Archive for the 'Golden Ale' category
Here’s a new one for you North Carolinians out there! White Wolf Brewery out of Farmville, NC (hint, hint – it’s actually Duck Rabbit Brewery, but I reckon they don’t want to compromise their dark beer reputation, so they’ve created a spin-off). This is a Golden Ale, and that’s all we know – no indication whether we’re dealing with a Belgian or American or even what the ABV is, so we’ll just have to judge this one on taste alone.
The Golden Ale pours, actually, a very dark gold color – far darker than a typical golden ale. This is topped off with a white head that spiders down the glass, leaving a considerable web as the beer goes down the gullet. In the nose there is, surprisingly, quite a lot of caramel. In addition, there are hints of horehound candy and anise – none of what I would’ve expected from this ale. The taste of this beer is equally surprising. On the tip of the tongue, there is a quick sugary sweetness that exists just for a blink. After that, big blasts of toffee and caramel come to the forefront, riding the tongue all the way to the back of the mouth, growing bigger as they go down the line. The malty flavors here seem fairly dark, only occasionally showing tints of the light or refreshing characteristics you might expect from a ‘golden’ ale. There is a tad bit of hop here, but no overwhelming or even impressive bitterness. So, frankly, I’m confused. This isn’t a bad beer – it’s flavorful and full and almost syrupy in its mouthfeel. However, it isn’t like any golden ale I’ve ever had. Perhaps you could consider this a hybrid between a pale ale and an amber, but I wouldn’t place those in the ‘golden’ category. Overall, I’m not too sure what to say about this – I likely won’t buy it again, but I can see some redeeming qualities. In my humble opinion, this is a far cry from the quality of the Duck Rabbit brews, but let’s let them crawl before they walk – maybe the next one will be better…
PS – I’ve learned that, apparently, this is a collaboration between the Duck Rabbit folks and the Wolf Beer Co that contract brews. Not exactly a spin-off, but you know…
As I’m sure all of you SevenPack groupies remember, I once reviewed the Big Sky Moose Drool ale, and I found it quite tasty. In fact, I associate all of these Big Sky brews with trips to the West. Whether it be to Yellowstone or Glacier or the Tetons or whatever, these beers bring to mind relaxing times in beautiful settings, so it’s difficult for me to give them unbiased reviews. However, I picked up a couple of Big Sky’s other offerings, and I’m hoping that a hotel in North Dakota is a decent setting to give them more honest reviews. Here goes nothing….
The Trout Slayer doesn’t actually define a style on the label, but it sure seems to be a standard golden ale. The pour of this is crystal clear with a medium golden color and a barely noticeable thin white head. The aroma of the beer is rather thick and sweet with a caramel note, which is slightly unexpected. In the mouth, this beer is full and flavorful. From the beginning to the end, the beer has a rich bready flavor with hints of a more sugary sweetness that again brings to mind caramel. There isn’t a very large hop note here, although there is a light bitterness that shows up in the aftertaste and leaves you with a tongue coated with rich sweetness and a bitter bite at the back of the throat. Frankly, this would be a great beer while casting a line in some mountain stream, which I reckon is what Big Sky had in mind when they named it. It’s fairly refreshing while still being big and flavorful – great beer for the golden ale genre, and one I’m sure to revisit when I can find it.
So, we haven’t QUITE reviewed the full stable of Terrapin beers yet, but I aim to resolve that in the near future, starting with this, the tamest of them all – the Golden Ale.
This beer pours a soft golden color that is just the slightest bit hazy, with tiny bubbles lackadaisically rising to the thin white head on the surface of the beer. In the nose, there is a medium hop bitterness combined with a lightly sour malt aroma that makes this pungent in a way that isn’t entirely pleasant, but invokes that ‘beeriness’ that is familiar to many golden ales. The taste of this ale is more pronounced than most golden ales you’ll run into. Initially, there is a light carbonation burn on the tip of the tongue, but that quickly transitions into a sourness that is reminiscent of the bastard-son of a French Saison ale – it isn’t quite so defined as what you get in a typical Saison, but the characteristics are there. On top of this is a sweetness that sits in the background, but is most certainly present, in the form of some biscuity malt flavor. As this moves on down the tongue, some metallic hopiness also comes into play, and this increases until the back of the mouth and takes center stage in an aftertaste that sticks around for quite a while. The mouthfeel of this beer is also quite substantial, leaving a thin coating of the beer over the mouth and tongue for seconds after the swallow. Altogether, this isn’t quite my cup of tea. I can see how this would be refreshing on a hot day, due to the pronounced sourness. I can also agree that this is a good interpretation of a the admittedly vague ‘golden ale’ style. However, this melange of flavors isn’t entirely what I’ll usually grab, so forgive me if I’m less than ecstatic about this.
I recently had two beers found on the lighter side of the beer scale. First was Victory’s V-Saison, which Matt reviewed a while ago so I just added my thoughts to the comment section. Definitely a beer to check out. Second was a Swiss Golden Ale by Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) called La Meule. Switzerland holds a special place in my heart (I look back on both my trips to Switzerland with great affection), so when the beer manager at a local store mentioned he had just received some beers from Switzerland, I just had to pick them up. Lets see if this beer matches my fond memories of Switzerland.
First thing I noticed about this beer was the “brewed with the herb sage” written on the beer’s label. I do not cook frequently with sage, so I was not really sure I knew what sage smelled/tasted like. To remedy this I went out and picked up a pack of sage from the local grocery store. Having smelled and tasted (I would not suggest eating sage just by itself) the sage, I was ready to crack open one of the beers.
The beer poured a nice two fingers of white head into the pint glass. The first finger of head dissipated rather quickly but the remaining finger left a rather firm head of small bubbles. The body of the beer was straw in color with a fare bit of debris floating around, which made the beer quite foggy. Due to the action of the debris, I could tell there was some very nice bubble action happening in the glass.
In the nose this beer had a strong lemon citrus kick to it with some light yeast funk. Since lemon was the predominant smell, lemon was very present in the taste. The lemon taste had a sour flavor at the front of the mouth which finished with a bitterness quality towards the back. Overall mouth feel was on the chalky side of things, but was light and drying.
One thing you might have noticed is the lack of my mentioning sage in my sampling. Personally I could not find the sage in the smell or taste. It might have helped with the bitter finish of the beer, but there was nothing with the bitterness that said “I’m sage”. Due to my initial lack of sage findings, I went back a week later and tried the beer again. Again I personally could not find the sage.
Though rather one dimensional (lemon is the predominant character in this beer), I found this to be a refreshing beer. I found the overall qualities of the beer to lean towards the saison/farmhouse style, so let that factor guide you in your purchasing decision.
This new brew from SweetWater apparently has an interesting story. It sounds like this brew began as a Pilsner. However, during the fermentation cycle, the brew ‘blew a tire’, and an ale yeast was added to try and save the batch. Thus is born the “Road Trip”. Sounds like an interesting combination, and one I’m anxious to try!
The Road Trip pours an opaque golden color with little apparent carbonation, save in the thin stark white head. This actually looks very much like a Belgian witbier in the glass, although I imagine it won’t taste quite so similar. The aroma of this is actually very pleasing. It is lightly sweet with just a hint of lemon zest. There isn’t a lot of hop here, although some of that lemony scent may be attributed to a nice citrus hoppiness. In the mouth, this beer is a little crazy. Initially, the beer seems subdued and lightly sweet. However, about one second into the drink, there is an absolute explosion of bitter/metallic/hoppy/bladow! This flavor seems like a big combination of hops and pilsner malt and some odd creation resulting from the aforementioned recipe. This isn’t bad, but it also isn’t like anything else I’ve taste. The bitterness also has a sourness to it, so it might not suit someone into sweeter beers. However, hopheads or fans of a sour lambic might have a serious draw to this. It is very interesting, and quite tasty to the right palate. And, I have to give a hats-off to SweetWater for saving what would’ve been a botched batch. So, while I don’t recommend this to just anyone, I think any fan of adventurous brews might find this an interesting thing to try.
This, the final brew from the month’s batch from Beer of the Month Club, is from the folks at Abita in Louisiana. As such, it was brewed in order to raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims in the New Orleans area. So, this beer has been around for a bit of time now, and hopefully it has raised some decent funds for those in need (kudos to BOMC for buying up a bunch for the customers). As this is a charity brew, it might make sense for Abita to make this appeal to the largest demographic possible. With that in mind, I’ll expect a tasty but rather generic golden ale out of this.
The pour of this is about what I hoped for – it’s a medium golden with no debris. The aroma of this brew is fairly generic, except with a hint of fruity sweetness on the head. In the mouth, this beer is actually a bit more flavorful than I would’ve expected. It is, by all accounts, a golden ale. However, there is a light fruitiness to it that reminds me of a hint of blueberry, and it hits just about the back of the mouth and then creeps up into the nasal passage. It leaves me with a lightly sweet touch on the palate, and a very good impression of the beer. I’ve had some bad experiences with Abita’s fruit beers in the past and, while this isn’t a fruit beer per se (I imagine it contains no actual fruit), I’m favorably impressed to have this experience. In short, I like this a lot more than I expected I would. Okay, I’m glad that Abita is helping out for charity, obviously. However, this beer isn’t what I would call ‘generic’, like I expected. Rather, it’s a fairly exceptional golden ale that is refreshing with a punchy sweetness that I really like. Good job to Abita for putting forth a good beer for a good cause.
This is a little package I picked up down at Sam’s Blue Light the other day, from a brewery that I’m not familiar with. However, I’ve had a lot of good experiences with beers that have fish on the label, so I was bound to pick it up.
The pour of this beer is a mildly unfiltered golden color with tiny little bubbles giving it a nice effervescence. The aroma is of tart yeast and some lightly sweet malt. In the mouth, this one is syrupy sweet through the mouth with just the slightest hint of hop around the middle of the tongue. Honestly, this is a rather simple brew. It’s fairly tasty, and doesn’t offer too many facets through the mouth – rather, it’s rich and sweet and honestly has a lot of cider characteristics about it. It even tastes a bit apple-y, which may be an accomplishment in its own right, considering there isn’t any apple involved. So. . . there isn’t a whole lot else to say about this beer. It IS tasty if you’re into ciders and very direct flavors in your beer. However, I can’t say that it’s bringing enough to the table to make me pay $7 for another 4-pack of this. They DO recommend cellaring on the label, which might help, although this really doesn’t strike me as a typically cellarable beer. Oh well – have any of you had this? What do you think?
Hey again, boozers. I tell you what, it’s nice to have a fridge full of all manner and variety of tasty brews waiting for you in the corner when you need it – I’m already getting spoilt again by the luxuries of the modern world. Tonight, I was in the mood for something light but complex, and I’m really hoping that the Hades fits the bill.
The pour of this beer, frankly, seems a bit boring when compared to a lot of beers. It’s a filtered golden color and, by look, could pass for any domestic macro-brewed light beer. However, a quick sniff quickly squashes any preconceptions you may have about this beer. This beer has a lightly sweet and spicy smell that is somewhat similar to a Belgian tripel, but not quite as cloying and lacking the occasional citrus aspect – also, it’s not too pungent. Basically, it smells very enticing, and I expect it to taste good. And, taste good it does! This beer enters the mouth with a light but substantial kick. There is an initial carb burn on the tip of the tongue that opens up the tastebuds for the spicy sweetness to follow. On through the mouth, this spiciness maintains, but is melanged with a mild hop bitterness and a nice sweetness reminiscent also of a tripel – I’m not entirely sure if there is any candi sugar used in this (it DOES use a Belgian yeast), but the sweetness leads me to believe there may be. On through the mouth, this spiciness picks up a light floral flavor and finishes with a second bite at the back of the throat. The floral sweetness then maintains in the throat or quite some time without heading too far up the nasal cavity. Great Divide has accomplished a nice light beer that is both refreshing and quite complex. It’s sorta an American tripel blended with the flavor of a lighter lager, and I like it…
This beer is a major divergence from the last three brews. However, I’m trying to go into it with an open mind, and I think it’s pretty good. Basically, this is a beer. Nothing fancy – just a golden ale. It is a light golden color. It smells like ‘beer’. In the mouth, it tastes like a plain old beer. I think the flavor is a bit smoother and a bit more flavorful than a traditional rice-based domestic beer. But, again, this is a beer that may not belong in a line-up like this one
This is a very unique beer for me. Hommel is apparently the Belgium term for hops. However, this is categorized as a Belgian golden ale. This is as if you mixed a strong IPA with a light Belgian Tripel. You get an interesting amalgam of syrupy sweetness coupled with strong hoppy bitterness. This is a rather good beer, if a little bit confusing. Definitely worth a try, if only to see what it’s like
Honestly, I wasn’t planning to review this beer. It’s not because I’m not dedicated to the cause – it’s just because I’m a little tired and I’m stuck in some hotel in Florida. So, really, I’m just sitting here winding down, enjoying a tasty Mexican brew from the stop-and-shop, when I notice that this stuff comes from a brewery called Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc in the district of Moctezuma in Monterrey, Mexico. So, I say to myself, “Hell – with that many letters in a name, how can I not review it?”
I think it’s a good reason.
So, anyway, this stuff would pour a clear golden color if I weren’t drinking it directly from the 24 oz. can. Also, it would likely smell very beer-like, in the traditional frat-house sense – bit of hops, bit of malt. Now, for my secret – I honestly like a good Mexican light beer, and this is one of my favorites. It isn’t a slouch on taste. Rather, it has a good bit of hop flavor, a nice smooth mouthfeel, and an extremely refreshing demeanor. In short, it’s nothing crazy, but it’s just a solid brew. Furthermore, it isn’t expensive, it’s much better than most comparable American domestics, and it works great for a day on the beach (or in a hotel in Florida). So, I give it a thumbs up. Sometimes, it’s not all about the flavor or presentation of a particular beer – it’s about the context. And, in the context in which I tend to enjoy Tecate, it does an impeccable job.
I’m not entirely what type of beer this is – the bottle doesn’t give away very much information. However, judging from the look of it, I’m saying it’s a pretty standard golden ale. So, this’ll probably end up being a pretty short and standard review, as Left Hand hasn’t given me too much to speculate with here.
The beer pours a darkish amber color with no debris. There is a fairly resilient white head to the beer, and an aroma with a bready quality, a bit of hop bite, and just a hint of licorice. In the mouth, it isn’t quite as standard as I expected. Rather, this beer turns out a bit more flavorful than the average golden ale. The flavor is a solid melange of malt and hop – nothing too fresh tasting, but more of a musty hop bitterness combined with a rich bready flavor. It is fairly complex, for a small-bottle brew in its price range, but it certainly isn’t overbearing or inaccessible. Honestly, I’m more impressed with this than I expected. I think it’d be a great beer to sit around and drink over a nice BBQ or whilst watching the ballgame (football, not basketball – it’s not a basketball beer). Bottom line is that this won’t blow your mind, but it is a very solid and tasty beer.
It’s hard to beat a quality Belgian golden ale. Sweet, but bitter. Delicate, but strong. A wonderful melange of beer qualities that meld to make a beer that is at home on a cold December night or a hot July day. However, it’s also easy to mess this up – try putting in some crazy off-kilter flavoring, or accidentally lean the beer too far in a single direction, and you can end up with an abrasive or just plain sissy beer. It’s a tough balance, and I’m very pleased with how Russian River has worked it out with their Damnation.
This beer pours a hazy golden orange that is obviously unfiltered and bottle-fermented. The aroma of the beer carries lots of citrus, but is well-balanced with a sugary sweetness that makes this a very fresh-smelling beer. In the mouth, this beer strikes an excellent balance. Initially, there is a noticeable carbonation burn on the tongue that is quickly replaced by a tart sweetness on the tip of the tongue; this becomes a light hoppy bitterness that then moves to the back of the mouth. This bitterness then seems to migrate north into the nasal cavity, all the while changing into a spry sweetness that commands the aftertaste. The aftertaste sits happily in the throat for a long while after the swallow. My impression of the Damnation is that it is unusually complex for a golden ale. There are a lot of flavors here, and they transition several times during the trip through the mouth. This makes for one of the more pleasant drinks I’ve had for quite some time.
The ale house has been around since the dawn of time in 1854, giving refuge to the full breadth of the cross section of mankind — “presidents, residents, authors, and thieves”, or so sayeth the website — throughout its storied history. The East Village residents have mostly changed from working class Irish to hipsters and yuppies, but the bar itself remains an shrine to Americana, the working man, and drinking. My kind of place.
About the beer: it pours a deep citrine and the bartenders make sure they give it a thick, pillowy head to release a lot of flavor. The smell is sweet, a little malty, well-balanced, and far from overpowering — I hesitate to use the word ‘delicate’ given my surroundings and the giant tattooed man in a black ‘Longshoreman’ t-shirt at the end of the bar. Throughout the mouth this is a very smooth, creamy brew. It’s malty and a little fruity, but mostly just very smooth and creamy. The alcohol and carbonation do offer a slight tingle on the tongue and at the back of the mouth. It’s not a very complex flavor, and is very consistent from start to finish, but it’s refreshing and very pleasant. The ale transitions into a pleasant tingle on the sides of the tongue for an aftertaste that hangs around for ages.
The bartender, Gregory, acted a little standoffish when I told him I was reviewing the beer, and he seemed unnecessarily apologetic about the brews in case my golden tongue was offended by this “working class drink”. When I assured him I actually know very little about beer, that I was pleased with the brews in front of me, and even more pleased with the ambiance, he immediately warmed to me and offered a lot of information about beer and in-general drinking in New York.
The privilege of brewing McSorley’s Ale has been passed around and bought several times, but the distinction now lies with your friends and mine at Pabst Brewing out in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Bottles bearing the McSorley’s label are apparently available up and down the Eastern Coast of our fair land, and while one is bound to get a tasty bottled brew to enjoy in the comfort of one’s own home, the experience has to pale in comparison to leaning on the ale-soaked bar, breathing in the history of one of New York’s oldest drinking establishments, and watching Gregory wash the mugs, ten in each hand, in the giant sinks under pictures of presidents, residents, authors, and thieves.
I’m a little jealous of these guys, because I think they’re doing what I wish I was doing – making small-batch good beer for people who appreciate it. Jolly Pumpkin is a relatively young and smallish brewery out of Michigan. They pride themselves on making original beers of “outstanding depth and complexity”. If their Golden Ale is any indication, then they’re pulling it off. This beer pours a hazy golden color and smells sweet and spicy. In the mouth, you are immediately hit with a peppery spice that awakens the taste buds. Through the mouth, the beer maintains this welcome spiciness, mingled with a mild sweetness and a nice floral hop flavor. As far as Golden Ales go, this is rather complex. There are a myriad of flavors, all of which work together to make a tremendous brew. This is a BIT expensive for an American beer at $7.99 from my local beer store. But, it delivers in a big way. I hope to see the prices fall a bit as this becomes more common in the area, and I’m excited to see what else they can do. They’d better have a helluva pumpkin ale.