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These popular pale ales are great for all occasions year-round

Classic Grocery Store Pale Ales

Beer glass

While the IPA seems to get most of the press when it comes to hoppy, floral, bitter, refreshing beers, you wouldn’t want to sleep on its close cousin, the pale ale. Especially the thirst-quenching, crisp, always easy-drinking American pale ale.

For those unaware, the pale ale (like many classic beers) can be traced back to Europe (specifically England). While the English pale ale is known for its gentle malt backbone and earthy, herbal, fruity, hoppy aromas and flavors, the American pale ale is known for its citrus, floral, fruit, piney, bitter aromas and flavors. We can thank the folks at California’s Sierra Nevada for that.

Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada created the American pale ale style back in 1980 when he decided to brew his pale ale using citrus-filled, piney Cascade hops. Over the decades, countless other brewers have imitated the style with many elevating it to new heights of dank, resinous pine, and citrusy, tropical fruit.

5 great grocery store pale ales

Beer tap pouring beer
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Low to medium in body, the pale ale is a very approachable, refreshing beer for any occasion. It’s also a great gateway beer for drinkers who don’t believe their palate is ready for the aggressive, sticky bitterness of a classic West Coast IPA. The best part? There are countless complex, balanced, piney pale ales available at your local grocery or beer store. Keep scrolling to see five of our favorites.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada

No pale ale list is complete without the beer that started the American pale ale revolution. Imitated by brewers from Temecula to Tampa since its creation in 1980, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is known for its crisp, refreshing, gently bitter flavor profile featuring a nice, sweet malt backbone, grapefruit and other citrus fruits, and dank, pleasantly bitter pine needles. It’s a sublimely balanced beer that deserves all the accolades it receives.

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
Oskar Blues

Another classic American pale ale, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale was first brewed way back in 1997. This 6.5% ABV year-round brew is made with Cascade, Centennial, and Comet hops. The result is a flavorful pale ale driven by notes of caramel malts, candied orange peels, grapefruit zest, and dank, resinous pine. The finish is bitter, sticky, and just a bit prickly in the best way possible. This is a classic beer beloved by countless drinkers for a reason.

Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue

Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue
Toppling Goliath

Instead of Cascade hops, this tyrannosaurus rex-adorned beer uses exclusively Citra hops for aroma and flavor. The result is a balanced, crushable, 5.8% ABV pale ale loaded with flavors like tangerine, grapefruit, tropical fruits, and dank, resinous pine needles. The finish is a perfectly bitter mix of citrus peels and sticky, prickly, bitter pine. It’s a great mix of sweetness and hops and a beer you’ll go back to again and again.

Deschutes Mirror Pond

Deschutes Mirror Pond

Without almost the same cult-like following as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond is a can’t-miss grocery store pale ale. This year-round, 5% ABV beer is a mash-up of the old-school English pale ale and its American counterpart. Brewed with 2-row, Crystal, Carapils, and Munich malts, it gets its hop aroma and flavor from the liberal use of Cascade hops. The result is an easy-drinking, balanced pale ale featuring notes of caramel malts, citrus peels, and gently bitter pine needles.

Half-Acre Daisy Cutter

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This iconic 5.2% ABV pale ale began as a special release at the Lincoln Avenue location of the Chicago-based breweries Lincoln Avenue in 2009. It was so popular that it became a year-round offering. Brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe, and Columbus hops, the result is a well-balanced, thirst-quenching beer filled with biscuit-like malts, mango, guava, grapefruit, ripe orange, and dank pine. The finish is lightly bitter, dry, and effortlessly refreshing.

Bottom line


Whether you’re a West Coast IPA fan, someone who would like to get into IPAs, or simply a fan of hoppy, crushable, lightly bitter beers, American pale ales are for you. You can’t go wrong with any of the beers we list above. Try one or try them all; you’ll be happy you did. Spent the spring, summer, fall, and even the dark depths of winter drinking them. Pale ales are perfectly suited for all seasons.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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