Beer Review 0594: Pisgah Pale Ale

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Pisgah Brewing Company is located just east of Asheville, North Carolina, in Black Mountain, and they have placed an emphasis on using local and organic ingredients. Once designated a USDA certified organic brewery, the company recently lost that status due to the limited availability of organic hops. According to Pisgah, other, much larger breweries with more monetary influence gobble up the scarce amounts of organic hops, leaving them no other choice but to use hops from sources that aren’t certified organic.

Nonetheless, Pisgah soldier on, brewing a lot of their seasonal and limited release offerings with local ingredients, while still using organic malts. Pisgah’s flagship beer, their Pale Ale, accounts for 75-80% of its sales. The beer is brewed with whole leaf Chinook and Nugget hops, comes in at 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 31 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Pisgah just began canning this beer in January 2014, which marks the first time they’ve canned a beer, let alone package a beer in a 12 ounce serving — the brewery mostly fills kegs, with occasional 22 oz.  and 750 ml. bottle releases.

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Pouring made for an average size, soapy head that quickly disappeared. The beer is orange-amber in color, verging on completely amber; the body had a slight hoppy-looking haze to it, even as the chill haze wore away. There are no particles or sediment. Lacing was excellent, leaving behind thin and even sheets as I sipped. It’s a pretty standard looking Pale Ale.

The nose is quite hoppy for a beer of this style, but you won’t hear me complaining — big notes of grapefruit, pine, and citrus, especially lemon, dominate the aroma. There’s a hint of malt backing with some sweet caramel, but this is mostly all hops. Smells fresh although there is no decipherable date on the can.

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But the taste sees those hops dialed down — mild ruby red grapefruit and lemon peel hit up front, and then a much larger malt backing than you’d suspect unwinds. Sweet notes of caramel with grain mix nicely with the faded hops; the finish is slightly piney, grapefruit and quite clean, with very little bitterness and an overall crisp, refreshing quality. Pisgah Pale is light-bodied, with a thin, foamy, dry mouthfeel.

I thought this to be a very mild Pale Ale compared to others on the market — but the upside to this brew is how drinkable and refreshing it is. I can see why this would be the top seller from Pisgah, as novice drinkers could cut their teeth and veteran sippers could even find balanced, hoppy delight. And I imagine straight off the bottling line, this beer is probably even better. Fits the style nicely and pleases the taste buds. You can’t go wrong.

Pisgah Pale Ale, 86 points. Price: $1.99 US for one 12 oz. can.

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