The Pale Ale is the first of the Michelob Specialty Sampler beers from the promotional package I received. What I find interesting (and a little amusing) is the fact that all of these specialty beers proclaim "all malt" on the label; normally, macro-brewed beers are brewed with a large percentage of adjuncts like corn and rice, both to lighten the color/flavor/body and to reduce cost. Michelob has bucked this trend among the macro brewers (at least for these specialties), but I can’t help pointing out that most craft brews (from smaller brewers) are normally all malt, with adjuncts often used as perfectly acceptable additives or to special purpose.
(Okay, got my dig in on the macros, even though I think it’s a valid point to bring up.)
Besides being all malt, the Pale Ale is also dry hopped—also unusual for the big brewers. It’s also a sessionable beer at 5.2% alcohol by volume.
Appearance: Straw-gold color, darker than expected for a Macro brewer. Very clear, with a big white head.
Smell: Light, though bready and a touch of caramel. Raw bread dough, some yeast. A light presence of Noble hops.
Taste: Wash of hop bitterness right up front, followed by grainy malt (wheat kernels) and a little bit of toffee sweetness. Some estery notes. Some of that "industrialized" character that comes, I’m thinking, from the (extensive?) filtering and possibly pasteurization.
Mouthfeel: Very light, and crisp with a sharp tang of hops—leaves a bit of puckering dryness in the mouth.
Overall: Much less hop presence in the nose for a beer that’s dry-hopped, but they are present in the mouth. I can tell it’s a pale ale by the estery yeast notes, but still very much like a (Macro) lager—though drinkable and more flavorful than a typical industrial. I’d pick this over a standard macro lager every time.
(In general, expect the rating sites to be harsh on any macro-brewed beer.)