Upon cracking open a 12 oz. can of AleSmith’s San Diego Pale Ale .394, the translucent liquid fills the imperial pint glass with a deeper orange hue. The initial pour generates a substantial rocky, white foam that promises a lively experience. However, it’s essential to note that appearances can be deceiving.


The aromatic profile of this particular batch raises eyebrows. The prevalent scent of celery seed dominates the nose, an odd choice that becomes more pronounced when sniffing the empty can. Additionally, there’s a noticeable presence of thick honey roll, evolving into a slick and buttery hint that suggests diacetyl, a margarine-like off character. This departure from the expected aroma, as noted in tap pours, sets an unconventional tone for the tasting experience.


Regrettably, the flavor fails to redeem the beer’s initial impressions. The palate encounters a dusty and cardboardy quality, accompanied by the persistent grittiness of celery seed. A subtle prickly mineral water tinge further detracts from the overall tasting experience. Carbonation diminishes rapidly in the glass, leaving a dry and chalky sensation on the palate. This departure from the anticipated flavor profile casts a shadow on the beer’s reputation.


The mouthfeel of AleSmith’s .394 pale ale adds to the disappointment. Carbonation fades quickly, contributing to a dry and chalky texture that lingers. The lack of vibrancy in the mouthfeel fails to complement the hoppy character promised by the product description. This aspect of the beer further highlights the deviation from the expected quality.


In reflecting on the overall experience, it becomes evident that distribution has dealt a severe blow to the integrity of this IPA. AleSmith’s reputation as a decades-old hoppy beer master takes a hit as this particular batch falls short of expectations. The lesson learned here is that the delicate nature of IPAs, especially American pale ales, makes them susceptible to deterioration on store shelves. Even when refrigerated and consumed within a short timeframe, factors beyond the brewery’s control can compromise the product. The fact that a two-week-old American pale ale from AleSmith fails to meet the brand’s standards underscores the challenges posed by distribution and storage conditions outside the brewery’s domain. This unfortunate experience prompts a reconsideration of the impact of distribution on the quality of IPAs, revealing that even a renowned brewery may find itself on a learning curve when it comes to preserving the essence of its creations.