one of the many sins we've committed on this site (besides not writing much) has been the avoidance to chatting up beer styles. for that, and as the rodent of the group, i would like to apologize. to kick things off the category department, i would like to start with a style of ale that is fairly new to me: the american blonde ale.
when i've mentioned blonde ales around my midwest beer-fiendly friends, i'm usually met with blank stares and shrugged shoulders. when i mention blonde ales around my friends from the republic, they immediately begin naming any number of native texas varieties. the geographical difference makes sense only when one takes into account that texas has a long history of german settlement and influence. combine this with the fact that blondes are reminiscent of traditional german kolsch lagers and pilsners, then one has to wonder how the damn shiner bock got so famous. it's sad to realize that we could have been drinking blondes instead of bocks this whole time.
as mentioned, american blonde ales are nearly synonymous with traditional german kolsches and pilsners; however, where the kolsch and pilsners might have a stronger dry-grass like flavor, blondes will more often swell around the hips with sweet notes dangling a citrus fruitiness. consider the difference between a dry white wine, such as a riesling, to something a bit fuller and fruitier, perhaps a muscato. tinged with noble style hops, the american blonde ale washes with pure maltiness, offering a mellow, lager like refreshment. bubbling with flavors as light as its appearance, the blonde is a perfect beer for sweltering texas summers (and springs and falls and even some days of winter). plus, weighing in with ABV levels in between 4 - 5%, it's easy to kick back several of these puppies guilt free.
with all that said, i'd like to give a run down of five very promising american blonde ales, in no particular order except that i shall boldly state my favorite at the bottom of the list.
5.) TRUE BLONDE ALE (5.3% ABV) from SKA BREWING CO. (Durango, CO) - made with a dash of honey, i actually found this beer a bit too sweet. markymark pepe-guzman guzzled it like a german bear, but this is a man who will take malts over hops anyday of the week. a good ale, but not my personal favorite.
4.) SKINNY DIP (4.2% ABV) from NEW BELGIUM BREWING CO. (Fort Collins, CO) - i go chatting up blondes as a texas favorite and then lead off the list with two colorado brews. ironically, most midwest and mountainous beer nerds would probably refer to skinny dip as a wheat. but, no sir, skinny dip is no wheat. we have ourselves here a fine citrusy, golden pot treasure pour of sleek goodness, enough so to douse the nudities and brag about it on facebook. excellent bottled, better on tap . . . . . there's no reason to say anymore about this.
3.) BOMBSHELL BOMB (5.2% ABV) from SOUTHERN STAR BREWING CO. (Conroe, TX) - the republic is starting to earn a name for its beer, and with small shot breweries like southern star sprouting up, it's no wonder. this is a great beer. sold only in cans for now, i try to push this beer on every shiner fan i can find.
4.) SHINER BLONDE (4.4% ABV) from SPOETZL BREWING CO. (Shiner, TX) - hands down, this is my most favorite beer from shiner. it's great. very light. very crisp. just enough sweetness to refresh, but just enough dry to keep you sipping for a long time.
5.) FIREMAN'S #4 (5.1% ABV) from REAL ALE BREWING CO. (Blanco, TX) - in my opinion, this is the best beer brewed in texas. i really like this stuff. any chance i find to chug this stuff on tap, i grab it. had it a few days ago from the tap in a frosted mug with ice chips hunkering down under the tiny white cap. splendid. had another just for bragging purposes. i can't talk this beer up enough. sailors into the region: this is what i'll serve on your next visit.