This year, Brewdog only had three beers for its annual Prototype Challenge. Personally I was drawn to Tangerine Style IPA – it was bright, zingy and pushed the tangerine flavour far further than any other citrus beer I’ve had in the past. I noticed that in previous prototype challenges there were usually four beers produced, so I was surprised to see that there was one fewer on this occasion. BrewDog have now announced why their typical quartet line-up fell through – the 4th simply wasn’t ready at the same time as the other 3 and they weren’t proposed to deliver a sub-standard product. They released the other 3 (Tangerine Session IPA, Double IPA and Black Rye IPA) and allowed fans to vote for their favourite as usual. Once they had perfected the 4th, whilst it was too late to add it to the Prototype Challenge, they wanted people to be able to experience a beer they ended up being very proud of!
Blonde ale ABV: 4.5% is the final installment of the small batch brew series. Based on description alone it would definitely be a beer that I would order on a menu. “Sweet malt tempered with light bitterness; floral and spicy notes on the nose, and a balanced toasty complexity” is the description on its makers site. Before drinking, I am drawn to the complexity of this beer, which pushes itself by balancing fresh, bitter and spice notes. Please note that because this beer was released later, it is not being included in the prototype challenge.
As I was aware that it was probably only going to be available for a brief period, the logical part of me insisted that I get two bottles! When the time was right (when isn’t the time right for beer?!) I opened a bottle with the characteristic plain, yet distinctive, label to match others from the series. I think the labels for this series have been quite appealing; the grid-like nature of the faint lines in the background on top of a deep blue makes me think of a blueprint, like a canvas upon which the company are creating their newest beers on. I began recalling my thoughts when I sampled each of the other prototype beers, thus creating a point to which Blonde Ale would be automatically judged.
The beer pours a bright blonde colour (shock, horror, who would have thought?) which was appealing in nature. A minimal white head was produced, though this quickly fizzled out in my Teku BrewDog glass prior to taking the photo.
On the nose, you do get a faint hit of spice and warmness, which I typically associate with darker ales. The intial sip slides down your throat very easily and it finishes with a savoury appeal, subtle compared to a few beers I have recently enjoyed e.g. Truth. It remains light in texture and flavour and is one I would drink again (and I swiftly did thanks to the second bottle I cleverly purchased).
Don’t get me wrong, Blonde Ale made a good impression, but had it have been released at the same time as the others and therefore be eligible for voting, it still wouldn’t have changed my vote for Tangerine.
The winner of the BrewDog Prototype Challenge of 2017 will be announced imminently.
Rating: 3/5. Blonde Ale by Brewdog is an enjoyable ale and when compared with the rest of the prototypes, I personally rank it 2nd of the group. Savoury notes means it would pair well with a main meal, but it is also light and fresh enough to enjoy by itself. If put on the shelf of my fridge with some of its fellow companions, it may find itself struggling to shine and would likely become a memory at the back of the chilled cabinet.
Thanks for reading guys – let me know what your favourite prototype was. Send me your pictures of new and favourite beers that you’ve had and any recommendations would be epic.