Even if you won’t admit it you are influenced by the Seasons. Starting during January’s Winter and migrating through Spring, Summer, and Fall; it’s a safe bet you gravitate to something that pairs well with the weather. From so-called Dark Ales, to Ambers, Golden / Blonde colored ales (or lagers), and on into Fall’s Brown / Burgundy colors; one cannot help seek out something seasonable.
Because this we thought we would reflect on a beer we enjoyed last year while hosting what has become an annual event, our beerbecue. Now named Prima Donna, this Belgian-style Blond Ale came to us from the same minds that created Whoop Ass Imperial India Pale Ale and Fat Scotch (formerly Fat Bastard) Scottish-style Ale.
Silver City brewers employ several unique processes during the production of the Belgian Blonde Ale (6.5% ABV) to enhance the aroma, flavor, and depth of this exciting new specialty beer. For instance, in conjunction with hops, brewers add orange peel to the boil for aroma; sugar to help the beer to finish nice and dry, and bring the alcohol percentage up; and they condition the Belgian Blonde on French Oak for several weeks, which adds to the aroma and flavor profile.
“Brewing the Belgian Blonde, and any new specialty beer for that matter, is a fun and exciting experience,” said Gary Winn, Silver City Head Brewer. “We get a chance to perfect new brewing methods, get feedback from guests, and of course, taste a new and exciting style of craft beer.”
Aromas and flavors are delicate and deep in this original Belgian inspired Silver City seasonal brew. An abundance of fruit is present, along with citrus from the addition of sweet orange peel. Aging on French Oak imparts a kiss of vanilla and a unique mouth feel to enhance the drinkability of this crisp, sparkling blonde.
Suggested Style Guidelines provided by the Brewers Association
Belgian-style blond ales are characterized by low yet evident hop bitterness, flavor, and sometimes aroma. Light to medium body and low malt aroma with a sweet, spiced and a low to medium fruity-ester character orchestrated in flavor and aroma. Sugar may be used to lighten perceived body. They are blonde to golden in color. Noble-type hops are commonly used. Low levels of phenolic spiciness from yeast byproducts may be perceived. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Acidic character should not be present. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperature
Poured from our growler (or on draft if you can find it) Prima Donna respects the influenced style with its golden color and strong clarity. As it slowly settles in the glass a strong (almost shaving foam-like) head forms on top. Over time this cap of white dies leaving little behind in regards to lace.
Taking the first sniff you are asked to recall notes of earth, honey, and orange citrus. With the first sip we pick up a honey (almost fruity) sweetness before citrus (orange) bitterness takes hold. Washing it down further we swear we pick up some vanilla and oak. Overall Prima Donna Belgian-style Blonde Ale comes across with a medium weight on the tongue whiles leaving behind residual dryness.
You Should Try. Although there aren't too many Belgian-style ales produced in the Northwest, it's refreshing when someone does it right. Look for this to be on the shelves of nearby grocers or on draft, when it makes it return soon.
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