UK vs USA Ales

British VS American Golden/Blonde Ales

In the BJCP guidelines, starting with the 2015 update, British Golden Ale was designated as a style all it’s own.  This style has a similar appearance to the American Blonde/Golden Ale, but beyond that there are some significant differences between the styles.

Recently, there has been chatter within the BJCP community that for the next style guide update, the name for American Blonde will likely be changed to American Golden Ale. The hopping levels for American Goldens has been trending upward in the last few years with some light dry hopping becoming more common. That said, these should not be in the range of a pale ale in hop flavor, bitterness, and character. This should still be a malt forward beer with the focus on the malt character of bread, toast, biscuit with medium fruity hop characters.

British Golden ale is a hop forward beer similar to an English bitter with less hop bitterness but more pronounced hop flavor and aromas than American Goldens. The IBU range for British is in the 20-45 range while American is 15-28 IBUs.

When it comes to malt characters, American Goldens should have a soft light to medium malty-grainy aroma with light bready and wheat notes and just enough hop bitterness to counteract sweetness. British Goldens should have a low bready and biscuit malt character with a more pronounced moderate hop flavor and aroma of English hops (Earthy, floral, and herbal notes) or more commonly new world American hops of citrus and fruits. 

Both styles should have a similar color profile of 2-6 SRM and be straw/yellow to gold in color. Both should be brilliantly clear. That’s the flaw in my sample of the British Golden and it’s due to the hop choice. I used an experimental hop HBC 630 and it’s a haze producer. 

The ABV of each should be similar as well, in the 3.5% – 5% for British and 3.8% – 5.5% for American.

Mouth feel of the British Golden is slightly lighter and dryer than American Golden, but both should finish clean with minimal yeast esters.

The style comparison notes in the BJCP Style Guidelines states that for the American Golden as having more flavor than American Lager and Cream Ale with less bitterness than the APA, being similar to a Kolsch with more malt character. While British Golden is actually closer to an APA with lower alcohol and featuring British ingredients in the grist and yeast character. These should fall in the gap between an American Golden and APA.  


John Huhn


Brewing with the Seasons

Hello Again Everybody!

As I sat in my chair this morning with my coffee in hand pondering what this week may yet have in store for me, I had one of those “Oh Sh*t” moments. You see this weekend I blew through one keg, I’ve realized I have another on the verge, and at roughly 7:30am it’s hit me that I’m about to be down to a single lone soldier remaining in my kegerator. However, don’t worry about me I’ve got plans to brew at least twice this week to more than replenish my stock, but as I thought more about my upcoming brewing schedule I thought it funny how quickly I’ve pivoted from darker beers to pale lighter styles. For reference, beyond the Pale Ale I made for Beerfest, my last 4 batches have consisted of a Czech Dark Lager, an Irish Red, an Imperial Milk Stout, and my Kentucky Common; And the Pale Ale maybe the darkest beer I produce for at least the foreseeable future. Why you ask? Well I would direct you to take a look at the weather report or check in with the nearest ground hog, whichever source you prefer or trust most; but in either case you’ll find that temperatures are clearly on the rise and Summer is just on the horizon! 

It’s not that brewing/drinking with the Seasons is some new discovery; Randy Mosher wrote a book on the subject nearly 10 years ago (Beer For All Seasons: A Through-The-Year Guide to What to Drink and When to Drink It). Likewise, there’s not a brewery around that doesn’t have seasonal releases that follow a similar pattern. Take for example the recent releases by our local cohort: 

Banter: Amber Lager Triptych Series

Hold Fast: Pickle Pilsner

Tie & Timber: The Return of their Pickwick Pale Ale & upcoming Cold IPA – Adult Swim (4/13)

Mother’s: Returns of Trop Top & Sunshine Chugsuckle, Mango Break Golden Ale, Partio Pounder Pale Ale

These lighter (and some fruity) offerings are a sure sign of warmer days ahead. Not to say that stouts, porters, and bocks are bad in the summer; just that by a way of habit they’re likely no longer the first choice when we reach in the fridge on a hot day. As I started with this writing, I’ve got most of my upcoming brew schedule figured out with a Vienna, German Pils, and Pale Ale on the docket; and a Gose likely not far behind! What Do you have planned for the coming warmer months? If you’re looking for a little inspiration don’t forget the the themes for our upcoming meetings either: 

April – Czech Lagers & Rose’ Wines

May – Sours/Wild Ales and Sparkling Wines

June – Pale Ales & Bitters and Red Wines

July – IPA’s and Kombucha

August – Monastic/Trappist Ales and Kvass

Cheers Friends!



Club Member Reflects on BJCP Exam

Club Member Danny Jent reflects on his BJCP Tasting Exam experience.

Danny Jent and daughter pose when

Danny Jent wrote the following to describe his experience when taking the BJCP exam in November. He hopes that his reflections will be helpful to those preparing to take the exam themselves.

“Hello Everyone,

I write this just nearly 48 hours after sitting for the BJCP exam in St. Louis, and thought I’d take some time to share my thoughts and experience for those either preparing or even kicking around the idea of sitting for the exam. First off, let me disclose that I feel really good in regards to how I did on the exam. That’s not necessarily because I feel like I nailed the scoring relative to the proctor judges, or picked out all the potential flaws in the sample beers; I simply made a plan of how I wanted to approach the tasting exam, and I felt like I was able to execute the process I created as well as could have hoped for.

One thing about the tasting exam that I believe gets overlooked far too much, is that what you say in comparison to the Proctor judges only really accounts for about 20% of your overall score. Passing the BJCP exam has more to do with the depth of how well you can convey what it is YOU are tasting in a beer and how well you complete the scoresheet itself, than necessarily if you can “give the right answer(s).” With that in mind, I built a simple framework to consistently complete my scoresheets in a way that I feel gives me a good opportunity to pass. (In case you were unaware, you don’t get the results for the exam for 3-6 months unfortunately; but fingers crossed). My main focus, as you might guess, was on the Aroma & Flavor sections. In completing each of these I made a point to state whether Malt aroma/flavor as a whole was low/med/high, and then list the aroma/flavor descriptors I felt were appropriate while also categorizing them as low/med/high. So for example, in the flavor section of the English Porter that was part of our flight, I wrote, “Moderately intense malt flavor with medium-high notes of caramel, molasses, and toffee; likewise, low notes of coffee and a lightly roasted character are present towards the backend of the palate.” Regardless of what the style guide for English Porter says, this is what I thought I tasted in the sample provided; and I followed this same approach in describing hop flavor & aroma, as well as esters, phenolics, and any other noticeable aromatics, flavors, or potential flaws. Additionally, I made a point to try and remain mostly objective in the first four sections of the scoresheet, and reserve any comments on how it did or did not fit style in the overall remarks.

I think too often we get wrapped up in feeling like we need to know every detail about the categories and subcategories the BJCP spells out in their guidelines; when in all actuality the judging process is much easier and natural when you focus on what YOU’RE tasting, and not necessarily what you think you are supposed to be tasting. As the proctor for the exam in St. Louis said before we started, there’s no reason to stress about this, because at the end of the day it’s still just beer; and why would you stress about having a beer?

In that regard, I actually really enjoyed the experience of the exam itself. I forgot how much I detest handwriting anything of length, but the flight the proctor pulled for us made up for it well enough and included: Kolsch, American Pale Ale, English Porter, American Brown Ale, Belgian Golden Strong, and an American Barleywine. Personally, I was slightly concerned about finishing each sheet in the allotted 15mins; but I found that by coming up with the process I mentioned above and working at following that process consistently, I actually ended up having about 2 mins to spare to make sure I’d checked the boxes on the bottom and side of each sheet (you lose points if you don’t, just FYI).

As I mentioned previously, I don’t know for sure that I passed the exam. Once all your paperwork’s collected, the proctors do go through each beer revealing what they scored it and any major flaws, etc. they noted; but again, this part only accounts for a small portion of your total score. At the end of the day, I feel good about what I said about each beer, and personally I think I did so in enough detail/completeness to pass and become certified. If not, that’s fine too. At the end of the day it’s still just beer. I say all this not to pat myself on the back or anything, but more to hopefully dispel reasons or fears of why people tend to avoid the BJCP in general. In my experience, it’s like everything else in this hobby. If you develop and hone your process, and get enough practice in to gain some experience; it’s really nothing more than another day enjoying a few samples of beer.
Cheers Friends,


Letter from the President

Hi folx,

It’s your current Homebrew Zoo president. My name is Taylor A. Hopkins and I’ve been brewing for 10 or so years. I started out on the kitchen stove with extract and now have a 10-gallon system. My favorite thing to brew lately is German lagers.

As we progress in 2023, we are hosting two BJCP-sanctioned competitions, a BJCP tasting exam for those who have passed the online portion, multiple inner club competitions, partnering with local breweries and distilleries on projects, and some amazing educational portions planned. 

We hope you’ll join us on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 at the Home Brewery in Ozark.


Taylor A. Hopkins


How I prepare for competitions

by John Huhn

Greetings fellow ZOO members!
This past weekend, October 28-30, 2022 was the judging for the 25th annual Hoppy Halloween competition hosted by the Prairie Homebrewing Companions out of Fargo, North Dakota. It’s one of the last competitions of the season; yes there is a season, for the High Plains Brewer Circuit.
This my first year participating in this circuit and this past weekend, I picked up bronze, silver, and gold medals out of five entries. I received gold for Wee Heavy, silver for Belgian Dark Strong, and bronze for Scottish Heavy. All three medal winning entries scored 40 or higher on BJCP scoresheets. I say none of this as a way to pat myself on the back. Rather, I want to take this success and briefly talk about how I created these medal winning beers.
I’ll start with Eyebrow Beard Wee Heavy. I had retired this beer from competitions, but brought it back for the High Plains Brewer Circuit. The BJCP overall impression for this beer is: Rich, sweet malt depth with caramel, toffee, and fruity flavors. Full-bodied and chewy, with warming alcohol. Restrained bitterness, but not cloying or syrupy.
The trick I use with this beer is to pull one gallon of the first runnings and vigorously boil for 1 hour in a separate pot to reduce volume and create melanoidins but not to the point of making a syrup. This will need to be watched closely as scorching the liquid will ruin the batch. I typically use a stock pot on a second propane burner near the boil kettle so it’s easy to monitor.

Next beer I scored well with and earned a silver medal is BFD Belgian Dark Strong. BFD was the nickname of the guy who got me started on this crazy hobby in 1999. Yes, he was a Big Freakin’ Dude. BJCP Overall Impression: A dark, complex, very strong Belgian ale with a delicious blend of malt richness, dark fruit flavors, and spicy notes. Complex, rich, smooth, and dangerous.
BFD has been one of those white whales for me as I’ve brewed it countless times since I first helped Steve brew the original version in his basement. The version that I brew now is only similar in name as most of the recipe has been changed over the years. I decided years ago to make this a clone of Trappistes Rochefort #8 and while my version is a bit more phenolic than the Rochefort version, that’s what judges expect. For this recipe, it’s vital that I use the Rochefort strain, which is Wyeast Abbey Ale II 1762. The fermentation management of this beer is the trick. I pitch a large 2000ml starter at 64F and after 48 hours let the fermentation free rise up to 70F for the duration of the fermentation. I’ve found that for this yeast to produce the phenolics I want, the best method is to give it a good 2 days to complete the growth and multiplication phases of fermentation then the exothermic nature of fermentation, the thermal mass warms on its own. It’s helpful to have temperature control, but not vital. If you have a room that the temperature can be controlled without wild fluctuations, it will work fine.

Lastly, I wanted to talk about Lil Shillelagh Scottish Heavy. This beer is one of my favorites and I’ve been tweaking this recipe and its process for years. The BJCP overall impression for this beer is: A lower-alcohol, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruity flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.
The trick is building malt complexity with specialty malts that are complementary e.g. Caramunich, Munich, Honey, and Pale Chocolate each in the 5-6% of the total grist and mashing at a higher rest temperature than typical. I mash in at 160F to create the longer chain sugars that give this light beer a bigger mouthfeel than is expected for a beer that checks in at 3.3% abv as well as a small amount of dextrin for rounding out the perception of sugar without it being too sweet.

At the end of the day, everyone has to find their own path to dialing in there beers. While every so often I’ll happen on a recipe that is great the first time, I often have to rebrew multiple times until I find the right path. To me, this is a big part of the fun. Finding the path for each beer is super rewarding in it’s own right and that’s who I have to please first, myself.
John Huhn


Homebrew Zoo Collaborates with Turkey Creek Brewing

Homebrewing is all about experimentation and collaboration, and the Homebrew Zoo recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Turkey Creek Brewing to create a delicious Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The recipe was originally from John Huhn and was used in the recent barrel project by the Homebrew Zoo.

Turkey Creek Brewing owner Scott Wuest and head brewer Andy Guinn decided to use the Homebrew Zoo’s recipe for their collaboration brew. On a Sunday morning, the club was invited down to the brewery in Hollister, MO for a brew day. In attendance were club members Jenn and Mike, Big Greg, Taylor, and Dave D.

The brew consisted of over 250 pounds of grain and 89 ounces of hops. The recipe was essentially unchanged from the original club recipe, with the exception of using dry yeast instead of the liquid yeast that was used in the barrel project. The beer is expected to be tapped in mid-November.

Collaborations like this are what make the homebrewing community so special. It’s an opportunity for brewers to come together and share their passion for creating unique and delicious beers. The Homebrew Zoo is grateful for the opportunity to work with Turkey Creek Brewing and is excited to try the finished product.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at homebrewing, consider joining a local homebrewing club or join. You’ll have the chance to meet other brewers, share tips and tricks, and maybe even collaborate on a brew with a local brewery. Cheers to the Homebrew Zoo and Turkey Creek Brewing for a successful collaboration!


From the President’s Brew Board

This has been a long time coming! We (Club Officer’s) have been talking for months about how we can make the most beneficial use of the website as well as the internet presence we have as a club of home-brew hobbyists. Among the many things we’ve discussed is creating more content to populate the website as well as social media, as well as regular messages from the governing committee. With that in mind, I felt it was beyond time for me to write a piece about my time as the club President.
When I became President in September 2019, I certainly had no idea what was coming for the world. As many clubs, we struggled to find a path to keep the hard earned momentum we had as a club going forward into the unknown world of 2020. We tried many things to engage members and keep them interested. From virtual meetings, special guests on the virtual meetings, social media engagement, club meetings in the parking lot, meeting as distanced as possible in the shop during winter, etc… It’s impossible to know if any of those things we tried worked to keep the club alive or if it would have collapsed as other clubs had who decided to not utilize virtual meeting formats.
As of this month, August 2022, the ZOO has survived the last 2+ years and now we are focused on taking the club not back to normal, but beyond that to a more active and engaged club. A club that will bring members and yet-to-be members more value for the dues paid. Many of those efforts are currently underway, (Iron Brewer Competition, Santa Clone Competition aka ZYMUR Challenge, BJCP Competitions, Training and Exams, Monthly Club Raffles, Annual Club Picnic, High Gravity Night, Big Brew Day, Competition Calendar Updates, Club Participation at Events, Charitable work…) and many more coming.
I want to take this moment to announce that I will not be running for a 4th term as the club President. While it was hard work at times keeping everything moving, I enjoyed my tenure and have a positive outlook for the club’s future. We have a great group of talented and focused people on the governing board and I have complete confidence they will continue driving the club forward. While I will no longer be President, I’m hoping to remain on the governing committee to help and support the new leadership in whatever role needs filled.

John Huhn