Durham Brewery ‘Smoking Blonde’ Smoked Golden Ale


“At heart this is a strong mild, meaning it has a low hop content. In the 19th century milds were pale and strong with a direct historical line to original unhopped ale.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Pours a bold yet slightly pale golden hue with three fingers of rocky head forming on top. Reduction is slow and steady and spotty lacing is left in patches.

Aroma: We were sold as soon as we read that this was a smoked Golden Ale. Don’t think we’ve ever had one before. Obviously, it being an English brewery the Maris Otter malts stand out with their distinct crusty bread, toast and nuttiness but the addition of light smoky notes is a very fun and clever piece of work. Not to mention the more subtle hints of straw, light florals and herbals.

Flavour: It’s surprisingly bitter upfront. The light smoky notes, dry wheat grains and straw almost present like a Saison. The slightest touch of malt sweetness tries to counteract it…its efforts go in vain unfortunately. As it progresses a noticeable hop bitterness further emphasises the dryness and rolls into a dried finish with straw, dried herbs and light smoky notes drawing out.

Mouthfeel: Parched, overly gassy and effervescent. Light-moderate body. The 6% ABV is pretty well disguised we must say.

Overall: What a weird beer. We’re not really digging the dry Saison/Champagne-esque characters. When you’re blessed with a rich tasting malt like Maris Otter then we say use it! It needs that injection of sweetness to level it all out a bit. Very meh.