Shelter Pale Ale | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Shelter Pale AleShelter Pale Ale
777 Ratings
Shelter Pale AleShelter Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed with a premium barley and northwestern Williamette and Columbus hops, Shelter Pale Ale has a fine malt backbone and a slightly nutty flavor. It's a versatile and quaffable beer.

We named this beer Shelter Pale Ale because we think of a shelter as being a place you come home to. It just made sense for this Dogfish original.

30 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-16-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 777 |  Reviews: 476
Photo of clvand0
3.33/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a golden orange color with a moderate head and moderate lacing on the glass. I couldn't find much in the aroma as it wasn't very strong smelling - but I did smell some earthy-musty aromas. The flavor was very hoppy as are most of the Dogfish beers. Malts were also very apparent and a little bit of sweet towards the end. This is not a bad beer - fairly easy to drink and mostly enjoyable. I could have several of these without complaint.

 454 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

After I picked up a 6-pack of 60 minute IPA, I decided to go back to the Trader Joes in Long Beach and pick up a 6-er of the Shelter Pale Ale which was also on sale at $5.99.

Appearance: Dark golden with an orange-amber hue. A smallish head when poured disappears completely after a very short time, and it leaves hardly any trace of its former existence behind.

Smell: Immediate thoughts of were those old wood floored musty roof eaves in some old English Tower Breweries used to store Hop Sacks and Malt. Has a kind of slightly dank smell, not bad, nor even off-putting, just sort of strange. There is a slight sweet aspect to the odor as well, with some fruit at the back of the nose.

Taste: Malty beginnings with the Hops focused in the centre of the experience. Malt bitter start leads to a restrained hop-bitter middle. Some old fruit tastes and a slight sweetness in the end. Smooth finish has a slight grainy biscuit dimension.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth in the mouth, the malt adds to a decent solid mouthfeel.

Drinkability: I could easily drink a few of these. I like Pale Ales, and whilst this may not be considered as a ‘classic example’ of the style, I don’t care! – because for me it is an excellent attempt at pushing the boundaries and trying something different.

Overall: Now I don’t mind admitting that I quite liked this, right from the beginning. It reminded me very much of some Pale Ale cask beers that I have drunk in England, so it gets a Thumbs-Up from me. In fact, I would dearly like to try this in Cask format. It may not be as extreme as the other DFH beers, but there again, “Big is not always Best”. Nice One DFH.
I’ll buy it again for sure.

 1,696 characters

Photo of bmills1608
3.03/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

I live in PA, and DFH beers are not hard to come by, so its sort of suprising that this is my first go at one of their brews. Here it goes.

Color was hazy dark gold; no head what so ever. Kinda strange I thought. The nose was light, with a touch of skunk and some oily hop aroma but overall muted. The taste of Shelter Pale ale was kind of a dissapointment. I honestly expected more, more flavor, more umpf, more of something. The flavor was suprisingly light and even a bit watery. Flavors of soft biscuity malts, lemon rind, a bit of caramel way in the back and a somewhat unpleasant astingency were in the overall taste. Carbonation was low. This beer reminded my of Yard's Phila Pale ale.

Finish was dry and prickly with a drying, somewhat rough hop flavor that faded quick.

 786 characters

Photo of bditty187
3.22/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Tawny-gold hue, minimal white head, poor retention, soapy, no lace. Decent nose, herbal, toasty malts with hints of ground coffee beans & nuts. Pleasant palate with a nice mix of herbs, toasty malt, grass, slight bittering hops, nuts, and slight ground coffee bean hints too. Drinkable. Medium-light body, minor carbonation… easy to drink. Becomes rather creamy as it warms, tacky, the buttery aspects surface and develop in the flavor profile as well. Overall this is a fair beer with some unique qualities… not as good as you’d expect from DFH.

Acquired via a trade.

 575 characters

Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.08/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours out a light amber which appears hazy, but on close inspection, is clear. The virtually no head and what does appear is tan and quickly gone from the scene. Not much lace, though more than the residual would indicate. The nose is caramel malt which follows on in the taste. Some bready sense and definite hop strength. Oddly bitter and metallic in the finish. The body is medium and has decent crispness. A fair beer that seems not to carry the fine brand excellence.

 472 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
2.62/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

What doesn't belong (and why)...

Hazy orange body, with steady bubble streams rising. A foamy less-than two finger head, with drops and disipates quickly but laces nicely. A very faint, very vague fruity aroma. A nice lead malt caramel taste. A good hop twang in the finish, but also a metallic aftertaste. The gas needed to pop-up that head remains in the beer, and the high carbonation drags down the mouthfeel a tad.

What doesn't belong (and why)...Look over the list of Dogfish Head beers, and this jumps out of the pack. It looks like it was added to the wrong brewery. While the rest of the line seems to be the work of a mad scientist, this comes across as the "before" sample. Bland and boring and a less than average pale ale.

Aquired in the Philly Gathering Beer Exchange.

 792 characters

Photo of stirgy
4.05/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is another beer that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time now. The beer poured out a golden orange color and had a thin white head. Some pungent hop smells in the aroma along with some grainy sweet malt. Wow, this beer goes down pretty easy. Nice balancing of the ingredients.
Fruity tang in the aftertaste. Grassy hop flavor present. Has a very nice and light sweetness. Smooth Finish. A low profile beer that is very satisfying and very drinkable.

 460 characters

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

Presentation: 12oz. amber bottle with a "packaged in" stamping of the number 12.

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dull orange in color. Very fizzy, bubbly head disappears instantly. Sparse lacing of the glass.

Smell: Surprisingly sweet, with a little bit of citrusy aroma in the background.

Taste: This is a tough review to write, as I have been so impressed with the 60- and 90-minute IPA's from DFH. It's darn difficult to have sampled those two stellar creations and then have to try to review this beer. Taste is well-balanced, hops and malty sweetness combining for an above-average flavor. There was a certain "earthy" flavor that kept creeping in towards the back end that was a little unsettling. Aftertaste was even less pleasing. A grainy flavor rested on the palate.

Mouthfeel: Above average, but nothing to get excited about. Lots of carbonation create a pretty fizzy beer.

Drinkability: Not a bad beer, and certainly a thirst-quencher...something that would do very well on a hot, humid Virginia summer afternoon. A good beer to drink when you aren't in dire need to critically sample and enjoy a complex beer.

Notes: For me, I'll definitely stick with the "big brothers" of this IPA, the 60- and 90-minute IPA's.

 1,237 characters

Photo of dwarbi
3.36/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

No head at all. The beer looks highly carbonated and a light amber color. Looks more like a cream soda than a beer. Smells hoppy and little buttery. Bitter taste, but not too bitter. Can definitely feel the high carbonation, but it's pretty drinkable. A decent beer, but I'm in no rush to go get some more.

 306 characters

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

I have become a big fan of this style, particullarly in the summer. It poured a nice semi-bright color. It was crisp, but not lip smacking crisp. Carbonation was medium.Bitter? I think not, although there was a definite hop presense. I quaffed the first one in a hurry, noticing ot's thirst quenching abilities. A good beer.

 324 characters

Photo of far333
4.09/5  rDev +21%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bright apricot color, with a large off-white lingering head. A cloud of yeast sediment descends through the head into the glass. Spicy aroma with hints of citrus, flowers, and honey, and a bit of yeast. Highly carbonated, which can be felt upon tasting. Full creamy mouthfeel that envelopes the palete. The taste is reminscent of a belgian ale, and has accents that match the aroma. Not my idea of a pale ale, but I would drink this again.

 439 characters

Photo of Gusler
3.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The color a limpid golden amber, the head modest, frothy and off white in color, as it dissipates a fine sheet of lace is left behind to seal off the glass. Malt dominates the nose, fresh, crisp and clean with a malt-laden start that is lightly sweet, top skinny in feel. Mildly acidic, the hops sparse, dry aftertaste, pretty average but a nice drinkable beer for the hot summer ahead.

 386 characters

Photo of Darkale
2.97/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I had thought that I had come upon a bad bottle, until I read some of the other reviews of this beer and found that I was not alone in my inability to love it. I wanted to love it, because DFH has several beers in its stable that I love (60 and 90 min IPA and Indian Brown). But, I cannot love this beer.

Cloudy, light butterscotch orange. Malt aroma, tinge of hops and citrus. Taste is an odd combination of coffee and hops. Slightly sour, bitter, grainy mouthfeel. Your mouth feels scrubbed after you swallow.

This is a miss.

 533 characters

Photo of Scooter77
2.95/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I was a little disappointed by this one. DFH is so well known for it’s exceptional craft brews, this one just doesn’t stand up to the usual high standard that I’ve set for them. It pours a light amber color with a very small bubbly head that dissipates quickly, leaving no lace. The nose is full of floral hops, grapefruit, and light malts. The taste is similar to the aroma, with the hops being the dominating flavor. There was a bit of an astringent and sour aftertaste left in my mouth. The finish was dry and bitter. This is just an O.K. beer, I could take it or leave it.

 579 characters

Photo of goindownsouth
3.62/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have to admit, despite the fact that I enjoy a good pale ale, this one is a wee bit short. The head is what was expected. Light and lacey, clinging to the side of the pint glass ever so slightly. The aroma was faint as was the flavor. There was little going on there in the way of hoppy aroma and flavor. Try it, but there are others better. Prost!

 350 characters

Photo of MJR
3.23/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours crystal clear with a faint copper color with gold edges. The off-white head starts out huge and fluffy, and settles to a thick cap. Decent lacing on the side of the glass.

Smell: Aroma of hops, a touch of honey, and malt. There's a bit of an organic quality to it. Overall, the smell is faint and kinda lacking.

Taste: Bitter and pungent with citrus and floral notes. There's a small suggestion of a malt base, but it's covered by the hops. I taste some honey flavor as well. Finishes with a bit of a phenolic flavor. A bit thin and one-dimensional.

Mouthfeel: Has a thin mouthfeel with a dry finish.

Drinkability: It's not a bad brew, but it doesn't hold a candle to a big list of APA's with the same ABV and IBU's.

 746 characters

Photo of StevieW
3.73/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Medium copper color, mostly shiny with a touch of cloudiness. Very fluffy, large off white color head. More than covered the top and laced the glass to the bottom. Smell was very highly hopped, citrus, and orange peels. Flowery herbal hints also bounce around. First taste was lots of citrus, grapefruit flavors. Very acidic and tart. Hops run amok, to the point that the flavors were more different than much pale ales. I didn't get any big biscuit mait flavors I like so much in a pale ale. Very bitter, grapefruit and citrus flavors continue. It seems to me, it tries too hard to be overly hoppy, but still flavorful and refreshing. Lip smacking bitterness is good, and flavors are very pronounced. Hop burps resound. Slightly watery toward the end, citrus flavors and hop bitterness seem to take away from the enjoyment of the beer. This would be great with a sloppy tangy barbecue chicken.
Cheers to MJR for a sucessful trade.

 946 characters

Photo of tavernjef
3.72/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Color was fine kinda light coppery with a light head. Smell of floral hops a bit of malt, kinda sweet and earthy. Tasted a little watered down with lots of good hop presence and balance of malty smoothness, but a bit bland. Body was a weak medium, sort of salty and empty. Its a drinkable ale but theres better out there. And there are diffenately some better Dogfish Head brews then this one. Very surprising, knowing that these guys are brutally innovative in some of their other brews.

 488 characters

Photo of garymuchow
3.85/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I guess I'm more with Brent, in that I kinda liked this beer. I really like the stronger malt presence (with some nice complexity), then the growing hop quality as the beer warmed, thus lengthening the finish. I found the mouthfeel quite appealing with a nice mix of smoothness with the fine carbonation and a slight richness.
Some lacing gave it a visual appeal, along with a goldish color and medium head. Aroma was too light and lacked character beyond sweet water, yet it had a bit of fruitiness.
I'd drink this again, and consider buying it.

 550 characters

Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.68/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazed golden color with a slight orange hue. Off-white head that leaves lace.
Aroma is weak and unexciting for a pale ale. Floral, citrusy hops at a low level and a sweet scent as well.

Taste is balanced and not hoppy. Sweet malt flavor balanced by a citrus hop bite. Butterscotch flavor (diacetyl?). Good flavor and easy drinking, but could use a bigger dose of hops for my liking.

Decent mouthfeel.
A little different for a pale ale, but good drinkabilty.
Overall a good beer, but I like my pale ales a bit hoppier.

 539 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.8/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After trying most of the Dogfish Head specialty beers like WWS, 90 min IPA, Midas Touch, I just want to try some of their regular line up. The Shelter Pale Ale pours a copper amber tone with a cream toned head that is sticking around fairly well, and is also clinging to the glass. From the aroma I am getting a lot of cereal/grassy notes, and a very mild hop character in the background of the sweetness. Smells like a bowl of Wheaties, in a good way, very pleasan and appealing to my senses. The hops become much more evident in the flavor, but I am glad to say that the malt sticks around to finish this beers flavor off to balance things out nicely. A very well built beer, with a medium to light body very nice session brew. I will look for this one on tap, and I see that Dogfish Head nows how to brew a good solid all around beer. On the other hand would Dogfish Head be as widely known if they didn't push the envelope, I don't think so. Very drinkable beer, I am not dissapointed by any means, good beer.

 1,013 characters

Photo of scottum
2.84/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Wow... an average beer from Dogfish. Maybe I set the bar too high, but usually Dogfish Head blows me away with their beers. This one is a good brew, but nothing stands out from the pack. Pours out a deep amber with a decent head. I guess that's the diacetyl that stands out so much. Yuck! Why does quality control let the brew do this to itself? By far the worst Dogfish I've had!

 380 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
2.91/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A light amber color atop a big, creamy, bubbly head. Aroma is, unfortunately, blase. Vegetal, herbal notes, perhaps, but nothing in the fruit department, not much in the way of hops. I can already tell what they're shooting for, before I sip, a bland session ale. And, bravo, they did it, but by sacrificing flavor, and body, and taste and anything else we like to look for in a beer. There's some ale-like substance here, but not very much. Certainly nothing I'd consider a "pale Ale', in the face of so many great American versions.

 534 characters

Photo of AaronRed
3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer looked very promising in the beginning. Nice copper color with decent head. Smell was somewhat like ripe fruit- pleasing. As for the taste, it wasn't bad, merely average. I thought it was a bit too sweet for a pale ale. Some hops linger, but overall, as for taste, too much carmel-like flavor for me. However, is not without value. It is very drinkable and I believe that this would be a good beer for a beer drinker who might be just getting into craft beers.

 469 characters

Photo of paceyourself
3.21/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Clear gold in color with hardly any head. The soft malt and fruity aroma doesn't add anything to the experience. A light butterscotch flavor seems a little sweet. Some grassy and citrus taste but not very balanced overall. The very thin mouthfeel defines this brew the most. This pale ale doesn't have much going for it but still is kind of drinkable.

 351 characters

Shelter Pale Ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.38 out of 5 with 777 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.