Around the time I was preparing for my Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) written and tasting exams, I skimmed through the updated draft 2014 guidelines. The updated guidelines have not been implemented yet and are still under review. Competitions are still using the current 2008 Guidelines, and by the time the new guidelines are approved and implemented they will be christened the 2015 BJCP Guidelines.
The new guidelines have several new and additional styles that were are not included in the current guidelines. One that caught my eye was English Golden Ale. Brewers in England created the style in the 1980s to compete with mass-market pale lagers that threatened the existence of traditional British ales. Light in color, the beer is designed to appeal to a lager drinker, but it is hoppy like an American pale ale. Many brewers in the UK started to release Golden Ales seasonally in the summer. Locally Ipswich Summer Ale fits most of the criteria for the style.
Summer is my favorite season, but too many summer beers are too similar. The idea of making something different than another Sam Summer-like beer has always appealed to me. The more I read about the style, the more I wanted to brew it. After brewing and Irish red and stout I had plenty of Irish Ale yeast; all I had to do was order some extra Irish malt and hops. I am curious the flavor the Irish base-malt will provide in a beer where there isn’t specialty or roasted malt dominating the malt flavor. After seeing the impact that a small addition of corn had on the Welkin Ringer ESB and in cream ales I’ve brewed in the past, I added a small amount of flaked maize to lighten the color and body of the beer just a little.
The toned down malt-flavor should hopefully allow the esters from the yeast to be more prominent as well. White Labs claims their Irish Ale yeast makes a “very interesting pale ale”; we shall see! I was tempted to use a higher yeast pitching rate like I would for a light hybrid style like cream ale or kolsch. I also thought about fermenting at a cooler temperature after reading about how Guinness used their house ale strain at lager temperatures in Guinness Blonde American Lager. Depending on how this beer comes out I could very well try those things in the future.
The relatively simple malt profile of a golden ale tilts the balance toward the hop flavor, and usually the beer showcases the flavor and aroma of a single hop variety. Many brewers in England are using American hops in their golden ales. In my mind if I used an English-type hop like Fuggle or Williamette my beer would taste like an Ipswich Summer or Shipyard Export. I wanted my beer to be unique and to use a new distinctive hop I had not used previously. The Galaxy hop from Australia has notes of tropical fruit and citrus; perfect for a summer beer. If it is anything like Galaxy Dry Hopped Fort Point Pale Ale, I’ll be onto something.
When it is winter in the U.K. and Ireland, it is summer down in Oz as they call it down under. When it is winter in Australia, the British Isles will occasionally receive a glimmer of sunlight. It is always Summer Somewhere, except maybe in Massachusetts.
Click here for the recipe.