Aroma: Hop aroma is moderately low to moderately high, and can use any variety of hops – floral, herbal, or earthy English hops and citrusy American hops are most common. Frequently a single hop varietal will be showcased. Little to no malt aroma; no caramel. Medium-low to low fruity aroma from the hops rather than esters. Little to no diacetyl.
Appearance: Straw to golden in color. Good to brilliant clarity. Low to moderate white head. A low head is acceptable when carbonation is also low.
Flavor: Medium to medium-high bitterness. Hop flavor is moderate to moderately high of any hop variety, although citrus flavors are increasingly common. Medium-low to low malt character, generally bready with perhaps a little biscuity flavor. Caramel flavors are typically absent. Little to no diacetyl. Hop bitterness and flavor should be pronounced. Moderately-low to low esters. Medium-dry to dry finish. Bitterness increases with alcohol level, but is always balanced.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation on draught, although bottled commercial versions will be higher. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth, but this character should not be too high.
Impression: A hop-forward, average-strength to moderately-strong pale bitter. Drinkability and a refreshing quality are critical components of the style.
Comments: Well-hopped, quenching beer with an emphasis on showcasing hops. Served colder than traditional bitters, this style was originally positioned as a refreshing summer beer, but is now often brewed year-round. Although early on the beers were brewed with English hops, increasingly American citrus-flavored hops are used. Golden Ales are also called Golden Bitters, Summer Ales, or British Blonde Ales. Can be found in cask, keg, and bottle.
Ingredients: Low-color pale or lager malt acting as a blank canvas for the hop character. May use sugar adjuncts, corn or wheat. English hops frequently used, although citrusy American varietals are becoming more common. Somewhat clean-fermenting British yeast.
Commercial Examples: Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, Fuller's Discovery, Golden Hill Exmoor Gold, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Kelham Island Pale Rider, Morland Old Golden Hen, Oakham JHB