Tag Archives: Golden Ales

171. Colchester Brewery Metropolis

As noted in that mini update post, Threehundredbeers now enjoys the luxury of residing in what claims to be both England’s oldest and newest city, all at the same time.

Which isn’t necessarily as exciting as it sounds. Still, this little provincial town does have its moments. One of the nicest of those moments is a wonderful pub named The Odd One Out, which is basically my local. As far as I know it dates from the 1930s and is largely unchanged since then. The pub is full of character and characters (yes you, Annie), is dog-friendly—even if the dogs aren’t always unconditionally friendly unless you have snack-based bribes to hand—and is effectively the brewery tap for the magnificent Colchester Brewery.

Which brings us to the matter at hand.

Colchester Brewery Metropolis

Colchester Metropolis is a beautiful Golden Ale. It isn’t in The Book, but it’s my site, my rules, so I’m using it as a substitution for a discontinued beer.

Metropolis is always my first beer of the night in this pub, before I start to work through the guest ales and the impressive cider selection. At 3.9% it’s sessionable, utterly drinkable, yet full of flavour courtesy of the Cascade and Brewer’s Gold hops.

There’s a sturdy malt base, which isn’t always the case for certain other Golden Ales, providing a rich, almost honeyed body to the beer. It will always be in prime condition here, since the head brewer’s missus drinks it, and that’s the kind of quality control that you don’t argue with.

As always, Metropolis is served in the correct glassware here, and with that moreish bitter finish, there’s no doubt I’m buying myself a bottle to take home for the fridge.

Great stuff.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Colchester Brewery, Wakes Colne, Essex, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 3.9% ABV
Found at: The Odd One Out, Colchester, Essex
Serving: Cask, pint

141. Silly Double Enghien Blonde

Allow me to take you to one of my favourite little Brussels cafés, this time one just slightly off the well-trodden tourist trail.

I have a bit of a soft spot for Café Bebo on Place Rouppe, about halfway between central Brussels and the Eurostar terminus at Brussels Midi, since this was the first place in Belgium that I ever had a beer. It was a Saison Dupont in February last year, and very welcome it was too as I started to get my bearings in an unfamiliar city, and began to realise just how out of my depth I was language-wise.

Bebo is essentially just a street corner café in the continental style, and tends to be frequented more by Bruxellois regulars than by gawping sightseers like myself. That it has a well-chosen, if compact, beer list and does the cheesiest croque monsieur I’ve ever tackled does not hurt at all.


There’s nothing particularly silly about Silly Double Enghien Blonde. Silly is a tiny village about 40 kilometres to the south east of Brussels, and is home to Brasserie de Silly, a small family-run brewery tracing its history back to 1850. One doesn’t tend to stumble upon their products too often and Café Bebo remains the only bar in which I’ve ever seen this one.

Double Enghien Blonde is a pretty typical 7.5% blonde beer in a broadly similar style to the De Dolle Arabier. It’s served here with the correctly-branded tulip glass, much as one comes to expect in this city.

Café Bebo, Place Rouppe, Brussels

There’s a big fat yeasty aroma, again not challenging expectations. That seems to be the theme with this one. If you’ve ever had a Belgian blonde beer such as the easily-obtainable Leffe, you know what it tastes like, though Double Enghien is of significantly higher quality.

My tasting notes from the day run to a few words: “standard Belgian blonde” and “a bit sweet”. Maybe I was tired, but back in London and sipping the bottle I brought home with me, I struggle to find a great deal more to say about it. I do detect some nice citrus notes though, in particular lemon zest, and chewy sultana fruit.

Either way, it’s nice enough, and was thoroughly welcome after a hard day trying to decipher the bewildering Brussels tram system, and several times almost learning the hard way that the green man at the pedestrian crossings in this city does not mean what you think it means.

Do be careful when crossing roads in Brussels.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie de Silly, Silly, Belgium
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 7.5% ABV
Found at: Café Bebo, Place Rouppe, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle

139. De Dolle Arabier

In the previous post, I hinted that a trip back to Poechenellekelder in Brussels might be on the cards, and so it happened that a very pleasant Sunday afternoon saw Threehundredbeers lumber off the Eurostar, blinking in the sunshine, and make straight for Rue du Chêne.

You may remember Poechenellekelder from such poorly-photographed beers as Pauwel Kwak and Bush Ambrée. It’s a unique place lined floor-to-ceiling with intriguing and occasionally macabre artefacts including puppets, musical instruments and various brewery-related memorobilia.

The café is a classic slice of Brussels and a cornerstone of the city’s beer tourist trail. And Threehundredbeers has a little unfinished business to which to attend regarding Poechenellekelder’s extensive beer menu.

De Dolle Arabier at Poechenellekelder

Founded sometime around 1980, De Dolle Brouwers (“The Mad Brewers”) are a relatively young brewery by Belgian standards, but their Arabier has become a bit of a modern classic. It’s classified as a Golden Ale in The Book, but it’s very much in the Belgian style, and nothing like some of the rather drab British entries.

You can tell it’s Belgian with one sniff, as that classic yeast is front and centre and, relatively unusually for a Belgian beer, there are big peppery hop aromas too.

Those hops contribute a huge, pleasing bitterness, lifting the beer clear of standard Belgian blonde territory. In fact the hop bitterness combined with the hefty 8% ABV payload means this one is perhaps more reminiscent of a Tripel than a Golden Ale, and that’s no bad thing.

There are mouthwatering grapefruit notes, and just the slightest sour hint suggesting a yeast such as Brettanomyces might be involved to a minor extent too, although it’s subtle enough that my inexperienced tastebuds couldn’t swear by it.

Either way, this is a hugely satisfying beer, complex and rich, although all of that combined meant that a second might have been a little overwhelming, at least in terms of flavour.

Instead, fed, relaxed, and pleased to be back in one of my favourite bars and favourite cities, I abandoned blogging duties for the evening and commandeered a gigantic 12% ABV Malheur 12°. But just the one: we’ve an early start and a busy day planned for tomorrow.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: De Dolle Brouwers, Esen, Belgium
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 8.0% ABV
Found at: Poechenellekelder, Rue du Chêne, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330 ml bottle

130. Exmoor Gold

It’s slightly worrying quite how soon it has started to become difficult to find new beers from the list. I narrowly missed out on Anker Gouden Carolus Classic at the Colchester Winter Ale Festival, I’ve worked my way through the menu at Lowlander, and even the once-reliable Grape & Grain has stopped tweeting tap updates and is becoming another bloody Wetherspoon’s.

Keeping an eye on social media has become priceless, and that’s exactly how I learned that the King’s Arms in Waterloo had put Exmoor Gold on the pumps.

I’d never visited the King’s Arms—it’s usually far too busy at the times I’m in the area—but I’d heard a lot of good things about it, so let’s pick up the Sunday papers and hop on the 68 to Waterloo.

Exmoor Gold at The King's Arms, Roupell Street

It’s a great pub, quite frankly, with a rare preserved two-room layout and an ever-changing range of cask ales. I started with a Dark Star Original, which I’ve only otherwise seen at Dark Star’s own pub, the Evening Star in Brighton, then got down to blogging business with a pint of Exmoor Gold.

As the name suggests, it’s gold in colour with a small beige head that sticks to the glass. Exmoor Gold is unashamedly a fairly typical Golden Ale, and in fact is claimed to be the original example of the style. That said, it’s not a style that can usually be relied upon to excite your blogger, but it’s pleasant enough.

The King's Arms, Roupell Street, London SE1

I can’t say the Exmoor Gold challenged my expectations about this style. As with the Young’s London Gold, there’s just so little one can find to say about it. The only flavours I could really detect were a slightly cloying sweetness and a worrying acetic tang. It would be sessionable if you were planning to have a few pints, which Threehundredbeers is not.

The Book claims Exmoor Gold to be “intensely hoppy”, “intensely bitter” and “memorable” but it’s none of those things. Times and tastes have changed a great deal since those words were written.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Exmoor, Taunton, Somerset, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 4.5% ABV
Found at: The King’s Arms, Roupell Street, London SE1
Serving: Cask, pint

121. Young’s London Gold

A brief point of order before we begin. This one is listed in The Book as “Young’s Kew Gold”, a beer brewed to raise funds for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. For whatever reason, that particular relationship ended, and the beer was renamed London Gold.

In a way, the new name is even more misleading, since Young’s haven’t brewed in London since 2006, and instead this one hails from Bedfordshire.

Young’s do still have a large number of pubs in London, though. Conveniently there’s one just minutes from the office: The Windmill in Mayfair. At a loose end for a lunch hour, and—in a scandalous dereliction of duty—not having blogged a single beer yet this month, let’s pick off one of the easier ones.

Young's London Gold

In terms of apppearance, this is very much your standard Golden Ale. It’s the expected gold colour with a minimal white head that at least means we’ve got something close to an actual pint.

I don’t remember any kind of aroma. Perhaps there wasn’t any to speak of because, to be polite, this beer does not overwhelm the palate with flavour. In fact the most prominent flavour in there is that of the water. Maybe if you really concentrate there’s the faintest hint of a microscopic amount of unexciting English hops. Maybe.

It’s in impeccable condition at the Windmill, as one would hope, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting. On the positive side, this is a very easy drinking, sessionable beer, but let’s diplomatically just say it’s far too subtle for my tastebuds to be able to appreciate it.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Wells and Young’s, Bedford, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 4.0% ABV
Found at: The Windmill, Mill Street, London W1S
Serving: Cask, pint

99. Crouch Vale Brewers Gold

Fancy a quick pint on the way home from work? Tell you what, let’s pop in to the Edgar Wallace. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the pub, and have an inkling that they might be able to help 300 Beers out with a beer or two.

It turns out to be a very nice pub. It’s pretty traditional, and the walls and ceiling are lined with brewery and other booze-related memorabilia and pump clips.

Sure enough, among the eight handpumps is Crouch Vale Brewers Gold (no apostrophe, note), a beer about which I know very little, other than it’s in The Book, and that it’s the only beer to have been crowned Champion Beer of Britain two years running.

Crouch Vale Brewers Gold

As you can tell, it’s kind of dark inside the Edgar Wallace, even on a sunny evening, but I can just make out that Brewers Gold is well-named, as it’s gold in colour, with a white head that fades to nothing a within a few minutes of getting back to your seat.

It’s in good nick here all the same, much as I’d been told it would be. The first taste is sweet, sappy and resiny. It’s full bodied, with rich honey flavours and a slight chemical note that I can’t quite place.

The sweetness carries through strongly to the finish, where it’s joined by a restrained hop bitterness that builds noticeably as you work your way towards the bottom of the glass.

Brewers Gold reminds me somewhat of the Kelham Island Pale Rider that I enjoyed a great deal up in Sheffield, but I’m not sure it’s quite in the same league.

It’s a pleasant enough, slightly moreish and very sessionable beer, though I didn’t find it particularly exciting. I’d drink it again, but probably wouldn’t go out of my way for another pint.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Crouch Vale Brewery, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 4.0% ABV
Found at: The Edgar Wallace, Essex Street, London WC2R
Serving: Cask, pint

89. Oakham JHB

Here’s a beer that I’ve had my eye on for a while, being more than a little familiar with some of Oakham’s beers, including their classic Citra, a very highly-regarded hoppy Pale Ale.

This one, the relatively sober 3.8% Jeffrey Hudson Bitter, or JHB to its mates, had eluded me for some time. That is, until I discovered that Oakham themselves have a pub in London—just the one, mind—and it’s near enough to my house to make a nifty bank holiday afternoon excursion eminently achievable.

Let’s pay a visit to Oaka at The Mansion House: part Asian restaurant, part rather smart bar, and permanent home to a very well-kept pint of Oakham JHB.

Oakham JHB at Oaka, Kennington

JHB is served here in peak condition, and in a handsome Oakham-branded pint glass. For a beer that styles itself a Bitter, JHB is remarkably pale, and is in fact a very pleasing golden colour with a spotlessly white head.

One taste confirms that it’s a Bitter alright, albeit a very light, delicate example of the style. While the flavours are all quite subtle, you can make out butter, banana and vanilla notes, and there’s a lightly bitter, hoppy finish to keep things satisfying and thirst-quenching.

You can sort of see why JHB has won every CAMRA award going, in some cases several times. But while I can’t find a single thing actually wrong with JHB, I wouldn’t describe this as the most exciting beer I’ve ever drunk. Still, that probably isn’t the point: instead it’s a hopelessly drinkable, sessionable ale.

If you’re after a beer that you could drink several pints of without falling over, yet do actually care what it tastes like, I’m not sure you could do much better than Oakham JHB.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Oakham Ales, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 3.8% ABV
Found at: Oaka at The Mansion House, Kennington Park Road, London SE11
Serving: Cask, pint

77. Kelham Island Pale Rider

I’ve had my eye on Kelham Island Pale Rider since I first spotted it in The Book.

Not only is this a very well-regarded beer in its own right—Pale Rider was CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain back in 2004—but family connections in Sheffield meant that a visit to Kelham Island’s own brewery tap, The Fat Cat, was always going to be on the cards.


This weekend, I finally made it. It was a nostalgic sort of visit, having spent many school trips and family outings at Kelham Island Museum some 30 years ago. But this time I wasn’t there for education and amusement: I was there for a beer.

The Fat Cat is a tiny little place, and was justifiably packed on the busy Saturday lunchtime that I visited. It’s as genuine and as down-to-earth as pubs get these days, but it’s a real charmer. As one fellow customer remarked to her toddler “this is what pubs used to look like”. Thankfully some still do.

It’s also as friendly as can be, albeit in a no-nonsense Yorkshire sort of way, and it always, without exception, sells a cracking pint of Pale Rider.


Pale Rider is a beautiful golden beer, as you can see, though it’s a difficult one to categorise. It’s broadly in the same style as many modern American-style Pale Ales, and is hopped exclusively with American Willamette hops, yet its recipe predates the “craft” beer era by many years.

It goes without saying that as Kelham Island’s flagship beer, served at the brewery tap, it’s in exceptional condition. On first tasting there’s a huge hop explosion at the front of the mouth, but it’s perfectly balanced by juicy smooth malts, and a much fuller body than one might expect from the colour.

There’s almost a honeyed flavour and texture too, rounding out those delicious bitter hops with a hopelessly moreish sweetness, though I’m certain no actual honey goes anywhere near the beer.

My pint lasted about five minutes, and this really is the sort of beer that any beer drinker would love. You could give it to a lager drinker and it would be light and refreshing enough for their tastes, yet it’s unquestionably complex and satisfying enough for even a stout/porter lover such as myself. It also blows many “craft” drinkers’ usual pints out of the water.

The Fat Cat’s Pale Rider is an immediate entry into my top five cask beers of all time, and at something like £2.60 a pint, let’s just say that it’s a good job I live a couple of hundred miles away, or I’d never leave.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Kelham Island Brewery, Sheffield, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 5.2% ABV
Found at: The Fat Cat, Alma Street, Sheffield S3
Serving: Cask, pint

57. Hop Back Summer Lightning

Occasionally you don’t have to go looking for these beers: they come to you.

And so it was when one of my local boozers tweeted that they had just put Hop Back Summer Lightning on the bar.

I didn’t hang about: I developed a taste for Summer Lightning when I first moved to London, about 13 years ago, and I haven’t had it for a very long time. Needless to say, there I was a few hours later. Pint of Summer Lightning please, Zöe.


Hop Back Summer Lightning is your typical summery Pale Ale, golden in colour, with a smallish white head that fades quite quickly.

It smells of…wait…no, it actually doesn’t smell of anything. I’d better taste it. Nope, still nothing. No hops, no malt, nothing. Maybe a slightly dry, bitter finish if I concentrate really, really hard, but no. In all honesty, there is absolutely no flavour to this beer whatsoever. This is probably the blandest beer I’ve come across since the woeful Du Bocq Blanche de Namur.

Something’s up, but I don’t know what. This is not the beer I know from a decade ago. I would hesitate to blame The Commercial’s (admittedly not always impeccable) cellaring. Maybe it’s the two halfs of the utterly stunning Pizza Port Night Rider imperial stout I had in Brixton earlier numbing the proverbial out of my tastebuds. Maybe Summer Lightning just ain’t what it used to be.

Not a great pint, by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t want to write this one off. It can’t have fallen this far, can it?

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Hop Back Brewery, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Style: Golden Ales
Strength: 5.0% ABV
Found at: The Commercial, Railton Road, London SE24
Serving: Cask, pint

26. Achouffe La Chouffe

Time for yet another super-strength Belgian blonde beer. This time, however, the label forgoes the standard allusions to monks, abbeys and the Middle Ages. Instead we have this funny little bearded cartoon gnome character—the eponymous “La Chouffe”.

In fact, rather than tracing its heritage back to some distant historical legend involving cloistered friars and royal benefactors, the Brasserie d’Achouffe dates from the 1970s, when two Belgian home brewers decided to give up their day jobs. This could be interesting.


While it pours somewhat darker, La Chouffe doesn’t taste a great deal different to Bosteels Karmeliet Tripel but is smoother, dryer and a little fuller-bodied. It’s drinkable enough, and doesn’t taste as strong as 8% ABV.

Apparently the beer is flavoured with coriander. I couldn’t detect it at all, but I may be alone in that, since others could.

I don’t mind La Chouffe at all, though on the other hand I still find it hard to get excited by beers of this style.

Perhaps the reason that a lot of these extra strong Belgian beers are lost on me is to do with context. A beverage like this probably isn’t designed for an icy South London evening. Drinking it in the sun outside a Sainte-Catherine café bar with Moules-frites might be quite a different experience.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe, Achouffe, Belgium
Style: Golden Ales
ABV: 8.0%
Found at: City Beverage Company, Old Street, London EC1
Dispense: 330ml Bottle