Brew Britannia breweries

A pale’n’hoppy timeline

Yesterday we re-shared an article we wrote back in 2015 about the emergence of the pale’n’hoppy style of ale in the UK. As you might expect, people had plenty of other suggestions for pioneering contenders; we’ve used that info to pull together a list.

You’ll note that we have also thrown in some notable IPAs because the line between the two styles is pretty fine.

It’s not exhaustive – these are just the names that popped up on Twitter yesterday. There are some here we don’t think count as PNH (e.g. Tribute, which isn’t especially pale) but we’ve included them for completeness.

Various relatively pale bitters e.g. Boddington’s | < 1980
Franklin’s Bitter | c.1979 | Cascade (US)
Goose Eye Pommie’s Revenge | 1984 | Fuggles, Goldings (UK)
Exmoor Gold | 1986 | Challenger, Goldings and Fuggles (UK)
Hop Back Summer Lightning | 1989 | Goldings, Challenger (UK)
Dobbin’s (West Coast) Yakima Grande Pale Ale | 1989 | Cascade (US)
Deuchars IPA | 1991 | Willamette, Goldings, Fuggle (UK, US) (source)
Butterknowle Conciliation | c.1991 | Challenger (UK)
Roosters Yankee | 1993 | Cascade (US)
Oakham JHB | 1993 | Mount Hood and Willamette (US)
Kelham Island Pale Rider | 1993 | Willamette (US) (source)
Durham Magus | 1994 | Challenger, Goldings (UK)
Dark Star Hophead | c.1996 | Cascade (US)
Ossett Silver King | 1998 | Cascade (US)
St Austell Tribute | 1999 | Fuggles, Willamette (UK/US)
Crouch Vale Brewers Gold | 2000 | Brewers Gold (UK)
Pictish Brewers Gold | 2000 | Brewers Gold (UK)
Crouch Vale Amarillo | 2003 | Amarillo (US)
Castle Rock Harvest Pale | 2003 | Cascade, Centennial, Chinook (US)
St Austell Proper Job | 2004 | Willamette, Cascade, Chinook (US)
Meantime IPA | 2005 | Fuggles, Golding (UK)
Thornbridge Jaipur | 2005 | Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum (US)
BrewDog Punk | 2007 | Chinook, Ahtanum, Crystal, Motueka (US/NZ)
Oakham Citra | 2010 | Citra (US)
Fyne Ales Jarl | 2010 | Citra (US)
Brodies Citra Pale | 2011 | Citra (US)

As we said in the Twitter chat yesterday, it’s not about who got there first or ‘invented’ the style – it’s more a matter of a slow evolution.

In general, it’s interesting how often people assume a beer is older than it actually is – and how often people remember as pale and citrusy beers that evidence suggests were brownish, with UK hops. (As far as we can tell – brewers are often coy about this stuff.)

If you’ve got suggestions, feel free to comment below – and if you can provide a reliable (referenced) ‘first sold’ date and info on hops, that would be great.

10 replies on “A pale’n’hoppy timeline”

Definitely a beer we think of as a more-or-less straight-up bitter. Have added a note on the timeline to cover a whole bunch of these, though, from Boddies to Stones.

Pictish Brewer’s Gold wasn’t a one-off – they did a whole series of single-hop beers (with varying colours and styles of ‘Celtic knot’ pump clips), way before it was fashionable. I remember plucking up the courage to order Pictish Citra & passing it to my non-beer-loving partner for a taste with the warning that it was a bit extreme, only to find that she really liked it – it hardly tasted like beer at all…

But no, I don’t remember when this was!

This nicely captures the evolution of my early drinking experience, from being an 18yr old in York in the mid-2000s, recently graduating from pints of Fosters. My favourite beers at the time definitely included Silver King, Harvest Pale and Yankee. Abbeydale Moonshine was another one that I’d usually choose (Est. 1996 according to their own website), and possibly Titanic Iceberg (Est. 90s from their site, but I can’t remember having it often).

It seemed harder to get this style of beer back home down South until I found JHB. Their Brewery Tap in Peterborough was surely a “craft beer bar” before Craft Beer was a thing…

I think all of these beers were distinctly different to the usual “blonde” attempts by the bigger regional brewers, probably with the US hops being the differentiator, though I wouldn’t have understood that at the time. Many of them probably don’t get the press they deserve, as their branding has lagged behind the market despite the flavours leading the way towards many of the average Session IPAs we’re now drowning in.

Jaipur and Punk were the next level of evolution as they were too strong to session on. They were a real treat to find when they were new, though it is a shame that they have spawned so many poor imitations.

I’m certainly a standard bearer for the view that Sean Franklin was the first to use American hops in this sort of beer, but in the first category, perhaps Higsons Bitter – certainly an incredibly bitter beer, in fact I used to joke that Higsons Mild was the third hoppiest beer I knew. Perhaps the bitter was darker than I remember, though, but it was intensely bitter in a way few others were in the early to mid 80s.
A much more key beer for this style was Yates’ Bitter from 1986, brewed by Peter Yates in Cumbria – the brewery closed in 2017, I believe, although it had been sold on and moved within Cumbria at some point before that. Very pale, very hoppy, a thoroughly lovely beer that we drank a lot of in the 90s after days on the Lakeland fells. Not being too strong, it was the ideal thirst quencher. No idea what hops were used, just that it was absolutely to my taste.

I spoke to my contact at the Ilkley Brewery yesterday and they advised me that I had got the year wrong. Although the Brewery was founded in 2009, Mary Jane was brewed the following year (2010) as a summer drink. It contains both Amarillo and Cascade.

Kind regards


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