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Standard/Ordinary Bitter Reviews

These are the lightest of the three English pale ales, also commonly called bitters. Small hints of caramel, mild fruitiness and moderate hop scents characterize a light malt aroma. Not surprisingly, flavors are characterized by a medium to high bitterness that emphasizes bittering hop additions rather than the middle or late hopping American pale ales focus on. Standard bitters also display some fruity esters and mild hop flavors, and should present a low to medium maltiness that’s weaker than that of the special bitter style. (Some versions lean more heavily toward malt, but the malt should never overwhelm the essential bitterness, nor should the bitterness obliterate the sense of malt.) With a light body, dry finish and less than 3.8% ABV, these are easy-drinking brews; indeed, drinkability is an important component of the style. Note that these guidelines characterize draft, “real ale” versions only—the style was originally created as a version of a pale ale that could be served on cask at pubs, and bottled and/or exported adaptations are typically stronger in alcohol.

Pair: Mild but bitter brews like these pair well with simple fare with subdued flavors that won’t buckle the beer’s bitterness. Chicken salad sandwiches, grilled pork chops and snickerdoodles are flavorful in their own right, but allow the beer’s bitterness to punch them up a bit.

Glassware: nonic or standard pint glass


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