American Blonde Ales are always a good option

Anytime the sun is out is a good time to enjoy a crisp Blonde Ale. American or Belgian-style, these tasty craft beverages are rather easy to enjoy. Especially if you're doing some porch drinking.

LlamaNama Beer Labs version of a Blonde Ale
A prototypical blonde ale from Plymouth, MA's LlamaNama Beer Labs

What is a Blonde Ale?

In summary, a great beer for the outdoors. Maybe you just got home from your kid's all-day soccer tournament, or, you spent 90 minutes raking and bagging New England leaves. If so, reaching for an American Blonde Ale won't leave you disappointed.

This golden ale is high up on the list of easy drinking beer styles. Blonde ales are generally served in a tulip glass, though drinking it out of a koozie-wrapped can is equally fine. Besides, tulip glassware isn't good for drinking out of when floating down a river on a tube. Blonde ales are though. They are also great sessionable options for brew pub enjoyment.

Key notes

What does blonde ale taste like?

Your average blonde ale is not too hoppy and it keeps a low-key malt profile. Fruitiness exists, but is generally subtle as fruit esters are common, but not necessary. Diacetyl is non-existent. You should expect a low to approaching mid-range amount of bitterness (once again, balanced beer), if a bit malty. Sometimes bready, sometimes lightly toasted, the malt flavors are mostly sweet. Hop flavor should be kept to a minimum. Some blondes achieve a more moderate hop aroma, but that's not typical.

As for mouthfeel, they come up just beneath medium bodied, with a medium and beyond amount of carbonation. In general, blondes are smooth drinkers. Some have had fruit, spice, or even honey added to the mix. However, a BJCP judge might bump a blonde into a Fruit Beer category if too much is used.

Meals that would pair well include:

What makes a good Blonde Ale recipe?

Golden Ales are known for being a balanced beer. In general, they are even lighter than Kölsch and Pale Ales, and certainly so when it comes to IPAs. Using the freshest, high quality base malt is important. American Blondes steer toward domestic pale malts and 2-row. Pilsner malts, more commonly found in European/Belgian blondes possess a different malt character. Though sweetness remains, a Belgian Blonde will finish a bit more dry. Keep the hops you use to a minimum. Wyeast 1056 or WLP080 Cream Ale Yeast Blend are good blonde ale choices for fermentation, with some blondes occassionaly using lager yeast. You could even use a Kölsch yeast.

Commercial Examples of Blonde Ale from U.S. Craft Breweries

American Blonde Ale names

When it comes to naming a blonde ale, craft brewers love to play on the stereotype. You don't need to look that hard to find Beach Blonde Ales, Dirty Blonde Ales, Bombshell Blonde Ales, Busty Blondes. If you want clever wordplay, there is Brunehaut Blonde Ale from the Brasserie De Brunehaut. That all gets a bit tired after awhile though, especially the Bombshells and Bustys, like, we get it, we see what you did there.

There are far more ways to play with "hop" in the name, like Blue Point Brewing Co.'s Hoptical Illusion or Legacy Brewing's Hoptimus Prime.

... Though, Linesider Brewing Company out of Rhode Island brews Blonde Jovi. That's a Charlie Sheen & Emilio Estevez Men At Work golf clap worthy beverage.

Pete's Wicked Strawberry Blonde Ale

The legend! Crisp, with a light malt profile (pale and wheat) and medium carbonation, Pete's Wicked Strawberry Blonde was a gateway beer for non-craft beer drinkers in the 90s, long before the American Craft Beer revolution. Pete's Wicked was straw in color, easy on the palate, and at 5% abv, comparable to any American blonde ale on the market today.

Pete's Wicked Strawberry was the original summer ale, long before Koch (Samuel Adams Brewery), a contemporary of Pete's Wicked founders, Pete Slosberg and Mark Bronder, gave us Sam Adams Summer Ale. To be fair, the flavor profile of the two beers is different, with Pete's being more of a mix of cream ale and shandy, the strawberry lemonade of beers, and Sam Summer being an medium body American Wheat that is brewed with lemon zest, grains of paradise and malted wheat.

Final Thoughts on

A good entry into the craft beer experience if you want to dip your toe in the water. The flavor blows mass produced beer out of the water while remaining familiar. Just the right malt notes and malt sweetness, none too bitter, perhaps a touch of fruit. All good things.

Find a brewery near you that brews crisp blonde ales, bring a few friends, and if available, opt for the one with the patio.