Special Pale Ale (SPA) | Pizza Port Solana Beach

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Special Pale Ale (SPA)Special Pale Ale (SPA)
44 Ratings
Special Pale Ale (SPA)Special Pale Ale (SPA)

Brewed by:
Pizza Port Solana Beach
California, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by beerguy101 on 09-15-2003

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 44 |  Reviews: 32
Photo of SethB2
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a dirty orange color, very cloudy, with no head to speak of.

S - Hoppy up front, but also a plenty of roasted grain. Burnt honey sweetness comes through as well.

T - Rating within it's style, I don't see how the taste can be any better. Hoppy with a very strong malt profile. Approaching IPA categorization, but not quite there. Strong and very flavorful. Well done.

M - Takes a major ding here for not having much carbonation. It has a medium body, but the lack of bubbles make this seem borderline watery.

D - Good. I'd love to be able to find this in Northern California.

Thanks to westsidethreat for the chance to try this.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a light hazed, semi golden-orange color. Very minimal off white head flared for a moment then receeded quickly. Only small wisps remain.

S: Lightly malty with a lot of grapefruit, kind bud and a touch of strawberry.

T: Starts off with a nice toasted sweetness. Moves slowly to malty watermelon flavor. Finishes with grapefruit that lingers for quite a while.

M: Medium bodied, carbonation neither helps nor hinders the beer.

D: Yep, this is a quaffer. Very nice indeed.

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Photo of oberon
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured aclear light copper with a thinner wispy white head,nice fresh aromas quite floral and citrusy mainly grapefruit with notes of apricot and pineapple as well there seemed to be a toasted note underneath as well.Pretty well balanced the hops winning out by a small margin, citrusy and fresh grapefruit rind and over ripe pinapple dominate with an underlying lightly carmale sweet malt base.Refreshing and seems lighter that its alc% quite flavorful and goes down easy,recomended for sure.

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Photo of nflmvp
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Boolshot for this sample...wish I had more than one.

Poured a rusty orange with a HUGE head that took forever to dissipate.

Citrusy nose that was very enticing, especially to a guy who is admittedly NOT a hop head.

Taste was also VERY citrusy and a little sweet I was VERY pleased at the taste of this....again, for a guy who is NOT very into hops.

Drinkability was very good and again, I wish I had another. This one is going down to quickly and I'll be looking for a second when it's gone.

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz stubby. Pours a solid golden color with a finger and half of head that falls fairly quickly after a solid pour, leaving a half finger over top. Clarity is good, with the lightest haze in there, and a very vigorous carbonation keeps streaming from the bottom of the glass. Nose is sweet orange and grapefruit mixed together, sweet and tart, there is a mild caramel base underneath, but the citrus notes are king in this one. I like it a lot, as its sweet but still a little sassy with the grapefruit tinge, and hint of bitterness on the end. Flavor is right with the nose. After taking a sip, I get a hit of hop bitterness that moves towards a the sweet citrusy hop flavor with just a touch of caramel underlying the hop. It finishes very clean, with a moderate bitter and very nice grapefruit and orange citrus as it lingers on my tongue. I like the contrast between the sweet and mildly tart citrus character from the hop, the light caramel malt and the clean bitter. This is a tasty beer. Feel is right at moderate with a moderate carbonation made of small bubbles. I enjoy the nice, small bubbles, as it breaks up the moderate body without taking it away completely. This beer is not lasting long in my glass. I think the aftertaste is as good as the flavor when sipping it. The flavor just seems to last, without fading. Excellent APA.

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Photo of warriorsoul
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks for this hand delivery from orbitalr0x.
A hazy copper color with a full finger of white head...sticks around for a little while and leaves some fairly thick lacing as it recedes back into the brew.
Huge fruity hops in the nose with sweet carmelized malt backing it up.
The taste is quite nice...perfectly balanced malt to hop ratio with a somewhat earthy yeast in the finish.
Bitterness lingers on the pallet as the hops hang on for dear life...begging me to call it an IPA, but after having some of Pizza Port's hoppy treats, I know better.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is right for the style.
Easy drinking here...perfect for any occasion.

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Photo of lou91
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bright orange/red and can you say Floaties? – tons of suspended yeast which I tend to like but be forewarned. Smell and taste are all about caramel – malty with a great hop bitterness. This is one to have with some apple slices to mimic the caramel apple tastes. Very nice and unique.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Slightly hazed orange-amber. Small beige head leaves moderate amounts of lace. Aroma is just as it should be. Dominated by hop qualities with a backdrop of caramel malts. The hops impart a citrusy, piney, pungent-like aroma. Very nice. This one is very nice on the buds. Hops are noticeable, but not over-bearing. They add touches of resin, grapefruit, cannabis and pine sap to the overall equation. Malts provide a sturdy enough foundation with caramel/toffee malt tones the primary ones. A nice little bitterness lingers with the fresh hoppiness on the palate long after the sip. Finish is a little dry and also grassy. Body checks in around medium. Alcohol is not very evident. This one's good. Could be a go-to kind of brew for me if it were available.

Senior Shit is a pretty cool guy. He actually brought this back for me from his trip to San Diego. Thanks dude.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Stubby silk screened bottle with a cool surfer image. Brewed and bottled in Carlsbad. Pours from the bottle a nice deep amber orange with a half inch of creamy, bubbly off white head on top accentuated by strings of lace. Aromas are an upfront blast of heady grapefruity, tropical, citric hops with some rich pine sap. Fresh, whole green leafy hops come to mind as the resinous aromas reach my nose. A sweet caramelly background is present but the beautiful, bountiful hops steal the show. Very enjoyable to simply sit and smell.

First sip brings upfront melding of vibrant citrusy, piney hops. There's a sweet caramel, slightly bready malty background that attempts to hold it's own against the hoppy onslaught. Awesome interplay between the grapefruity hops and the pine notes really make this one enjoyable for me. Finishes with a big smack of vine ripe bitter hops that linger on after each sip. A damn tasty brew...very Special indeed. Way more of an IPA than an APA....and a outstanding IPA at that.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with light compact carbonation that gives the brew a creamy feeling. Very easy to drink I would not mind a session of these at all. I wish I had easier access to this brew as it'd be a staple in my fridge. Chalk up another win for the brewers at Pizza Port Carlsbad...I will have to savor my last 2 bottles.

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Photo of amatuerbeerguy
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured out nice copper color, same as on tap. Although the head was huge out of the bottle. Left some lacing in glass. Citrus aroma, with some orange some grapefruit. Taste most excellent Lemon, grapefruit, some orange appears at the end. With hop and citrus bitterness lasting thoughout the experience. Some malt and caramel protrude in the end, for a fantastic finish. Medium body, smooth and creamy. Overall an excellent example of a nicely brewed APA, hats off to the Pizza Port brewers. I had the chance to visit all three, last week. Highly recommend if in southern California. Cheers

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Photo of BrewMaster
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this beer on the cask on Friday 9/2/05 at Pizza Port Carlsbad.

Appearance: Creamy cascading off white head exactly as one would expect from a hand pumped beer. Once the cascading settles the beer is a clear copper color with a stiff fluffy head. The beer is still (no carbonation) and the head lasts forever.

Smell: Spicy hop nose with some floral and pine qualities. Very fragrant.

Taste: Citrusy hop flavor displaying a slight bitterenss. The malt is slightly toasty and bready with a mild, soft fruit flavor. The beer has a hoppy finish with a pine kick at the end. Still the flavor seems subdued or weak.. What's there is good but there's not much to taste.

Mouthfeel: Creamy medium bodied cask feel with no carbonation and a smooth watery end. This beer may rely on the carbonation to really get the flavor and feel out of it. The cask mouthfeel is good but I don't think it helps with the flavor.

Drinkability: This is a good pale ale, but nothing earth shaking. The cask conditioning helps the presentation and feel, but I think it may diminish the flavor or at least the reception of the flavor in my mouth. Without the cask conditioning I suspect this beer would just taste like an average pale ale, if that.

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Photo of oggg
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Multiple tastings

This orange hued pale ale has been such a success they've started bottling it. Citrus aroma leans towards orangey, not grapefruity. They say it's made with Amarillo. Brief fizz, nice hop bite, then JUICY citrus hop flavor. Just gorgeous. Then a tremendous warming wave of grainy malt surges in. Quite lovely. Finish is lightly dry. Medium bodied.

Overall: An intensely drinkable, JUICY, pale ale.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask at the brewpub: Softly lit copper with a cascade of dull ochre dancing up to put a poof of light yellowed froth on top. Settles with a thicker set foam of oatmeal creamyness. Lacing in dump truck loads of sandy coated sheeting.

Aroma is citrusy with a high ended alpha acid aridness. Crisp toned with a orange/lemon sided tint with grapefruit jam. Juicy and thickly lingering within its crispness. Quite unique in its quality.

Taste is all about the citrus bitterness. Lemon, grapefruit, and orange all scrap across with pure quality alpha acids. Citrusy as hell with a big pithy-like bitterness that tends to peak early and linger long. Small piney whisps around the edges. Malts are there in the back with a toasted caramel backing adding a fairly rounded balance to its overall singe of puckering citrus. One hoppy pale for sure.

Feel is medium bodied with a creamy quick front then followed by crisply thick setting of carbonation. Really takes hold right away with the hops and lingers. Toasted slightly with a big pithy citrus twist. All that and smooth as any cask pulled brew could be. The only thing that hampered its drinkability is its full-on coating of citrusy pith bitterness. I don't think I really tasted my sandwich for lunch as this was what accompanied it.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

07/03/05- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA

Presentation- 12oz stubby bottle (reminescent of a shorter Sierra Nevada bottle). Undated and poured into a random pint glass.

Appearance- Fat creamy white pock marked head, golden-orange color pour with what looked like suspended yeast floaties in mid air....and lots of them. Average amounts of lacing.

Smell- The first whiff almost burned my nosehairs off completely. It was like the maximum amount of pine hops mixed with butane lighter fluid and paint thinner. To me, that was a good thing.

Taste- Very good sweeter malt backbone with a very nice chunk of pine resinous hops tossed in. A tad bit of grapefruit and maybe a touch of orange peel tossed in for good measure.

Mouthfeel- Pale ale quality carbonation with a sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability- One of the top pale ales I have had. I knew when my eyes spotted Pizza Port on the shelves that I was in for something special.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: A 12 ounce stubby, the same as those used for the Frank D-IPA. A simple brass colored crown cap sits atop a white screen printed brown glass bottle, which has a home-made presentation about. The reverse printing simply has the Governments usual nanny state warning crap, but the obverse printed label is much more interesting. The front has the words ‘Port Brewing’, with a picture of a Surfer Dude taking the waves. Labeled as “Special Pale Ale”. Strength is listed as 5.8%. No Best Before Date but as this one is a new release I know it is at least fresh.

Appearance: Amber-orange body that is slightly turbid when poured. A lovely off-white almost vanilla colored head quickly rises in my tall Pilsener Urquell flute when poured. The head settles slowly, leaving some lacing and a thick deep rocky mass that holds well. Above average carbonation.

Nose: !!!Wow!!! Quite the impact from this one! Juicy hops and a lovely malt backbone fill the aromas. Fruity in the front end with a sweet malt feel and fresh hops in the back end.

Taste: Starts with a fruity hop entrance. Middle has sweetish malts but these are nicely balanced by the hop-bitterness. Some dry bitterness in the middle proceeds to finish with some citrus orange in the back end which in turn leaves a piney hop oil bitterness lingering in the mouth. Tasty stuff.

Mouthfeel: The smooth feel created by drinking through the ever present creamy head and the above average carbonation, both give a medium to full bodied feel.

Drinkability: Damn lovely this one. A fine Special Pale Ale that benefits from a neatly compacted typical West Coast hop juice finish.

Overall: I first tried this on draft at the 2004 Pizza Port Real Ale Festival, where it impressed me. If my ailing memory is anything to go by, the bottle version is just as good. Worth seeking out and maybe picking up a few 6-Packs of this one!

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Photo of rowew
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz silk screened bottle, no freshness info.

Appearance: Hazy red-orange color with a thick head that is very solid.

Smell: Aroma is fruity and hoppy, with a nice sweet malt backbone.

Taste: Medium bodied, with lots of malt sweetness, and some good hops in the finish. Hops leave a nice bitter finish. Hops in the finish are nice and piney.

Overall impression: Nice pale ale - definitely stands out from the regular APA offerings. Now available in six packs from Pizza Port - $7.99 at the time of purchase.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draught @ Real Ale Fest & Pizza Port
The beers sets in the glass a slightly hazy golden amber color with a generous head and a nice bit of lace, white in color, semi-creamy in texture. Nose is hop floral sweet and crisp, start is also sweet with a nice malt profile, top is moderate. Finish was moderate in carbonation with the hops upfront and plentiful, dry long lasting aftertaste, had it at the fest and the Carlsbad Pizza Port, to good to pass up at either place.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on tap at the Carlsbad location in Dec. 2003.

This pale ale poured a clear amber color with white foam that settled but clung to the glass. The smell was a good, strong, fruity hop aroma with some background malt. The taste was very hoppy (fruity hops) but was nicely balanced by sweet malt. There was a bit of floral hop flavor as well. The aftertaste was dry and hoppy. The body was medium with low carbonation feel. The feel was a little sweet up front but with a very hoppy, dry finish. This was a very nice and easily drinkable pale ale and especially smooth on cask.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An extra hopped Pale Ale. Medium pale brown color. Aroma is malty and hoppy. A medium bodied pale ale. Malts are nutty and slightly sweet. Hops are very prominent and grapefruity. Well balanced. Nice flavor. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter.

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Special Pale Ale (SPA) from Pizza Port Solana Beach
Beer rating: 4.14 out of 5 with 44 ratings