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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:
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Reviews: 58 | Ratings: 194
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 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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Photo of guityler83
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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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 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.

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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 delta490
3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
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

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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.

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Photo of maketheheartglad
4.5/5  rDev +26.4%
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.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.72/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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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.

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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 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 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 Beer_Runner
4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Could not find an "enjoy by ... " stamp.
Poured slowly into a standard pints glass.

A: The color was golden with an orange hue. About half a finger head of dense foam. A long-lasting head. Plenty of carbon trails raising up.

S: The aroma was sweet malt, almost honey. There was also some pine and light floral. Overall, a very mild aroma.

M: Very smooth with a medium to light body and a plenty of carbonation. A slightly dry finish.

T: A very pleasing balance of malt and hops. It is not as sweet as the aroma. The pine floral mix is the most prominant flavor. And there is a good type of bitter after taste.

O: Overall this beer is greater than the sum of its parts. Everything blends together well. It is a good, solid pale ale.

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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 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.

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Photo of TechTriumph
3.62/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From notes on 02/28/12:
No freshness date; Poured in a pint glass.

A - 1-1/2 off-white fluffy head with pretty good retention; Color is somewhere between copper and gold; Fairly hazy appearance with lots of visible sediment; Not too much lacing left behind

S - Pleasant aroma with notes of sweet apricot, pineapple, grapefruit, yeast, and floral qualities; There's just a little bit of a caramel malt backbone, but it's pretty reserved

T - I was surprised here with a big presence of tart apricot-like flavor with a little bit of bitterness tagging along; Though the apricot taste is the dominant feature here, yeasty, grainy, floral, and herbal flavors come through a bit as well; Caramel malts are very faint and hard to pick out; The tart apricot lingers well into the aftertaste

M - Light to medium bodied; Moderate carbonation; Mouthfeel is a just a bit syrupy with a semi-dry finish

O - In the big sea of available pale ales, this one fits right in the middle of the pack, but does provide a pretty unique flavor. The fruity/tart apricot-like flavor wasn't what I was expecting, but pleasant enough for me to have a few of these. Overall, this isn't a must have for me, but one that I wouldn't mind trying again.

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Photo of mralphabet
4.74/5  rDev +33.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Poured a golden honey color with nice finger & a half worth of head that settles to a nice ring with good lacing.

S: Strong hops smells here.... Very floral with a touch of tropical and citrus notes. Wonderful smelling

T: Start much sweeter than I was expecting. But quickly turns on the hops... Wonderfully floral flavors with hints of grapefruit and pineapple, but the hops are not too over powering. Just right mix here.

M: Medium bodied with low to moderate carbonation. Feel is a little on the sticky side, with of hint of alcohol warmth.

D: A very good session beer, good ABV, great range of flavors and smells. I'm not a big hops guy, but this is a fantastic Pale Ale.... Well worth looking for.

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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 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 paulginva
3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

APPEARANCE: This beer, poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass, produced an off-white creamy to chunky 2" head that dissipated quite slowly (nearly 4 minutes to go from 2" to 1/2") leaving excellent head lacing. Carbonation was lively in a hazy deep amber body.

AROMA: Fragrant hops all the way. A light note of alcohol.

TASTE: Heavy hops taste with floral and lemon notes and a tasty malt backbone to support the bitter hops. Alcohol was absent from the taste.

MOUTHFEEL: Smooth, light to medium body with good lacing that dissipated slowly. As the beer warmed, carbonation pretty much collapsed from lively to almost nothing at all. The initial flavor was moderately to heavily bitter with the medium-length finish being lightly bitter. There was a lightly bitter aftertaste that persisted for a short time.

DRINKABILITY: This is a good session ale, very easy to drink and repeatable. It's a good, unpretentious, unambiguous APA -- not best of breed by any means, but an honest, simple beer that tastes good and provides good value for its (low) cost. I expect to buy it again, probably many times.

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Photo of beer2day
3.94/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gold to orange pour with light carbonation, very little head, no retention and very light lace.

Orange lemon citrus mix on the nose. Mild, not overpowering, but very nice.

Lemon and pepper dominate from the get go. Really come out in the finish as well, with almost a chile pepper feel to the aftertaste. Very little malt character, but there is a little bread here.

Body is about right for the style. Not too heavy, but I could see others thinking so.

Except for the appearance, a fairly solid pale.

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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 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.

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Essential Pale Ale from Port City Brewing
3.56 out of 5 based on 194 ratings.
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