Tag Archive: Golden Ale


Artesans Maians: Espiga Blond Ale (Spain: Golden Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy yellow blond. An inch of white head.

Nose: Grapefruit. Shortbread. Mandarin orange. Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Crisp hops.

Body: Tart. Vanilla and cream. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Pink grapefruit. Just slightly gritty feel, but generally smooth. Mandarin orange.

Finish: Soft pink grapefruit and mandarin orange. Light cream. Solid bitterness and hop character. Light raspberry.

Conclusion: Ok, that is a lot of hops for a blond ale. A heck of a lot more than I expected, and bringing with it a good level of bitterness as well. Not a challenging level of bitterness, not super high, just more than I would have expected based on the style.

It comes in very fresh with that as well – working tart fruit in a grapefruit and orange style, with a fairly big bitterness to match those tart flavours. It sure as heck doesn’t feel like a traditional blond ale – with the hop level if feels IPA influenced, but the gentle blond ale base is still under there. It has a soft, milky and creamy character with a slight buttery shortbread feel. It is there, but with the high level of hops you won’t see much of it. It is nice to know it is there though, and it does give a solid base for the rest to work from. Generally fairly smooth, but occasionally a grittier touch rises, I presume from the hops.

It is very enjoyable – but doesn’t quite win my heart as it feels trapped between the two styles it is influenced by. The mass of hops works a lot better with an IPA base, and because of those hops it doesn’t really make the best of the blond ale base. Even I as a huge hop head has to admit beers don’t have to be all about the hops all the time. However, being torn between two worlds doesn’t make it a bad beer – it still pushes a lot of the tart fruit notes while keeping a suitable soft blond base – it is getting something new out of the deal.

So, a very good beer, not super special, but has a very good set of flavours to be had in the midst of a drinking session to revitalise without being too harsh.

Background: A beer from Spain! Beer trying to grab some from Spain in a while, I hear they have a pretty good craft scene going on at the moment. Yes that is mainly the reason I grabbed this from Independent Spirit, but since I grabbed it I found it out in it in the top one percentile by style on ratebeer – so has a damn good rep it seems. If I remember rightly it is also gluten free if that stuff is of use to you. Anyway, drink while listening to some more Miracle Of Sound, just before heading out to Germany for my recent holiday.

york-guzzler

York :Guzzler (England: Golden Ale: 4.0% ABV)

Visual: Clear bright gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Large yellowed mound of a head.

Nose: Floral. Wheaty. Moderate hop bitterness. Light vanilla. Orange rind. Cinnamon. Lemon.

Body: Light treacle. Cinnamon. Doughnuts. Smooth. Honey note. Light flour. Orange juice. Vanilla. Toffee.

Finish: Light treacle. Honey. Fluffy hop character. Cinnamon. Slight brown bread. Light earthy hops. Black liquorice.

Conclusion: This has much more subtlety than it seemed at first. Initially it seemed a vanilla sweet, mildly treacle touched, easy drinking ale. Nice enough, easy to drink – gently creamy with a dry flour back to contrast. You can forgive me for not expecting much, nothing more than a gentle session ale, based on that first impression.

It does keep that gentle style throughout, but gains a gentle cinnamon sweetness and light citrus orange notes that develop throughout. It still keeps things gentle, but it builds so that the more sweet and treacle notes drop into the background, letting fresher, subtle but enjoyable fruit notes to the front. Everything is quite restrained, but if you take your time to examine there is actually a bit going on.

It is nicely put together, pretty traditional styled in feel with a slight touch of the British earthy style, but without the connotations of dullness that can often be insinuated by “traditional”. It isn’t a super stand out ale, but a nice, easy drinking ale with a bit more than you would expect.

Background: A tasting note from up north, back with the family over the holiday. Dad had got some beers in, including this one from York. Many thanks. I love York as a place, very beautiful city, lots of good pubs and shops for a beer nut like me, lots of culture. Great place. Not drunk anything from the York brewery yet, so this is another new brewery on me. Have great holidays, whatever you celebrate – enjoy your drink!

dawkins-the-unrepeatable

Dawkins: The Unrepeatable (England: Golden Ale: 3.8% ABV)

Visual: Very pale lemon juice. Moderate white head froth head that leaves suds. Some cloudy lines laced throughout the body.

Nose: Lemon juice. Clean hop character and bitterness. Hop oils. Lime notes. Fresh. Lemongrass and bubblegum. Resin. Greenery. Flour.

Body: White crusty bread. Lemongrass. Slight brown bread. Slight apricot. Some bitterness. Some kiwi.

Finish: Greenery and kiwi and lime. Dried apricot. Flour. Mint leaves.

Conclusion: Ok, the aroma to this beer promises a heck of a lot – lots of freshness, lots of lemon, and lots of influence from my beloved hop – Sorachi Ace. Now, obviously not all of the ten hops are getting a look in here – that would be nigh impossible, but at this point it had a heck of a fresh and full aroma. It is just that this number of different hops tend to be a matter of diminishing returns, and more of a gimmick than an actual need for that many varieties. Still, very impressive first impression.

Mid body, well, it loses a bit of the variety from the aroma. It is not as fresh, more a kind of gentle bready backing. Still quite a lemony beer, with some lemongrass backing and a bit of greenery – but loses some of the distinct characteristics of the aroma. It is pleasant, with a not too high level of hop bitterness. I think a lot more could have been done with the hops it had available as it feels like the beer has less complexity than a careful use of two of the three hops together generally has. I’m not complaining about the flavours you do get – a fruity, hoppy, but gentle blond ale. I’m just not seeing it as that unusual for the hoppier end of the blond ale spectrum.

So, as a hopped up blond ale – weirdly enough it needs a bit more flavour, and a bit more grip for the flavour it does have. It can tend towards the bland end about a third of the time – when it is on it is satisfying, but not special.

So, a good general ale, but not a taste spectacular that such a hop choice deserves. A beer where more is definitely less, but still generally good enough even if it is less than the sum of its parts.

Background: Originally brewed for Bristol Beer Week 2016 – don’t know if this is the same batch as its “Unrepeatable” name would indicate. It is made with Rakau, Mosaic, Galaxy, Admiral, Citra, Delta, El Dorado, Azacca, Sorachi Ace, and Amarillo hops. The difference here is that is is high hopped, but not an IPA. Not even a session IPA thank flip. Anyway, using this many different hops can result in a mess but I thought it would be fun to try, so I grabbed it from Independent Spirit of Bath. Drunk while listening to a bunch of Erock’s Meet metal videos, starting with Heathens. I don’t like the original song, but I am currently obsessed with covers of it. Go figure.

Black Market: Deception (USA: Golden Ale: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: White head on pour that very quickly vanishes. Hazy apricot fruit juice colour body. Some carbonation.

Nose: Menthol. Coconut. Crushed peppermint leaves. Slightly sour. Quite floral.

Body: Fizzy. Coconut water. Chalky. Slight cardboard. Squeezed lime. Slight wheat character. Vanilla. Dried apricot.

Finish: Coconut. Watery. Squeezed lime. Wheaty. Dried apricot.

Conclusion: Ok, this was to be part of my attempt to drink more normal beers. A plan to return to beer styles I had not done for a while. An American style blond ale, a good simple beer. A bit tweaked up with lime and coconut sure, a bit of a craft twist, but generally a robust solid style that I have mainly overlooked recently.

Well, that didn’t work out.

This is very coconut dominated, and I do mean utterly dominated – slightly chalky as well but it tastes pretty much like that coconut water you can buy in a supermarket. There is somewhat of a beer texture, but most of the blond ale character is utterly lost. Which is a bit of a disappointment.

Ok, lets ignore my expectations, take another look and take it as it is, not what I expected it to be. Well, it still is a tad watery, tad over chalky. There is some nice dried apricot that gives it some much needed extra depth. However, as a whole it feels that if you took away the coconut you would have pretty much nothing left. With a few exceptions I hold that a beer should be able to stand on its two feet even without special ingredient. They can be dominant, but you should never feel they are making up for a weak base beer, which is how this feels. Add to that, that even with the coconut it is not really very pleasant, so that requirement for a good base beer goes double for this.

It is odd, as I love coconut flavours in beer, but it needs to be just a complementary element, not the only element.

So, overall, a very sub par beer. Too little in the base and the extra ingredients don’t have enough to them to make it worth drinking. So, not what I expected, and not a good beer aside from that. Avoid.

Background: Hard to choose beer style for this one, the can says Blond Ale, made with lime and coconut. The flavour is so dominant that I was tempted to go with what ratebeer says, which is a fruit beer. However my tendency in a pinch to go with how the brewer describes it won out. So blond ale (or golden ale in this case for ease of tracking) it is. Anyway, I grabbed this from Independent Spirit as it was a new brewery on me, and I thought going for a pretty normal blond ale would be a good pick after so many odd beers recently. I wasn’t expecting the coconut to be so dominant I will admit. Continued the Godspeed You! Black Emperor kick on this one with “Allelujah! Don’t Bend, Ascend” – a darker ,more haunting album, but still good drinking music.

Wensleydale - Semer Water

Wensleydale: Semer Water (England: Golden Ale: 4.1% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice to grain. Creamy white head. The body is mildly hazy and the head leaves lots of suds.

Nose: Lemon curd. Creamy. Light cinnamon. Light sulphur.

Body: Mild lime. Lightly creamy feel and flavour. Cinnamon. Light white sugar. Mild creamy lemon. Slightly thin up front.

Finish: Creamy. Peppery. Lemon cream air. Mild bitterness and hop character. Light sulphur. Lime. Slightly dry – dry biscuits.

Conclusion: It is time for another beer, sampled in the field! In this case, in reasonable closeness to the Yorkshire fields. Time to break open a bit of the local cask real ales again.

This seems to aim at the gentle and session end of the ale scale, with lemon and lime notes, any tartness there would be muted by a creamy style making this soothing rather than sharp. The beer feels slightly more attenuated than I would expect for a golden ale, it is creamy mid body but heads out to a quite dry feeling finish. Tellingly the finish is where it lets the mild bitter character play after being absent for most of the rest of the beer.

For the main part this is a a reasonable, lemon pushing, British Cask ale style, golden ale – though the finish reminds me of the milder hop take on an APA which makes me think that the dry character of the finish is done a bit too heavily. If the beer had been just slightly more easily going on the way out it would have helped the overall feel a lot.

Still, the body, which is slightly light up front, is soon helped by the real ale character – giving a nice weight without high abv or a too thick character, and backed by a light amount of sulphur.

So, still a nice enough beer, gentle and easy to drink, even quite refreshing. It could do with a bit of work, for example a less dry finish and a bit more body in the early moments, but not bad for a wee session, though not one that overly stands out.

Background: Drunk on cask up north at the Bolton Arms in Leyburn, just a very short drive from the brewery. Was back with the family for a while so decided to grab a local cask ale while I could. I’ve had Wensleydale beers while visiting the family before, but I think this is the first time I ever did notes on one. The parents very kindly let me be an antisocial git while I did the notes. Many thanks. Also the beer’s name sounds kind of like semen water. Which amused me. Because I am childish. In other reviews my mother sampled it and said, and I quote “Yuck”. She is not a fan of real ale so that may be a bias on her review.

Elmtree Golden Pale Ale

Elmtree: Golden Pale Ale (England: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Still, mostly clear but with a hazy edge to the body. Off white head that leaves sud circles.

Nose: Creamy. Lemon curd. Popcorn.

Body: Apricot. Smooth lemon. Light bitterness and hop character. Slightly thick texture. Citrus lime. Lightly wheaty. Kiwi. Fruit syrup. Apple.

Finish: Lemon meringue. Lime. Light hop character. Muesli. Kiwi. Apples.

Conclusion: For some reason Golden Ales seem to tend to wards the formulaic more than most other styles I encounter. Ok, the British interpretation anyway. The bitterness level varies but in general a gentle drinkable lemon charactered beer seems to predominantly be the way to go for them.

This both matches and yet subtly defies those expectations. Because of course life can never be simple. The taste is citrus lemon and some lime, refreshing, as expected.

The difference is that the texture is thicker, and reminds me some of the Marston ales, but with the real ale character grounding it nicely. Above and beyond that the fruitiness moves to heavier places than the average golden ale – they have deeper green fruit into apple and kiwi that makes is less easy drinking but helps it stand out more.

It doesn’t completely diverge from expectations, especially within the real ale take on the style, but it gave me a lot more than I expected. Overall it is a slower sipping golden ale than most. It doesn’t break the mould but it stretches it just a touch.

Nice, not super refined nor super out of the ordinary, but, ya know, nice.

Background: Final of the Norwich beers I was given over Christmas and brought back home with me. Many thanks to the parents for these. Drunk while listening to Shirehorses: The Worst Album in the World…Ever..EVER. For anyone who didn’t grow up in the 90s listening to late night Mark and Lard on radio 1 that will make no sense whatsoever. Their late night show was responsible for me staying up far too late and being knackered for school the next day far too many times. Good times.

Why Not Norfolk Honey Ale

Why Not: Norfolk Honey Ale (England: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellow gold. Massive yellow white head. Massive carbonation. Leaves sud rims around glass.

Nose: Custard. Dry honey. Wheaty. Orange fruit sugars.

Body: Sour grapes. Dry honey. Some bitterness and hop oils. Quite dry overall. Light earthy and pepper backing. Dried apricot. Toffee. Chestnuts.

Finish: Tart grapes and honey. Custard. Bitter hop character. Dried apricot. White wine.

Conclusion: There are a lot of pitfalls on the path to making a honey beer. If you make it too honey sweet then you basically have a sugary alchopop. Now, if that is what you want, no worries, enjoy whatever you enjoy, however for me I’m looking for something that shows the benefit of the craft of working with beer. Personal taste and all that. Anyway, on the opposite side if you use too little honey sweetness then you might as well not be using it. This is doubly so when honey is listed as the main element of the beer as it is here.

Initial impressions show a lot of range for a honey beer. Custard notes come out on the sweet end, and sour grapes and hop oil character on the other side. While the honey is the prevalent character, the beer hasn’t sacrificed the base ale character to push the honey front and centre. I have the feeling even without the honey it would be a fruity and slightly earthy touched ale.

So, I’ve been beating around thus particular bush for the entire set of notes, so let’s get to it – how well do the do with the honey? How do they use it? Dryly. The flavour is full on honey, but it feels like a lot of the sugar has been used up with little residual sweetness. This is what I imagine has led to the grape character to the beer which feels a tad white wine like.

For me this beer is, well, I have to admit that i prefer them when they lean more towards the beer side and less on the honey side, but that is personal preference showing. Attempting a more general observation, this balances itself very well for the honey emphasising side of the style. The sweetness is there, but very much controlled, and there are enough other elements that it doesn’t become single note. Not quite to my tastes but I can respect it for being a well done take on the style.

Background: Last of the Norfolk beers had up North over Christmas – a gift from the family, many thanks! Decided to go with something a bit different for the last one, a honey ale. Often honey ales are not my thing, but like most styles there are nice ones tucked in there amongst them so I am often up for giving them a go.

Panther Golden Panther

Panther: Golden Panther (England: Golden Ale: 3.7% ABV)

Visual: Toffee brown. Small frothy bubbled and toffee touched head.

Nose: Slightly earthy and coriander touched. Orange zest and malt chocolate. Lemon.

Body: Chocolate orange. Slight appletiser. Nutty. Light chalky texture. Lemon. Toffee malt background.

Finish: Malt chocolate and apples. Nuts. Orange zest. Light chalky. Lemon coriander. Earthy. Chocolate orange. Moderate hops. Light toffee.

Conclusion: You know, for a self proclaimed light and refreshing ale, and at a modest 3.7% ABV, this actually has quite a bit of play to it. Initially light orange notes and slightly earthy, it mixed with the malt chocolate character to lead out into the finish feeling like you had eaten a Terry’s chocolate orange.

On the way through to that discovery you will run a gamut of light citrus notes, a slightly but not excessively rough nutty character all backed by a chalky mouthfeel but not taste. The slight rough notes makes it less easy drinking, but also means it feels much more substantial than you would normally get from the abv.

Despite calling itself a light beer it uses the rough edges well, which means it is not quite as sessionable as it would be, but makes it far far easier to appropriate as a single pint; It has more heft and from that heft it is able to deliver much more to the tastebuds.

The bitterness is earthy, the citrus light and the malt slightly but not heavily chocolate styled – this is the kind of real ale that can bring me back into the fold from the craft beer kick I am often on. More beers like this please.

Background: Raiding the family reserve here, Ok maybe not quite family reserve but close enough. A gift from Norfolk from my parents. Many thanks. This was not the first one I drank, but the first I pulled out the tasting note kit for. Drunk just before some new Doctor Who, so I was in a good mood. Drunk while back at home with the family, hence the slightly different environment.

Isle Of Arran Blond

Isle Of Arran: Blond (Scotland: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale gold. Thin white dash of a head that leaves sud traces. No carbonation shown in the body.

Nose: Crisp bitterness. Cream. Lime and lemon. Popcorn. Hops. Raspberry pavolva.

Body: Crisp bitterness. Lemon fresh and zesty. Prickles of hops. Cream. Lime jelly. Toffee touch.

Finish: Lemon. Light bitterness and hop prickle. Cream. Crisp. Peach touch. Malt biscuits. Toffee. Slightly musty.

Conclusion: You know, I don’t think I have had a traditional style blond ale for while. I could be wrong though. I often am. Drinking does horrid things to the memory.

That said, this puts me in mind of that beer I drank many year ago – Summer Lightning – though this has a more forthright bitter character. Despite the increased bitterness it shares a similar ease of drinking and a well done citrus character.

The package is one that I always find to my taste when I find a beer that goes that way and, while it doesn’t quite reach the summer thirst quenching heights of Summer Lightning it is very refreshing. Its problem for me is that the end comes in slightly musty, and the citrus and cream body – while fun – is far from complex. I will say however that for something with such creamy flavours it does manage an impressive dry note for the texture which stops it getting sickly. Overall, between the crisp hop kick and light citrus freshness is doesn’t fail to be pleasing.

A very solid enjoyable blond beer – nowt out of the normal for the style, but a solid take on it.

Background: The second beer from the Arran gift pack my family kindly brought back from Scotland for me. Many thanks. I have tried the blond a few times before over the years but never got around to reviewing until now. This was drunk while listening to the FLCL soundtrack. Because FLCL. I need no other reason.

NZ Wai Iti Surgery

James Street: NZ Wai Iti Surgey (England: Golden Ale: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon, small white to meringue head that leaves large sud circles.

Nose: Lightly grassy. Wheaty. Dried passion fruit.

Body: Pineapple. Custard cream centre. Juicy peach. Light resin. Sweet fruit syrup. Palma violets. Bamboo. Lemongrass. Kiwi.

Finish: Light hop bitterness. Clean gooseberry and green grapes. Lemongrass. Dry passion fruit. Late on there is tart mouth filling grapefruit and palma violets. Dry hop character and bamboo.

Conclusion: Back to the cask. Here we have a good complement for a summers day with an NZ hop golden ale. Now I’ve not run into these hops before, and from this beers example, I must say they bring a very interesting game.

To me a NZ hop says gooseberry, grapefruit and pineapple – tart and refreshing. Something perfect for a summer beer, and this definitely brings that. The real ale character soothes it down, takes away the sharp edges and just leaves a refreshing easy drinking tartness. However, that is not all the hops bring. There is a slight resinous and palma violet character that I would normally associate with the noble hops of the czech pilsner. These leave a slight hop oil feel on the way out and give it a touch of the pils easy drinking feel. Then there is an almost sorachi ace like lemongrass, or just plain grassy character, with light bamboo notes. Very natural grounding notes, lightly done to add a bit of texture and contrast.

Am I done yet? Nope. Right in the middle of the beer is a very American hop style juicy peach and fruit syrup sweetness mixed with green kiwi fruit, it makes for a cresting high point to what the beer has been building up to. This really is like a world tour as imagined using only NZ hops. Brilliant refreshing with lots to find and enjoy.

So, I am enthusiastic. Any issues with the beer then? Well, the aroma is a bit muted and doesn’t offer much. I don’t know if it just needs more dry hopping or what, but it could do with something to give more to drag you in. Once you have that first sip though all problems vanish. This is a lovely fruity, summer fresh, big and well rounded beer. Again the James Street Brewery show why their limited run beers are where they really shine. An excellent beer.

Background: NZ Wai Iti is a new hop – I presume from New Zealand because of the name. Don’t think I’ve run into a beer with it before. It is also made with Dr Rudi hops, also NZ, but they don’t mention that in the name. I saw a tweet saying this was on at Bath Brew House a few weeks ago. By the time I got to the pub it was all gone, so when I found it back on again, I quickly grabbed a pint for review. Gave me a chance to do a cask real ale review again. Yay. Anyway James Street Brewery is the brewery of out local Brewpub Bath Brew House, and while there mainstay beers are only ok, their one offs are generally absolutely great.

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