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The Antidote to Style Fragmentation: Everything is Pale Ale

Pale Ale Family Tree: pale ale begets vienna beer which begets pale lager and so on.

OK, so that headline over-states the case — we’re aware of the existence of stout! — but hopefully you catch our drift: if you go back far enough, we’re all related.

This chart was only put together quickly and no doubt could be bigger/better/different — if you feel like making your own, we’d be interested to see it.

6 replies on “The Antidote to Style Fragmentation: Everything is Pale Ale”

Dark ale isn’t pale ale! You’d have to be going some to fit strong ale a la Spingo into that chart – and from my reading of the sources*, before 1914 an awful lot of beer was both dark and strong.

*Ron Pattinson’s blog

Yes, although a lot of ‘dark ales’ (that’s not actually a style, is it?), probably including Spingo, are really just pale ales with a bit of colouring (from a sprinkling of darker malts, caramel, sugars, or something else) and probably derive from bitter. Some dark milds are *literally* the same brewer’s bitter with caramel colouring, full stop. (Then again, some brewery’s bitters are just what used to be their light milds…)

In fact, it even occurred to us after posting that, if we’d been feeling really mischievous, we might have argued that modern stout is just pale ale (if you take that to mean beer made mostly with, and made possible by the invention of, pale malt) with additives to provide roastiness.

modern stout is just pale ale … with additives to provide roastiness.
Ha! Love it! Should be part of every beer communicator’s playbook, alongside “What is mild? Almost everything is mild.”

I had this discussion on Facebook a few weeks back on how pale ale is an ‘ALE’ made primarily with ‘PALE’ malt, which would include any stouts/porters not made really old school with brown malt etc

You have to split 1600s-1700s pale ale into strong ale and ale as all the cool breweries would be running two beers off one mash. Less would be waste. Plus brown needs to be in there. Plus you need to perhaps split Strong into Hull, Margate, Taunton, etc., and in particular sulphurous Staffordshire, the last of which out of which in particular 1700s Burton and then 1800s IPA and Burton both arose as the grandparent to 1900s Burton. Don’t think generic pale ale has anything to do with Vienna. There’s Teutonic lineage yet to be explored. Ballantine is not a significant beer until post-prohibition as a survivor. Before that it’s a local NJ beer in the shadow of widespread Albany ale, the market winner and export King. Sierra Nevada has British and home brewing parentage as much as New Jersey roots.

I guess we probably should have said more clearly that the chart implies only that beer X was *an* influence on (not the sole parent of) beer Y.

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