Pale Ale blind taste test

Whilst wandering through the beer section of Wholefoods in Cheltenham, I noticed a couple of international pale ales. I started wondering how these imported pale ales compared and stood up to our English pale ales.

I figured the only way to make a fair assessment of the pale ale contenders was to do a blind taste test. With the sun shining and a friend’s barbecue a cooking, we put four pale ale beers up against each other.

There are evidently loads of different pale ale contenders out there. For the purpose of this test, I chose four beers that were labelled as pale ale. I'm saving the trusted IPA for a future taste test.

The four pale ale contenders for the blind taste were Ivanhoe - Ridgeway Brewing (UK), Sierra Nevada (USA), Mad Goose – Purity (UK) and Coopers Brewery (Australia).

Winner – Ivanhoe
Ridgeway Brewery - 5.2% - £2.99 for 500ml

I’d not heard of Ridgway Brewing prior to buying a bottle of Ivanhoe. I couldn’t find too much info about Ridgway Brewery online, apparently a head brewer from Brakspear started Ridgway in 2003 and uses various breweries to make his nectars.

The decision as to which pale ale was best was unanimous. There was an excellent depth of flavour to this beer, an initial burst of fruity grain flavour moving to a long lasting burst of hoppiness. During the blind test we also guessed the beer’s origin – English through and through. I will definitely go back for more of this pale ale.

Runner Up – Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
5.6% - £2.29 for 350ml

We were both pretty sure we were drinking the American pale ale when blind tasting. It’s quite a gassy beer, yet packed with flavour. You have to be a lover of hops to enjoy the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as it is bordering on slightly too hoppy (if that is possible). I enjoyed the bottle I had and I’m sure I would have certainly sunk a couple more in the same sitting, though I don’t think I would want to drink too many bottles in the same sitting.

Mad Goose
Purity Brewery – 4.2% - £2.27 for 500ml

This beer probably was hardest to decide on. I guessed English and would have probably given it second, my buddy Dan, however, really didn’t like it and wanted to place it last in the blind taste comp. Taste wise and the reason for Dan not enjoying it, was the over powering metallic taste. Once you got over the liquid metal flavour, which I did, it was a good hearty beer with plenty of flavour.

Original Pale Ale
Coopers Brewery – 4.5% - £1.99 for 375m
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The Coopers Pale Ale was the most lager like of the contenders, though this is probably an unfair comparison as it beats the standard flavourless lager hands down. As it was a lovely sunny day and the barbi was on I really enjoyed supping this beer back. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Australian contender it just didn’t pack quite as much flavour as the other beers on test.


I would go back for another bottle of any of these beers, though my tasting buddy, Dan, would probably not be too keen on drinking another bottle of Mad Goose. Congratulations to Ridgway Brewing for making a classy bottle of pale ale.