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Craft Brewers Cure Hop Fatigue by Embracing English-Style Ales

Taps at Beerocracy / Photo Courtesy of Seneca Lake Brewing

There’s a lot more to English beer than India pale ales (IPAs), and some of that expansive tradition is edging in on the U.S. craft beer scene. English-style ales like dark milds, extra special bitters (ESBs), English-style pale ales and even cask ales are finding space in the rotation of U.S. craft brewers. Some breweries are fully embracing the trend by focusing entirely on English beer culture, serving British-inspired pub food to accompany their brews. 

“These are the perfect hang-with-your-friends-at-the-bar beers,” says Matt Levy, the head brewer at Threes in Brooklyn, which has begun brewing several English-style ales. He believes that Out of Focus, one of Threes’ ESBs, is “full of hop character without being hoppy,” and expresses its malt character without being overly malty. 

“When done right, [ESBs have] a gentle yeast touch that adds to the hop and malt character without being ‘yeasty,’ ” he says. “To us, it’s a style that pops because of the soft touch of each component making for a truly enjoyable easy-to-drink pint.” 

Fifth Hammer’s Security Deposit beer calls itself an English-style pale ale / Photo courtesy of Fifth Hammer

Mary Izett, co-owner of Fifth Hammer, a Queens-based brewery, says her brewery’s Security Deposit is billed as an English-style pale ale, though by style it’s more of an ESB—she just feels the former name translates better to taproom consumers. It’s available in cans, but at her taproom it’s served via cask, a classic English approach that yields beer at a warmer temperature than your stereotypical “cold one” and with more muted carbonation.