BeerCast #19 – Golden Summer

Posted by on Aug 4, 2008 in BeerCasts | 2 Comments

Summer’s here (supposedly), so our panellists are keen to try a range of drinks designed for the season. Giving short shrift to the prospect of drinking cider with ice, we head straight for the Golden Ales – characteristically British hoppy, biscuity ales best served cold for the summer. We begin our sunny podcast with Wagtail’s King Tut Golden Ale (4.0%abv) from Norfolk, then move to the other side of southern England to Dorset for Badger’s peachtastic Golden Glory (4.5%). Our third beer is back in East Anglia with Suffolk’s St Peter’s Golden Ale (4.7%) – featuring a truly distinctive bottle shape – and we finish on the quintessential golden ale – Hop Back’s multi award-winning Summer Lightning (5.0%), from Salisbury in Wiltshire. On the panel this time – Shovels, Richard and Grooben.

1. King Tut Golden Ale (4.0%abv)
Wagtail Brewery, Old Buckenham, Norfolk.
500ml glass bottle

Egyptologist and discoverer of Tutankhamen’s tomb Howard Carter was born and raised in the East Anglian village of Swaffham, just down the road from the Wagtail Brewery. Their golden ale is apparently infused with Egyptian spices, so takes it’s name from the boy king, and features Tut’s spectacular death mask on the label. Wagtail opened in March 2006 and only produce bottle conditioned beers made with Norfolk malts. Before his grisly early demise, Howard Carter made a great discovery – but will King Tut’s Golden Ale be full of wonderful things?

What They Say“This golden ale is brewed using genuine Egyptian spices and Branthill Farms famous malted barley.” [Label Tasting Notes]

What We Say
Richard – Aftertaste of woody straw lingers, not refreshing at all 5
Grooben – Half beer half lager, with none of the qualities of either 4
Shovels – Fizzy, sharp and bitter – not what I was expecting 4

2. Badger Golden Glory (4.5%abv)
Hall & Woodhouse Ltd, Blandford Forum, Dorset.
500ml glass bottle

Founded in 1777, the Hall&Woodhouse brewery is in the hands of the fifth generation of Woodhouses in the Dorset town of Blandford Forum. Under the Badger name they produce commonly-seen beers like Tanglefoot, Fursty Ferret, and Blandford Fly, and in 2002 they acquired the Horsham brewer Kings&Barnes. However, Badger Golden Glory is a golden ale flavoured with an extract of peach blossom, to give it a refreshing summery aroma. Legend has it that the gift of peach blossom brings good fortune to the recipient – will the panel be giving their thanks?

What They Say“With an absolutely glorious floral blend of aromatic and bitter hops and a delicate peach and melon aroma, Glory is the ideal ale to accompany duck pate or cheesecake.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – Peach right up the nose, it’s practically a fruit beer 7
Richard – Smells so nice, yet maybe tastes a bit too sweet
Shovels – As a summer beer it does exactly the job you want 6

3. St Peter’s Golden Ale (4.7%abv)
St Peter’s Brewery, Bungay, Suffolk.
500ml glass bottle

St Peter’s range of beers are unmistakable on the shelves, as they come in a unique flask-shaped bottle based on a Pennsylvanian original dating from 1770. The brewery was established near the Suffolk village of Bungay in 1996, and concentrate mainly on the bottled side of the business – although recently they have been producing more cask ales. They own a single pub – the 18th Century Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell, central London. Their beers are cold fitered and produced with less carbonation than other breweries, to be less gassy.

What They Say“Amber-coloured, full-bodied, robust ale. A strong hop bouquet leads to a mix of malt and hops combined with a dry, fruity hoppiness. The malt quickly subsides, leaving a creamy bitterness” [Good Beer Guide]

What We Say
Shovels – Very refreshing and better the warmer it gets 8
Richard – Dry and hoppy, this is a proper golden ale 8
Grooben – A real beer with the complexity you’d expect

4. Summer Lightning (5.0%abv)
Hop Back Brewery, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
500ml glass bottle

One of the most famous of all British beers, Hop Back’s Summer Lightning is the quintessential Golden Ale – indeed the section on that style in the Good Beer Guide names it and Exmoor’s Exmoor Gold as the two pioneers of the type. Hop Back also claim Summer Lightning is the most award-winning beer in the UK, with over seventy gongs for quality – a quite astonishing record. The brewery began in the basement of a pub – the Wyndham Arms in Salisbury – and has since expanded to bespoke facilities. Hop Back’s beers are always a good bet for summer, and with labels featuring the Greek god of wine and ale, can they go wrong?

What They Say“A pleasureable pale bitter with a good, fresh, hoppy aroma and a malty, hoppy flavour. Finely balanced, it has an intense bitterness leading to a long dry finish. Though strong, it tastes like a session ale.” [Good Beer Guide]

What We Say
Grooben – This is just what I look for in a beer, very nice indeed 9
Richard – Hoppy and bitter but not too much of each – brilliant 9
Shovels – Subtle and light, this is perfect for summer 9

BeerCast panel verdict

Summer Lightning – 27/30
St Peter’s Golden Ale – 23½/30
Badger Golden Glory – 19½/30
King Tut’s Golden Ale – 13/30

Panellists – (from bottom right) Grooben, Richard, Shovels



We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with episode 20, focusing on dark ales from York and Harrogate. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!


  1. Broke But Still Drinking
    August 16, 2008

    Would you accept free beer from a complete stranger?

  2. Richard
    August 17, 2008

    we accept most things from complete strangers… 😉

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