Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale | Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"

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Brewed by:
Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"
Florida, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 245 |  Reviews: 145
Reviews by titosupertramp:
Photo of titosupertramp
3.85/5  rDev +16.7%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Its been awhile since I had some Florida wares at least 3-4 years,this Belgian goldan style poured into an oversized wine glass a dull light to medium golden with a well defined 1/2 finger white head atop leaving spotty lace as it settled.A little phenolic bubble gum quality in the nose along with some juicy fruit with a tinge of smoke again from the phenols,pretty basic flavors quite fruity like overripe pineapple and mango phenols produce a bit of clove and ginger-like spice but its held in check pretty well.Basic but not bad really the alcohol is very well hidden,I wouldnt go out of the way to get it but its decent.

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Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.14/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a beer brewing in Florida with a ABV of 8.5%? But wait a beer now brewed in a town I lived in as a kid? Priceless. Brewed in Greenville SC. 2009 Holy Mackerel.

A- Hazy pale orange in color with small white head that falls to a minimal ring around the rim of the glass. Decent lacing when spun around in the pint glass.

S- First scents are sweet yeasty esters of alcohol. Second light citrus and starfruit.

T-M- Taste is a heavy Belgian strain of yeasty goodness followed by nice and balanced sugared grapefruit. Very warm effect of alcohol on the tongue. Textured overall feel on mouth with fizzy carbonation lingering and warm of alcohol that intriques the senses.

D- Hell for what it is i'd drink all i can find. I'll continue to seek and destroy this strong pale ale.

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Photo of SIRIUS2
3.97/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Light gold in color; minimal head produced as poured into a chalice style glass from the bottle. Bubbles disappeared very quickly leaving not much behind.

S: Fruity with spices and a touch floral.

T: Surprisingly sweet with lots of spice flavors and citrus fruit. Sweetness not in a malty sense, but just a sort of residual sweetness, like candy.

M&D: Medium on body, probably due to the sweetness. Carbonation is light and springy. Aftertaste is too sweet, almost cloying.

When I found this in the local store I was kind of excited because I had never seen it before. I was hoping more for something in the classical sense of the golden Belgian ale. I think it was good, but, honestly, it was too sweet. I think I could enjoy one of these once in a while but not too often.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.05/5  rDev -37.9%
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.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
3.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 brown bottle,served into a flared tulip glass.

Hazy,glowing reddish orange with golden highlights. Very thin white head,turned quickly into a thin collar on the inside of the glass,leaving no lacing.Had a good stream of bubbles stringing from the center of the glass.

Moderate aromas,fruity,bubble gum with hints of a Belgian,and some yeasty notes.

Fruity, with hints of Belgian character. Very sweet throughout,sugary,candy-like with somewhat of a honey-like presence. Slightly tart and sour with a drying,hop bite at the end.The alcohol was well hidden,probably buried beneath the sweetness. Hard to tell the style by the taste,seemed like a combined style. Not like any of the other Belgian strong pale ales i've tried.

Medium bodied with some sticky cloying feel. Decent beer, easy to drink,no problem finishing this one. Was just a bit to sweet for my tastes.

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Photo of Tabni
4.05/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 4-pack at Whole Foods.

Ok, so this is my first time trying the bottle. Usually get this on tap at Stage 84 and Kill Your Idol in the beach. And let me tell you, the bottle doesn't do justice to this beer.

Appearance - Cloudy orange in color.
Smell - Woody smell.
Taste/Mouthfeel - Citrus taste. Light carbonation, I'm telling y'all, got to try it from the tap.
Drinkability - Love sipping this at the bar. This is what Florida should drink in a hot day!

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Photo of ohmybock
3.41/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a new beer out of Florida which seems to be quite hard to find.

I bought some recently, and the bottles say it is a "2007 Special Golden Ale". I'm not usually a huge fan of (Belgian) golden ales, but I went ahead and bought some bottles anyway. Thankfully, I was happily surprised by what I got. The bottle says, "Brewed in Melbourne, Florida this golden ale is Belgian-style yet with a Florida twist. Handcrafted in small batches using the finest all natural ingredients, including German pilsner malt and Czech saaz hops. Quite a refreshing, yet complex beer, that will only mature if cellared for 2-3 years. Ideal serving tempurature 45F."

Again, I'm not a *huge* fan of Belgian golden ales, but I thought this brew was quite good. It has a Belgian-y character from (the yeast?) along with some subtle spices...maybe a touch of coriander along with something else? I wouldn't mind going for another one of these at some point.

If nothing else, it's really nice to see something a bit unusual and quite respectable coming out of Florida!

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Photo of danpam1024
4/5  rDev +21.2%

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.22/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My first Floridian bottled effort to sample, I had a couple Jacksonville Brewpub down at the Landing that were pretty effin' unremarkable. This one appears a honey golden hue kinda glows with a bright orange tint bright white head and fine speckled lacing forming as it dwindles. Aromatics come with sweet honey & tropical fruit, bubblegum esters nice tones with yeast spicines, pale malts provide biscuit like qualities. Low herbal hop flow with a mineral note added, is what I'm getting. Flavor has syrupy sweetness with Belgian candi sugar added fruit esters thrive with pear and tropical fruit some herbal perfumey spices with minimal hop notes, warming alcohol in the finish. Mouthfeel is sticky with a medium body not cloyingly sweet or syrupy carbonation flows well but can't touch the effervescence that most Belgians have to offer. Very good sipping Belgian style especially outta Melbourne FL, I'm glad a took a stab at it decent offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.72/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

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Photo of glid02
3.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap at Trappeze in Athens, GA.

Pours a slightly hazy gold color with a one-finger white head that recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving webbed lacing.

Smells of candi sugar with husky light fruit aromas. The fruits don't taste dried as in most light Belgians, but rather like they've been cut fresh and soaked in booze.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweetness up front, followed by booze soaked light fruits - bananas and pears with hints of raisins.

Mouthfeel is good. It's a bit on the thin side, though the carbonation is solid.

Drinkability is good. I enjoyed this one, but it's not good enough to make me want another one.

Overall this is a middle-of-the-road Belgian Pale. It's worth a shot, though don't expect anything noteworthy.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer pours a crystal clear orange body with a sea of big bubbles racing to the surface of an off-white fizzy head that soon fades.
S- The honey notes have hint of apples and a light buttery diacetyl note.
T- This beer has a carbonic acid flavor and sweet honey blend with a soft yeasty note. There is a white sugar and fruity ester notes come through at dry finish.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a big fizzy clean finish.
D- This beer has a nice blend of sweet fruity notes and a dry finish. Nothing is offensive but it is not real interesting.

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Photo of LordofTime25
3.8/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours to light golden amber slightly cloudy with a small white head. Lacing present.

You can smell sweet fruit with some spice or citrus.

You can taste the sweetness of the honey and fruit used with a good hops balance!

This is a smooth drinking beer with decent flavor.

If avalible to me I would probably drink it now and then.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of Tuckersmth
3/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of Jordanbryan10
3/5  rDev -9.1%

Photo of Metalmonk
3.42/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

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Photo of KenC
2.75/5  rDev -16.7%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.3/5  rDev +30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Holy Mackerel!!! Good name. Great label (I think) - it even has the year on it (2009)... ... ...DOH! It also reads that it "will mature if cellared for 2 years". Oh well. Maybe next time.

It pours a hazy golden body with an orange cast that rests lazily beneath a short head of bright white froth. Every now and then a tiny bubble can be seen rising towards the surface. The retention is average, but the lacing is very good.

The aroma is malty and spicy with a touch of honey, and perhaps a far-off hint of smoke.

In the mouth it's surprisingly supple and smooth. Well, that shouldn't be surprising because the appearance insinuates that it will be of a lower carbonation, but it's also medium-full bodied and the two combined caught me off-guard as I was kind of expecting an effervescent tripel given the appearance and aroma.

The flavor delivers a soft blanket of malt that's gently threaded through with delicate notes of spice (seemingly all from the yeast), flowers, soft fruit (apple, apricot, peach), and a hint of vanilla. Its not sweet, but there's a lot of sweetish, doughy malt there. Nor is it bitter. Only a minor bitterness lays beneath the blanket, supporting it. And despite the thick blanket of flavor, it actually finishes dry with a flicker of spicy hops and a hint of honey-drizzled wood and flowers. Interestingly, the alcohol never shows either. It's at 8.5%, and completely concealed, even at the end of the glass.

It really grows on you, opening up as it warms and displaying different flavors. About 2/3 of the way I found a bit of a smoky plastic phenolic - not much, just a touch - "underlying" let's call it, but there's some real complexity and richness there. It reminds me of a Westvleteren in that way. Had I know I would have definitely bought more of this, and I think I will try to get at least a six-pack to cellar. Well worth trying, and I think, worth seeking out as well.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2008 edition

12oz bottle. Pours a dark golden orange color with an off-white head. The aroma is almost a mixture between a Saison and a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and a hefeweizen, strange sounding I'm sure but it is the first thing that came to mind. The nose features sweet fruity malts and spices with some banana and clove. The taste is very similar to the aroma sweet malt up front with some spices. After trying Mack in Black and not being impressed at all, this is definitely a solid offering no question. Overall, Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale is a pretty decent brew that is worth a shot. Nothing spectacular, but it is a pretty decent beer.

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Photo of KensWorld
3.92/5  rDev +18.8%
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

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Photo of ImusBeer
3.31/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cellared three and poured one staight into tulip in a single pour.

Appearance was Orange-Yellow or Golden, slightly hazy with about a finger and half of white head that died quickly with a little lacing forming on the glass as I drank.

The nose is grain, bready and lemon.

A very Belgiany beer, you can clearly taste the alcohol, grain as well. All the flavours are very sharp, this will be much better in six months or a year.

Very heavy carbonation, alcohol feel in the mouth. Somewhat sharp hop at end.

Enjoyed this beer but I know it will be better after a bit of cellaring.

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Photo of mikey711
2.69/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Cloudy and golden with a big thick head that is about two fingers thick. lacing is quite good.

S: Slightly sulfery and maybe a touch of grains and sweetness. It smells a bit like cardboard

T: It has a yeasty and spicy taste up front with not alot of sweetness, only the slightest bit of caramel. It isn't sour but just bland in that it does not feel like there are alot of sugars there...

M: It is very watery maybe a little bit of creaminess.

D: I will pass

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Photo of RomaniIteDomum
3.52/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours golden with a nice little white head and some happy carbonation. There is a little lacing, too.

Smells heavily of bananas with a touch of light grape and yeast. A little one-dimensional, but pleasing.

The taste follows the nose to the letter. Lots of banana up front followed by grapes, yeast and a banana blast in the finish. Tastes like a cross between real bananas and Runts. Kinda weird, actually.

The feel is light and creamy. Good feel for the taste and style.

Overall not bad, especially for the price. I'd try it again, especially on tap. I do wonder what it would be like with a little age, but I have a feeling all the non-banana Runt flavors may disappear. Worth a try, though.

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Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale from Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"
Beer rating: 3.3 out of 5 with 245 ratings