I have just had to give my top 20 choices of which beer style categories I would like to judge at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver in September.
There are 78 categories to choose from but my first choice was easy : Classic English Style Pale Ale. This is what I know and love, it is the beer I was weaned on, it is what drove my love of beer as a teenager and continues to tickle my taste buds, it is my first choice on the bar, my number one.
But what actually is it ? The competition style descriptions and specifications manual (yes, it exists) describes it thus :
43. Classic English pale ales are golden to copper colored and display earthy, herbal English-variety hop character. Note that “earthy, herbal English-variety hop character” is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. Medium to high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma should be evident. This medium-bodied pale ale has low to medium malt flavor and aroma. Low caramel character is allowable. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to strong. Chill haze may be in evidence only at very cold temperatures. The absence of diacetyl is desirable, though, diacetyl (butterscotch character) is acceptable and characteristic when at very low levels.
Original Gravity (ºPlato) 1.044-1.056 (11-14 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato) 1.008-1.016 (2-4 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 3.5-4.2% (4.5-5.5%)
Bitterness (IBU) 20-40
Color SRM (EBC) 5-14 (10-28 EBC)
Get yer laughing gear 'round that. I can't wait.