Ottawa’s Beyond the Pale brewery is one of many local success stories in Canada’s capital city.

In the space of four years, they’ve moved from from premises not much more than your average garage to a new, larger space that keeps them in their neighbourhood of Hintonburg (they’re the closest craft brewer to me, which keeps them on my mind), allowing them to plan out a tasting room and increase production.

The brewery started up to showcase beers and styles that were … beyond the pale… get it?

Early favourites among Ottawa beer drinkers were their grapefruit-infused Pink Fuzz and the rye-heavy Rye Guy and Imperial Super Guy.

But currently in the fridge is a four-pack (or the remnants thereof) of their “Pale Ale Project” American Pale Ale. Yes, even though they are “Beyond the Pale”, they still do pale ales.

This is, they say, the culmination of a lot of pilot testing of various combinations of hops. This one is described by BTP as a “crisp and refreshing all-season session ale”, and features a combination of Centennial, Amarillo, and Citra hops.

So at this point, you may be (I certainly was) shaking your head at all this terminology. So let’s break it down for you a little, starting at the most basic: it’s an ale.

Ale is a beer that’s fermented at a warmer temperature, compared to lagers, which are fermented at a cooler temperature. This is a pale ale: so it’s paler in colour than a red ale or a dark ale.

It’s a “session ale”, which refers to ales of a lighter alcohol content (around 4.9% in this case) which were given to brewery workers to keep them relatively sober during their drinking “sessions” during the work day.

And this is an American pale ale, which refers to the American hops used in its production.

And while this is not a tremendously bitter beer (showing up at only 28 IBUs, or International Brewing Units), it is a beer with some significant drying / puckering / astringency on the tongue. Not in a bad way, mind. That is what makes this beer, and pale ales in general, refreshing.

So that’s what SHOULD be there.

BTP’s “Pale Ale Project” starts out with that drying or picking sensation, but there’s a balance there that makes you feel as if you hadn’t just bit into a lemon or taken a large sniff of over-strong tea.

The ale’s sweetness comes through second and allows you to enjoy the balance of the beer as you work your way through the can (at this point, the brewery is doing 20 ounce cans only, instead of the growlers and yappers it started with, and which I miss).

Overall, BTP’s made a lovely beer that lives up to its description. Sure, it’s a good anytime beer; but it’s also one that I would think of more as a warmer-weather ale.

Now, to wait for them to resume production of their two stouts “The Darkness” and “The Darkerness”, among my favourite stouts in North America.


  • ABV: 4.9% ABV
  • IBU: 28
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • Taste: Crisp, lightly hoppy, nice balance of hops and malt.
  • Rating: 4.375/5
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Bob LeDrew

Bob LeDrew

Bob LeDrew has gone from bootlegged bottles of Alexander Keith’s as a teenager to living in an Ottawa neighbourhood within a short bike ride of six microbreweries. Bob enjoys beer, whisky, and writing about himself in the third person, when he’s not writing about someone else in the third person or playing a ukulele.
Bob LeDrew
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