Pugnacious Pale Ale | Grand River Brewing

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Pugnacious Pale AlePugnacious Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Grand River Brewing
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.50%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
The Pugnacious Pale Ale is an American Pale Ale brewed with four healthy doses of cascade hops added throughout the boil. This punchy yet balanced pale ale is loaded with character from the citrusy cascade hops to the sweet yet light malt backbone.

This Pugnacious Pale Ale is 4.5% ABV, 45 IBU and straw blond to copper in colour. Great for a night on the patio shared between friends.

Added by peensteen on 08-17-2011

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Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 59
Photo of TheBierdimpfe
3.94/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Cloudy golden color with lots of activity. Weak creamy white 1 finger head, lasting around 5 minutes, but with thick legs. Flavors of caramel, lemon, pineapples, grapefruits, apples, melon, sweet grains, floral and herbal spices. Moderately sugary tropical fruits with sharp citrus bitterness. Slick medium body with crispy carbonation. Strong finish, astringent tongue feels with notes of clove, ending quite dry with a slightly earthy and dense leafy feel of hops. Interesting mouth feel, not too excessive but still bold, quite complex and long lasting. Very tasty, really enjoyed the quality of the fruit flavors and the freshness is good. Generally feels like a toned down soft IPA with more malts and a good kick. Overall very good quality craft.

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Photo of PorterPro125
3.64/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Serving Type: 500 mL Bottle

A- Pours a Pale Golden colour with a fizzy 1/2 finger head that quickly dies down. No lacing.

S- Faint smell of citrus. Not much going on.

T- Grapefruit, Lemon, and an earthy bitterness. Bitterness is a little over-pronounced.

M- Light-medium body and light carbonation. Silky mouthfeel.

O- Overall a good APA. Not much going for it in terms of appearance and aroma but the taste and mouthfeel make up for it. Would be a lot better if the bitterness was dialed back and more even with the other flavours.

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Photo of Cramshawbar
3.25/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

No. This is not a beer I would try again. I prefer IPAs, at least when comparing them to this one. It's bitterness is not a positive, though it should be....the nose is a turnoff....and the aftertaste is regrettable.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.58/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

500 ml bottle served cold into a pint glass. Purchased from LCBO for $3.95. Bottled in April 2015.

Appearance - pale golden copper color. Very clear with a half finger of head on top. Modest retention at best.

Smell - Some grapefruit and lemon citrus aroma, but rather subdued.

Taste - Orange and grapefruit then a drier earthier taste. Quite bitter on the finish. Some mild caramel malt in the middle but mostly bitter across the board.

Mouthfeel - Very smooth and lightly carbonation gives this APA a creamier feel. Dry finish.

Overall - A good if not spectacular APA that leans towards the drier and more bitter end of things. Definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of BuckyBeerBeaver
3.71/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

One of six different beers purchased directly from Grand River's Cambridge Brewery, Bucky first sampled a 500 ml bottle of their Pugnacious Pale Ale (“PPA”). Bottled on December 6, 2013, PPA is a beer in the American Pale Ale style with 4.5% alcohol by volume.

PPA poured an absolutely clear copper-amber colour with plenty of visible carbonation bubbles, topped by about 1” of soapy white head. The head took about 3 minutes to dissipate, fading to a smooth cap of foam which left some modest lacing and spotting in its wake. Its aroma was dominated by grapefruit, with an undertone of lemon citrus. The flavour was dominated from the start by a strong bitter grapefruit with notes of lemon, with the bitterness mitigated only slightly by a mild caramel malt sweetness. The bitter grapefruit flavour lingered as a long-lived aftertaste. PPA's carbonation was surprisingly light considering the quantity of visible bubbles, and I would describe the beer as light-medium bodied with a creamy mouth feel imparted by the long lasting cap of foam.

While the beer's price was not individually itemized on my bill, I see that PPA sells for $3.95 per 500 ml bottle at the LCBO and that I paid an average of $3.49 per 500 ml for my collection of 6 different beers from the brewery's retail store.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at the LCBO $4.85 500ml bottle. Served at 6deg C in a draught glass.

A- Opened well. Nice light head. Pours clear light amber

S- Excellent! Hints of citrus, orange peel and malt

T- Not as good as it smells! Nice APA. NBA special but ok. Adequate all around.

M- Pretty good. Nice bite on the tip of the tongue and the bitterness lasts

O- Pretty good. Would like to try on tap if I see it. Worth $2.50 473ml can if that comes out

Food Pairing

This nice British rendition of a pale ale paired well with... spicy tuna sushi roll.


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Photo of korguy123
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy dark copper pour. Three dinner creamy off white head. Good of sticky lacing.

Grapefruit, limes, apples and some pears. Digestive cookies with a wheat aroma.

Lime, digestive cookies, unripe oranges. Slightly tart and odd. Old bottle? Not really is only 3 months old (I know that's not fresh but not old enough to effect taste that much)

Light to medium body, decent carbonation, slightly chewy.

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Photo of SebD
3.6/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice semi-cloudy golden/orange color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of apples, citrus, grassy hops and sweet caramelly malts.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has that apple/citrus taste, along with a slightly grassy bitterness and sweet caramelly malts.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavors and aromas.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.57/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle from the LCBO; bottled on May 28 2012. Glad I managed to grab the last bottle on the shelf because I've wanted to try this one for a while - Grand River is one Ontario brewer whose products I rarely find fault with.

Pours a translucent honey-amber colour, topped with one finger of creamy white head. It takes a few minutes to dissipate, leaving behind a smooth cap and decent lacing. The aroma is a bit weak in intensity but otherwise pleasant - some toffee or caramel malt sweetness is evident, alongside some grassy hay and light citrus. A decent start, but I am far from blown away.

And unfortunately that seems to be a persistent theme - the flavour profile is fine, but it's on the mild side and not all that interesting. Bready malts with some light toffee sweetness provide the backbone, with some earthy, piney, vaguely grapefruit-like bitterness that becomes more of a factor toward the finish. Slightly dry aftertaste that doesn't linger long. Light-bodied and disappointingly watery, with weak carbonation for the style. The high drinkability is probably the best feature of this brew.

Final Grade: 3.57, just barely eking out a B grade. From my own entirely subjective perspective, Pugnacious Pale Ale is probably the weakest Grand River offering I have yet tried. That being said - APAs are a fairly straightforward style, and this is a perfectly serviceable example. It's just not a memorable one. The light 4.5% abv and balanced flavours make this a worthy session option, but this one's a little pricy for that to be realistic. This one is worth a try, but in the future I'll probably just stick with their Plowman's Ale if I'm in the mood for a hoppy, sessionable ale.

[Updated Sept. 27 2013]

Decided to re-visit this one, in case the last bottle was just off. This one was dated Aug. 13 2013. There's nothing especially wrong with this beer, so I bumped the score a bit - it tastes fine, and if you're in the mood for a maltier, sessionable pale ale you might want to grab a bottle or two. Still, it's not a very interesting brew, with a flat mouthfeel and lacking any sort of aggression from the hops. Given those facts and the $3.95/bottle price point, finding a superior pale ale isn't that difficult.

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Photo of Molson2000
4/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on Aug. 18, 2011, 500 Ml poured into a McAuslan tulip glass. Nice golden straw colour. Slight grassy hop aroma. Good head that disapates fairly quickly leaving a thin veil and good lacing. Fairly clean mouth feel with good carbonation and a nice crisp bite. Finish is dry with a slight hop bite and a bit of fruitiness. A great session beer.

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Photo of funkengruven
4.03/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another new brew from down the street, This poured a light amber with a light head, leaving some lacing. Smell is malty, has the same hints of aroma as almost all of Grand River's other offerings, which isn't a bad thing just simply an observation. Taste is pretty much exactly what it should be, malts dominate in the beginning with a light hop finish. An easy finish with a slight aftertaste of hops.

I rather enjoyed this. I was maybe expecting the hops to dominate a little more but overall this did not disappoint. Recommended.

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Photo of kjyost
3.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 mL bottled on Aug 3, 2011. Thanks tbeckett! Poured at 4C into a tulip.

A: Hazy copper with a head that just didn't want to pop up until I poured it aggressively. Remained as a cap with touches of lacing for an extended period though.
S: Lots of sweet malts and caramel with some earthy and fruity hops. This all plays together to be smelling a little more alcoholic than I expected for a 4.5% ABV brew...
T/M: A continuation of the same aromas, with the hops being a touch more dominant, though still understated for what I was expecting. The body itself it watery with a slight bitterness that remains.
O: A touch more hops would make me happier, though maybe if I tasted it fresher it would have been better.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.11/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

500ml bottle sent by liamt07 and poured into tulip 12/10/11

A hazy golden orange with a stream of bubbles feeding an off white finger of foam that quickly falls to a thin film but leaves a few partial rings of lace

S bready caramel with some sour green apple

T some dry cereal and purple grape candy flavor to go with what I smell, somethings just not quite right though not necessarily off but not that great

M fairly light with lots of bubbles but a strange aftertaste leaves me a little confused

O pretty basic pale ale, nothing bad but nothing worth looking for

Perhaps a hard act to follow for this one after a Fresh Full Moon and an Atomic Smash Bomb perhaps I'm being hard on it but I just wasn't all that impressed by it

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Photo of kwjd
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright orange colour with thick white head. Nice lacing around the glass with ok head retention. Smells of mild citrus and grassy hops with some bready malt. Nice balanced pale ale. Good bitterness level. Medium-bodied carbonation level. Very balanced and easy to drink. I enjoy this.

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Photo of papat444
3.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to TheSevenDuffs for this one. Glad to see they've improved on the look of their labels as this looks a lot better.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle, bottled Aug. 31, 2011.

Appearance: A slightly cloudy orange-copper body. Good start on the foam but the lasting power isn't quite there. Nice lacing though.

Smell: Fresh hops, grass, citrus and melon.

Taste: Grassy hops, bitterness kept in check, bit of a mineral taste, good bite. More on the fruit side with very mild grapferuit and orange pulp. Some tea-like aspects to the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation, bitterness leans to dryness a bit but overall it seems quite solid.

Overall: Hops are laid back. It feels conservative and nothing really stands out though it's still tasty.

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Photo of drinkininthewood
3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle from the brewery, bottle aug18 2011. 50 cents more than other regulars from the brewery...I was told it was due to the beer being "exclusive" to the LCBO...but its being sold at the brewery anyways...Thanks again LCBO, oh well on with my review.

A- Nice copper color with a pretty nice head of foam and lace to follow.

S- biscuity malts, fresh bread, citrus, herbal, touch of caramel.

T- Malty beer, hint of honey/caramel sweetness with ctirusy hops shining lightly mid palate. Strong mineral water characteristics are quite noticeable in the finish.

M- Body is on the low side of moderate, with smooth carbonation, finish is just a tad watery.

D- A sessionable beer with good flavor.

Overall the beer is light and easy drinking. Pretty good quaff. Hops are slightly subdued. Good beer but not the best this brewery has to offer by any means.

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Photo of paxkey
3.15/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

very dull bottle art. most uncreative and uninspiring. especially when considering the beer name. heres hoping they put all their creative efforts into the juice.

bottle date aug 3 2011.
poured straight into a pint glass. 2 fingers of head. a little on the soapy side. body is amber honey hazy.

a little funk in the nose. malt comes off right away but i am looking for hops aroma. hops are coming through, west coast style citrus but kinda muted. toasty grassy notes.

beer is on the buttery side and not in a fantastic way. finishes dry and malty with a final hop bitterness lingering.

middle has some of the juicy hop flavors.
nice body to the beer. refreshing and drinkable.
not a bad beer but nothing memorable.

the butteriness is a definite detractor.

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Photo of WeedKing4
3.9/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark, clear, golden amber with a decent amount of head in the Samuel Smith pint glass. Tastes slightly malty with a very faint piney hop finish to it. It could obviously use some more hop presence, but its not that bad overall. I would have no problem drinking this at a pub if it was available here.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle

Appearance – Clear light copper colour with a large size frothy and fizzy white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation visible and there is a good amount of lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel, bread

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel, and some dry hops. There is also a slight citrus taste.. either oranges or grapefruits. The beer finishes with a malty slightly bitter dry hop aftertaste.

Overall – This is a very tasty beer but at the same time is really forgettable. I'm happy I gave it a shot but I wouldn't pick this one up again.. maybe if it was a little less expensive.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dirty amber color ale with a nice thick off-white foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of citrus and bitter hops typical of Cascade hops. Taste is mostly dominated by your typical Cascade hops notes of citrus and bitter. Malt backbone is quite dry and noticeable though doesn’t overshadow the hops profile. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well done with good drinkability while staying within the style guidelines.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Courtesy northyorksammy (thanks!) - poured from a 500mL bottle into my Samuel Smith nonic. Bottled August 3rd, 2011.

Brilliantly clear pumpkin orange liquid with light amber highlights. Very faint beige collar and surface slick with poor retention.

Tamales, and crackery malt notes in the nose suggest a touch of DMS perhaps, but not in an unpleasant manner. Hops are conspicuously absent. Takes on a candy corn aspect as it warms.

Quite biscuity on the palate, with hints of orange marmalade as well (hops finally?). Crumpet dough, waffles, and alfalfa round things out suggesting more of an English Pale Ale or a weak English Bitter perhaps than a true APA. Slight diacetyl perhaps, but again, not unwelcome in the context of the flavor profile.

Light-bodied, moderately carbonated, and soft.

Highly quaffable, but misses all the marks for style...so difficult to rate really.

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Photo of mintjellie
3.53/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brilliant amber orange in colour. Fine-textured eggshell head lacks a little in retention but leaves a pretty lace. Malty aroma redolent of freshly baked bread with faint earthy undertones. On tasting, bready character is overlaid by a hop flavour that is predominantly leafy and only slightly citric. The balance swings more towards the malty side. Still, it finishes with a pronounced bitterness. A very English sort of pale ale. Light bodied with low carbonation. A decent and drinkable session bitter. Fresher than any imported bitters sold by the LCBO.

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Photo of liamt07
3.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a pint glass. Bottled August 18, 2011.

Pours a lightly hazy orangeish-copper, finger or so of off-white head, which fades to a thick film and a collar. Moderate lace. Nose of some orangey hops, mild citrus and pine notes and caramel. Some breadiness as well. Somewhat tame, but not unpleasant for an APA. Taste has the breads and caramel hit the palate first, with some more orangey and citrusy hops coming in right after. Mild bitterness that hangs a round a bit, in addition to some metallic or hard water notes. Medium carbonation and a just-lighter-than-medium mouthfeel. Easy drinkability, as I've found with most (if not all) GR brews. Simple and effective, but lacks the depth and complexity of a lot of higher pales. As others have suggested, this has qualities more akin to an English bitter or pale and should probably be re-categorized as such.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.62/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - One finger white head on a golden kinda body. Good carbonation. Bright. A slight amount of lacing with a good film of retention.

S - Great piney, juicy citrus aroma. Some crackers maybe. Mostly that citrus goodness from the hops.

T - Great prickly pineapple, grapefruit, pear, and crackers for the taste. Light but full flavoured. Sort of a soapy start leads into a little citrus.

M - Light body, proper carbonation and a little bitter snap.

O/D - Very flavourful and drinkable. The body could use work and if they would tinker with the malt bill and up the ABV (which they won't b/c it's Grand River) it could be a great shot at an IPA or something along those lines. A good beer, pushing the hop boundaries in Ontario for lower ABVs. Could be better with an ABV lift which would give it a flavour lift as well, it's just too mild to qualify as a great beer for the style.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - light amber colour - one finger head with little retention and a wee bit of lacing

S - light malt with some grassy hops - caramel

T - follows the scent - similar to the Plow Man with a lower hops profile - plenty of hard water taste

M - slightly bitter - light body and carbonation - almost creamy smooth - very drinkable

O - a very sessionable ale - seems a little closer to the english version in taste and feel - a nice brew although I was hoping for more from Grand River on this one

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Pugnacious Pale Ale from Grand River Brewing
3.52 out of 5 based on 59 ratings.
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