If you’re trying to find a beer that everyone in your friend group will enjoy—well, you’re probably not going to succeed. But a Belgian Style Pale Ale is a pretty good option if you’re trying to please a lot of people. Characterized by gold to copper coloring and low but noticeable hops, Belgian Pale Ales are bitter while still retaining a low ABV to increase drinkability. There are a lot of choices on the market, some of which are better at paying homage to the breweries in Belgium.
Cynic is a Belgian Style Pale Ale brewed by Surly Brewing Company in Minneapolis. They offer a wide variety of rotating and seasonal beers, but luckily for pale ale fans, Cynic is brewed year round. It’s fermented with a Belgian yeast strain, and has tasting notes of lemon citrus and black pepper spice. A pale-gold hued ale, this is a beer that offers more than the usual flavor profile and keeps things interesting.
Located in San Diego, AleSmith has been brewing for over twenty years. Their Lil’ Devil is a Belgian Style Pale Ale that embraces the need for a refreshing year round beer to keep cool in the warm city. They add ground coriander seeds and two kinds of orange peel to add citrus notes to the beer, and the light body and crisp finish make for a very refreshing taste. It pairs excellently with spicy food thanks to the coriander, and really, what more could you want?
Ommegang Brewery is an American brewery located in Cooperstown, NY, but they embrace Belgian beer style. Gnomegang is closer to a blonde ale than some of the beers on this list, but no less delicious. The taste is crisp with fruity esters and hoppy undertones. The flavor profile lends itself well to diverse food pairings, as well as being a good choice for sitting back with a couple of cold ones. (Fun Fact: if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, Ommegang also partners with HBO to produce brews inspired by the show.)
The Lost Abbey is another American brewery paying homage to the monastic brewing traditions of Belgium. Devotion is their pale ale offering, and is designed to be a hop driven beer. The light bodied beer has layers of malt and a dry finish, but still remains more bitter than most on this list. However, that doesn’t make it any less delicious.
Brewed in Massachusetts, Spencer Brewery was founded by real monks! They travelled to abbeys in Belgium for years learning to brew authentic ales before starting to brew in the States. Spencer Trappist Ale is a golden-hued ale with fruity accents and light hop bitterness. If you’re looking for true authenticity in a Belgian Pale Ale, there’s no question that beer brewed by actual real-life monks deserves your attention.