OK folks, I’m off on a rant again. Mainly about beer prices, and how they’re skyrocketing out of control. Latest target of my rant: Pisgah Pale Ale from the Pisgah Brewing Company of Asheville, NC. A few weeks ago, I visited Asheville on a vacation weekend and hit several brewpubs downtown while I was there. Pisgah was not one of them, mostly because Pisgah is not downtown. Its several miles outside the city proper in Black Mountain.
While I was in Asheville, however, I stopped in at Bruisin’ Ales for some packaged beer to take back to Canton with me. One of my purchases was Pisgah Pale Ale, a six-pack of cans to be precise. I paid $10.99 for this, which seemed high to me, but I did want to try something from this brewery, and to be honest most of their other beers were bombers that averaged $17 to $18, which is ridiculous. To be fair, there were a few bombers in the $5 to $6 range as well.
Pisgah Pale Ale is a classic pale ale of 31 IBUs and 5.1% alcohol by volume. Pisgah says this of the beer on their website:
Pisgah Pale is a perfect blend of rich organic malts with whole-leaf Chinook and Nugget hops. A crisp, clean profile makes this, our flagship beer, distinct.
Pisgah Pale Ale pours to a vibrant orange amber color with a thick creamy head formation and a soft malty nose lightly laced with grassy herbal hops. Taking a sip, the beer has a firm caramel maltiness up front with notes of light toast, hints of pear fruit and then, as it progresses, some gentle floral and light resiny hoppiness. I think what I like most about this pale ale (and it is that, so excuse the lack of over the top hops) is the malt character. The beer finishes with a lingering bitterness, but that’s the most impressive part of the hoppiness here. Otherwise, the caramel toastiness makes for a tasty smooth drinkability that I admire.
I liked this beer well enough, it’s a very tasty pale ale in its own right to be sure. I didn’t like the price, though, and truth be told I wouldn’t buy it again for $11 or even $10 a six. There’s a good reason for that, and Pisgah should be wary of it. While sipping, I was mentally comparing to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for a few reasons. Once, because they’re both pale ales and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is for me the classic example of a pale ale brewed in the good old USA. The other reason, though, is that Sierra Nevada is coming to Asheville, building a brewery there in fact.
The plain truth is that as much as I enjoy and appreciate Pisgah Pale Ale, I still prefer Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. And while Pisgah Pale Ale commands $10.99 a six-pack, Sierra Nevada runs $3 less for the same amount of beer, and I’ve seen it locally in 12-Pack cans for just $14.99. That’s twice the beer for just $4 more. That makes Pisgah Pale Ale a beer I’m glad I tried, but not one that I would rebuy. Four stars on its own merits, half star demerit for the price.
Update 8/21/2015: No, I haven't bought any more Pisgah Pale Ale, though I was recently up in Asheville again and bought a six-pack of their Greybeard IPA. It was selling for the same $10.99 a six-pack, and Pisgah Pale Ale was too. Lately, though, I've seen more and more beers in the $10 to $12 a six-pack range, so to be fair to Pisgah, I've restored the half star demerit for price and changed my recommendation to a re-buy on this beer.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.