The Beer: United We Stand an American Pale Ale

ABV: 5.5%

The Brewery: Wallenpaupack Brewing Co., Hawley PA

The Brewer: Logan Ackerley

“When Johnathan Conklin, my assistant brewer, turned 21 I got him a case of the beers that got me into craft.

It had beers like Sierra Nevada Pale, Stone’s IPA and Arrogant Bastard, Victory’s Festbier, Lagunitas’ Maximus, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and others. He was blown away particularly by Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. That was definitely the inspiration for United We Stand.

Every time we taste or make something now, he compares it to Sierra Pale. So, we talked about the differences between the beers in the case, some being really bitter, some bitter and malty, some with perfect balance between hops and malt.

Also I took the time to explain the difference between the flavor in whole leaf and pellet hops. I don’t know if Sierra still uses all or mostly leaf hops or not, but I told him about how they used to and he was intrigued.

We decided to turn United We Stand, an American Pale Ale that we used to change every year, into a classic, Sierra-inspired pale ale. The grist is 2-Row, C-60, and Acidulated Malt for pH adjustment.

The hops are 100% whole leaf Cascade. Our system isn’t set up for leaf hops, so we did a small bagged addition at 60 minutes for a touch of bitterness.

The rest of the hops went into our lauter tun (after a CIP) at the end of boil. We transferred the wort onto the leaf hops in the lauter tun instead of a whirlpool, let them rest for 20 minutes, and knocked out.

This was only the second time we had tried this method, but we couldn’t be happier with the flavor and aroma we got from it. A clean California ale fermentation kept the yeast character to a minimum and really let the leaf hops shine.

United We Stand pale ale from Wallenpaupack Brewery. Photo by John Holl

It reminds me of the days when I could drink a beer and not analyze it.

It’s really tough to just drink a beer anymore. I’m constantly scrutinizing and dissecting what I’m drinking. This is one of the few beers that just sends me back to those days of blissful ignorance, when a beer could just be described as ‘hoppy’ or ‘smooth,’ and just be enjoyed.

I definitely do not think this style of pale ale gets enough appreciation. Most brewers that I’ve given this beer to really appreciate it. But the feedback is very mixed among the general public.

Some love it. Some say ‘it’s not pale’ because it’s not as light in color as a New England style/hazy pale ale. Some say it’s not hoppy enough. I think the malt and hop balance of the style make for a beer that is full of flavor, but still very drinkable and approachable.

I would love for this pale ale to remind people of the well-executed, flavorful beers that built this industry and have endured through all the ridiculous trends we have seen in beer.”

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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