Hoppy Boston’s pale ale month continues with a classic local take on the style, Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale from Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield, MA. Berkshire Brewing has been producing a variety of ales in western Massachusetts since 1994, and Steel Rail is their flagship beer. If you bring up BBC to most local beer drinkers they will immediately think of Steel Rail along with Coffeehouse Porter, the defining styles of the brand. Berkshire started brewing Steel Rail as a way to convert macro-lager drinkers to craft beer, they made this pale ale extra light in color and highly carbonated so it would look like the beers that dominated the marketplace. Needless to say the flavor was very different, I am sure that the combination of 2-row malts and a distinct blend of hops has converted many drinkers over the past couple decades. BBC Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale is widely available on draft, in 22 oz. and 12 oz. bottles and in 12 oz. cans.
Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale pours pale yellow with a solid white head and vigorous carbonation. The scent is a mixture of floral hops and some pale malts. The hops lead the flavor, mild by today’s standards but still evident, notes of grass, earth and herbs. This is complemented by a solid malty backbone, touches of biscuit, cracker and toast. The beer is very light and drinkable, not too strong at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with just a hint of hoppy aftertaste. BBC Steel Rail Extra Pale Ale is a classic take on the American pale ale style that is still worth a spot in the rotation. It isn’t like the hop-forward IPA-light APAs that are ubiquitous now, but that helps distinguish it in some ways. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
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