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Essential Pale Ale - Port City Brewing

Not Rated.
Essential Pale AleEssential Pale Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

171 Ratings
THE BROS
87
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 171
Reviews: 55
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 14.33%
Wants: 4
Gots: 24 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Port City Brewing visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ahalloin on 02-04-2011

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 171 | Reviews: 55
Reviews by Hesperus:
Photo of Hesperus
3.63/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Cloudy and golden with a two finger white head with decent retention, leaving behind a layer of residual foam. Fairly good lacing.

Smell: Piney hops with some resin, grapefruit, some herbal notes and perhaps a little bit of spiciness.

Taste: Similar to nose, pine and grapefruit make up the bulk of the flavor profile, with some herbal and malt notes in the background.

Mouthfeel: Wet with middling carbonation. Highly drinkable and moderately refreshing.

Overall: A very serviceable pale ale that is certainly on the hoppier side of the spectrum. That being said, this is far from the best I've had.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard pint a dull medium golden with almost no head to speak of,what there was of one was gone quickly.Very light floral hops in the nose along with faint caramel malt,very underwhelming.Leafy hops on the palate and they are light,some earthy tones as well,more of a dryer crisp malt base.Average in all aspects,a no brainer that lacks fullness in just about everything.

Photo of Jason
3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

LOOK: Nearly clear pale golden color, ample stickage of lacing

SMELL: Clean, bready, macadamia nuts, clementines, piney hops, ripe passion fruit, faint spice

TASTE: Very smooth, fresh grain, dried grass, citric peel, mint, biscuity, nutty yeast, faint ripe fruit, spicy dry finish

Very well balanced with a good use of hops, this pale ale is a step or two ahead of the pack and is something I'd go for on the regular basis.

Photo of ChadwickHines
4/5  rDev +12.4%

Great taste and wonderful flavor

Photo of Jeffreysan
2.87/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass

Appearance: Pours a pretty golden color with a half of a finger of white head that quickly dissolved into a thin lacing of foam that covered the top of the beer in wispy clouds.

Aroma: Not much of an aroma at all, either that or I’m congested. I get some faint hints of biscuits and honey and clover, but not much else.

Taste: Not much in the flavor department either. Again, some malty biscuit notes with a nicely balanced hop bitterness. There is a just a hint of sweetness, but overall it’s a very underwhelming flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin, but with some good carbonation to tickle the taste buds. With an ABV of 5.5%, there’s no presence of alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is a decent pale ale, but not really memorable either. There are better pale ales out there and there are certainly better Port City beers out there as well, especially, Port City’s Porter and Oktoberfest.

Photo of ordybill
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass.
Aroma- Has a nice blend of citrus, hops and some malt tossed in.
Appearance- A murky golden color with some sediment and a small off-white colored head.
Taste- Nice blend of hops and citrus, nice example of an APA.
Palate- This is a medium bodied beer with medium carbonation.
Overall- A good APA, I would order this again.

Photo of hophugger
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%

Ok, a beer brewed in my state and it did not disappoint. Head and color and lacing aside(they were ok), the aroma and flavor of this beer were very nice. There was a good amount of citrus that was balanced out well at the end with a nice amount of hops. Pale Ale??. Yes it was!!. A touch of malt helped bring this beer to the great balance that it is. Good Job !!

Photo of KTCamm
3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Pours medium copper with light white foam. Laces. Nose is grassy pine, citrussy. Mellow malt, pushy hop, latent bitter. Easy drinker with enough hop to make its presence felt but not overpower. Straightforward pale but certainly good.

Photo of akorsak
3.3/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A bottle at RFD, poured into a glass.

A: The pale ale is a darker amber color, closer to nut brown than pale. Paired with the darker appearance is an off-white head that leaves a few layers of lacing behind.

S: The aromas are caramel and grains, a little biscuity, with a small hop afterthought. The hoppiness isn't a big feature of the beer, instead it opts for subtlety.

T: More grainy chewiness. Caramel and biscuit together with darker breads. Hops aren't that strong, more of a balancing aspect. Overall, the flavor is solid but doesn't come with any frills. Content in what it is, an accessible pale ale. Although, truth be told, a few more hops wouldn't hurt.

M: The mouthfeel is malty, very little in the way of citrusy hops. Too bad too, there are few things like a nice well-balanced pale ale.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.08/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint.
5.5% ABV, no date.

Thanks to Thorpe429 for sending this brew my way!

A - Lightly cloudy pale golden yellow in color and topped by a long-lasting white head, Essential looks good but is missing an essential piece; lacing.

S - Faint hops leave much to be desired from this pale. Light lemongrass notes come before an also faint pale malt base. This brew needs more potency.

T - Surprisingly sweet at first, it takes a few sips for the pils malt to give way to bitter, resiny hops. Much more in flavor than aroma, these buds give off faint lemony notes.

M - Medium in body and sweet starting with a sharp dry, biting bitter finish. Balance seems conflicted. Instead of complimenting each other, the delayed bitterness ends up harsh.

O - A great pale is hard to nail down. Port City is on the right track with this one but the hop additions during the boil need tweaking, especially adding an addition of finishing aroma hops/ dry hopping. The nose on this could stand much improvement.

Photo of smakawhat
2.76/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A two finger head of white bubbles forms but quickly fades off the pour. Very clear and simple amber color is present. Very much borderline.

First impression off the smell for this beer is rank off-putting. It hints at an orange or other citrus fruit, but it's as if the citrus fruit went bad or is at least going rotten. This does NOT smell nice at all.

Taste overall is kind of strange. Finish is probably the best part of the beer but it's a bit wet/watery, a little carbonated sweet in the palate, and has at least a good bread finish. Taste brings at least a basic supermarket orange to the table, but it's also bitter in a bitter fruit way, with no hop or malt presence at all.

Overall this pale ale is very un-even. Not really a good beer from this brewery they have done better. This is disappointing to say the least.

Photo of blackie
3.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: pale golden in color with a low, white layer of carbonation

s: lots of clean, crackery pale malts, citrus hops of a slightly herbal, earthy nature

m: light bodied with a crisp, low-moderate carbonation

t: simply structured - clean and crackery grains with only a slight sugar presence, earthy citrus flavors, mild to moderate bitterness with fairly dry finish

d: balanced and drinkable, a little lacking in flavor depth for my preference, though it's refreshing to have a straightforward but well-made beer from time to time

Photo of metter98
3.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy yellow in color and has lots of fine particulates floating in suspension along with some larger particles floating near the bottom. It poured with a short white head that gradually died down, leaving a large patch of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of citrus hops are present in the nose.
T: The taste has lots of flavors of grassy hops along with notes of citrus and a moderate amount of associated bitterness. The grassy flavors linger into the finish, which also has a bit of spiciness to it.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and a little crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and seems quite bitter given its lighter body. I liked how much hop flavors and bitterness were packed into the taste.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of devilben02
3.7/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is another solid offering from this fledgling brewery. It pours with a rich golden color and a thin yet persistent cream-colored head. The aroma is dominated by a wonderfully fragrant earthy hop character. The bitterness is a bit less pronounced in the flavor, but a combination of earthy and lemony hops is still dominant, with only a light bready malt character to balance. The light carbonation and medium body stand up well to the flavor profile and help this one go down with ease. Overall, this beer lacks in complexity a bit, but it is a solid, highly drinkable pale ale.

Photo of wowbagger
2.48/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours a very pale yellow. Aroma is purely hops, initial flavor is the same. Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of the style, so it's not a favorite, but it is a good straightforward simple beer, miles better than the mass-produced "leading pale beers".

Photo of WineGuy3000
3.97/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very fresh 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Slightly hazy gold with a 1/2" white head that seems to retain nicely after a little settling down. Minimal lacing.

S: Disappointing. Vague-as-hell tropical fruit with a touch of cracker & even then I'm stretching.

T: Nice fruity hop up front transitions into an oily, piney hoppiness down the line. The malt bill is just robust enough to reign in all the different hop-forward aspects. If they tweaked it one way or the other just slightly, this might be a disaster. However, in typical Port City fashion, this brew is inexplicably perfectly balanced. The little west coast punch on the end is kind of awesome.

M: Acceptable. I'd argue it's too light for all the flavors here, but any more malt would throw everything else out of wack. Carb is OK.

O: The palate is what really appeals to me here, if the flavors & balance weren't exactly what they are, this brew would have gotten a much lower rating from me.

Photo of patre_tim
3.99/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Golden cloudy with tons of sediment floating within, a finger of sticky looking off white head. No visible carbonation.

S: Candied pineapple, onion, garlic, light spruce notes, yellow life saver candy.

T: Fruit cocktail, sweet and malty, nice yeasty dough quality, light bitterness. Significantly sweet, like a pineapple candy, but not overdone.

M: Medium body, medium low carbonation. The hops clean the palate from the initial sweetness leaving room for another sip.

O: The APA’s I enjoy most are of this style. Fruity, balanced, sweet with a good hop ending, yet the flavours all play well together Bought in Williamsburg, VA at the Cheese Factory.

Photo of spinrsx
3.44/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle from the SAQ Quebec for $2.50

Appearance - Gold colour with a small size white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some fair lacing. The head lasted for around 4-5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Hops, malts, grapefruit, breads/grains

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel, malts, and faint grapefruit. There is also some dry hops and a graininess.

Overall - An odd beer to show up at the SAQ. Looks like this brewer has some solid beers in their lineup, wonder why they chose to bring in the pale ale. An okay brew, along the lines of a Sierra Nevada pale ale. Not something I'd go out of my way for.

Photo of Rhettroactive
4/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 32oz growler to nonic pint glass on 8/19/11
*From notes

The growler was filled at Port City's brewery about 30 minutes prior, by owner/founder Bill Butcher. Thank you for generously putting this one "on your tab," Bill.

A: Filtered sunrise golden. a generous pour yields an impressive 1.5 finger head and as I drink, some really solid lacing rims the glass.

S: Like all of Port City's brews, it's got a pretty up front grain bill. As you get past the initial malty, creamy earth, there's a floral yet bitter hop essence to it.

T: It's got a solid all-grain kick right up front. As it hits the mid, a pinch of tallgrass and bittering hops arrive and ride on into the the finish. When extremely fresh like this, I also detect a fair amount of floral yet biting hop oil that balances out the malts.

M: Just what I was looking for. Slightly thin, yet extremely quaffable. The carbonation is a bit low, though it adds to the beer's insane drinkability.

O: Port City's Essential Pale Ale has quickly become one of my go-to, everyday session beers. I can honestly say that this doesn't hold a candle to many others within the APA style, it's too straightforward. Yet that's what I enjoy about it. It's a beer, folks. "A good, everyday, I just want a beer" beer.

Port City has grown on me in a big way, and their Essential Pale Ale is my favorite of their small yet earnest repertoire.

Photo of LaCoursiere
3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No bottled on or best-by date. Poured into a tulip glass. Thanks to gwillyb for sending me some fresh stuff so I can edit my review.

A - Pours a nice yellow-orange with a half finger off-white head. Very fine carbonation is visible. Minimal lacing.

S - The nose is a bit mute, slightly malty and citrusy nose.

T - Very clean taste that has hints of citrus and peppery spice. Biscuity malts peek through in the middle. The hops have a nice crisp bitterness that is slightly herbal, earty and grassy.

M - Medium-light bodied that is slick on the way in with carbonation that is very fine and light. It goes well with the mild flavor profile. No alcohol presence.

O/D - This is a nice beer that is quite drinkable... It would do exceedingly well on a hot summer day with the crisp, clean hop bitterness and lemony citrus notes.

Photo of TheDeuce
3.15/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Port City Essential Pale Ale…in the bottle at Old Ebbitt Grill restaurant in Washington D.C

Appearance-medium gold with a pale white head, I gave an aggressive pour and came back with three fingers of off white head that stay around for a little while and then summarily disappear.

Smell-light hoppy swirls arise first, alcohol along with bready malt, caramel in the nose as well.

Taste/Mouthfeel-light hops, fruit mixed in with a nice refreshing flavor, more citrus than piney, light to medium mouthfeel, a little thin but flavor doesn’t suffer much. Finishes with one last light fruit note, otherwise clean. I note that malt is very very subdued here.

Drinkability-fruit notes of the hops are refreshing, no issues.
Overall-an enjoyable and promising beer from these new guys. Not outstanding but a nice example of the style. I enjoyed it and will look forward to trying their other creations.

Photo of Clydesdale
3.23/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours a slightly hazed golden color, with a slight orange tint. The off-white head is medium sized, with a frothy consistency. Retention is solid, and some sticky lacing clings to the glass in a thin ring.

S: A fair amount of cookie/biscuit malty aroma. Light grain and caramel. Some nondescriptly herbal/spicy and fruity hop notes are present, but this is a pretty clean and balanced ale nose.

T: Fairly malty up front. Biscuity, crackery, and grainy flavors dominate. A touch of sweetness. Hop bitterness is medium, with herbal and somewhat soapy flavors. A somewhat muted secondary wave of bitterness arrives into the finish.

M: Fairly firm body. Carbonation is moderate. Hop bitterness contributes to a fading, almost sticky dryness.

D: This is completely drinkable and generally well balanced. It does lack a bit of pizzazz, and I'm not wild about the predominantly soapy hop flavor. In all, it's a serviceable brew but not a standout.

Photo of Thorpe429
3.56/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewery the second day after opening.

Pours a light golden color. Pretty transparent in the glass with some carbonation bubbles visible throughout. Good white head and a bit of lacing. The nose is pretty light with some citrus and floral notes. Hops are pretty light, though nice. Taste improve on the nose, which was just a bit too muted. There's certainly some backing malt character and they got the balanced character they were looking for. Pretty good at combining some malt along with some hop flavor. Mouthfeel is light and mildly bitter. Finish is slightly dry. Drinks pretty well and I could see this being quite sessionable. Looking forward to the IPA.

Photo of FirstBrewsoon
3.8/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Consumed from a tulip.

Poured a cloudy pale amber with half a finger of head which left mild lacing.

Smell is fairly constrained, hints of citrus and spice.

Excellent, balanced spicy taste, with more of the citrus than I expected. Nice lingering finish. Tastes great.

Perfect carbonation, somewhat thick mouthfeel.

Overall, a great session pale ale. I wish this were available back in Ohio where I live.

Photo of Rifugium
3.44/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at the brewery

Clearish amber pour, with a bubbly white head; moderate retention and lacing. Basic APA aroma of citrusy hops and crackery malts; a tad soapy. Decent balance in the taste, citrus-pith hops, pale malt sweetness, with the former edging out the latter by a margin. Some of the soapiness from the aroma was reflected in the taste, but it wasn't that bad. Light-medium body, moderate carbonation, generally good drinkability, though I wouldn't let this sit on a shelf for too long. A decent pale ale overall.

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Essential Pale Ale from Port City Brewing
81 out of 100 based on 171 ratings.