Essential Pale Ale
Port City Brewing

Essential Pale AleEssential Pale Ale
Write a Review
Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Pale Ale - American
Ranked #2,586
Ranked #43,411
3.58 | pDev: 13.97%
Port City Brewing
Virginia, United States
Essential Pale AleEssential Pale Ale
Reviews: 63 | Ratings: 206 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Tripel_Threat
Tripel_Threat from Michigan

3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice APA. Poured from crowler to glass. Pale gold color, chill haze, soapy head. Citrus hops and cracker in the aroma, predominantly grapefruit. Flavor is a nice mix of subtle pine with grapefruit pith, orange, and white bread. Smooth clean finish.

Aug 23, 2019
Photo of Gbpackers48
Gbpackers48 from North Carolina

4.06/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy gold with an off white head and nice lacing.

Subtle but clean hops

Mild hops, not over powering

Medium body, easy drinking

Very easy to drink, not overpowering, full flavor, solid brew

Dec 30, 2017
Photo of beerthulhu
beerthulhu from New Jersey

3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

-Spiegelau ipa glass. Bot. 07.17.17. Consumed 11.17.17.

A: Brassy lemon coloring has a bit of cloudiness. Small bubbles, average density fills the vessel. The capping is dirty seashell white, with a frumpy texture, with some bubbly activity on the surface, it maintains a good stay. Single band lacing nearly encircles the vessel.

S: Tart sour lemons with some wheaty aroma. Low to mid awareness.

T: Light straw-wheat backing. Tart lemon peel and grapefruit hops. Some subtle fruitiness with a balance of tartness and bitterness. Some straw and lingering dry citrus peel, semi-dry hops conclude and fades on the swallow.

M: Active carbonation makes this crisp, wet and slippery feel with hop oils sliding about on the tongue. Dry flowery and grains tease the tongue there-after.

O: Tart lemon grapefruit pulp hops, dry grains with a nice level of hops and bitterness indeed makes this an essential pale ale. Good summertime drink, with a very good crispness factor from the carbonation. Pale grain backing, tart, and drinkable.

Nov 29, 2017
Photo of HattedClassic
HattedClassic from Virginia

4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Frothy head that dissipates quickly. Clear pale gold that looks really nice. Smell and taste resembles a flowery orange rind with a light grapefruit rind. It has the same notes as the Monumental but not as intense regarding the hops. Light malt note that is bready. The body is good. Light but with presence enough to keep it from being watery. Fuzzy carbonation. Pretty good.

Jun 10, 2017
Photo of got2
got2 from District of Columbia

3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Port City beers aren't as showy or typically available with the variety of beers from from companies like Flying Dog, but this consistency is what makes them so appealing. No flashy labels or trendy varieties, just consistently good beers. Their Essential Pale Ale isn't any different. It smells of yeast and alcohol, with a light head that dissipates quickly. The color is a rich yellow, accompanied with relatively low carbonation. Taste-wise, there's less of a bite than a nip (though there's a touch of bitterness at the end), though in this context that's okay.

That being said, it reminds me more of a pilsner than an ale.

It's nice, flavorful and the perfect choice for a hot summer day (or if you're weening someone off of 'barely there beers' like Budweiser or Miller).

Jul 08, 2016
Photo of breardon1776
breardon1776 from New York

3.82/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I love this pale ale. On a trip to Gaitherburg, MD for work. Great taste. Creamy comes to mind though it is def. not that kind of beer. Looks great too. Great with a burger or fish taco. I will drink this aain if I find it again. I would drink again.

Apr 19, 2016
Photo of cbutova
cbutova from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Pours from a 12oz bottle into my glass with a semi-hazy apricot orange body and some chunks sinking to the bottom. A very tall, thick frothy white head rises up from the brew with very good retention. Lacing sticks everywhere.

S- Citrus and a hint of tropical fruit hops giving mostly orange and grapefruit notes above a very small hint of crackery pale grains. Clean and balanced; inviting.

T- Things open up all around with both the malts and hops gaining some depth. Hops take on a bitter edge with pine resin, orange peel, grapefruit, grassy and floral tones. This mixes in smoothly with yeast bread, cracker, slight toast and a hint of sweetness.

MF- Creamy and fluffy texture to what overall is a light bodied brew. High end carbonation lands smoothly and allows some of the delicate flavors to really get noticed. Ends with just a hint of bitterness.

Somewhat simple when it comes down to it but the things that are presented are done quite nicely. Citrus hop tones balanced out by a lightly sweet and crackery malt base.

Sep 02, 2015
Photo of chinchill
chinchill from South Carolina

3.59/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle with a packaged date of May 15 2015.
Hazy golden body looks like unfiltered apple cider but has a durable head that leaves some lacing.
Fruity and herbal hop aroma is a bit too earthy, but the fruit and herbal elements shine in the taste.
Medium-high carbonation with a medium body.

Jun 25, 2015
Photo of MUTINY
MUTINY from Virginia

3.97/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

May 14, 2015
Photo of ordybill
ordybill from Georgia

4/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

Mar 01, 2015
Photo of metter98
metter98 from New York

3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
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

Dec 18, 2014
Photo of srw
srw from Virginia

3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Golden in color with an off white head. Smells of lemon, grapefruit, and cracker malts. Taste is lemon, orange, and some grassy bitterness. Body is medium, so is the carbonation. Nice, light, and easy to drink

Oct 26, 2014
Photo of hophugger
hophugger from Virginia

3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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 !!

Aug 18, 2014
Photo of Frank_TX
Frank_TX from Virginia

3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed from a bottle and purchased in Alexandria, VA. Overall I was impressed by this easy-drinking "pale ale." Not too heavy and was able to finish 1/3 of a 6-pack without any effort. Next time I am in Alexandria, I need to tour the brewery.

Aug 02, 2014
Photo of patre_tim
patre_tim from Thailand

3.99/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

Jun 17, 2014
Photo of spinrsx
spinrsx from Canada

3.44/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Jun 06, 2014
Photo of Triat00
Triat00 from Canada

3.54/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Its an american pale ale so expect grape fruit and citrus. Its realy pale but you CAN feel residual sugar. Carbonation is Well balanced.

Overall, for the price i wont hesitate. Its a middle class pale ale that is more hoppy then a lot of others. There are even some commercial companies that could say that its an ipa.

Jun 06, 2014
Photo of guityler83
guityler83 from Wisconsin

3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: 2 1/2 finger head, mixed bubbles, bright white in a standard pint glass. Great retention, as it fell there was a honey comb lacing on the edge of the glass. The beer is a hazy dark yellow color with no sediment.

S: Grapefruit and citrus hop aroma is moderate. slight biscuity / toasty aroma comes through from the malts. no esters detected.

T: Low to moderate grapefruit bitterness that follows through to the end. very clean crisp fermentation character. More pine and citrus hop flavors are noticable in the middle and add a nice balance to the grapefruit bitterness. Malt flavor is low but detectable as a toasty undertone.

M: Crisp mouthfeel with a moderate level of carbonation and low body. Very drinkable.

O: A very close beer to SNPA. Same grapefruit hop character with maybe a little more bitterness and some different subtleties peeking through. Solid pale ale just not all that exciting.

Nov 30, 2013
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium from North Dakota

3.44/5  rDev -3.9%
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.

Nov 30, 2013
Photo of FirstBrewsoon
FirstBrewsoon from Ohio

3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
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.

Nov 27, 2013
Photo of Jeffreysan
Jeffreysan from Maryland

2.87/5  rDev -19.8%
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.

Oct 30, 2013
Photo of delta490
delta490 from Virginia

3.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- came out a hazy orange with a creamy white head. minimal retention but did leave lacing throughout the beer

S-big citrus notes, a little tangy aroma to it

T- there is a nice balance between the malt (bready) and hops (citrus). One doesn't dominate or overwhelm the other and there is a nice interplay between the two

M- thinner but with a little carbonation fizz on the finish and a little bitter bite on the opening

O- a really good Pale Ale. Tasty and well-worth trying

Oct 06, 2013
Photo of Hesperus
Hesperus from Virginia

3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Aug 09, 2013
Photo of maketheheartglad
maketheheartglad from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Lighter brown, but like you'd expect from a pale ale.

S - Smells like citrus and flowers and something i couldn't place.

T - It tastes like goji fruit! almost exactly and similar to goji tea. It's an Asian fruit.

M - Slippery.

O - I like Goji fruit and that's why this is a good pale ale to me. It's like a fruit beer in that way, but also a good pale ale.

May 27, 2013
Photo of cyclonece09
cyclonece09 from Wisconsin

3.72/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours a transparent orange with some floaties in it. Smells like flowery and piney hops, very nice. Tastes of light grain and flowery hops, but not overly bitter. Beer goes down really smooth and is highly drinkable for its light body. Overall, an above average beer.

May 08, 2013
Essential Pale Ale from Port City Brewing
Beer rating: 81 out of 100 with 206 ratings