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Essential Pale Ale | Port City Brewing

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58 Reviews
Essential Pale AleEssential Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Port City Brewing
Virginia, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ahalloin on 02-04-2011

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 58 | Ratings: 193
Photo of CuriousMonk
2.43/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On tap at Stoney's in DC. Poured into pint glass. Pours a a golden straw/yellow color along with a small white head that fizzles quickly leaving some light lacing throughout. Aroma is medium sweet, orange/lemon, some grapefruit, biscuit with notes of mild malts and hops. Taste is medium sweet, grapefruit, lemon/ornage, light bread, lager lemon. Light-medium body, some acidity which hurt the score. Mild carbonation throughout. Was too bitter and left an unpleasant taste at the end. I cannot go with this one here for the style...

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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".

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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.

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Photo of goblue3509
2.77/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an amber color with almost no head at all and no lacing. The aroma is of sweet malt and a little bit of a citrus hop bite. The aroma is faint and a little weak. The taste follows suit yet a little stronger. There is a sweet malt backbone and a hint of breadiness to it. There is a citrus hop bite to balance out the beer, but the bite is weak and subdued for the class. The mouthfeel is low carbonation. Overall it was an okay beer, needs more in the hop department for taste and a little more carbonation.

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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.

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Photo of THECPJ
2.88/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: golden yellow orange with a 1 finger white head

smell: hops, malts, caramel,

taste: soap, caramel, hops, malts

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: refreshing crisp beer. Just wish it didn't have this soap characteristic to it.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of kevinv
3.18/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass. No freshness code noted on the bottle.

A - Pours a clear golden color with a half finger of bubbly white head, which dissipates quickly. No visible lacing is left on the glass. Very little visible carbonation.

S - Light pale malts with the ever-most subtly scent of floral hops.

T - Slightly sweet pale malts, with again, a light hop presesnce and bitterness. Clean and straight-forward, but I'm left looking for more.

M - Light body with a crisp finish. Low-medium carbonation.

D - This could be a "sessionable" beer for me and it's a pretty easy drinker, but kind of boring. Looking forward to trying their other offerings.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.2/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Slightly better. Beer is yellow / amber, quite hazy, thin broken head, halo of bubbles, no real lacing, minimal carbonation.

Aroma is sweet with some malt, yeastiness, and mild hops.

Beer is mildly sweet, medium to light in body, overall a little weak in the profile but mildly hoppy on the finish, overall a decent beer, but nothing too special. Oh well, I still like their porter, their pales need a lot of work.

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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.

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Photo of brentk56
3.26/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color, capped by an inch or so of snow white foam that leaves a few dots of lace behind

Smell: Very lemony, though it trends in a Pine-Sol detergent direction; cracker malt underneath

Taste: Opens with a cracker malt flavor that moves in a sharp lemon direction by mid-palate, with a bit of pith and Pine-Sol; the flavors fade quickly after the swallow, the the bitterness lingers a bit in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: A straightforward APA that would benefit from a bit more of a malt bill; otherwise, it is decent and worth a look

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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.

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Photo of tlazaroff
3.38/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a golden honey color with a thin white head. No visible carbonation, and it has a tad of haze.

S: Sadly, noting too noteworthy. I get some fruit on the nose, pineapple, tropical, that kind of thing.

T: Sweeter than I expected. It has a good flavor, the hops are present but not over-powering. Nice hop taste too, just like the nose, pineapple and tropical fruits.

M: Medium bodied with low to moderate carbonation. A tad sweet so its a tad sticky, which coats the palate.

D: High, this is an easy drinking, good pale ale.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
3.39/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Decently carbonated deep golden colored liquid topped by absolutely no head. hm odd.

Dried citric hops. Grapefruit, oranges, and lemons. Anything with citric acid in it. Yep.

Surprisingly more balanced than I thought it would be. A decent pale ale. Nice balance of bittering hops and aroma. What aroma is there consists of citric hops. I get alot of lemons zest.

I dont like the slight bite you get near the end, A little too crisp for my tastes.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.41/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have tried this one several times at the brewery, picked up a bottle at Rick's in Alexandria, VA on Saturday to give it a proper review. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a clear golden color with one finger of white head and moderate carbonation evident. Head lasts for one to two minutes with one inch of white head lasting throughout the drink, and a tiny bit of lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of grain, bready malts, light orange and citrus hops, and light floral notes. Not offensive at all, but pretty average.

t - Tastes of bready malts, biscuit, and grain. Also some light citrus hops, pale malts, and floral hops again. Taste is a slight step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate to high carbonation. Pretty smooth.

d - A nice, slightly above average pale ale. The smell is a little bland and average, with the taste being a little bit better. Overall this is my least favorite beer of the four Port City is currently brewing, but it's still a decent beer worth checking out.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.42/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed at the brewery tap room in Alexandria, VA.

A: single finger head with excellent retention on a murky bright golden body.

S: excellent aroma with orange peel and grapefruit citrus and light floral hops.

T: lighter malt base with bittering hops hitting hard up front moving to a subtlety sweet lemon custard finish.

M: lighter side of medium body and moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: definite a mildly hopped APA. Flavor is a little simple and the malt seems a bit thin. Overall vey drinkable.

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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.

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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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Photo of farrago
3.44/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Finger’s worth of close to pure white loose foam, starts to disintegrate swiftly to barely cover the surface, likewise the lacing is thin and easily slides off the glass. Light and transparent orange to yellow in color, few bubbles visible but what’s there are large, clean and clear but not much to look at. The nose is super-sweet with oodles of apricot and peach fruit, milk chocolate and malty caramel, some grass, wheat germ, pepper and lemon zest, perhaps some charcoal, a bit boozy like rum, neither bready nor flowery. Medium-bodied, soft and creamy mouth feel with fluffed up carbonation which extends the sensations from your tongue to the roof, here the orange to lemon citrus matches the sweetness of that apricot, peach, yellow apple fruit. The cocoa stiffer, brings out some coffee and country bread notes, light burnt toast. More of that mineral to charcoal aspect, seems incongruent with the whole. Firms up as it warms so serving temperature may play a role in how you enjoy it. That said, remains very much on the sweet end of the spectrum.

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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 !!

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Photo of Frank_TX
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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Photo of SummitVA
3.5/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pale straw pour with moderate carbonation.

S - Light hop character (a little pine and citrus), along with bigger sweet malts. Some breadiness here to a give complexity, but sweetness foremost.

T - Sweetness again at the forefront. This is followed by resiny pine hop character with just a hint of citrus. Big caramel with a bit of toasty bread. Hop bite in finish gives a nice crispness.

M - Nice light brew.

O - My favorite of the Port City offerings thus far. A solid pale ale, and I'll be happy to grab a pint when there is nothing more interesting available, but this is forgettable for the most part. Still, very happy to see Port City at so many places around town, and I'll happily try all of their beers.

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Photo of Triat00
3.54/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

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Essential Pale Ale from Port City Brewing
3.56 out of 5 based on 193 ratings.
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