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

145 Reviews
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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:
No notes at this time.

Added by Jason on 06-02-2008

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Reviews: 145 | Ratings: 243
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.3/5  rDev +28.7%
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 Backer2004
4.25/5  rDev +27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I can already say at first taste this is the best beer to come out of Florida in my opinion. Not that there's too many choices, but this one is solid all around. Great Belgian qualities abound and for only $2.75 a single here. Such a nice refreshing summer beer, with solid fruit notes and great mouthfeel. Worth a try (or two) any day.

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Photo of spacechimo155
4.2/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

a darker than expected blonde, almost copper, with plenty of head that laces the glass. Less body than i expected
Smells and tastes sweet, belgian sugars hide the alchohol.
Extremely drinkable, carbonation is there, a little sweet for me, but the mouthfeel is good. Very refreshing
Great addition to Floridas local brewing scene and one of the better takes on a Belgian golden ale.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.17/5  rDev +24.9%
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.


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Photo of wesbrownyeah
4.14/5  rDev +24%
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 walt4
4.11/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009 (Thanks to the date printed up front and center)

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Brooklyn pint glassHaving only had the Mack in Black previously, I didn't know what to expect from this "Special" Golden.

A- Definitely golden in color, although a little cloudy (which was to be expected). After a slow pour, there was almost a finger's worth of bright white, clean head. Lacing was there, albeit minimal.

S- I think the aroma of this brew is great. A little of the typical Belgian "doughy" scent, but the citrus is what I pick up the most...That could be the "Florida-Twist" they describe on the label. Also, with a good whiff you can smell the alcohol. With a quick whiff, I smell sweet breads...

T- Typical Belgian, but with what I can only describe as a crisper, cleaner finish. It's almost refreshing.

D- The refreshing nature of the taste overwhelms the alcohol content of this beer, keeping the drinkability pretty high for me. The warming factor is there, but citrusy feel allows me to enjoy, even on a warmer day. Would try it again for sure...

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Photo of Tabni
4.05/5  rDev +21.3%
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 adkirkish
4.05/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours clear, golden yellow, w/ thin creamy white head. Quickly dissipates.

A: Sweet malt presence upfront, w/ fruity esthers: (green apple and pear), no hop aroma. Not as pronounced as other belgian flavors.

F: Sweet upfront w/ a slight pear presence, no hop flavor perceived, the pear flavoring is dominant in profile, finishes dry. Not as strong belgian character as others in style.

M: Medium Bodied w/ medium carbonation, no alcohol warmth from an 8.5% abv beer is a bit interesting (but to style) ;) Creamy texture presence, finish has slight astringency.

O: The first time I tried this beer was not like this one. A much better "specimen". I would consider this beer to have "belgian notes" due to the fruit aroma perceived in aroma/taste but not as pronounced which is indicative of style. A good example to style.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +19.8%
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 DIM
4/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Comes out of the tap a beautiful clear golden with a crisp, malty, somewhat fruity aroma that has a hint of honey - very inviting. Flavor is crisp and fruity - mainly of pear - and has a sharp alcohol bite and a whisper of honey sweetness. Finish is smooth and satisfying.

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Photo of drpimento
3.99/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had a glass of this served in its own glass in Miami last year. Had a light off white head and no lace. Color was a lovely dark amber with red highlights. Aroma was fruity and malty. One of the best American attempts at a Belgian style. Killer body and carbonation. Only thing was a slight hint of contamination of bacteria. Nice finish. Super beer all in all.

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Photo of SIRIUS2
3.97/5  rDev +18.9%
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 SFLpunk
3.95/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to dimenhetfield for this one!

12oz brown glass pry-top bottle. 2010 on front label. "HMFL: 1838A" stamped on shoulder.

Appearance: A hazy amber gold with some thin bone-white head. No lacing or spotting.

Nose: Rich fruit Belgian yeast. Smells dense and creamy with some bready notes and a little spice (coriander?).

Palate: Crisp with some acidity (orange peel?). Big bold Belgian yeast and fluffy carbonation. Orange is a predominant flavor with some lemon zest backing it up. Herbal notes round things out and the finish is moderately long.

Notes: Seriously impressed with this beer. Never heard of it before, but this was a very pleasant first experience. I would happily drink this again.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.94/5  rDev +18%
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.

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Photo of bcgpete
3.93/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a large wine glass.

Light copper color with very little head, just a few centimeters, that retracted within a few seconds. Nice and cloudy.

The smell has a slight alcohol aroma, almost reminding me of nail polish remover.

The taste is quite good, although I can really taste the alcohol. Slight fruit taste in there but otherwise pretty well balanced. This beer is not at all bitter but I can tell a few of them would give me heartburn like a motherbitch.

The mouth is quite good, almost chewy.

Definitely a sipping beer. Out of the four ales I was brought back from the keys (la fin du monde, victory golden ale, and two hearted ale) this one ranks only below la fin du monde. This is a beer I will try to find again to stow away for a few years.

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Photo of KensWorld
3.92/5  rDev +17.4%
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 mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one as an extra recently and decided to open it up last night. Served cold and poured into a wine glass, this one was consumed on 01/03/2010.

The pour was very nice, better then I expected with a light golden color that was capped by a nice head of of white that reached a height of around three inches before it settled back down to earth leaving a ton of lacing up and down the sides of the glass. Aroma is light bready notes with hints of apricot and pear that seem to get stronger the warmer it gets. Nicely done I have to admit, but it could have been a bit stronger. First sip is clean and crisp with a smooth and well rounded flavor. Nice touches of light fruit and grassy hops lead the way here, light grain touches as well now coming into play. Decent carbonation as well all lends itself very well to a great combination of flavors, light easy to drink and the alcohol is hidden very well.

Overall a nice, and highly drinkable example of the style. I would have no issue with hitting this one up again.

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Photo of meadhead
3.88/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the winner of some home brewing contest
apparently in the late nineties

is actually brewed by Gordash Brewing
under an agreement to the Florida Beer Company

a self proclaimed belgian style ale with a florida twist
is noted to include German Pilsner malt, Czech Saaz hops
and the finest all natural ingredients

Pours a slight hazy tan
with not much of a head
although a fine lace
lingers around the edge

smells of the grain pilsner malts
and a slight tartish yeast
not the typical profile
has its own

The taste is really a hybrid
a few things going on
spice pepper hops
sweet grain malt
very slight yeast apricot ester
that have a hard to place feel
as they're blended together

has a nice carbonation
balance of sweet and bitter
a little hint of wild funk
and also zinging pleasure

seems like a saison
a pilsner and Duvel
all in one with
a mouthfeel reminescent
of some dogfish head™
midas touch

yet thats just my take
really is worth a try

I had the 2007 batch
and think again
I will buy

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Photo of orcasteve
3.88/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i am not real sure but i think this one was brewed with orange blosom honney, any way this one is good, it is darker almost orange for a golden. this one has a strong alcohol flavor at the end but that is to be expected with this tipe of ale. i think that this one will cellar very well and will have to get my hands on more of theese in the near future. if you see this one try it, its good!

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Photo of ThaBobfather
3.87/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very solid golden with a well retained ring of white head.
Smell is well spiced- some earthy hops on the smell.
Taste is solid-some light pits and some spices.
Finish is dry- a very solid pitted after-taste that lasts well.
Drinks great on 8.2- some good smoothness.

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Photo of Birmingham
3.86/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aroma: Complex fruity aroma with hints of pear

Appearance: Deep Orange/Golden in color with minimum head and lacing

Flavor: Light fruitiness with hints of pear and apples, light alcohol flavor in after taste.

Mouth feel: Minimum body

Overall Impression: 8.5% ABV. Refreshing, drinkable, I could easily have more than one in sitting. Thought the over all flavor is subtle, if you are looking for beer with bold flavor, this is not your beer.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.85/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to jw347 for the chance to try this beer from FL. Sampled on a 30 degree November day.

A - nice slightly hazy rich golden brew wiht a nice white head.

S - belgian yeasts, fruity notes, sweet malts a hint of abv warmth.

T - belgian yeast notes, fruit, golden liquid caramel and a hint of pear.

M - medium full bodied, nicely carbonated, some esters and a smoothness which invites you back for more.

D - approachable, engaging with a nice finish.

I had this over dinner with some spicy buffalo wings. It more than held it's own and I've got another bottle to stash in the cellar and see what it turns into with some added time under it's belt.

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Photo of titosupertramp
3.85/5  rDev +15.3%
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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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.85/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden/ yellow color with a white head. In the aroma, fruity notes and a small sweetness. In the taste, a dry fruitiness, somewhat green apple like. A smooth malty mouthfeel, and a dry fruity aftertaste. Nice dry fruitiness, yet smooth and easy to drink. Hides the alcohol quite well. Not too shabby.

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Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale from Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"
3.34 out of 5 based on 243 ratings.
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