The American Blonde Ale, without a doubt is one of the easiest drinking and enjoyable craft beers on the market. It is as pleasing to the behold as it is to taste. It has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years and is now typically considered a transition beer from commercial beers to craft beers. The following is a Blond Ale all grain recipe that is a nicely balanced beer that is not overly hoppy or malty in taste or aroma. These beers are sometimes referred to by some as Golden Ales.
History of this Beer Style
Unlike some beer styles, the history behind Blonde Ales is well, rather boring and there is not a whole lot to tell. It is actually somewhat of a newer style, with reports that it has only been around North America since the 1970-1980s. Although considered a modern beer style, there is no question that its ancestors have been brewed for hundreds of years in the form of the lighter European pale ales and Kolch’s.
Appearance – It is a very clear and brilliant beer. Color wise it can vary somewhat from very light to more golden, sometimes they are referred to as Golden Ales for this reason. It will have a nice white head that lingers around and does not dissipate quickly.
Aroma – Many times fruit is added which imparts the corresponding aroma; however for the traditional nonfruit version of this beer the aroma is light for both malt and hops. In most cases, you will pick up more of the malt aroma which will be a very slight bready smell. There should never be diacetyl present which would present as a butterscotch like smell.
Mouthfeel – Carbonation is a big factor in the mouthfeel of a brew and for this one, it will be typically medium but can also be light. The body can also be light but in most cases it will again have more of a medium feel to it, in either case it will always feel smooth. There will be no harshness present in a true blonde ale. It will have somewhat of a dry finish to it.
Taste – It is a sweet beer but not overly so. The malt imparts the sweetness to the beer but nowhere near as much as some of its maltier European style cousins do. As with the aroma, you may find a light bread or biscuit like taste. Depending on the types of hops used they will impart a slight taste but in most cases, you will not be able to pick it up. Do not expect to taste any hop bitterness or harshness. This is a light tasting balanced beer.
Tips for Making Your Own Blonde Ale Recipe
You may want to try the recipe I provided to start with but in true homebrewing fashion, there is a good chance that it will not be long before you want to venture out and create your own recipe. The following are some tips to make sure you stay within the guidelines of this style when doing so.
Grains to Use:
Blonde Ales are actually quite versatile and you can get somewhat creative with your grain choice. Having said that your creativity should be focused more so on your base grains and not the specialty grains. With your base grains feel free to mix it up. I have made different recipes using anything from 2-Row, Marris Otter, Golden Promise, and even Pilsner.
You can also add some malts that have lower enzymatic power such as Vienna and Malt if you want more of a bready or biscuity taste. Go easy with these grains and keep them to 10 – 15% of your grain bill tops.
For specialty grains keep them to a very minimum, lighter crystal malts in the range of 10 to 15 Lovibond are typical. For a 5 gallon batch, 1 – 2 lbs is more than enough. You can then add some flaked wheat or even carapils to aid with creating better head retention; typically half of a pound will work just fine.
Hops to Use:
You definitely want to use hops with a low alpha acid percentage. This is not a bitter beer and the higher the alpha acid of your hops the more bitter your beer will be. It needs to have a nice balance between bitterness and sweetness and the lower alpha acid hops will achieve this nicely for you.
Also do not use any more than two varieties of hops with this beer, and do not feel like you need to use two; one will work great. Too many hops will complicate the flavor profile of this simple beer and produce a Pale Ale instead.
You can dry hop this beer if you like, but be careful doing so and stick to the guidelines we have just discussed. 1 – 2 ounces for a 5-gallon batch is plenty in this case.
Yeast to Use:
The choice is yours, however, in most cases, brewers will choose a yeast that is high attenuating so that it converts as much of the sugars as possible. I always prefer dry yeast and Safale US-05 is a great choice for this style of beer. Having said that you will notice the recipe I provided uses Nottingham which is an English style yeast. I have also used Safale S-04 and got great results.
Switching your yeast will create a completely new beer and is one of the fun parts of homebrewing. Mix it up and find out which works best for your taste preference. Whichever yeast you use, try and ferment as close to the lower temperature range for the yeast as you can, this will bring out the lighter characteristics you want to achieve.
Do not sweat water chemistry. If you have never done it and have no desire to go down this somewhat of a rabbit hole do not. Many times nowadays I do not bother with it. If you have good water you will make good beer.
If your water has chlorine in it, has strange odors, or is overly hard perhaps you may want to try your hand at adjusting your water; it is really not as complicated as many perceive it to be.
Here is a post where you can learn more about water chemistry.
For this style of brew, you want your water to be on the softer side.
Adjusting Your Mash:
Mash temperatures play a large part when it comes to the overall body of your beer. Mashing at higher temperatures does not permit the creation of as many fermentable sugars which makes the beer maltier or sweeter. If you like a fuller bodied brew then mash at higher temperatures, typically at least 153 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to make a beer with a lighter body mash between 148 – 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Most Blonde Ales would be mashed towards the lower temperature range.
Our Best All Grain Blonde Ale Recipe
I brew lots of different blonde ales recipes. I always had a few different versions on tap at my brewpub as they were big hits. But this one was always the fan-favorite. I call it “Train Wreck”.
Batch Size – 5 gallons finished product
ABV – 5%
IBU – 16.1
SRM – 3.5
Original Gravity – 1.051
Final Gravity – 1.012
- 8 lbs 2-Row
- 1 lb Carapils (dextrine)
- 1 lb Torrified Wheat
- 1 oz Willamette (60 min)
- Danstar Lallemand Nottingham Ale Yeast
Mash your crushed grains at 152 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes. Sparge with 170 degrees Fahrenheit bringing kettle liquid level up to your required preboil level. Boil for 60 minutes adding hops at the start of the boil as per recipe. Add whirlfloc at the 20-minute mark. Cool wort to yeast pitching temperature. Transfer to your sanitized fermenter and pitch the yeast. Ferment for 2-3 weeks. Cold crash for 2 – 3 days. Keg or bottle and enjoy!
You can check out our full list of brewing guides to help you with any parts of the brewing instructions.
There you go my friend, a simple to make Blonde ale recipe that you will be sure to enjoy. If you have any questions on how to make this beer feel free to ask me in the comment section at the bottom of the post.
Wrapping It Up
There you have it my friend you now have a recipe you can try your hand at as well as knowing how to brew up your own if you want.
If you need ingredients I would ask that you consider picking them up from our partners listed here. At no extra cost to you, this helps support this site and allows Big Robb to have the odd pint at the local pub! Cheers!
When it comes to the actual brewing process and the equipment I use, I am a huge fan of the all-in-one brewing systems, sometimes referred to as electric BIAB. I find they are the simplest method to brew, make great beer and cost a heck of a lot less than other systems. You can learn about them on this post here if you like: Electric BIAB all you need to know.
Again if you have any questions drop them in the comment box below, and I will respond.
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!