How should beer geeks be classified? Hobbyist is a fairly accurate term, but some people go beyond that simple description. In light of sights like Beer Advocate and Ratebeer, which have helped spawn a desire to try as many beers as possible, many people can know be seen in the obsessive realm of collectors. It may go against the typical definition of a collector – the end goal should be the consumption of beer, even it is years or decades from now. Few beer geeks collect bottles, labels or bottle caps, at least not of all the beers they’ve had. But just like collectors of stamps or baseball cards, they seek out the rare and unusual beers as prizes to add to their online “collection.” In recent year, extreme beers with high alcohol or some other gimmick have become the object of desire for the beer geek as collector. It is a trap that all beer geeks fall into for a certain time. We all like to talk about the rare beers we’ve had, but it is all too seldom that the session beer gets praised.
I will admit to being unenthused about the number of British golden ales included by the LCBO in the summer release. It is just not a sexy style. To put it in terms of the SATs, golden ale is to barrel aged imperial stout as Jane Lynch is to Anne Hathaway. You appreciate the former, but it would be an obvious decision if forced to choose which of the two you’d rather spend the night with. This may be shocking, but right now I am happy the LCBO put all those delicious ales in the summer release. When sitting in my apartment with its distinct lack of A/C, the refreshing quality of the golden ale is more welcome than any extreme beer (especially when watching Ms. Lynch in Waiting for Guffman or A Mighty Wind).
Two of said golden ales got me through this past weekend – the Dark Star Sunburst Golden Ale and Badger Golden Champion Ale. The Dark Star had a promising start, right up until the beer started warming (doesn’t take long in this heat) and lots of diacetyl started to show. Yes, a trace amount can be welcome in British styles, but this was far more than acceptable. Luckily there was a mild grapefruit element, which helped cut through the buttery element. That really only served to make it passably drinkable. The beer had to be consumed rather quickly once it became evident the bottle was a dud. This seems to be a problem with the whole batch, so it is best to avoid this particular beer.
If you’ve already had the Dark Star, don’t disregard other golden ales just because you got burned once. The Badger Golden Champion is exactly as its name states – a winner from beginning to end. More caramel malt than is typical, but still crisp enough in the finish to be refreshing. For the most part, this is a subtle brew (as with almost any good summer beer), but look deep enough and you’ll find notes of grass, fruits (apple and peach) and wonderful esters popping out. There are still lots of available in LCBOs across the province, so pick up a couple for the weekend and thank me on Monday.
Recommend If You Like: All-purpose beers. English gardens. Sitting around in your underwear. Afternoon beers.