The Beers Of Summer Series – American Blonde/Golden Ales

Halfway through mowing the lawn you realize just how hot it is.  Waves of heat seem to be moving through the air all around you, and at this point, feel like they’re radiating from the top of your head as well.  It’s officially summer, and suddenly, you’re less interested in how to create a criss-cross pattern worthy of hosting a major league baseball game in your back yard as you are with grabbing a beer from the fridge.  Ultimately, what beer hits the spot when the summer heat moves in up to you, whether in the yard or on the beach.  But just as quickly and easily as August seems to appear out of nowhere with its sauna-esque days, so do the seasonal “Summer” beers.  What kinds of beers are these usually, and what makes them a good fit for helping cope with the heat anyway?

Below is a look at one of styles of beer that seems to get a lot more attention this time of year – some of which are only released during the summer months – and is something that you just might want to have in that fridge when you’re done mowing, on in the cooler for the beach.  Other styles to follow!

American Blonde/Golden Ales

Summer is coming, and the buzz around the pool and on the beach is all about them.  True, when the months get a bit colder, most of them are still around.  But when things do heat up, they seem to attract quite a bit more attention.  It’s difficult to blame anyone, really – there in the steamy summer heat, in their golden toned beauty, they are definite head turners.  Magazine “articles” feature them, as if they were the perfect fit for sand and sun.  Eventually, however, you have to wonder.  What are they truly like, behind their appearances?

As it turns out, these blondes – Blonde ales, not the swimsuit attired ones – truly are a perfect fit for summer.  Pale yellow to golden in color, American style Blonde/Golden Ales usually feature a refreshingly crisp razor sharp character and are usually a lean bodied beer as well.  Although these beers have been described as having a slight “breadyness” to them, more often than not, they favor the hops used, and feature a citrusy taste, perhaps of lemon or bitter orange, a floral component, and some “grassy” flavor as well.  Comparisons to American pale ales are somewhat common, but these brews usually have a far less aggressive hop presence and bitterness.  Because of this, these beers can make a pretty good introduction to a “hoppier” beer if you’re hop-curious but your taste buds have only tiptoed along that edge so far.

Between their snap-like crispness, the typically low amount of alcohol and lightness of body, and both the aroma and the flavors that all seem to speak to the season – citrus, floral, grain, grass – these beers fit perfectly poolside, beach front, or anywhere you might find yourself featured in your own swimsuit photo shoot.  (Just make sure they get your good side.)  Or, more likely, when you’re just relaxing on the sand on your own, cooler at your side, letting the ocean’s waves and the summer heat take you to a more peaceful place.

EXAMPLES…

There are plenty of good examples of this sort of beer, and of course each one can be a little different from the next.  But a couple of good examples of these beers include Victory Brewing’s Summer Love, and for a more regional, at least to my own area, St. George Brewing’s Golden Ale.  Summer Love is light in body, has crisp carbonation with flavors that include a tinge of lemon tartness, a little grassyness, and plenty of floral attributes both in the aroma and taste.  Again, if you’re not used to a “hoppier” beer, this could be an excellent way to test the waters.  It’s not very bitter, and is an extremely easy to drink beer, especially when the temperatures near sweltering.

St. George Brewing Company’s (Hampton, Va) Golden Ale also has plenty of “grassy” or what’s sometimes described as “herbal” flavors from the hops used, along with a bit of graininess, and like most of these kinds of beers, comes on crisp and goes down easy and dry.  Again, these are lean beers, not heavy at all, and with the better ones, it’s extremely common to hear the words “easy to drink” being used – definitely true with this one as well. Quick note:  this beer is not to be confused with the “Summer Ale” from the same brewery, defined by the brewery as an English Pale Ale.  I know, I know – labels, labels, labels.  There is definitely some overlapping among pales and blonde/golden ales, but their Summer Ale should have a bigger hop aroma and taste and be a little heftier in body as well.  These styles are still close enough, so if you have a difficult time finding these examples, or want to move beyond them, English Pales would be a good place to further your tastings.

Other great examples include New Belgium’s Somersault Ale, which has a definite lemony snap and tartness to it, and if you can find it, Ska Brewing’s True Blonde Ale.

Check out thebeerroad’s previous summer beer write up – Wheat Ales!

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~ by thebeerroad on June 4, 2012.

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