Cape May has issued an indirect challenge to me with their food pairings on the side of their cans. They say that their Northeast Pale Ale, Always Ready, pairs perfectly with cheese, chicken, and fish. Not one to back away from such a challenge, I took the rare opportunity of a gathering of friends with some quality meats and cheeses to give this pale ale a good, clean shot at impressing.
Before I jump into the beer itself I have to admit that in the past year, Cape May Brewing has really impressed me with their lineup of hoppy beers. My palate has changed over the course of the last two years from the harsher, super juice bombs into a more of a tropical yet hoppy palate. I've raved about City to Shore in the past and just keep looking forward to the next Cape May beer I can try. Although my relationship with Cape May was bumpier about 3 years ago, they've unlocked a lot of potential for me and my palate.
This is all just to explain my excitement about opening this can and pairing it up with one of the foods suggested. Cheese lineup: gouda, red dragon (think gourmet mustard and cheese), sharp cheddar, and cheddar jack. I tied these in with some hot soppresata from Brick Farm Market and of course, Always Ready.
Upon opening the can, you get that immediate nose of pineapple. If there's an IPA nose profile that immediately can suck me into wanting to try it, it's those reminiscent of tropical fruits. As it pours, it looks juicy, but not overbearingly so. Once I've allowed it to settle, the first sip is impressive. The profile is that of a pineapple and mango, very tropical and pretty enjoyable! Because the ABV is 4.8%, there is more of a drinkability aspect to it than if it were a 7% ABV IPA. You want to heighten the taste of gouda and red dragon? This beer is perfect for it. It also made the soppresata spicier and rounded out the sharpness to it.
The beer itself? Always Ready is sessionable. If anything, my slight complaint would be having it be a tad bit higher in the ABV just to round out the flavor a bit more, but then that'd defeat the purpose of this beer. It's one of the more enjoyable beers I've had under 5%. I'm glad this beer was brewed because it adds to the ever-growing repertoire of sessionable beers made in New Jersey. Does it live up to its pairing? Absolutely. I'd have this again over some quality dairy and meats anytime. If your profile is that of a more drinkable pale ale without the harshness of overdone lupulin powder of oat-based ales that are way too juicy, this is perfect. If this is still around for the summer, it's a must purchase. This should go well with some grilled chicken... now I'm hungry again. Salud!