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Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale - Holy Mackerel Brewing

Not Rated.
Holy Mackerel Special Golden AleHoly Mackerel Special Golden Ale

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222 Ratings

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Ratings: 222
Reviews: 140
rAvg: 3.31
pDev: 18.13%
Wants: 0
Gots: 15 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Holy Mackerel Brewing visit their website
Florida, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Pale Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jason on 06-02-2008

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 222 | Reviews: 140
Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.05/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue VI:

An award-winning homebrew Belgian style from 1997 turned contract brewed. Pours out a soda fizzy lace that disappears with a blink of the eye, no Brussels lacing here. Golden color, but slightly hazed. Smells of yeast, overripe fruit, bread dough and vague tropical fruit. Slick mouthfeel with a passive carbonation, it's missing its snap. Alcohol runs amuck, slightly estery and even a tad solvent with a hot note in the middle. Fruity with an odd lemon component. Black pepper and medicinal herbs from the phenols are quite strong. Weak maltiness and a MIA hop character let whatever malt sweetness and yeast fruitiness put a stranglehold on the palate.

No balance, flavors are off on all levels. Even the carbonation and head retention is way off. Reminds us of some of the sub-par Belgians we have had over the years. Not recommended, especially if you're wanting to get into Belgian beers. A recipe change and ditching the contract brew would do this beer some good.

Photo of msubulldog25
3.31/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A 12 oz. bottle poured to a La Chouffe tulip glass; this is the '2007' edition. I mistook this for having a twist-off cap and was surprised when it actually turned pretty easily without releasing...even though it was meant to be pried off. Hmmm, that doesn't bode well for cellaring for the 2-3 years suggested on the bottle (by the way, who in Florida actually HAS a cellar?!?!).

German pilsner malt and Czech Saaz hops are used in this 'Belgian-style' golden 'with a Florida twist'(???).

Among the least attractive labels I've seen; think Don Knotts' 'Mr. Limpet' from the 1960s; add buckteeth, dreadlocks and an operable fin capable of hoisting a small goblet. Also add sunshine yellow (hand)lettering (with fishtail-like 'Y' and 'K', cute) and you've got an empty bottle I'm keeping because it's: a) my first reviewed Florida beer, b) so. eff-ing. ugly.

So onto the beer:

A: Look is attractive - a 'shiny copper penny' orange capped with a finger-worth of sudsy, off-white cream. Light haziness, plenty of rising carbonation. Decent lacing dropping in a thin veil.

S: Light sweet aroma of fruit (sugary peaches & pears; think 'fruit cup'), an odd whiff of bubblegum, a hint of yeasty tartness.

T: Livelier fruit - pears are juicy and sweet, apple is crisp and slightly buttery. Yeasty doughiness is wrapped in another sweet/tart fruit flavor: orange marmalade? Hints of woodiness in a finish that holds onto sweetness before drying just a little.

M: Creamy smoothness with a little carbonated tingle lingering at the tip of the tongue. Nice consistency but a bit thin/watery finish, which is a little surprising from a malty, high-gravity beer style like this. Slight alcohol warmth.

D: Overall, pretty tasty and easy to enjoy. This won't beat most Belgians of the style, but the effort is there. Glad to have tried this; wouldn't mind another but not something I'd seek out either.

This bottle came to Oregon courtesy of my man, Metalmonk. Thanks Jeff!

Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.23/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle. Light golden haze with a decent white foam head.
Smells of yeast and orange.
Taste is surprisingly ok. I say surprised because of all the negative reviews. It says on the bottle a Belgian Style with a Florida twist...I'm thinking the twist is orange. If that's the case its spot on. But that doesn't make it a great brew, but it does taste as advertised. Nice belgian yeast but deff over sweet and orangey.
I would say my favorite style is belgian, but this just doesn't do it for me. Its average all around.

Photo of Metalmonk
3.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

The ugly-ass label jumped out at me in all its yellow glory. Since I'd never in my life had a beer from Florida, the price was decent, and it's a Belgian-style golden ale, I sprung for a 4-pack.

A standard-looking Belgian golden ale, which is to say it's got a nice orange-y glow. The head may not be huge but it sticks around a long time. Lots of bubbles and generous lacing. Pretty much par for the course.

Aroma hits the mark. Nothing too unique or complex, but if it's trying to mimic Duvel, Judas and/or Lucifer, it's not a bad try. The alcohol is just slightly too-obvious, the fruitiness is on the sour end, but overall it recalls some wonderful Belgian beers.

Flavor-wise it gets pretty close to tripel territory, with some exotic spice character peeking through, huge sweetness, and a mouthful of warming alcohol that thankfully doesn't burn. It's very fruity, some apple, some peach, lots of pear. I miss the more assertive Belgian yeast presence of other, better beers in this style, but there's still plenty to enjoy. The only flaw, and it's a fairly major one, is that the alcohol overstays its welcome after only a few sips and a few minutes of warming. From the finish to the ghost of aftertaste, it starts to feel more like you just drank aftershave and not a great ale. The first sip was impressive, the second pretty good, and by the third I started to feel violated. Damn you, mackerel.

The mouthfeel is a real winner, providing a succulent creaminess that glides and slides you through one sip to the next. A texture much like many of its Belgian counterparts. I won't let the iffy flavor keep me from enjoying this aspect of the beer.

Flawed in terms of balance, or its lack thereof. But it's not even a bad beer in its current state. Somehow it reminded me in places of Victory's Golden Monkey: strong, sweet, unsubtle. If they could just mask the weird alcohol aftertaste and let the yeast do some talking, they'd have a pretty great beer here.

Photo of NJBeer265
2/5  rDev -39.6%

Photo of Chaney
2.93/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I got this as an extra in a trade with Pittsky. Thanks Jesse!

A: Hazy golden color for sure, with a slight reddish tint, and about a one finger head that died down into a ring formation on the brew.

S: A tinge of Belgian funk, muted citrus, and much, much more than a hint of candy sugar.

T: Very sugary and boozy, however, I got used to this after a few sips, but the sugar on the other hand.... ugh. The citrus was there but seemed a bit stale and the finish was somewhat dry due to the overwhelming alcohol element.

M: Like I stated, this was fairly boozy and sugary, but the carbonation was substantial. Still, it couldn't quite cut through the intense sweetness.

D: Not drinkable at all, but I still finished the bottle. I'm glad I got to try this brew, but I wouldn't exactly beg for it in the future.

Photo of JohnK17
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of NJpadreFan
3/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Holy Mackerel

Strange looking beer from Florida, so i had to buy.

A- Light copper orange/ brown with no head.
S- Sweet grape and lemon aroma. Hints of straw and honey.
T- Sweet honey with lemon and grape. Plenty of raw sugar present.
M- Sweet, sweet, sweet. Sighty flat with a honey/ mead like finish?!

Overall- This is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale?! Seemed more like a mediocre American rendition of a tripal. Nothing special here other than the name and weird fish on the label.

Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.17/5  rDev +26%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale (reviewed a 2008 bottle) has a thin, cream-colored head and a very opaque, apricot-orange appearance. One can see quite a bit of bubbles streaming up the sides of the glass. The aroma is of sweet, candy-like filling, caramel, butter, dough, and other things I can not identify. The flavor is of nut shell, sweet dough, candy-caramel filling, fruit-cake, orange peel, and other unknown items. There is no bitterness present here, nor is alcohol detected in the aroma or flavor. Mouthfeel is medium, and Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale finishes wet, mild, sweet, mellow, and shockingly drinkable. This is unique, interesting, and good. I rate it at least excellent.


Photo of DIM
4/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle.

a: This was a lightly hazy golden color. It poured with a fizzy head that faded quickly to a white film.

s: Not all that complex, but certainly appealing. This is warm overall and on the sweet side. I found honey and strong yeasty aromas of phenolic apricots and raisins.

t: Big, warm, and sweet. I don't know if I can say this is well made, but I really like it. Sweet honey with hints of vanilla, plus some green raisin flavors. Lots of dry, flowery yeast flavors and plenty of warmth.

m: Thick, chewy body and creamy carbonation.

d: I can't quite say why, but I'm really liking this. Big and satisfying.

Photo of wagenvolks
3.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle courtesy of JDV. Thanks Deniz!

The 2008 edition of Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale pours a copper-blond hue with a fleeting bone white head that ends up as a scant ring of bubbles. Good aroma of floral hops, fresh grass, and apple juice with a sweet balance of biscuit & nutty malts.

Nothing too exciting flavor-wise...typical Belgian sweetness with some spice and a touch of grassy hops. A light fruitiness of pear and flavored booze in the background. Body feels watered down and the saccharin-sugar sweetness creates an artificial finish. All in all, I found this Belgian unimpressive and overly sweet. It tries to be complex, but the flavors just don't mesh well. Pass...

Photo of Lukass
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of atsprings
3.82/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crisp pale yellow with a thin head that quickly diminishes to a ring. Aroma is sweet malts, citrus hops and slight spice. The taste is citrus hops in front with sweet malts and Belgian yeast right behind. The beer is medium bodied and a little on the gelatin side. This one is somewhat enjoyable, but a certainly a sipper.

Photo of sd123
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 ounce bottle poured into my standard shaker glass. The ale appears a hazed golden yellow color with about a finger of off white foam. Nose and flavor are of fruits such as apples and pears, both sweet, sour and dry as well, lightly toasted grains/biscuits. Nicely carbonated, but a bit thin bodied, especially considering the ABV. Worth a try.

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.48/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On-tap at Cigar City

A - Pours an orange-golden hue, a bit hazy with a nice little white foam.

S - The aroma is a little funky and zesty with a lemony aroma like a Radler (Shandy). This is interesting at first, but when reinforced by the flavor it becomes a bit unfortunate.

T - The alcohol is well-hidden, because my first impression is that it tastes a bit overly lemony, like a Radler. Overall, a mixed bag; credible Belgian funkiness, contrasted with de rigueur flavors of orange and lemon zest. It seems a bit uninspired and underachieving.

M - On the refreshing side of medium-bodied, well-carbonated.

D - Although there are no glaring flaws, I am not crazy about this. Something is off. It is close to being good, but it is not quite there.

Photo of animal69
3/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of portia99
3.65/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle (2009) poured into a Russian River stemmed Belgian glass.

A - Pours a hazy, yeasty pale golden orange color...no head (not too surprising given the 8.5% alcohol here), just a thin white collar and a few wispy swirls on the surface of the liquid.

S - Spicy on the nose - cinnamon, coriander, some cloves, Belgian yeast character for sure, maybe some wintergreen, a touch of black pepper. Definitely Belgian in character...very solid.

T - Good hits of alcohol, spices - cloves and cinnamon notably...tons of Belgian yeast character and a bit phenolic. Good underlying malt character - sweet and bready...hop bitterness is good - crisp but not overpowering. Can't quite place it, but there is some kind of off flavor on the swallow...maybe a bit of oxidation, but not sure either....only a 2009, but don't know when in the year it came out...

M - Thin to medium in body...carbonation is medium too. Lots of spiciness that stays behind after the swallow, unfortunately along with the strange (oxidized) off taste.

D - Good smelling and still good, but to a lesser degree tasting strong Belgian ale...enjoyable overall, but I am spending most of my time trying to identify the off flavor more specifically. Alcohol is on the high side at 8.5% but not at all hot, but definitely noticeablei in the flavor profile.

Photo of patre_tim
3.75/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of PorterLambic
3.94/5  rDev +19%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly cloudy apricot color. Decent had but dissipates quickly leaving a thin film.
Smell is malt, spice, yeast, citrus, banana, wheat.
Taste is also malt, citrus, wheat, banana, spice and yeast.
A medium to full body with a smooth finish and aftertaste.Light effervescence up front. Very good balance through out. Very nice, well worth looking for.

Photo of CampusCrew
3.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: golden with little head retention for a belgian

smell: sweet, carmael

taste: not bad. but a weak one if you compare to other in this category

mouthfeel: light to medium bodied

drinkability: overall I appreciate it and it's a solid belgian pale

Photo of Onenote81
3.29/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Received as an extra in a recent trade with Kiefdog. Thanks!

Pours a murky deep gold with a very small head on top. No retention, no lacing. Smells of banana's, pineapple, cherry, and yeasty bread. Mouthfeel is crisp and bubbly. Carbonation level is med-high. Flavor is fruity right off the bat with pineapple and some plum. But this mellows to a warm breadiness. I'm not huge into Belgians, which is maybe why this tamed down version one sits well with me. Not bad.

Photo of ummswimmin
3.29/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I poured this one into a tulip style glass. I immediately received a ton of foam from what may have been too aggressive a pour. The coloring is perfect for a Belgian Strong Pale.

Off the top you get really clean Belgian presence. You get the touch of sour and some banana in there.

The flavor is really unbalanced. The funk and sour comes out really strong. This is really a challenge for me to sip.

Photo of Drew966
3.26/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Holy Mackeral pours a golden color with a white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is lacking, in that there isn't much of one. A bit of malt, perhaps a bit of esters. Same goes for the taste, it's not bad, just lacking. The Belgian yeast character is there, some hops are noticeable, and I'm getting almost a wheat beer flavor, banana or clove type thing. There are some estery flavors. Overall, it's okay, worth a try.

Photo of Thedrizzle
2.5/5  rDev -24.5%

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Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale from Holy Mackerel Brewing
76 out of 100 based on 222 ratings.