In the “good beer to drink when you don’t want to think about the beer” category:
Name: Schlafly Pale Ale
Origin: St. Louis Brewery/Schlafly Tap Room, St. Louis, MO
Style: English Pale Ale
I drank this: on tap at Spin!* Pizza in Olathe, KS
When I failed to pronounce the name of the brewery correctly for the third time when I was trying to order this beer, my brother pointed out that Schlafly is amusing to him, in that it’s impossible to say the name of the brewery without sounding like you’ve already had a few of their beverages. After embarrassing myself in front of the teenager who was taking my order, I have to say I agree.
Anyway, the Schlafly Pale Ale. It smells like beer. Seriously – that’s the best description I can come up with for it: when I think of the generic smell of generic beer, I tend to think some sort of simple malty/hoppy balance, with the malts a bit heavier than the hops. This pale ale smells just like that.
Honestly, that pretty much sums up my experience with this pale ale: it’s a beer. It’s not a bad beer, but it’s not a standout in any way. It’s a very pretty, clear auburn/amber color with lots and lots of tiny bubbles streaming upwards. It has a nicely creamy mouthfeel combined with a hop bite that I only noticed when the beer was actually in my mouth. The moment I swallowed it, the bite went away.
This beer is uncomplicated – it’s a good beer to drink after a weird day, when you don’t want to deal with any curveballs from your alcohol. It isn’t spectacular, but it is a really easy beer to drink, and it goes pretty well with pizza.
This beer only makes sense as a pale ale if you remember that it’s an English-style pale ale (EPA) rather than an American-style pale ale (APA). The main difference between the two is the hop level. To get a really clear comparison, try a Bass (for the EPA) and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (for the APA) side by side. The hops will be much more noticeable in an APA than they are in an EPA. To make a huge and sweeping generalization, hops will often be more present in American beers than in their English counterparts. America grows some bloody beautiful hops.
*Spin! makes some pretty good pizza, but its name, like Boulevard’s Bully! Porter, suffers from errant exclamation point syndrome. The explosion of errant exclamation points in my life has occurred since I moved to KC a few weeks ago. I’m not sure what the deal is with these things, but I categorically refuse to walk around with jazz hands, spirit fingers or pom poms, just as I refuse to shout these names with the unbridled glee their punctuation seems to require.**
**Alternatively, it’s occurred to me that the errant exclamation points may be attempting to imply an imperative, as though the name is telling me to perform some sort of action. If this were to be the case, I’d be forced to roll my eyes in the general direction of whatever person in marketing thought the errant exclamation point were a good idea. I will not pirouette while I order pizza, any more than I will bully someone to drink a porter.***
***If the beer in question were a Great Lakes Nosferatu Ale, I’d consider bullying. That stuff is AWESOME.