When the summer heat has everyone ripping off jumpers and the winter woollies, the humidity is climbing and it’s time to dig out the sunnies ̶ nothing beats the heat like a crisp, refreshing golden ale.
But many people find it tricky to exactly define what a golden ale is or where it falls on the beer spectrum.
Our guide aims to help punters to understand pale ales, golden ales and blond ales full stop. Sit back, relax and read on.
What Is Golden Ale? Or Is It A Blonde Ale?
The two names are used interchangeably, but are they actually the same beer? Breweries have begun leaning towards using the golden ale name, but not in reference to a traditional Belgian golden ale. To brewers, the term golden ale has come to represent a style that seems to share characteristics with blonde ale.
With a bit of confusion between a traditional Belgian-style golden strong ale, a blonde ale, and now the American craft version of a golden ale, there’s an important question.
While Belgian-style golden strong ales are certainly a fine style of beer, these are not the golden ales we’re covering here.
So the golden ales or blonde ales we’re talking about here are effervescent, bright, and low-alcohol, making them perfect for a thirst-quenching drink.
What Is The History Of Golden Ale?
Prior to the 18th century, brewers mainly produced darker coloured beers, ranging from dark brown to almost black. It wasn’t until the 1700s that pale ale started appearing.
While the spread of the IPA throughout England’s empire is well documented, the spread of other English pale ales is often overlooked. As the pale brewing trend grew in the UK, the beers simultaneously grew lighter.
In the first half of the 20th century, the two world wars had a huge impact on the beer industry. In 1915, British Parliament passed the Defence of the Realm Act, aimed at reducing alcohol levels in beer to keep English workers sober and safe while producing vital munitions for the war effort.
Because of the forced reduction of alcohol, lighter, lower-alcohol beers grew in popularity. Paler, easier-drinking beers became the norm everywhere.
When the American craft beer movement started to pick up in the late 1970s and 1980s, craft breweries originally wanted to produce beer Americans had been used to drinking.
Today, according to the Beer Judge Certification Programme, the blonde ale has its own category. However, as this style has evolved over the decades, a new universal name has emerged: The golden ale.
So, Are Blonde Ale and Golden Ale the Same?
The short answer is YES.
According to the judging guidelines for the Great American Beer Festival, blonde and golden ales are grouped together.
How Are Golden Ales Made?
Like most beer, golden ale is made from a mash of grains, malt extracts and malt. There may be additional additives and flavourings added after the boil and fermentation. During the boil, either neutral or noble hops are added.
Then the yeast is added to start the fermentation process. Carbonation follows once the beer is fermented and fallen clear, as they say in brewing speak. Carbonation, adding carbon dioxide, accentuates the crispness of the beer.
Is Golden Ale A Pale Ale?
While golden ale resembles a lager in its crisp, dry palate, low (but noticeable) hop aroma and light body; golden ales are a straw to golden blonde variation of the American-style Pale Ale.
And the taste?
What Does Golden Ale Taste Like?
Golden Ales have a moderate bitterness and maltiness. These light coloured ales tend to be clear, crisp and dry, so they go well with foods that are light. The malt of golden ales gives the beer grainy or bread flavours and a sweet character. They also have a fruity character from the yeast and slight hop bitterness.
With moderate carbonation and medium body, Golden ales have little to no after-taste and a smooth texture. This makes for a very easy-to-drink beer.
How Do You Serve Golden Ale? What Kind Of Glass?
In an American pint glass. Sometimes called a Shaker glass, this classic has a simple and somewhat skinny cylinder shape that becomes wider as it talls up. This type of pint glass typically holds 16 oz. and is commonly used with most types of beers, including lagers and ales, as well as other styles such as IPAs, stouts and porters.
Let’s jump right in and introduce you to some great golden ales this very minute.
What Are The 10 Best Golden Ales To Try Right Now?
This list is merely a suggestion, please feel free to research your likes and dislikes.
1. High Water Brewing Rio d’Oro: Very sweet up front with citrus and spice in the background.
2. Perrin Brewing Company Gold Ale: Light citrus with an almost honeysuckle note on the nose with a touch of graininess.
3. Suncrush Beer Tangerine Suncrush: Tangerine dominates up front, but it’s not overpowering, and well-balanced with the malt and bitterness.
4. Brasserie Dubuisson Scaldis Caractère: Broadly fruity in the nose, with a vague tropical note.
5. Oskar Blues Guns ‘N’ Rose: Very light berry note with neutral malt character and a sweet malt backbone. Sweet yet tart berry-like flavours.
6. 5 O’Clock Afternoon Ale Renegade Brewing: Simultaneously sweet and bitter.
7. Moustache Champagne Showers: Tastes like a chardonnay with some malt backbone. White grape juice sweetness, with high carbonation.
8. Squatters Chasing Tail Orange Golden Ale: Earthy hops notes come to the front, with some light woodsy notes.
9. Lawson’s Finest Liquids Above the Clouds: There’s a lot of hops complexity here with bold citrus with a lemongrass focus.
10. Bootstrap Brewing 1956: With a hint of sweetness, with a pilsner character and lively mouthfeel.
What Is The Most Popular Golden Ale In The World?
Eureka w/ Citra from Tree House Brewing Company is said to explode with citrus fruit on the nose and the palate and finishes cleanly. It rates at 4.1 of 5.
What Are The Best Foods To Pair With Golden Ale?
When it comes to selecting the best beer and food pairings, there are some simple guidelines:
- Play with contrasting flavours. If the dish has strong or rich flavours (sweet, tasty or fatty), it should ideally be partnered with darker beers that also have a full-bodied flavour.
- Consider complementary flavours. This rule is easy: just match light food pairings with light beers (such as lagers) and rich foods with intensely flavoured beers (such as brown ales).
- Use beer as a palate cleanser. Craft beer works well when paired with food that’s spicy or that has a strong, overpowering flavour. You can also cut through the flavour intensity of bitter beers by eating rich, oily foods like nuts or potato wedges.
- Avoid pairing mild with intense or strong flavours. For the best food and beer pairing experience, try to avoid matching light foods, like salmon or salad, with medium and dark craft beers that are full-flavoured.
Golden ales are best paired with sweet or spicy foods:
- Spaghetti with meatballs
- Cheeses such as Pepper Jack cheese and brie
- Spicy Food
- Sugar cookies.
And on that note, here is a list of under-the-radar golden ales.
The Most Under-Rated Golden Ales You Must Try Now
- Crouch Vale Brewers Gold
- Fuller’s Discovery
- Bureiko Jikan Strong Golden Ale
- Golden Hill Exmoor Gold
- Hop Back Summer Lightning
- Kelham Island Pale Rider
How can one resist a beer with such a gorgeous colour and one that is so refreshing and easy to drink? Go on, treat yourself. Introduce yourself and your mates to golden ales this summer.