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.