With summer upon us, it seemed only right to have a look at the quaffable end of the ale world for our latest Blind Tasting. That said, the choice of style (in a fairly loose sense) wasn’t met with unanimous joy by the panelists, with the reaction ranging from enthusiasm – “This will really put our judgement to the test.” – to dismay – “It’s a style that takes away everything I love about beer.”
Still, driven by a Utilitarian belief in the greater good (or just feeling that it was a season suitable choice) we gathered to assess 17 beers – 15 of them Australian – that can be classified as golden or summer ales (or close enough anyway).
After getting a little sloppy in terms of sourcing beers for the past couple of tastings, this time there was a return to how it was always intended to be: beers bought from bottleshops where possible, rather than direct from the breweries. Why? Because that way it is a fairer reflection of the beers that our readers are able to get their hands on and distinct from beer awards judging where brewers get to send in their finest batches. There were a couple we couldn’t obtain this way and others, such as Riverside’s 33 and 69 and Nail’s Golden Nail, that aren’t available nationwide yet and which we forgot to request from the brewers in time. (NB We’re also adding how the beer was kept, ie ambient shelf or refrigerated.)
Still, with the inimitable Prof Pilsner stewarding in his usual impeccable manner, the team of beer reps and brewers set about casting their collective eye over the beers. It’s fair to say that those entering the room with the opinion that it wasn’t a style they enjoyed left feeling, for the most part, the same way and the session witnessed the most discarded beer (see Mrs Pint’s fruit bowl being fill for a third time above) of any tasting to date. Yet, as ever, the scoring around the table was pretty consistent, with only a handful of occasions where one or two of the six tasters would score a beer significantly differently to the others.
With relatively broad outliers in terms of the intended characteristics presented by the beers, the results are perhaps those that require more qualification than any before. A couple of beers towards the bottom of the table that are “golden” in a Kolsch or Altbier style may have suffered for that difference, while the beer in second was described across the board in notes as being more like an American Pale Ale. That said, it wasn’t that “out of style” to be penalised significantly.
That said, there are few who would argue with the makeup of the top of the list (even if they could argue as to whether all of those beers should have been in the tasting at all). It just goes to show that, as with Hop Hog in the IPA tasting and Saison Dupont in the saison tasting, there are some beers that are loved for a reason. Isn’t that right, Stone & Wood?
- Stone & Wood Pacific Ale – Purvis Beer Richmond (shelf)
- Boneyard Brewing Golden Ale – from the brewer (all stock sold out)
- Mountain Goat Summer Ale – McCoppins Abbotsford (fridge)
- Mountain Goat Steam Ale – Swords Clifton Hill (shelf)
- Steamrail The Gold Digger – Coles Ivanhoe (fridge)
- Bridge Road Golden Ale – Dan Murphy’s Rowville (shelf)
- Two Birds Golden Ale – Purvis Beer Richmond (shelf)
- Boatrocker Smash – from brewery
- James Squire Chancer – McCoppins Abbotsford (fridge)
- Yeastie Boys Golden Perch – Purvis Beer Richmond (shelf)
- Sail & Anchor Lark’s Foot – Dan Murphy’s Alphington (fridge)
- Temple Brewing Bicycle Beer – from brewery
- Kooinda Valhalla Golden Ale – Purvis Beer Richmond (fridge)
- Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale – from rep
- Red Hill Golden Ale – Swords Clifton Hill (shelf)
- 3 Ravens Golden Ale – from brewery
- Prickly Moses Summer Ale – McCoppins Clifton Hill (fridge)
Select panel comments
Panelist one: “Have you ever done blind tasting before?"
Panelist two: "We did Carlton versus VB versus Melbourne. It was very challenging.”
“Heroes will fall tonight.”
Panelist one, expecting “No” as the answer: “Have you been putting ringlets in your hair?"
Panelist two: "Yeah. I’ve been doing a few glamour shots for a beer event…"
Panelist three: "There should be inverted commas around the word ‘glamour’.”
“When I pour golden ale, I reach for my revolver.”
“It’s like you’ve left a dog bone in it.”
Panelist one: “I don’t want to put this into anyone’s minds, but number two reminds me of cornichons."
Panelists two, three and four: "What’s a cornichon?”
“Is it lemon? Or is it detergent? Or is it lemon Fairy Liquid?”
Panelist one: “They changed it three weeks ago due to a shortage of Motueka."
Panelist two: "Well, welcome to the jungle.”
Next up in time for Christmas: Christmas ales.