Full Sail Pale Ale Review

The craft beer made by Full Sail Brewing Company is of high quality, reasonable price, and easily accessible in 27 states. In fact, I’ve seen it at every Trader Joe’s that I’ve been to in California. Their pale ale is no exception to their high standards of quality. On a coast dominated by super hoppy and bitter pale ales, Full Sail has made a beer that is a refreshing departure by being more malt-forward than hops-forward.

This award winning beer, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2008, is described by the brewery as follows:

Our Pale Ale has a fresh, hoppy aroma that comes from two (top secret) Northwest hop varieties, while two-row Pale and Crystal malt give it a mild sweetness that finishes clean and crisp. Feeling out of whack? Put on some music, crack a Pale Ale, and readjust your balance.

If I had to guess the hop varieties used in this beer, I would go with Mt. Hood and Willamette or maybe a touch of Cascade to replace either one of those.

Date Reviewed. May 10, 2011

Where I Found It. BevMo on Van Ness in San Francisco, CA

Serving Type. 12 oz. bottle to a nonick pint glass.

Appearance. Full Sail Pale Ale has a crystal clear, light amber and coppery color with a white head. The head doesn’t have much retention but it does leave a nice lacing ont the glass. The beer appears to maintain a very thin layer of white foam on the top.

Aroma. The aroma of this beer is comes primarily from the malt. It has a malty and with an earthy spiciness to it coupled with woodsy note almost like cedar. It also has some hints of a floral hop bouquet, which complements nicely the grainy aroma. Possibly more of a noble hop nature to it and maybe just a dash of vanilla to accompany the malty aromas.

Flavor. This pale ale is nicely balanced with a subtle malt sweetness that is nicely balanced by a touch of bitterness from the hops. This beer, at 37 IBUs, has more than a touch of hops but the balance and flavor of this beer is clearly more malt-forward than hop-forward. Although this beer is more malty than hoppy and has some sweetness, I would not consider it a sugary-sweet beer. It has a nice balance. The malty-cedar and spicy-earthy notes from the aroma follow through nicely in the flavor.

Mouthfeel. Full Sail Pale Ale is a medium to light bodied beer with a nice smooth texture that is just shy of being described as velvety.

Overall. When so many American pale ales are so hoppy, Full Sail provides a refreshing departure with a finely crafted malt-forward pale ale. Hops are not absent, instead they accentuate the hardiness and grain-qualities of the malt rather than introducing citrus or pine notes. This beer also does not have a harsh bitterness to it, instead it has a smooth bitterness. This beer is full of flavor but if you put it next to much hoppier and much more bitter beers, it will seem flat and with less flavor. I highly encourage you to start your session with this great beer and maybe you won’t feel a need to move on to something with more aggressive hops.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (6%): 4.5
  • Aroma (24%): 4.5
  • Flavor (40%): 4.5
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.0
  • Overal (20%): 4.0
  • Total: 4.35


  • Style: pale ale
  • Brewery: Full Sail Brewing Company
  • Alcohol by volume: 5.4%
  • IBU: 37
  • Grains: two-row pale malt, crystal malt

Similar Posts:

About David Jensen

David is a craft beer and photography enthusiast.
This entry was posted in Beer Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Full Sail Pale Ale Review

  1. Pingback: Pale Ale Blind Tasting Party | Beer 47

  2. Pingback: All About American Pale Ale | The Menuism Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *