Style Details

Aus­tra­li­an Spar­k­ling Ale
Pale Com­mon­wealth Beer
BJCP Style Code
12 B
Deep yel­low to light amber in color, often medi­um gold. Tall, fro­thy, per­sis­tent white head with tiny bubbles. Noti­ceable effer­ve­s­cence due to high car­bo­na­ti­on. Bril­li­ant cla­ri­ty if decan­ted, but typi­cal­ly pou­red with yeast to have a clou­dy appearance. Not typi­cal­ly clou­dy unless yeast rou­sed during the pour.
Fair­ly soft, clean aro­ma with a balan­ced mix of esters, hops, malt, and yeast – all mode­ra­te to low in inten­si­ty. The esters are fre­quent­ly pears and app­les, pos­si­bly with a very light touch of bana­na (optio­nal). The hops are ear­thy, her­bace­ous, or might show the cha­rac­te­ristic iron-like Pri­de of Ring­wood nose. The malt can ran­ge from neu­tral grai­ny to modera­te­ly sweet to light­ly brea­dy; no cara­mel should be evi­dent. Very fresh examp­les can have a light­ly yeasty, sul­fu­ry nose.
Medi­um to low roun­ded, grai­ny to brea­dy malt fla­vor, initi­al­ly mild to mal­ty-sweet but a medi­um to medi­um-high bit­ter­ness rises mid-pala­te to balan­ce the malt. Cara­mel fla­vors typi­cal­ly absent. High­ly atte­nu­a­ted, giving a dry finish with lin­ge­ring bit­ter­ness, alt­hough the body gives an impres­si­on of full­ness. Medi­um to medi­um-high hop fla­vor, some­what ear­thy and pos­si­bly her­bal, res­i­nous, pep­pery, or iron-like but not flo­ral, las­ting into after­tas­te. Medi­um-high to medi­um-low esters, often pears and app­les. Bana­na is optio­nal, but should never domi­na­te. May be light­ly mine­ral­ly or sul­fu­ry, espe­ci­al­ly if yeast is pre­sent. Should not be bland.
High to very high car­bo­na­ti­on, giving mouth-fil­ling bubbles and a crisp, sprit­zy car­bo­nic bite. Medi­um to medi­um-full body, ten­ding to the hig­her side if pou­red with yeast. Smooth but gas­sy. Stron­ger ver­si­ons may have a light alco­hol warmth, but lower alco­hol ver­si­ons will not. Very well-atte­nu­a­ted; should not have any resi­du­al sweetness.
Over­all Impression
Smooth and balan­ced, all com­pon­ents mer­ge tog­e­ther with simi­lar inten­si­ties. Mode­ra­te fla­vors show­ca­sing Aus­tra­li­an ingre­di­ents. Lar­ge fla­vor dimen­si­on. Very drinkable, sui­ted to a hot cli­ma­te. Reli­es on yeast character.
Typi­cal Ingredients
Light­ly kil­ned Aus­tra­li­an 2-row pale malt, lager varie­ties may be used. Small amounts of crys­tal malt for color adjus­t­ment only. Modern examp­les use no adjuncts, cane sugar for pri­ming only. His­to­ri­cal examp­les using 45% 2 row, 30% hig­her pro­te­in malt (6 row) would use around 25% sugar to dilute the nitro­gen con­tent. Tra­di­tio­nal­ly used Aus­tra­li­an hops, Clus­ter, and Gol­dings until repla­ced from mid-1960s by Pri­de of Ring­wood. High­ly atte­nua­ti­ve Bur­ton-type yeast (Aus­tra­li­an-type strain typi­cal). Varia­ble water pro­fi­le, typi­cal­ly with low car­bo­na­te and mode­ra­te sulfate.
Bre­wing records show that the majo­ri­ty of Aus­tra­li­an beer bre­wed in the 19th cen­tu­ry was draught XXX (Mild) and por­ter. Ale in bot­t­le was ori­gi­nal­ly deve­lo­ped to com­pe­te with impor­ted bot­t­led pale ales from Bri­tish bre­we­ries, such as Bass and Wm Youn­ger’ Monk. By the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, bot­t­led pale ale went out of fashion and “ligh­ter” lager beers were in vogue. Many Aus­tra­li­an Spar­k­ling and Pale Ales were labe­led as ales, but were actual­ly bot­tom-fer­men­ted lagers with very simi­lar grists to the ales that they repla­ced. Coo­pers of Ade­lai­de, South Aus­tra­lia is the only sur­vi­ving bre­wer pro­du­cing the Spar­k­ling Ale style.
Coo­pers has been making their flag­ship Spar­k­ling Ale sin­ce 1862, alt­hough the for­mu­la­ti­on has chan­ged over the years. Pre­sent­ly the beer will have bril­li­ant cla­ri­ty if decan­ted, but publi­cans often pour most of the beer into a glass then swirl the bot­t­le and dump in all the yeast. In some bars, the bot­t­le is rol­led along the bar! When ser­ved on draught, the bre­wery ins­tructs publi­cans to invert the keg to rou­se the yeast. A clou­dy appearance for the style seems to be a modern con­su­mer pre­fe­rence. Always natu­ral­ly car­bo­na­ted, even in the keg. A pre­sent-use ale, best enjoy­ed fresh.
Com­mer­cial Examples
Coo­pers Ori­gi­nal Pale Ale, Coo­pers Spar­k­ling Ale
Ori­gi­nal Gravity
1.038 - 1.050 SG
Final Gra­vi­ty
1.004 - 1.006 SG
4 - 7 SRM
4.0 - 6.0 %vol
20 - 35 IBU