9 Golden Ales Reviewed – Great Golden Ales and American Blondes

6 Aug Golden Ale from Silver Bluff

9 Golden Ales Reviewed – Great Golden Ales and American Blondes

American Blonde Ales and Golden Ales

At Silver Bluff Brewing Company, we love Golden Ales.  We love them if they are British, Belgian, American, or from anywhere worldwide.  American Blondes and Goldens pair well with subtle flavors, which is always an important tool to have when planning a meal.

Golden Ales and American Blondes, styles of beer loved for their refreshing qualities and smooth balance between malt and hops, track to the Summer months and outdoors. Silver Bluff Golden Ale associates with the British tradition of light, drinkable pub beers, and our favorite Goldens represent a nuanced part of the American craft beer scene.

In the US, Goldens and Blondes are typically characterized by a light, crisp flavor profile, beautiful Golden color, and under 5.5%. They’ve become gateway beers to the American craft brewing movement offering craft options for a beer during a beach visit or tailgate.

I think of a Golden Ale all as a beer style that reminds me of experiences: sunny days and good company.  By altering the malt profiles and hop bills and adopting a different strain of yeast, American brewers transformed the English Pale Ale into a new beer style – one that would become the American Golden Ale and the American Blonde Ale. The attractiveness of Golden Ales and American Blondes is simplicity. While extreme ingredients and high gravities often dominate the US craft beer shelf, counterpoints, like Goldens, show the skill of the brewer and yield a counterpoint.

I’ll take a quick look at five Golden Ales representing the edges of these defining qualities, then touch briefly on four more I like that are worth finding in the beer store.  Each represents simplicity and a beer worth having on a Georgia weekend.

Five Golden Ales that Tell the Story of the American Style 

Silver Bluff Golden Ale

Silver Bluff Golden Ale

Silver Bluff Golden Ale is our interpretation of the Golden Ale style. The beer is more earthy and spicy than the typical American Blonde Ale, and the slight use of Victory malt in the bill drives a unique experience.

The first thing you’ll notice about Silver Bluff Golden Ale is its color. The beer pours a clear with a frothy white head that leaves a delicate lacing on the glass as it recedes. The appearance is clean and inviting, subtly hinting at the refreshing experience.

The malt is evident but not overpowering, presenting notes of an English origin. This is quickly followed by a trace of mild hop bitterness, just enough to keep the malt in check. The beer finishes clean.

Silver Bluff co-founder, Kevin Coyle, summarizes: “This is a lighter craft beer easy to enjoy as it gets hotter in the Summer months.  Although light in color, this Golden Ale has additional specialty malts to enhance its body and flavor.  Willamette and Sterling hops create a subtle floral and spicy aroma.  The finish is crisp with balanced mild bitterness.”

Georgia Beer Company Field Party

Georgia Beer Co. Field Party
In the heart of Georgia, where the Georgia Beer Company has established itself as a trailblazer in the state’s burgeoning craft beer scene. Field Party, their flagship Blonde Ale, embodies their commitment to craft brewing excellence.  They’ve won multiple major awards including the US Beer Open where they have two gold medals for their American Stout

Pouring Field Party into your glass, you’ll be struck by its light color and a creamy white head. Bringing the beer to your nose, you’re greeted by a fragrant mix of malt and hops. Sweet, grainy malt aromas intertwine with floral and herbal hop notes, creating an inviting aroma profile.

The key to this beer is the use of Willamette hops and a deft use of corn in the bill.  When you get that right, you can use this type of beer as a base for fruit variants as they have with Raspberry Field Party and Blueberry Field Party.

Field Party is the light bodied base of the American Blonde style.  It represents the edge of the adapted style.

New Realm Ale of an Engineer

New Realm Ale of an Engineer

New Realm was founded by Mitch Steele and has quickly established itself as one of the premier craft breweries in the United States.  

As a Georgia Tech graduate, CS ‘01, I have had both of the beers in their partnership which featured a Vienna Lager last year.  New Realm is two for two with the partnership so far.

Ale of an Engineer is a superbly balanced and subtle Golden Ale.  The medium bodied beer uses Cascade and Idaho 7, the latter being hard to get into this style. Pouring a clear, bright gold, this beer is topped with a frothy white head that persists.  Check out my photo for the ‘ice cream’ view.

The aroma of Ale of an Engineer is a great blend of malt and hops. The malt lends a base of grainy sweetness, which is complemented by a subtle hop aroma that hints at floral and citrus notes. There’s a hint of yeast esters (at least on the cans I had) as well, adding a touch of fruitiness to the beer’s aroma profile.

Brewing a beer of this quality is challenging and they knock it out of the park.

Kevin Coyle adds, “This is a great example of a Golden Ale.  It has a medium body, a crisp finish, and floral hops throughout the experience.  I’m delighted that my alma mater, Georgia Tech, has a great beer representing it in this style.  Cheers to Mitch Steele and their great team.”

It is a great beer and when you put it next to a Blonde like Field Party or Silver Bluff Golden Ale, you can immediately see the range of flavors possible from the style.  New Realm’s offering is as far away from a light “lawnmower” beer as a Golden Ale can be.

Oconee Dukes and Bell’s Hey Man Blonde Ale

Hey Man

Oconee’s Dukes and Bell’s Hey Man is the full malt profile and hop profile of this flight of “Blondes” and Goldens.   This could be a American Pale Ale 

This is a collab with the radio personalities from 92.9, BTW

This pours a bright gold and the flavor is crisp and refreshing, with the malt and hops playing off each other in perfect harmony. The subsequently fruited it with Watermelon Lime which is a surprise to me as I think the hops were stronger and slightly out of balance for that.  The reviews online don’t mention this, which leads me to believe they didn’t taste the beer. 

This pushes the edge of the Blonde Ale style on body and hops which makes it a great addition to this review.

Narragansett Fresh Catch

Narragansett Brewing Company has a beer they call a Blonde Ale with a lobster on the can called Fresh Catch. Known for its crowd-pleasing beer offerings, Narragansett takes a shot at dry-hopping a Golden Ale with Citra.

Pouring this beer into a glass, you’re immediately struck by the color, and the aroma screams “CITRA!!!” which you wouldn’t expect from a Blonde Ale or Golden Ale.

The body is extremely light.  It is mild and light, but something you could have outdoors and could have six or seven tall boys on a hot day cooking shrimp and salmon on the grill.

Traditional?  No. More of a Session APA, perhaps….but the malt bill allows this to represent the edge of the dry hop that rounds out what an American Blonde ‘can’ be in today’s market. 

Comparing New Realm’s Ale to Fresh Catch would make any BJCP judge laugh.  These beers aren’t the same style or profile.  That’s the nuance of the American Blonde Ale and Golden Ale style.

Four Golden Ales and American Blonde Ales

Four of my favorite Golden Ales and Blondes

We didn’t drink these today, but, here are some others I enjoy and am referencing from my personal notebook.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s 805

Firestone Walker’s 805 is a superstar of the American Blonde Ale style. Light malt sweetness, light body, and smooth mouthfeel make 805 a go-to when you have a 15-hour day and are on the West Coast.  It’s one of my go-to Vegas beers and is on nearly every menu.

Kona Brewing Company’s Big Wave

This is the easiest-to-find Golden Ale nationwide, thanks to the acquisition by AB InBev.  There’s a lot of drama associated with Kona/CBI/InBev, and they operate in a very unique way, but the beer quality has stayed high. 

Brooklyn Summer Ale

The recipe has changed a few times and this skews more towards a British Golden Ale with American hops, but, the 2023 release is an all-star brew worthy of the list.

Cigar City Golden Ale

The prototype of the American Golden Ale and American Blonde in style, taste and marketing. Willamette and a little wheat tells the story of this amazing beer.

American Blonde Ales and Goldens — Can they be authentic?

When we talk about authenticity in beer, we refer to the honesty of a brew, its adherence to the style, and the process.  When a beer is authentic, it doesn’t just taste good; it tells a story.

An authentic beer does not hide behind the flash and the American Golden Ale and Blonde Ale typically have nothing to hide behind.  While fruited and dry hopped offerings are in the space, the simple Blondes and Goldens stand out above the rest.

In the world of beer reviewing, authenticity is important because it helps to maintain the standards and integrity of beer styles. It ensures that when you pick up an American Blonde Ale or a Golden Ale, you’re getting a beer that truly represents those styles, allowing you to appreciate and understand the unique characteristics and nuances that define them.  Sites that say they have profiled beers in 2023 that haven’t been in production in 10 years hurt beer reviews.  Unfortunately, they are the publishing norm.


We actually drank the beer in this article.
We actually drank the beer in this article. Why else do this?

Off the soapbox, American Blonde Ales and American Golden Ales are perfect introductions to the world of craft beer. The brews we’ve explored here are a snapshot of the variety and complexity within this seemingly simple beer style.

Don’t overlook the power of a gateway beer like a Golden Ale.  The best Golden Ales are best enjoyed in good company and typically attract a crowd.

Kevin Coyle concludes, “When I see a cooler full of beer, a selection of craft Blondes and Goldens is a relief from the macros.  Cheers!”