Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale (2010 original review)

This beer caught my eye when I was browsing the local liquor store in Key West. It's a Belgian-style pale ale kind of like Duvel. But would it be as good? I also get to use another new beer glass I bought while down here (yeah I know it's not exactly the "correct" glass for this style, but it gets the job done).

NOTE: I didn't write a text review of this at the time, so here's my 2015 re-review:

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20Chad9976 (1517) - Orlando, Florida, USA - DEC 16, 2015
One of the best parts of this job is re-reviewing a beer that was originally bad, but I now find to be pretty good. I originally reviewed Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale back in 2010 and was not impressed by it. In retrospect it was probably just a poorly-handled bottled. Drinking it in 2015 I find it to be a surprisingly solid Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It has all the qualities you want in the style; it just doesn’t go above and beyond is all. 

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. I couldn’t decipher the bottling code, though the label bears a 2015 vintage indication. It cost $2.49 ($0.21 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark gold to orange in color. Body is initially quite clear with consistent carbonation visible at all times. Pours to a fairly nominal, white, foamy head which retains and laces fairly well.

Smell: The usual Belgian characteristics of banana, clove and general spice; only mild.

Taste: Looking back at it, I’m surprised I disliked this beer so much when I first tried it. Though not exactly a shining example of the style, I will say it at least conforms to the style pretty well. Just like the nose, there’s flavors of banana, clove, cinnamon, and apple cider in the palette. Though some of those components might be due to flaws of some sort. It’s sweet but not overly so. The spiciness from the yeast helps to balance it out, though I don’t get much in the way of hop distinctiveness other than a subtle, dry bitterness. Alcohol is noticeable and creates for slight rum-like flavor, but it’s tolerable.

Drinkability: Though quite big at 8.5% ABV, Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale is not a challenge to drink. Effervescent to be sure, though I find the carbonation to complement the palate quite well. It helps accentuate the spiciness. There’s warmth from the alcohol, but it is not distracting or burning. It finishes rather dry, too, which is nice.

RATING: 7/10

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