After a summer exploring pale ales – IPA’s, APA’s and even PPA’s for The Brew Club, and with masterful mis-timing, I’ve decided to explore golden ales, just as the weather turns autumnal.
At my visit to the 2011 Great British Beer Festival in August, I observed an increase in ‘Golden Ales’ and market research (Nielsen) reports that Golden ales currently account for 9% of the UK bottled ale category by value and are outperforming other variants, possibly making inroads into the lager market.
Over my next few reviews I’ll be checking out “Old Golden Hen”, “Hooky Gold” and “Wild Swan”, but here goes with “Golden Sheep”.
“Golden Sheep” comes from Paul Theakston’s ‘Black Sheep’ brewery in Masham, Yorkshire; it had been brewed for several years as an ‘own brand’ ale for a leading supermarket chain (and had won awards in that guise) before being launched as part of the regular Black Sheep range.
It’s brewed using traditional ‘Yorkshire Squares’ and was awarded bronze at the 2011 International Beer Challenge, it’s brewed to 4.7% ABV for bottles and 3.9% ABV on draught.
The brewery describes the brew as “a light golden ale that develops with zesty grapefruit and other citrus fruits, with a clean, crisp bitterness and long refreshing finish” – no surprises there, let’s see how it stacks up:
It pours a dark, gold colour, reminiscent of barley sugar, with a buttercream coloured head.
I didn’t get much citrus on the nose, hopy yes, citrus, no; perhaps my nose has been numbed by all the variations on IPA I’ve been enjoying of late!
The flavour was rich, slightly malty but with a crisp, hop bite and yes, a long refreshing finish; it was only the nose that disappointed slightly. I did get hints of brown sugar, butterscotch and rich caramel – think saltwater toffee – but that wasn’t unexpected, it’s very Yorkshire.
Certainly this was the lightest and crispest Black Sheep ale I’ve tasted yet, taste-wise it’s closer to a traditional Bitter, rather than a ‘Golden Ale’, but it’s still very refreshing and, I think something that will feature as a regular on my beer shelf – for those days when I fancy a taste of Yorkshire, but don’t fancy anything too heavy.
3 Stars – Good but not quite great.
Bob the Brit