Special Golden Ale
Holy Mackerel Beers

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Strong Ale - Belgian Pale
Ranked #406
Ranked #48,952
3.35 | pDev: 17.91%
Holy Mackerel Beers
Florida, United States
Reviews: 145 | Ratings: 246 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of chinchill
chinchill from South Carolina

3.72/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2016 12 oz bottle purchased in FL and consumed near the contract brewer in SC.

Pours with a murky orange-amber body topped by a decent off-white head. The head is semi-durable and leaves respectable lacing.
Appealing fruity aroma with a better and more complex flavor. Notes of soft ripe fruits as well as dried fruits. A little yeast and faint spice in the flavor.

Medium-full body with medium carbonation.

Mar 19, 2017
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ordybill from Georgia

3.52/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. The appearance is a murky pale orange color with a small white head. The aroma is light citrus and alcohol. The taste is yeasty with some citrus.

Dec 04, 2016
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.01/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2015 bottling. Dark gold, like apple juice, with a thin white head and modest lacing. Strong Belgian yeast aroma with an off-putting nuttiness in the background. There's also a breadiness reminiscent of plain, under-toasted English muffins. All of this carries over to the taste, which is slightly sweet. Mouthfeel on the thin side. To be honest, I ordered this as the only local offering at a hotel bar in Florida not knowing the style, and was pleased to find it wasn't a Corona clone. I don't think it's awful, but wouldn't recommend seeking it out.

Oct 22, 2015
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Myotus from Texas

3.45/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle (dated 2015) into a snifter.
LOOK:Pours with a half finger's worth of white foam that shrivels down into a line after 40 seconds. Rising bubbles are small and subtle. Gold in color as the name would suggest. Lacing is subtle, but what little there is stays in the sides of the glass.
SMELL: There are mild aromas of pale malts, tree nuts, honey graham crackers, and cloves that meet with subtle white grape, banana, and pear aromas. A hint of alcohol can also be detected. Too many aromas going on at once. Not too found of it.
TASTE: Initial taste is of mild clove and honey graham cracker flavors. Subtle pear, white grape, and banana flavors enter immediately after the initial flavors. Mild pale malt flavors along with a hint of alcohol enter about 2 seconds after the initial taste. As honey graham cracker flavors fade and all others persist, subtle tree nut flavors enter lastly.
FEEL: Medium-bodied and highly carbonated. Goes down rough. Finishes with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: As Beer warms, alcohol becomes more prevalent. Also, way too many aromas and flavors going on with this one. I love complexity, but this was too much.

Sep 23, 2015
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SaisonRichBiere from Michigan

3.72/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very standard to the style. Pours copper, smells funky, tastes like spiced brown sugar with a boozy finish. Very dense and sugary feel. A sipper for sure.

Jul 25, 2015
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KensWorld from Florida

3.92/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2008 bottle. Has lots of sediment. Almost no head. Clear Amber in color with good carbonation. Smells sweat. Taste of molasses and honey. Alcohol burn. Was not expecting this to hold up all these years but I am impressed. Though very sweat, it was very enjoyable. It's been years since I have tried this fresh, but I think it has improved with aged. 3.75

Apr 29, 2015
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rorjets from Connecticut

2.37/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

This was a disappointment, considering the price for a four pack. I guess my expectations were too high, but it advertised a 8.5% ABV, and it just didn't deliver the taste or buzz. It says that it originated as a award winning home brew, and is now brewed in SC, so maybe that's the problem. But if this is really 8.5% ABV I must have jaded tastebuds. It sure didn't taste like it.

Mar 22, 2013
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ummswimmin from New Jersey

3.29/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

Jan 14, 2013
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GPHarris from Alabama

1.46/5  rDev -56.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

2011 version

a - poured a one finger thick fizzy, eggshell-colored head into a tulip glass that left a thin ring which barely cared to stay around. the body was a hazy orange-amber color.
s - nothing but sugar.
t - tastes like they added a bunch of candy sugar to the boil. there is a hint of belgian yeast flavor.
m - medium and slick.
o - awful. did not even finish it.

Jan 07, 2013
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RonaldTheriot from Louisiana

4.17/5  rDev +24.5%
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.


Sep 16, 2012
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SLeffler27 from New York

3.62/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The slight, white froth quickly appears and diminishes over a clear orange beer that becomes hazy as the bottom yeast enters the Dogfish Head snifter. A viscous film coats upon swirling while a glow from within backlights minimal yeast in suspension.

This one is sweet, similar to a Reisling white wine. One can clearly pick out apples, crisp cider, honey and assorted spices.

Sweetness dominates with just enough bitterness to keep it drinkable. Crisp apple juice with some spices linger throughout. Overall, there is a light, sour tang in the finish. This one warms to bring out more wine-like flavors as well as peach and apricot.

The texture is full and supple, reminiscent of fresh peach juice. The carbonation is light while the alcohol is as expected.

I would consider this a dessert beer and, if one were to use a wide interpretation of style, I could understand it as a Strong Pale Ale. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable.

The label states 2009. If this is true, my bottle had three years of age. The above ratings are clearly my personal taste, not by style.

Sep 03, 2012
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KajII from North Carolina

3.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

[Suggested Glassware: Trappist glass]

The pour was a hazy golden amber with a small (less than 1 finger) white creamy head that reduced quickly down to a thin puddle and a small collar with good sheets of lacing.

The aroma was of a light bread malt and a sweaty Belgian yeast with notes of citrus (lemon), banana, apple, pears, cherry, honey and a slight alcohol tinge.

The taste was mildly sweet and a tad acidic with hints of banana, honey and apple early on with the finish being yeasty, spicy and a bit sour with a mild citrus presence and a moderate fruity ester towards the end. The flavor lasted an average time following the swallow with the mildly tart fruity alcohol taste left to fade away slowly.

Mouthfeel was a few steps above light in body with a watery texture and a lively carbonation.

Overall a nice fruity Belgian Ale with a huge alcohol presence at the finish...


Aug 20, 2012
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zeff80 from Missouri

3.52/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a hazy, golden amber color with a small, tan head of bubbles. There was very little lacing or suds left behind.

S - It smelled fruity with some bready maltiness. A hint of yeasty spice.

T - Fruity with notes of pear and apple. Sweet breads, caramel and toast with a mild spiciness.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a clean finish.

O - This is an okay Belgian-styled ale. It just lacks the complexity and depth that I like in the style.

Apr 11, 2012
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cpetrone84 from Pennsylvania

2.8/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pour is transparent golden yellow with a white ring. The nose has strong lemon, a touch sweet but an assertive spice to it. Zesty, peppery, peppercorn. The taste is even sweeter and the spicy balance is much less. Notes of honey and candied sugars mix with the lemon. The finish is extremely carbonated and muddled, the body is a touch syrupy and crisp. Overly sweet and singular beer.

Apr 10, 2012
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DrinkSlurm from New York

3.23/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

Nov 15, 2011
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smcolw from Massachusetts

3.12/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours with a modest head that leaves some slippery spotty lace. LOTS of yeasty beasties floating in the glass--looks like an old homebrew. The color is a dirty gold where you cannot see through.

Slightly lemony aroma to the otherwise pale malt smells. Very light Belgian yeast in the background.

Very high level of carbonation, spritzy like champagne. Sour flavor of stale grains hits first, think orange zest. Very brief aftertaste without any complexity. The tale of this beer is one dimensional--tartness. It's not bad, but it isn't interesting either.

Nov 13, 2011
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Duff27 from Illinois

2.36/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2009 Vintage

A- Small fizzy off white head on a cloudy dark golden beer. Visible streams of effervescence rising from the bottom of the tulip. Poor head retention and below average lacing.

S- Weird smell, can't say it's "good"...somewhat oxidized perhaps?

T- I enjoy the Belgian yeast flavor of this beer...the before and after taste in my mouth I can do without. Slight booziness but that might be the only thing saving the flavor. Has an aftertaste that has hints of oxidation.

M- Good strong mouthfeel, adequate carbonation.

D/O- Label says it can mature for a couple years but I'm not so sure. What was I doing all this time instead of just drinking it? There's no way Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale could have been worse younger. NO.

Nov 10, 2011
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Goblinmunkey7 from Massachusetts

3.05/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Slight chill haze that drops as the beer warms. Gold. Head is bright-white. Tight, creamy head that lingers and lingers. Lively carbonation pulls from the bottom.

Smell: Cereal grains, grass, and a touch of skunk. some faint spiciness sneaks through the back. Earthy, gritty, with a solid malt backing. Some sweetness. Not too much going on here.

Taste: Corn and Belgian spice. faintly peppery. Earthy up front. Falls to grass and pale malts. Sweetness sneaks up after each sip and never really leaves. A touch of alcohol bite on the back. Flavors don't really meld. It might need some time like the bottle says.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, and although the carbonation is a bit high, it works overall. Crisp on the back. Nice compliment to the flavor profile.

Overall: It's kind of a mess, but manages to pull through without falling in to complete disrepair. ABV sneaks up in the end, but all in all it could be worse.

Oct 08, 2011
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Snorlax from Louisiana

1.34/5  rDev -60%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Poured from bottle into pint glass. I picked it up since the bottle kind of looked cool.. lesson learned. The smell was sweet with a yeast funk that was not unpleasant, but with a solvent alcohol smell that foretold of things to come. This beer's glaring flaw is that it has no balance whatsoever. There is a conflicting disparity between the sweetness and hoppiness that really makes this seem like an amateur homebrewer's attempt at complexity which fell flat on its face.... and then that solvent alcohol aftertaste. This is the worst attempt at masking a high abv I've ever encountered. The sweetness combined with the abv honestly makes this stuff taste like lemon pledge. I really TRIED to like this beer, let it warm gradually to see if it hit a sweet spot in there somewhere... it never did. I had to drain pour it.. Will never try again

Sep 07, 2011
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DavoleBomb from Pennsylvania

3.47/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. 2011 vintage.

3.0 A: Deeply hazed light orange color. About one finger of frothy white head that falls very quickly and leaves but a touch of lacing.

3.5 S: Overripe peaches, peppery spiciness with a touch of clove, red apple, pear, and sugary sweetness with honey. Overall the malts are lightly biscuity.

3.5 T: Fruit to begin this with strong peach and, in decreasing order, pear, red apple, and orange. A touch more clove than in the nose with about the same level of peppery spiciness. Moderate honey flavor with moderate Belgian yeastiness. Again, biscuity malts. Booze is pretty well hidden.

3.5 M: Medium body. There's a richness to this that comes off as a little bit chewy. Lightly spritzy carbonation that would be great if there was a bit more of it. Otherwise, smooth.

3.5 D: Not a bad beer by any means. It doesn't impress, but it doesn't disappoint either. Based on the scores, this must have been different or had problems in the past. In any case, worth a try.

Jul 06, 2011
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Durge from Connecticut

3.58/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another bottle dug out from behind the bar at The Celebration Town Tavern in Celebration, Florida, this brew shows a golden iced tea color, hazy with a solid white foam cap and good lacing. The aroma is coriander wheat and bayberry. Alright if a bit weak. The flavor brings big clove and vanilla banana with a sweet lemon-like touch. It’s near full bodied, with fine and sturdy carbonation. Medium drinkability and very decent for an American version of the style.

Jun 03, 2011
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twiggamortis420 from Texas

3.1/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle courtesy of fthomasl, 2011 vintage. Pours a heavily hazed orange color with a small off-white head. Not much lacing.

Nose is sugar cookie dough with some pretty hefty Belgian yeast fruit esters. Alcohol is there along with an orange peel-like aroma.

Sweet and pretty rich, lots of tropical fruit flavors I am guessing can be attributed to both the alcohol and the yeast. Malts and body are pretty sticky and I dont find it to be overly refreshing, as the label claims it to be. Not horrible, and the strong yeast presence is actually fairly appreciated, but is isnt exactly in the pantheon of Belgian Goldens either.

May 12, 2011
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spree92 from Canada (NB)

2.98/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A dirty orange with lots of carbonation. Small head but good lacing. The smell is heavy yeast and slight alcohol. Overly carbonated. Bland flavors, not a very strong Belgian Pale Ale. Mouthful is also bland. This is a pretty weak attempt at this style.
I guess I can chalk it up for another brewery and state.

May 02, 2011
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Knapp85 from Pennsylvania

1.45/5  rDev -56.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Another beer that i was not a fan of. I bought it because I thought it was clever name. Turns out it's a overwhelmingly sweet beer that doesn't really have a start or finish to it. It just hits you and doesn't really change. I was really turned off by this brew. It remains to be one of my least favorite of all time. It's golden but it's just way too sweet.

Mar 21, 2011
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titosupertramp from Tennessee

3.85/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Pittsky for the opportunity to try this.

A: Pours a hazy orangish color. About of a finger of white head that quickly disapates to a thin film, thicker around the edges of the glass.

S: Belgian yeast, citrus, lemon zest, grains..maybe a little big of candi sugar.

T: Largely follows the nose. Mostly sweet with bitter finish. Belgian yeast, lemon, apple, pears, grains, bready. Pretty nice taste.

M: Well carbonated and bubbly. Medium body. Leaves nice aftertaste.

O: Pretty good, easy drinking beer. Not sure that'd I buy this on a regular basis, but I'd drink it again. Thanks Jesse.

Mar 17, 2011
Special Golden Ale from Holy Mackerel Beers
Beer rating: 78 out of 100 with 246 ratings