Durango Brewing Co. just released its pale ale, a spring-summer seasonal. Ska Brewing Co. has a winter seasonal pale ale, Euphoria. Steamworks Brewing makes Third Eye Pale Ale (6.4 percent ABV, 65 IBUs), the only year-round pale among Durango's three larger breweries, and Alberta Peak Pale Ale – a beer that is not only seasonal but difficult to find. Carver Brewing has its Jack Rabbit Pale Ale, but that is available only at the brewpub and in growlers.
Many, perhaps most, breweries offer a pale among their year-round mainstays. There is a bit of a paucity in Durango. Ska’s two most popular beers are a red ale and a blond ale, Steamworks focuses on lagers and Durango Brewing is best known for its amber and wheat beers. This leaves lovers of pale ales in these parts either searching for seasonals (with the notable exception of Third Eye) or buying beers from elsewhere, like Deschutes Brewery’s excellent Mirror Pond Pale Ale (5 percent ABV, 40 IBUs).
Durango Pale Ale (6.1 percent ABV, 35 IBUs) is an exceptional pale that helps fill the void. It is hoppier and more flavorful than most pales. It’s not quite an IPA, but it would stand out in a tasting of standard pale ales. One of the brewers, Damon Scott, likened it to a light IPA. That sounds about right.
Durango Pale Ale pours a light caramel color with medium head. It has the fresh, hoppy smell of other pale ales.
The hop taste is pleasantly assertive. It’s of moderate bitterness and a little fruity, with just the right amount of carbonation. The brewery uses Centennial, Cascade and Chinook hops in the pale. It's really quite good.
Durango Pale strikes a perfect balance: it isn’t boring, but you may find yourself draining your glass in short order.
Durango Pale is available in 22-ounce bottles and also on tap at the brewery, 3000 Main Ave. Give it a try. A-