It's a beer world after all!
“Pale ale” originated as a catch-all term for any top-fermented beer that was not dark.Up to the 18th century at
least, the bulk of beers produced in England were of a dark brown color, brewed largely from amber and brown
malts. Those few beers brewed from paler malts were called pale simply to distinguish them from their darker
brethren. Pale ale certainly existed before 1700, but even in the 18th century it was not a defined style, as its
competitor, porter, had become. It began to become a less vague term as malting methods improved and
maltsters were better able to control its color. An important milestone came in 1790 when George Hodgson
began to ship pale ale to India.

In 1822 the first brew was made, and it was shipped to India in 1823. Burton maltsters supposedly developed a
special pale malt for this brew, and certainly the highly mineralized Burton water, whose hardness accentuated
hop bitterness in the beer, was admirably suited to the production of what became India pale ale (IPA). While
Hodgson did not invent the IPA beer style, he had an impact on its development.Soon, Burton IPA became
popular in England, and brewers from other areas of the country rushed to copy it. IPA was a strong beer, at
around 7% alcohol by volume (ABV), but lower-strength versions began to be produced, and these were often
referred to simply as “pale ale,” whereas some brewers started to use the term “bitter ale.”

In the United States, because of the surge of German immigrants bringing lager brewing with them, pale ale did not
really become a big factor in the 19th century. It was produced on a modest scale, notably in New England; for
example, Ballantine IPA survived into the 1980s and was briefly brought back two years ago.. Pale ale was simpler
to produce and required less capital investment than lager, and most craft brewers opted for it. These were
entrepreneurs and inventive people, and simply copying British beers was not enough. They wanted to go back to
the roots of pale ale and to explore the possibilities of the wide variety of American hops available to them.

The result was that American IPA became a new style; a stronger version was dubbed by some “double IPA,”
and the pale ale family of beer styles was lifted and carried forward into the future.


Sparging is the spraying of fresh hot liquor (water) onto a mash to rinse out residual sugars. This process is
essential to achieving desirable efficiency of sugar extraction.  Once the malt enzymes have digested starch into
sugars, the mash must be drained and separated from the residual solids, particularly the malt husks.  The sugary
wort produced by mashing will be filtered by these solids which are held on the mash or lauter plates; much will
remain on the surface and crevices of the husks.  

Before sparring became mechanized, grains were rinsed by refilling the mash tun with fresh liquor, stirring, and
then re-draining.  this may have been repeated a number of times until no further sugars could be removed.  
Historically a number of beers of different strengths could be produced from a single mash by this means, which
is called "parti-gale system. Mechanical sparring developed as a more efficient system whereby liquor was sprayed
onto the top of the mash continuously and drained off from the bottom.  Wort was collected continuously int eh
kettle and a single brew of a target strength was produced.

Successful sparring requires a careful matching of inflow and outflow as too fast or too slow a spare will result in
an overflow or a dry mash.  In either case, lautering can be inefficient or cease entirely.  It is also important to
ensure that the sparring liquor is treated properly to maintain a low pH in the mash as too high of a pH will result in
excessive extraction of tannins which can resulted in giving the finished beer an undesirable astringency.


Hope you found this month's column of interest.  If you have any questions about beer or brewing
or just want to submit a word for me to discuss here just
e-mail it to me.

Thanks and Cheers!
Pale Ales  // Sparging
A new column by
Jack O'Reilly
Jack O'Reilly attended the
famous Siebel Institute/ World
Brewing Academy in Chicago.
I'm very excited to be part of the BeerNexus team.  I think my many years in the
beer business both as a brewer and manger will enable me to explain and
investigate many topics of interest for those who really love craft beer.
Hope you join me every month.  
More by Jack: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11,
#!2, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18