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Pale 31

Judges Rating: 
23 / 24
4 / 6
38 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Yet another amazing brewery from “The Class of ’96,” Paso Robles-based Firestone Walker Brewing Company has built a reputation for decidedly hop-centric ales of exceptional character. Dry hopped with three different varieties, Firestone Walker Pale 31’s aroma abounds with fistfuls of pine forest, grapefruit, and luscious tropical fruits, all backed by a biscuit-like maltiness. After the initial tsunami of citrus fruit hop notes, Pete teased out “delicate, sorbet-like whiffs of Bing cherries and ripe raspberry.” He felt these added a nuanced complexity, all backed by a restrained crystal malt sweetness. Rick lasered in on the intensely focused hops he likened to “a festival of Pacific Northwest hops.” A pale yellow, almost straw-colored brew, Pale 31 is lighter than most “traditional” American Pale Ales, yet this beer’s paleness belies a distinctly malty baseline flavor and lurking hop bitterness. The aggressive bitterness pleased Tom, who pronounced the beer “a full-on hop experience, with loads of bitterness and hop flavors.” He did, however, feel the beer could have finished a bit crisper. Lee also keyed on the bitterness, comparing the effect to “a scissor kick to the palate; bright, bold, and aggressive.” Both Tom and Lee applauded the beer’s rock solid pale malt foundation over which the hops played the starring role. Paso Robles might be Central Coast wine country, but Firestone Walker Pale 31 is the ideal tipple to beat the punishing summer heat.