Best Pale Ales and IPAs 2010: #5 Anderson Valley Poleeko Gold Pale

12 07 2010

Last week, we argued that pale ales and IPAs are perfect for hot summer months. With light, and crisp hop bitterness; sweet, satisfying malts; and a good touch of alcohol, they are just so refreshing for sitting on a porch, at a cafe patio, or at a picnic. This week, we look to some of our favorite American pale ales and India Pale Ales (IPAs). As per usual, we will post them in reverse order and mention some honorable mentions.

Today, we start with Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s Poleeko Pale; a wonderfully smooth and hoppy selection from Northern California. Anderson Valley is renown for making tasty and refreshing beers year ’round. Their seasonal selections: Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice are fitting examples of what the weather calls for. Their names are silly. They use the local dialect known as “boontling“, a combination of Scottish, Irish and Spanish. Lately, they have started canning the beer. And for a company that has such focus on environmental stewardship, it is a fitting move for them.

We have selected their pale ale for its smoothness, crispness and their use of classically American hops which imparts notes of citrus and herbs like lemongrass and mint.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Poleeko Gold Pale-

Photo Credit: Anderson Valley

Ratebeer.com score: 74 Points (67 for Style)

Aroma: Notes of citrus (predominantly orange, lemon and tangerine) as well as herbs like spearmint, lemongrass and pear blossom. Slight maltiness helps balance out the hops.

Appearance: Hazy gold (unfiltered). Small, white head still provides excellent lacing. Strong carbonation.

Taste: Hop forward with notes of lemon, peppercorn and lemongrass. Excellent bittering and very well balanced with hints of cracker and biscuit. Very crisp and dry. Clean backend.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth and crisp. Strong carbonation. Dry, dusty back end with slight astringency.

Serve with spicy foods: specifically Thai, Vietnamese or other Southeast Asian cuisine. Also would pair very well with fresh arugula salad served with goat cheese and mandarin oranges. Would hold up very well to cold fried chicken.

Runner Up:
Firestone Walker- Pale 31 California Pale Ale

Rate Beer.com Score: 91 Points (94 for Style)

My Partner and I have a soft spot in our hearts for Firestone Walker Brewery. When we first moved in together, we lived in the Central Coast of California not far from the Brewery in Santa Barbara County. We drank a lot of Firestone Walker at that time. And I always get a small twinge of hometown pride whenever I get word that they have won an award. Luckily for them and me, that happens often. In less than ten years their American Pale Ale has won nearly a dozen accolades. That does not even count the dozen or so other awards they have won for their other styles. It is easy to see why Pale 31 wins so many times. Built of a base of English pale malts but set loose with a healthy dose of Northwestern American hops including Cascade, Centennial and Chinook this is one pale ale that does not disappoint.

And yet it does. You are going to have a difficult time finding it if you do not live in California or Arizona. So, while I would love to see this beer in the top 5, it looses points for being so unavailable. Some day though, it will be easier to find. And when that day comes, I will be happy to put it in its rightful place.

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