Monday, May 9, 2011

Beer Style of the Week - Blonde or Golden Ale

In honor of all you mothers and/or those of you who have or have had a mother. Most mothers have been blonde at least sometime in their life. Right? If so, this style is for you/them.

The Golden or Blonde Ale is as the name implies, pale blonde or gold in color. Unfiltered Blondes tend to be a bit cloudy. The head in most cases is snow white to light beige.

The aroma and flavor profiles vary widely from country to country. Belgian and Netherland Blondes can be fairly potent with a whiff of alcohol upfront an edgy hop and spice-forward smell and taste. Those from France tend to be a bit more subdued and somewhat balanced (think Amber Ale). The UK Goldens tend to be drier (think Saltine Cracker dry) and lower in alcohol than their European counterparts. One thing Blondes have in common is a subdued fruitiness in aroma and taste. As can be expected, the US versions disregard any profile stamp and are a mixed bag.

Belgian Blondes

Brewery Lefebvre - Hopus Ale Quenast, Belgium 8.3% abv
11.2oz stubby brown flip top bottle. Best before date stamped on back label. Served in Kapittel Watou stemmed snifter.
Pours a cloudy caramel toffee color with a fluffy white head and loads of sticky, clinging lace.
The smell is a little disjointed with sour yeast, dry hay, horse barn, oak, floral hops and gin.
The flavors are rangy as well, but with more complimentary results. Edgy astringent hops, lemon zest, gin, orange peel and Orange Lifesavers. A little metallic tang is noticed in the finish.
The mouthfeel is a little raspy at the first few gulps but mellows out as it warms.
For some reason, I feel this tart and bitter brew will go nicely with lemon tarts or bitter pineapple upside down cake.

Affligem Blonde Affligem Brewery – Opwijk, Belgium 6.8 ABV

11.2 oz. Thin brown bottle. Produced on date on back label.

Pours a dirty blonde with a beige head and trails of patchy lacing.

Smells of barn grain and fruity citrus are quite noticeable. A light whiff of white rum floats in.

Sweet caramel and a pear-like fruitiness ride a fairly solid malty body. Citrus and peppery spice notes balance things nicely. A bit of warming alcoholic slides in and out.

The finish is clean, yet the spiciness lingers.

A good beer to pair with rustic chicken dishes.

French Blonde

Jenlain Blonde (Biere de Garde, Blonde) Jenlain, France – 7.5% ABV

11.2oz brown bottle. Freshness date noted on label. Served in an Allagash tulip glass.

It pours a yellow golden color with a good sized white head and some patchy lacing.
A sweet, biscuity malty smell rises at first pour. Floral and resinous hop aromas drift in. A little mixed fruit cup and whiffs of alcohol are noticed.
Slightly citrus and edgy tea-like hop bitterness rests on a biscuity bed of malt. A little vodka-like alcoholic bite sneaks in midway through a lasts throughout, especially in the breath.

This Blonde is a bit sweeter and bit richer in body than I expected. And it’s a fairly potent brew for the style, but overall a nice, easy-to-gulp brew.

UK Blonde

Harviestoun Brewery - Bitter and Twisted - Scotland - 4.2% abv
From a review in 2003
A real treat to find this at the NERAX 2003! Bright golden in color with medium-sized bubbles and a fast fading head. The lace is thin, but a little sticky. The hoppy aroma is slightly mellowed by hints of lightly roasted malt. Sharp, citrusy bitterness with an edgy aggressiveness. Mellows, sweetens and balances out toward the end of the glass. Very gulpable!

New England

Mayflower Brewing Golden Ale - Plymouth, MA - 4.7% ABV
12 oz. dark brown bottle. Pkg. date stamped on label.
Served in a Sam Adams fluted glass.
A firm 2" snow-white head floats upon a pale clear golden body. Wispy trails of webby lace rim the glass.
The smell is grassy, with a mix of dry malt and dried fruit.
Tastes of edgy metallic and tea-like hops are forward. The lightly roasted malt has a vague sweetness and wheat cracker taste.
It's a tad bit overly dry, but true to the style, so can't fault it there. Nice session brew!

Rapscallion Premier – Holyoke, MA – 7% ABV

On tap. Served in a tulip glass.

It pours an amber-hued golden color, with a fluffy, off-white head.

A mild dry grainy smell is upfront. A light blend of sweet candy, fruit cup, with a dose of citrus and resins roam around. A whiff of white rum fades in and out.

This Golden is a bit sweet for the style, yet it’s a pleasing sweetness. Bready, grassy and caramel malts carry hints of citrus and fruit cup, along with some warming alcohol. A faint taste of ripe banana and spices peek through.

The body lacks in dryness and is a bit full and rounded for the style.

It’s a good beer to pair with a wide variety of cheeses and salamis, or vanilla-based desserts.

Cheers and Salut!

Quote: “ Ere’s to English women an’ a quart of English beer”. – Rudyard Kipling