Blondes have more fun we have always been told! Is the same true for blonde beers, are they more fun? A seriously underrated summer ale, blonde ales are often overshadowed by the IPAs, pale ales, lagers, and pilsners by the more adventurous beer drinkers out there.
Blonde ales, often also known as golden beers, are easy-drinking beers, lower in ABV (normally!), thirst quenching and one of the most approachable refreshing beers you will ever find. They are neither too hoppy or too malty, think of blonde ales as the Goldilocks of the American craft beer movement.
If you are looking for a beer that can please almost everybody, a rounded and smooth beer with no particularly dominating malt or hop characteristics, then a blonde beer is most likely to fit the bill.
Don’t however assume all American blonde beers are born the same, the style allows more experimentation than most other beer styles, and today many brewers have put their own spin on the blonde, adding everything from coffee beans to vanilla beans and various other spices or fruit.
Let’s take a look at some of the best blonde ales which you can enjoy any time of the year, even bringing a little sunshine into those colder, darker winter months.
What is a Blonde Ale?
The American blonde ale can trace its roots back to the beers of Europe, in particular the German style of Kölsch or the English Pale Ale.
Before the 18th Century, most European brewers were producing mainly darker-coloured beers which ranged from a very dark brown to almost jet black in some cases. It wasn’t until the early 1700s that pale ales started to emerge.
Basically any beer which was lighter in color would fall under the umbrella category of a pale ale including many of the now classic styles such as English bitter or IPAs. As the pale ale revolution began to grow, sub-styles started to emerge and the beers grew lighter.
Although they may have originally been referred to as a dinner ale (their simple, easy-to-drink nature makes them the ideal accompaniment to any food), blonde ales emerged as an even lighter style of pale ale.
Paler ales which were easier to drink became pretty much the norm everywhere and many of the classic pre-prohibition beers of the US could be thought to fit into this style.
With an ABV that can range between 3.8% to 7%, blonde ales will normally pour a very pale straw color to a deep gold. According to the BJCP style guidelines there should be a low malt sweetness, a medium to high level of carbonation with a frothy dense head and a low to moderate level of bitterness.
Blonde ales are not designed to blow your head off like some of the more hoppy IPAs or even pale ales, instead, they offer a harmonious balance of hops and malt that can offer a slight cracker sweetness with a toasty biscuit finish.
Our Pick of the Best Blonde Ales
Firestone Walker 805 by Firestone Walker Brewing Company, California
- ABV 4.7%
Better known for their hop-centric IPAs and barrel aged beers, 805 is Firestone Walker’s classic blonde ale which they created to highlight “the laid back California lifestyle.”
Using just 4 simple ingredients, listed as hops, malt, yeast, and water, there’s nothing too fancy here. Instead you just get a very easy-to-drink blonde ale which is refreshing with notes of apple, honey and tangerine balanced with subtle hop aromas.
A smooth and refreshing brew, everything a blonde ale should be, it’s slightly citrussy but not in a hoppy way, and at just 4.7 ABV very easy to drink on a hot summer’s day.
Best enjoyed ice cold.
Nola Blonde Ale by Nola Brewing, Loiusiana
- ABV 5%
A craft brewery which was founded in 2008 in New Orleans, the Nola Brewing Company makes high quality ales and lagers to suit every palate.(NOLA actually stands for New Orleans Lager & Ale!)
The flagship beer from Nola Brewing, Blonde Ale was the first ale they produced and was originally released in March 2009.
A well-balanced beer which is brewed with 2-row, caramel, pilsner, and light Munich malts perfectly balanced with Crystal and Perle hops, Blonde Ale from Nola doesn’t need any gimmicky pun-filled name.
The complexity of the grain bill shines through with a subtle malt sweetness and hints of fresh baked bread, citrus and honey aromas.
A traditional medium-bodied American blonde ale, its color is golden with floral and citrus hop aromas.
Party like you’re in New Orleans with this easy to drink yet flavourful beer.
Narrangansett Fresh Catch by Narragansett Beer, Rhode Island
- ABV 4.2%
One of New England’s original brewers, no other beer brand seems to scream summer like Narrangansett. In the movie “Jaws” everybody seemed to be drinking a Narrangansett lager (especially their Quint brand). They even produce a shandy which is made in collaboration with a local frozen lemonade stand.
In my opinion, the real star of their summer line up is the Fresh Catch blonde ale which was named in tribute to the many hard working fishermen of the area.
A dry hopped blond ale with Citra hops, it’s a refreshing, crisp ale with summery flavors of citrus zest and tropical fruits and features a nice balance of hops and malts. Despite being dry-hopped it only has a very low to moderate bitterness of 28 IBUs.
Perfect for your next summer fishing trip on the boat, just don’t go chasing any sharks!
Deep Ellum Dallas Blonde by Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Texas
- ABV 5.2%
Dallas is well known for it’s buxom, big-haired, blonde beauty pageant queens, which is why Deep Ellum Brewing, Texas’s largest independent microbrewery, has produced this beer featuring a cartoon-like blonde on the can as a tribute.
A 5.2% ABV blonde ale, Dallas Blonde uses American hops with Vienna, Pale and Wheat malts. The finished beer is a sessionable, well-balanced summer ale with hints of citrus, pears, toasty bread, hay and caramel.
A brilliant yellow in color, the guys at Deep Ellum state you don’t have to be blonde to drink this ale, in fact it’s probably better that you’re not!
Twilight Summer Ale by Deschutes Brewing Company, Oregon
- ABV 5.0%
Avid beer drinkers will already be familiar with Deschutes brewery, in particular their ultra-hoppy IPAs. Twilight Summer Ale is a quintessential blonde ale which utilises a blend of 4 hops, Amarillo, Citra, El Dorado and Cascade balanced with a grain bill of 2-row, Munich and Crystal malts.
Although the hops shine through with citrus and fruity hop aromas, they gently combine with a light and appealing cereal malt character for a refreshing summer beer.
Only available seasonally from July to September, this blonde ale pushes the bitterness levels at 38 IBUs to nearly that of an American pale but the moderate ABV of just 5% keeps it firmly in the blonde ale category as an easy to drink golden beer.
Kona Big Wave by KONA Brewing Company, Hawaii
- ABV 4.4%
Hawaii is well known for it’s easy-going, laidback lifestyle so it should be no surprise that it would make one of the easiest-going beers of all time.
Available all-year round, and now distributed in 36 states, Kona Big Wave is an award winning 4.4% ABV golden ale which has been brewed with pale, 2-row, and caramel malts and then adds Galaxy and Citra hops to the mix.
The resulting beer exhibits flavors of honey, freshly cut grass, and citrus zest with a smooth yet lightly bitter finish. The tropical hops hit both your tongue and nose, and there’s a light golden hue to the beer which reminds you of the sunshine and the beach.
Kona Big Wave is the sort of beer which makes you yearn for summer days down at the beach catching a big wave or two on the board.
Summer Love by Victory Brewing, Pennsylvania
- ABV 5.2%
From a chance meeting on a school bus in the fifth grade, BFFs Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet have grown the Victory Brewing Company into Pennsylvania’s second-largest craft beer brand over the last 26 years, releasing many iconic beers such as Summer Love, their take on a blonde ale.
An earthy yet light brew due to the use of earthy citrussy Simcoe and Tettnang hops, Summer Love is one of those seasonal blonde ales you must try to track down for the limited period during which it is produced.
A golden ale that delivers big flavors, it offers a fine balance of clean pilsner malts and those American hops.
With citrussy hop flavors of lemon and pine, it’s a refreshing beer which is very sessionable at just 5.2% ABV and pairs well with any food, especially a slice of spicy pizza and friends.
Allagash 16 Counties by Allagash Brewing Company, Maine
- ABV 6.5%
Allagash brewery is committed to growing agriculture in their own state, and this flavorful Belgian-style pale ale only uses malts grown in the 16 Counties of Maine including 2-row malt barley, raw wheat, and oats from local farmsteads.
Using hops that include Aroostook Hops Cascade, Hop Yard Nugget, Northern Brewer, and Cascade, they balance with the 100% Maine-grown malt to give a beer which has a golden hue with notes of honey, those tropical hops, and a hint of cereal grain.
The malt-forward profile of the beer showcases the next generation of quality farming in Maine.
It’s available all year round and, if you want to put something back into the farming communities of America, this is the ideal session beer for you. Distribution can still be quite limited, but it’s definitely worth making the extra effort to track it down!
Treehouse Eureka by Treehouse Brewing, Massachusetts
- ABV 4.2%
Although it can be hard to find in many areas of the US, Eureka is everything a great blonde beer should be. It’s very light in body, and has a pale straw color, but has great flavor and aromas.
Brewed exclusively with New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops, they meld beautifully with a simple grain bill of pale malts. At just 4.2 % ABV, it’s a truly sessionable beer that doesn’t make any compromises on flavor.
With a delicate bouquet of tropical fruits such as passionfruit, it also has a slight lemony taste and that subtle hoppy flavor to quench your thirst.
If you are ever passing through Massachusetts you must visit the TreeHouse tap room to sample some of their other outstanding, more hop-forward beers too.
Melvin Killer Bees by Melvin Brewing, Wyoming
- ABV 5%
Our final best blonde ale comes from a brewery which was actually born in the back of a Thai restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming. The founder, Jeremy Tofte, decided to bring beers from the future to Jackson, WY. A bold ambition, but one he quickly achieved.
The only flavoured blonde ale we have looked at, Killer Bees starts as a typical American blonde ale but then adds more than eight pounds of honey per 42-gallon batch.
Although it has that same balanced feel that a blonde ale should have between hops and malt, the addition of the bees honey ties everything together in a sweet, smooth, and easy-to-drink golden ale. It’s not however overly sweet or too cloying but instead just goes down smoothly like honey.
If you like your refreshing beers a little on the sweeter side, this is the perfect summer beer suited for a hot, humid day!