23 of the Best Golden Ales, Blind-Tasted and Ranked

Learn about how we rate & review beers with our BJCP blind panel here

High Water Brewing Rio d'Oro (79)

Very sweet up front. Honey and a bit of caramel carry throughout the whole taste with citrus and spice in the background, but not balanced. Light hops bitterness toward the end of the sip but sweet overall.

Suncrush Beer Tangerine Suncrush (85)

Tangerine dominates up front, but it’s not overpowering, and well-balanced with the malt and bitterness. The tea character emerges at the end and lingers, giving a pleasant aftertaste of afternoon tea with biscuits and jam. Relatively thin in body, so it drinks a bit like a lightly sweetened ice tea. Finishes dry mostly from the citric acid.

Oskar Blues Guns 'N' Rose (86)

Very light berry note with neutral malt character. Sweet malt backbone. Sweet citrus (orange, lemon) and floral hops that lead into sweet yet tart berry-like flavors (strawberry, sweet raspberry, blackberry). Finishes clean and slightly sweet.

5:00 O'Clock Afternoon Ale Renegade Brewing (86)

Simultaneously sweet and bitter all the way through, notes of flowers and candied apples, herbal hops, and a mineral characteristic. Clean fermentation highlights dry malt and crisp hops bitterness. Finishes very dry.”

Moustache Champagne Showers (88)

Tastes like a chardonnay with some malt backbone. White grape juice sweetness, some wood character with some tannins. Carbonation is high. Malt back is sweet bread. Finishes dry.”

Squatters Chasing Tail Orange Golden Ale (88)

Earthy hops notes carry the front, with some light chicken stock and woodsy notes. A touch of carbonation to heighten the beer’s flavors. Malt character is very subtle with just a touch of cracker and biscuit. Dry but crisp finish with a slight lingering mouth-coating bitterness.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Above the Clouds (88)

There’s a lot of hops complexity. Bold citrus with a lemongrass focus. Malt flavors get lost in the shuffle. Light, clean body. Bitter and dry finish with a lingering hops-derived bitterness.

Epic Brainless Belgian-style Golden Ale (90)

More pear comes out in the flavor with bready malt. Moderate sweetness, with notes of honey and a bit of caramel, fades into the finish with moderately low bitterness and alcohol warmth to balance. Some nice complexity and smoothness. Vanilla builds in the lingering aftertaste.

Black Project Supercruise Cab Sauv (90)

Well blended. There is a really fun balance between some nice sweetness, some earthiness, a little funk, and a light tartness. The fruit character of grapes, a little cherry, some strawberry, also has notes of peanuts, wine cork, oak ,and vanilla. Quite acidic overall with a sticky mouthfeel, but finishes great without the punishing dryness of over-attenuation.”

Boulevard Beer American Kolsch (91)

Light bready malt and a touch of banana esters continue onto the palate. There’s a moderately low sweetness that transitions into moderately low bitterness. The finish is dry, reminiscent of a fruit cocktail and very clean with a lingering bitterness.

Cigar City Golden Ale (91)

A medium amount of malt sweetness is well-balanced with an appropriate level of hops character. The sweetness enhances some of the citrus notes, giving it a slight mandarin-orange character with melon. Moderate carbonation, which helps to accentuate the dryness.

The Rare Barrel The Search (91)

Lots of wild, mixed-fermentation flavors and a touch of musty complex earthiness mix well with the earthy and herbal hops flavor. Wood astringency is a bit intense, stone fruit and pear, moderate-high sour citrus pith. Bitterness lingers in the finish. The oak overshadows some of the more subtle contributions of malt, wild fermentation.

Perrin Brewing Gold (92)

Hops come through more in the flavor with the herbal and lemon becoming more of a lemongrass character. Malt is still in the background but akin to sweet biscuit. There’s a soapy finish that’s also dry and slightly bitter but not astringent. A light mineral character may be accentuated by the moderate carbonation level.”

Atom Brewing Peach Sour (92)

Overripe juicy and sweet peach with a restrained tartness/sourness. Slight funk. Well-balanced wild characteristics. Neutral oak tannins that give a slightly astringent finish. Slightly solvent. Restrained sourness complements the fresh fruit.

Boulder Beer Buffalo Gold (93)

Bread, crackers, and crust come through in the flavor with more herbal, grassy, and a bit piney hops character. Well-balanced with moderate carbonation, a slightly dry and bitter finish, but not astringent. The esters are now more pear-like.”

New Belgium Brewing Dayblazer (94)

Simple but balanced. It starts off with moderately low sweetness and blossoms into a low hops bitterness but with a dry finish that’s crisp and refreshing. There’s a lot to like from citrus and melon hops, toasted malt, apple and pear esters, somewhat mineraly bitterness, and a mildly cloying sweet finish. Moderate carbonation gives it a bit of bite.”

Cape May Devil's Reach (94)

Big esters: banana dominates, but some pear, apple, white grape. Spiciness is a mix of peppery phenol and alcohol warmth. Medium tartness. Malt notes of honey, biscuit, and toast. Sweet, but not too sweet, and it slowly fades into a moderately dry finish.

Nachez Brewing Cronyism (94)

Peach, nectarine, lychee, apricot, and fairly sour and tart, but not much funk. Neutral aromas of oak and tannin with a bready, malty mouth-coating finish. There are hints of lemon oil, lightly floral, and a dry, crisp finish where the sour builds with each sip.

Southern Tier 8 Days A Week (95)

Bright, crisp malt sweetness up front, but well-balanced with fruity esters and floral-hops character. Neither lingers too long. The beer starts very bright and strong but almost immediately mellows and dissipates, encouraging more sips. Spicy pear esters, light citrus and herbal hops, and grainy malt lead to a smooth slightly dry finish.

pFriem Sauv Blanc Golden Ale (96)

Delicate and bright. There is a light sweetness that carries throughout the taste, then fades into low bitterness and low acidity. Citrus, perfume, and spice with bready malt. Definite Brett character, but enough residual malt that it’s a nice accent. Well-balanced.

Crooked Stave Persica 2018 (98)

Quite lactic and peachy. Juicy, almost citrus. Slightly astringent peach skin. Minimal Brett character. Fairly sour, moderately tart. Finish is a bit mouth-coating. The herbal note of more basil with a hint of soy and it’s a little yeasty, but that helps soften the palate. Nice blend of wood, fruit, funk, and tart. Everything is in balance.