Tag Archive: Golden Ale


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.

Barneys Brew

Hilden: Barney’s Brew (Ireland: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Thin off white head.

Nose: Ginger. Sausage bap and fried caramelised onions. Flour dust. Brown sauce.

Body: Sausage. Light lemon. Brown sauce. Caramelised onion. Ginger. Coriander. Wheat

Finish: Sausage sandwich. Wheat. Sour lime. Pepper.

Conclusion: This has to be psychosomatic. Seriously. It is subtitled Belgium Bap Beer, and when I read that it brought to mind all those delicious breakfast baps that got me through early morning lectures at university. So I smiled at the memory, broke open the beer bottle and…

Sausage sandwich bap aroma. Seriously. Suddenly I was bloody hungry. Admittedly it was 9pm and I hadn’t eaten yet, which is the more rational explanation, but seriously!

Anyway, sausage, a touch in the body and then seriously back again. Anyway, thought I’d best fill you in as I’m fairly sure those call to memories had a serious impact in how I perceived the beer. Looking at the back of the bottle and the ingredients now I think I have it worked out. There’s a lot of different spices used, which lots of good quality sausages are shoved full of, which when combined with that odd texture that reminded me of the slightly oily sausage skin could go a long way to explaining the way it came out. But still, mind link or no the flavours are there, and with it the slight tartness becomes brown sauce in my mind. I can’t help it, all these things are linked in my mind now.

Anyway, I think I’ve harped on about that long enough; it’s far from the whole of the beer. There is a slight lemon character in the background, not unusual for a beer made with wheat. The spice, another wheat beer favourite, really has free reign here though. Despite that it is not what I would expect from a wheat beer, hence why I was happy going with rate beers descriptor of golden ale. There is some lemon yes, some sour lime, and yes wheat, and as mentioned hell yes there is spice. However this all combines to an odd, slightly doughy, slightly meaty and quite fresh beer.

It is probably technically not a good beer. The elements fascinate rather than are enjoyed, but I was fascinated by it. Will I return to it? Hell no, a sausage sandwich beer sounds better than it tastes. Glad I did try it though. Looking at other reviews I am wondering if mine was unusually tart, possibly from a very minor yeast infection, as no one else reported that. If so maybe I had a unique experience with this one. Again, if so I’m glad it did. I love the weird life that brings me oddities like this. Not a great beer, but odd as hell.

Background: Last of the beers I picked up during Sainsbury’s new beer festival. This one looked a bit interesting and was grabbed on a whim. Drunk while listening to some chilled out Ulver and was drunk to celebrate completing a 5 star run on Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams. Yes I am a geek. I was tempted to put this under wheat ale as it was made with wheat grist. Also contains cardamom, coriander and black pepper. It is subtitled “Belfast Bap Wheat Beer” which I’m sure put me in the psychological mind for half the tasting notes.

Golden Chalice

Glastonbury: Golden Chalice (England: Golden Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy orange gold. Thin yellowed bubble head.

Nose: Ground tangerine skin. Passion fruit. Watermelon and seeds. Light bitterness. Not very forceful.

Body: Apricot and moderate hops. Mango. Dried banana. Thick texture.

Finish: Dried banana. Hops, light bitterness. Mango and grapefruit. Slight tartness.

Conclusion: Simple and pleasant were the words that were in my mind for most of my time drinking this. I wasn’t quite sure initially how it was going to hold up as it has a remarkable weak aroma, but that was quickly offset by a sufficiently forthright body to make its mark. The flavour is all dried fruit delivered straight up with enthusiasm if not actual grace. It fills your mouth quickly then dries it as it goes out leaving just this sweet but lightly tart element behind.

There is no subtle edges to it, just bright shining and quite fun character backed by a slight bitterness. It is a beer always shouting “Ooh, ohh” and waving to try an get your attention, and I can’t dislike it for that. The brash joy does make me smile, but it is far from a master class on how to make a beer of this sort. Just roll with those mango and dried banana flavours and you will probably enjoy drinking it, which is worthwhile in itself.

Now don’t look for anything special, and it will do you right, it is never dull, but also never fancy. Nice citrus makes it easy to drink, and trust me you never have to dig too deep too find the flavour and enjoyment, but no, not special.

So, fun if you see it, but don’t expect to find a new favourite beer.

Background: Drunk in Bournemouth at Chaplin’s, a cool Charlie Chaplin themed pub with an awesome beer garden and some live music as well. Beer selection is nice as well, rotating real ales and some decent bottled beer from Flying Dog and Wild Beer co. Not the best selection I have seen but good enough and with a great atmosphere to drink it in. Anyway, Glastonbury ales, seen them in bottle a lot but never got around to trying them, so here we go.

Local Beer
Shinsyu Natural Beer: Blond Ale (Japan: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

(According to ratebeer aka Yo-Ho: Yona Yona Local Beer)

Visual: Banana to grain. Large inch of frothy bubbles packed in.

Nose: Banana sweets. Apricot. Banana itself. Ice cream and vanilla. Very light hop character. Cinnamon. Light soil.

Body: Sweet. Banana syrup. Passion fruit. Greenery. Hop oils and oily bitterness. Apricot. Resinous.

Finish: Cinnamon into bitterness. Greenery and hops. Slight hop oils. Soil.

Conclusion: Since I drunk this shortly after Minamishinsyu Golden ale it is hard not to compare the two. Minamishinsyu was fresh and tart while this is more earthy with somewhat of a British hop feel. More syrupy textured with the banana being used more as a base. This uses a much more hop oiled texture to deliver a heavier and less citrus filled bite.

I think I would be kinder to this beer if I wasn’t comparing the two, they have different aims, take on the style and strengths. However with the two effectively side by side I can’t help but think this is the weaker beer.

The syrup is a bit too strong and the hops not quite showy enough. It is workmanlike, and if you are into the heavier, more resinous feel then this does deliver. As an overall package however it feels too leaden. The flavours are there but it feels like the extra weight muffles rather than pushes them.

So, a bit sub par. I mean it isn’t wasabi beer level sub par, just a bit off that’s all.

I wouldn’t recommend it unless the alternative is Kirin Ichiban. If that is the case this beer beats it easily.

Background: I grabbed this at Matsumoto’s train station. Seriously, what is it with Train stations in Japan having a better beer selection than any but dedicated craft beer shops? Anyway it was a whimsy grab, and only on looking it up did I find the beer was an alias for Yona Yona Local Beer. I’ve been drinking quite a bit of Yo-Ho beers so far this trip. Anyway drunk after Minamishinsyu Golden Ale, with just a short break for a dip in the ryokan’s onsen in-between, so I was feeling quite refreshed and tingly by this point.

Mimamishinsyu

Minamishinsyu: Golden Ale (Japan: Golden Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed gold. Small bubbled white head.

Nose: Apricot. Light hop tingle and bitterness. Pineapple. Banana and quite sweet.

Body: Apricot and golden syrup. Banana. Light hoppiness and bitterness. Gooseberries. Biscuits. Vanilla.

Finish: Elderberry hops. Light bitterness. Toffee. Slightly muggy hops at times. Lemongrass.

Conclusion: Drunk while hiding from the mid afternoon sun of Japan, this golden ale did the trick nicely.

Quite sweet and just slightly syrupy textured, it doesn’t dwell on that sweetness, instead layering tart gooseberry, pineapple and elderberry over it. Not a heavy dose, and not sharp but just enough to make it refreshing and fruity.

It reminds me of a slightly tarter summer lighting, a similarly refreshing summer drink, and nigh as proficiently crafted as that excellent beer. I say nigh as it has one, admittedly small, flaw. The finish has slightly muggy hops at times. Not so much to make it anywhere near a bad beer though. A frankly tiny thing.

The base mixes biscuits and vanilla into a toffee finish, making for a well balanced element for the understated but tasty hops to do their work on.

So, frankly a well made summer refresher, very tasty with well balanced bitterness infused into the ale. I could happily enjoy this for an evening. Maybe not perfect, but far above its minor flaws.

Very nice.

Background: I did not actually hunt this one out myself. Our Inside Japan tour leader in Japan, on hearing of my Craft Beer fondness, hunted this down for me in Matsumoto. A very good pick, thank you very much. Our tour leader earned the nickname Batman for several incidents that involved going above and beyond call of duty. I raise this glass to you good sir.

24K Golden Ale

Brewfist: 24K Golden Ale (Italy: Golden Ale: 4.6% ABV)

Visual: Quite hazy lemon to dark yellow. Moderate off white head.

Nose; Slightly muted ground orange peel and passion fruit hops. Touch of apricot and lemon meringue.

Body: Zesty. Apricot and lemon. Sherbet feel yet creamy. Light bitterness. Cinnamon. Passion fruit.

Finish: Lemon sherbet and hops. Good bitterness. Cream. Passion fruit.

Conclusion: Not what I was expecting. I know Brewfist have quite a reputation for hoppy beers, so the more restrained character of this took me by surprise.

What it does have is a gentle level of hops, and a flavour that reminds me more of the Belgium style wit Isaac. The body is gentle and slightly creamy with passion fruit and a soft lemon flavour. It distinctly does not feel like a standard golden ale.

Isaac suffered a bit from being too light on the body, the extra hop fruitiness helps here but there is a similar underlying feel. Main body it is present but it doesn’t hit too hard, yet despite a nice bitterness the finish feels slightly light.

It is pleasant and smooth with just a touch of prickle to it. Not one I get wildly excited about but a nice beer for general drinking. I wouldn’t complain about it but can’t recommend specifically seeking it out either.

Background: Brewfist is the name most people have heard about the growing craft beer scene it Italy. It was definitely the fist name I heard. Yet, I’ve never tried any of their beers. So I decided this must change and grabbed this beer from Corks Of Cotham.  I decided to go with Golden IPA as I’ve been having a bit of an IPA overload recently, so thought something a bit different would be nice. Oddly whenever anyone asked my I could not remember for the life of me which beer I had picked up without looking. I may have drunk away my memory capabilities.

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