OK, on seeing the name of Atwater Brewery's Detroit Pale Ale got me to thinking, what "exactly" is the difference between Indian Pale Ale (IPA) and American Pale Ale (APA).  I've got to say - I've always been a little confused to tell the difference but then again I can't seem to recall a time where I sat down with a IPA and APA to compare side by side.  So, on looking through a couple different sites, BeerAdvocate.com, About.Com (http://beer.about.com/od/ale/p/PaleAleProfile.htm) I'm still confused.  Heck there even seems to be a book written about it (that I haven't read) I found at BeerBooks.com entitled PALE ALE: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes.  So, to the best of my knowledge it "seems" that IPA's were brewed for the DISTINCT PURPOSE of a long shipment across the ocean surface through brutal conditions (for beer at the very least).  So the beer, seems to be originated by strong bitters and/or ESB beers.  The idea of the IPA was to add a bit of alcohol and a lot of hops.  Both of these are used as tools for making the beer be able to "last" a bit longer till it is ready to be drank.  The hops are used as a preservative at types.  The Alcohol, well it is relatively common knowledge that the higher the alcohol the longer it can/needs to age.  I did see some information about the types of barrels used to store the beers during storage and what not.  To my knowledge these beers are/were setup to last 4-6 months in storage before being drank and in that amount of time you may pick up some wood characteristics but I'm thinking that it wouldn't be enough to out weight the strong flavors of this style with hops and barley.  So, with that said, I figured what is Detroit Pale Ale, then I thought well, I've heard of Double IPAs, and AIPA (not even sure I know this one), but Triple and Quadruple IPAs.  So, I guess the name and idea is probably mostly marketing, but the concept is the same, big beer, a good amount of bitter, a lot of HOP characteristics, and heavy usually some decent hits of barley if done properly.

OK, enough of the history - lets talk beer.  This Pale Ale is a fairly average pale ale in my mind.  Keep in mind, Pale Ale's are just starting to grow on me again so this could be a bit biased based on the low side a bit because of the style.  I'm not as happy with the style as I once was.  Anyway, that said, the beer pours a musty golden color.  It gives a very unfiltered look and I like that about a bottle of beer.  The head was thick on the pour but faded away by the time this beer is half way finished.  There really isn't much trace of it on the side of the glass.  I think I get a bit of a grapefruit smell coming from the glass.  Very strong fruity ester like smell that is acidic like.  The taste is not bad.  The balance seems to be tipped in favor of the hops for this beer.  I seem to be picking up a variety of the hops that the site talks that it uses from the European and Northwest American hops.  I can't exactly pick out specific hops but I definitely get a sense that more then 1 or 2 varieties of hops are being used to master this beer.  Unfortunately, to me this beer is lacking a bit of barley sweetness to it to carry all the hops that seem to be used in the beer.  If you are a hop head and you really like the taste of your hops this may be a beer for you.  For me, it will rank in the 2.5 range (which is middle of the road) because though it is a decent balance of hops and character there I just do not get the grains I personally like in a beer to carry the balance evenly.

Give it a try.  Don't let me turn you off... but definitely be ready for the huge hop almost acidic flowery citrus flavor that comes from this beer.  Cheers to Atwaters, I'm excited to move on to the others in my stock that I had purchased a few weeks back.


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