Not the most historic of beer styles, Blonde Ale is said to have been developed in Belgium in the early 20th century in response to a rise in the popularity of Pilsners. It’s also said to have been invented by American craft brewers in the late 20th century to coax consumers away from American Pilsner. It’s not for us to care who’s right, we’re here to brew and enjoy.
Blonde Ales are pretty straight forward – pale/golden easy-drinking beers that are low in bitterness. We’ll be using our favourite malted barley variety, Maris Otter, for this one. ‘Otter’, as it’s commonly known amongst we brewers, is a barley variety dating back to the 1960s, which in agronomic terms is really, really old – there’s a conveyor belt of new varieties available to the farmer, each either yielding better, or less susceptible to pests and diseases, than the last. Despite farmers’ insistence that it ‘won’t stand up’ Otter has survived because small cask ale brewers in the UK insist upon using it – it’s quite simply the best tasting malt there is and we’re all prepared to pay a decent premium to get hold of it. Its biscuity sweetness will go very well in our new Blonde Ale.
Hopwise, this will be another beer to showcase East Kent Goldings. The style is mild in bitterness terms, which gives us an opportunity to explore the lemony character of EKG (in a similar way to the way use them in High Tide) without fear of astringency spoiling the party. So we’ll have some in there as first wort additions (see earlier editions of NotB) and then balefuls of them at the end of the boil.
Fermentation will be around 22°C with our house ale yeast (a touch higher than normal, in an effort to produce some fruity aromas) and the whole batch will be cask conditioned, enjoying that magical secondary fermentation in the cellar. We’ll then persuade as many of our pub customers as possible to take a cask with a view to tapping and serving it from Monday 19th July, a date we all hope will be long remembered as the day the pubs reopened properly, and successfully. In a normal year British pubs raise over £100 million for charity – this isn’t a normal year and now those same pubs could do with a little Boost themselves. Next week I’ll be able to give you an idea of what pubs will be stocking Booster – do drop into one or two and enjoy an easy drinking Blonde Ale.