Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale | Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers

144 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers
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: 144 | Ratings: 242
Photo of wagenvolks
3.27/5  rDev -2.1%
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...

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Photo of Onenote81
3.29/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of ummswimmin
3.29/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of tiger88
3.3/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2007 edition. By the way, the guy who said Mr. Limpet...dead on!

Pours a deep honey-gold with little head and no lacing as it drains from the glass. Smells pretty good. Lots of malty sweet aromas coming out. The taste is aerage for a Belgian style golden ale. Really sweet as it warms with a decent amount of carbonation. Alcohol does not dominate the taste at all. Barely recognizable, to be honest. Mouthfeel and drinkability are also average. Nothing too special to report. Not a bad beer but nothing too special to make me want another.

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Photo of ImusBeer
3.31/5  rDev -0.9%
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 msubulldog25
3.31/5  rDev -0.9%
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!

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Photo of avalon07
3.32/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had an orange color and a cloudy consistency. Not much head or lacing or lacing to speak of.

S: Aroma of fruit, esters, malt and Belgian yeast.

T: Tasted of sweet malt, Belgian yeast, pears and esters. A little thin, with an unpleasant mustiness going down.

M: A decent amount of carbonation and a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This is a pretty uneven beer. Belgian beers aren't easy to imitate, and this one misses the mark.

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Photo of KajII
3.32/5  rDev -0.6%
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...


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Photo of hunteraw
3.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Purchased at the Whole Foods in Coral Springs, FL. Glad to be the 10th reviewer and gave this one a WR.

Appearance: surprisingly yellow in the glass with a small head and poor retention. Would benefit from either more color, or less - as is, not very attractive. Wheat malt to increase head retention?

Smell: As advertised, Belgian yeast aroma. Fruity with just a bit of spice.

Taste: Too sweet, candi flavor. Slight citrus.

Mouthfeel is at least medium - heavier than expected for the style, borderline syrupy. Carbonation on the light side.

Drinkability: Mediocre.

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Photo of bhalter8
3.35/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A toss in on a recent trade, I am always excited to try something new. This one pours a clear pale orange color, with a small white head, which quickly dissipates. To be honest, it looks like a BMC. Smell is faint, as well, some sweet fruit hints attempting to cover the apparent alcohol. Tastes ok, again some fruit sweetness, orange and bananas maybe, but not enough to balance out the strong alcohol. A rather crisp ale, the carbonation and alcohol make it not very enticing to savor in your mouth. Rather drinkable given the alcohol, but doubt I will drink much more. Gordash really has yet to do much for me.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.4/5  rDev +1.8%
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 ohmybock
3.41/5  rDev +2.1%
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 Metalmonk
3.42/5  rDev +2.4%
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 rtratzlaff
3.42/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Holy Mackerel pours a light golden ale with a 1/2" white head that leaves little lacing.

Smells are sweet fruit slight spice and citrus.

Taste is sweet up front with orange like fruit quality and a slight hop balance. The mouthfeel is on the slick side for a BSPA. It could probably benefit from a bit more carbonation and more spice kick.

Overall there's nothing amazing, but still a very drinkable brew.

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Photo of bluegrassbrew
3.42/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a goblet.

Pours a dirty looking gold with no head to speak of.

Smell is a bit of bubble gum and some percievable alcohol.

Taste is again sweet bubble gum, and just a hint of hops. Let this one warm and open up and it becomes much more enjoyable.

A bit watery.

Alcohol, though noticable on the nose, is well hidden. Overall, a decent version of a BSPA. I would not go out of my way to get it, but it is worth trying.

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Photo of Gavage
3.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: 2009 version poured a crystal clear golden yellow color with a 2" head that lasts a bit. Some mild lacing develops.

Smell: yeast and some woodiness provides a strang aroma that is a bit of a turnoff.

Taste: bready malt profile. Some citrus, soft pepper spice, and a hint of coriander and some soft earthy / woody tones linger in the background. Saaz hops provides some bite. Alcohol is mildly noticeable.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp throughout. Some dryness arrives late. Medium bodied. Aftertaste is long and sticks on the tongue for a while.

Drinkability: decent but this one was a bit of a slow sipper with some mildly refreshing qualities.

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Photo of glid02
3.45/5  rDev +3.3%
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 Myotus
3.45/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.45/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sometimes you can judge a beer by its label. This is one of them. The label does not look very professional and the beer inside looks like a home brew.

The appearance is a super hazy golden color. There is little sediment in the bottom of the glass, but the bottle warned me, so I am not angry. The head is crisp and white, and leaves no doubtingly because of the ABV.

The smell is of Belgian yeasts with citrus and vodka. The vodka is from the high alcohol smell. You can tell the 8.5%.

The taste is no less than okay. Orange alcoholic Belgian yeast. The Belgian bread flavor is present with a mild citrus flavor as well. Once again the ABV is very present and the aftertaste is much like a cheap vodka.

I would not recommend to anyone.


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Photo of weeare138
3.47/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a transparent gold with a small white head that quickly fades into a small collar. Mild speckles of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of apricots, apples, meyer lemons, cloves, coriander, doughy bread, nectarines, and caramel.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with more of an estery flavor that reminds me a little bit of the Unibroue yeast strain with a pilsner malt base.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, hot of alcohol, spicy, and yeasty.
This one is in need of some age.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.47/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.47/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was advertised as a Belgian Beer with a Florida twist. I'll admit I was slghtly intriqued. Also claimed on the label to use German Pilsner malt and Saaz hops.

Poured a dark golden color reminiscent of a quality Belgian but the head was lacking, dissipating to almost nothing within nanoseconds. That familiar pilsner smell does rise from this beer, along with a weighty malt nose and some tendrils of yeast and alcohol both.

The taste is interesting, with the promised heavy malt and expected alcohol notes. Buttery, thick texture with an oily finish. Not Belgian but maybe "Belgianesque". This is a cool beer if you can find it. Not awesome but worth trying and has a nice kick.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
3.48/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of IPAcraig
3.49/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Picked up this beer in Panama City, I was in the area to see my friend from Sweden and his family. Poured into my De Garre snifter.

A - Pours a golde yellow, with a bit of haze but not enough to not see through. Not a bit of head even after a vigourous pour. No lacing.

S - Nice aroma, though nothing great. Smells a bit spicey, with a hint of sweet malt. A tiny bit of that Belgian yeast aroma.

T - Nice tasting beer. A bit too sweet for me, and not enough of a yeasty presence, but it is actually noticeable. A little bit of spice, perhaps coriander and orange peel; a bit "wittish".

M - Very light and crisp.

D - Exceptionally drinkable. Despite the low ranking I give this beer, I could definitely drink several of these in a sitting. I will pick this up again if given the chance.

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Photo of jwc215
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brewed in 2009, poured into glass chalice:

Pours orangeish amber with a thin head that becomes a wispy patch. Trailing lace slides down the glass. Tight, small bubbles rise to the top.

The smell is of bubblegum, cotton candy and just a small hint of a grassy touch.

The taste is of bubblegum, cotton candy - fruity with just a slight touch of grass. Sweet with a bready, slightly funky, dryness in the finish.

The feel is carbonated - almost effervescent. Body holds up. Sweet, but not cloying.

Alcohol isn't exactly covered, but not too sharp or dominating. Leans towards too sweet, but has some dryness in the finish. It has some characteristics that put it as a "Belgian-esque" brew. Not a bad American attempt, could be more refreshing, though has some refreshing quality.

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Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale from Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers
3.34 out of 5 based on 242 ratings.
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