The term Mid-Atlantic Pale Ale seems to be bandying around after Gazza proposed the name for hoppy British ales. Mid-Atlantic pale ale... Seriously? It’s almost as bad as Cascadian Dark Ale.
Firstly, mid-Atlantic, unless it’s an ironic name, drops literally in the middle of the sea (and all the way to the sea bed, if you ask me), which couldn’t be further away from a pint if it were halfway to the moon. Secondly, this term seems to be a catch-all for the pale British beers made with lots of hops from America or New Zealand (which is nowhere near the Atlantic), but also including British hops too, I assume, so perhaps it lends too much credit to the US. Thirdly, styles naturally evolve and need to have a fluidity to them and it could be the case that in a few years time these pale and hoppy beers are the normal for the style in the UK. And point four is that it just doesn’t sound very cool.
The name applies to beers brewed with 100% pale malt, highly hopped, well attenuated with a yeast that doesn’t give off many esters or other flavours “to let the hops shine without competition,” coming out somewhere between 3.5% and 8% (5% is best, he says). It’s very pale in the glass and very bitter in the mouth. It’s a mix of British and American influence and it’s a style which I love – there’s something which just works so well in a simple pale ale with lots of fruity hops, especially from the cask – and it’s the style that I most want to drink right now. I also agree with what Gazza is saying and the whole point of the article (it’s firmly a British beer just with American hop influence), but mid-Atlantic? I understand the desire to classify – we all like to stick a label on something so we can understand it (or complain about it if it isn’t right) – but surely we can come up with a more compelling name than that?
Thornbridge Brewery call Kipling a South Pacific Pale Ale and Ashford a New World Brown Ale, which works well for those, but perhaps shouldn't be extended broadly to others. In 500 Beers Zak Avery uses the term International Pale Ale, which would work with this style – it’s International, brewed in one place, taking influence and ingredients from another, but it could then become a dumping ground of a term. What’s wrong with Pale and Hoppy, New World Pale Ale or just Pale Ale, after all, it’s not exactly a new style, it’s just British Pale Ale 2.0 with different hops used in it, a natural progression, the latest fashion. How about Trans-Atlantic or Cross-Atlantic or Anglo-American if there’s a desire to say that this style is somewhere between the UK and the US (which therefore rules out the rest of the world, presumably)...
Mid-Atlantic pale ales... what do you think? Do they need their own classification and if so, what can they be called?
Image from here. I did try and photoshop in a bottle of beer bobbing around in the sea but failed remarkably.