This West Coast-style Pale Ale is devoted to California, the 31st state added to the union. Aromas are floral, but citrus-driven with orange rind, a touch of grapefruit juice, hints of fresh mint, and malts like salted whole-grain biscuits brushed with honey. On the palate, malts fall to the wayside with a sensitive influence of pale malt flavor paired with weak sweetness. Hops lead the way with a floral notes up front, a spotlight on orange with citrus in the middle, and grassy herbs on the back. Cereal grain malts surface again for the finish as floral hop notes dance in the background. Mouthfeel is light and airy, smooth (not creamy), somewhat sharp, and dry. I actually like the nose a bit better than the palate.
Overall, Pale 31 is slightly above average for the style, but doesn’t have much of a story to tell. Simply put, this is a session ale, modest in flavor, and light on alcohol. It does what it was likely designed to do, to drink with ease, delivering just enough short-acting crisp bitterness to leave you craving a second sip. This could probably interchange with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale without too much noticeable difference. I’m not particularly drawn to session ales, because I don’t drink in excess, but I recommend this if you plan to drink several in one session.
Malt: Two-Row, Maris Otter Pale, Munich, Crystal
Hops: Fuggle, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook
Paso Robles, California