Your Uncle Joe is coming to stay with you for an extended weekend during the scorching summer months. You know Uncle Joe is a big beer drinker who likes his beers simple. What will you brew him? Look no further than to the American Blonde Ale.
American Blonde Ale has been in the American beer lexicon for a short amount of time here in the states; around the 1970s. However, the origins of Blonde Ales can actually be traced back to the later half of the 1800’s in Europe. Usually a lighter version of the Pale Ale or even Kölsch.
Known sometimes as a Golden Ale or even a Summer Ale, the American Blonde Ale should be known for more than just its color distinction. With a relatively easy grain bill and hop schedule, this quaffable beer can be a real go-to after mowing the grass or working around the house. With its low alcohol by volume, beer drinkers can partake in a few without destroying the entire day.
The one thing to seriously consider when brewing a style like an American Blonde Ale is drinkability. This thought was well articulated on Beervana Podcast with Jeff Alworth and Patrick Emerson while they discussed Pale Ales on episode 82.
Their basic premise here was drinking multiple pints of a beer in a single drinking session. The beer itself must be well balanced and not have any one element of the beer that stands out and dominates the palate. The American Blonde Ale is the perfect example of this type of balance driven amalgamation of malt, hops, yeast, and water.
With the temperatures soaring in the Chicago area at the time of publishing this blog, an American Blonde Ale is the perfect beer to drink.
Style Profile for an American Blonde Ale as are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee.
• Color Range: 3 – 6 SRM
• Original Gravity: 1.038 – 1.054
• Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.013
• IBU Range: 15-28
• ABV Range: 3.8 – 5.5%
• Aroma: Low to moderate sweet malt, hops, and fruity esters. No diacetyl
• Flavor: Sweet maltiness with low caramel notes. Light to moderate hoppy bitterness. Low to moderate fruit esters. Dry and sweet finish.
• Appearance: Pale yellow, rich gold. Extremely clear with snowy white head
• Mouthfeel: Smooth with medium light to medium body. Medium carbonation. No astringency. Finishes slightly dry.
When constructing a recipe for an American Blonde Ale, consider the following:
This goes without saying and honestly should be the main focus for every brew day; the quality and freshness of your malt is really paramount here. A good, domestic 2-Row or even Pilsner malt should be the choice for your base malt.
While 2-Row will do the trick, Pilsner malt will just add that extra depth of flavor, especially the biscuit notes that you are looking for in an American Blonde Ale. Caramel 10L or 15L will round out the grain bill. Using 3-15% of Caramel 10L or 15L, will add color, enhance body, and adds foam stability.
American hop selection will lend itself just fine with this style. Almost any American hops are at your disposal here. The one thing to certainly keep in mind is the levels of alpha acids. When it comes to bittering, I would go with an ounce of a low alpha acid hop, such as Willamette. Also, another option would be to use a half ounce of a higher alpha acid hop; especially when you only want to include one hop.
When it comes to yeast, use a clean, moderate attenuated yeast. Fruity esters are welcomed but don’t overdo it. Wyeast 1056, White Labs WLP002, Safale US-05 are all targeted yeast for this style. Watch fermentation temperatures as to avoid off-flavors.
Much like a Kölsch, and a Lager, this beer does not have anything to hide behind. The water profile for this style needs your attention. Using a pale water profile would be a good start. At the very least, begin with reverse osmosis water and add gypsum and calcium chloride. Do not use a water profile based on a specific region. This is common for many brewers. However, what is not considered is what we don’t know what those brewers did with their water from that specific region.
Batch Size: 5.5 gallons
Boil Size: 7.5 gallons
Boil Time: 60 min.
Color: 5.3 SRM
Bitterness: 27.2 IBUs
Alcohol: 5.5% ABV
• 95% 9lbs 2-Row
• 5% .5lb Caramel 10L
• 0.5oz Willamette 5AA 8.5 IBUs 60min
• 0.5oz HBC472 11AA 11.3 IBUs 20min
• 1oz HBC472 11AA 7.4 IBUs 5 min
• 2oz. HBC472 11AA 0 IBUs Flameout
• Fermentis Safale US-05. 81%
• CaSo4 5.6g | MgSO4 9.9g | CaCl 2.9g | NaHCO3 2.3g | CaCO3 5.4g
• Kona Big Wave Golden Ale
• Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale
• Russian River Aud Blonde
• Victory Summer Love
• Widmer Citra Summer Blonde Brew
- Aroma: Moderate sweet malty aroma
- Appearance: Deep gold in color. Low white head, not much for retention
- Flavor: Malt sweetness, malt flavor consisting of bread, toast, and biscuit. Light hop flavor that is balanced with the malt.
- Overall: Very tasty, drinkable beer. No one element of this beer overpowers the others.