BJCP Style Guide
for beer competitions

6A. American Pale Ale


Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties. Citrusy hop aroma very common. Esters vary from low to high. Diacetyl moderate to none.


Pale golden to amber.


Often moderate to high hop flavor. Citrusy hop flavor very common (such as from Cascades), but also other American hop variety flavors are found. Malt flavor moderate relative to aggressive hop flavor and bitterness. Balance towards bitterness. Caramel flavor is usually restrained. Diacetyl moderate to none.


Many are rather light, refreshing and more highly carbonated than many other styles, but body can reach medium. Carbonation borders on effervescent in some examples.

Overall Impression: Should be refreshing.


An American adaptation of English pale ale.


In the past, this category also covered what is now called American amber ale. American pale ales differ from American amber ales notably by being lighter in color, but also in having less caramel flavor and usually being balanced more towards hop bitterness.


Pale ale malt, typically American two-row. Light to medium crystal malts. American hops, often the citrusy ones such as Cascade, Centennial and Columbus, but others may also be used (e.g., Brewer's Gold or Willamette). Water can vary in sulfate content, but carbonate content should be relatively low.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.045-1.056

IBUs: 20-40 FG: 1.010-1.015

SRM: 4-11 ABV: 4.5-5.7%

Commercial Examples:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Summit Pale Ale, Great Lakes Burning River Pale Ale.