dozen craft beer bars and restaurants and that should be a mandatory weekend trip for any true L.A. beer fan.

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