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

243 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 243 |  Reviews: 145
Photo of Lukass
3.75/5  rDev +12.3%

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.

 308 characters

Photo of M_chav
2.62/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

Nothing's working well together here

36 characters

Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.23/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

 531 characters

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.

 1,007 characters

Photo of gford217
3.2/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a tulip.

Pours a hazy golden orange with little head. The aroma is slightly sweet with Belgian yeast and some lighter fruits as well. The taste is not much different with a pretty one-dimensional sweetness that dominates throughout. The mouthfeel is clean but slightly thinner than I would like. This one is only OK and definitely not one I will try again.

 376 characters

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.


 703 characters

Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.05/5  rDev -38.6%
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.

 1,021 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
3.23/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2008 vintage into a Maredsous stemmed glass.

Golden orange in color, with a generous fingers of pale white head, slightly creamy. No lacing really.

Smell is sort of fruity, with hints of citrus. Slightly tart and spicy, and malt sweetness.

The taste is a bit off... There's some part citrus, and tropical fruits, my the lack of any real hop definition, and the predominance of a more malty profile just didn't work imo.

The feel is slick, medium, with light carbonation.

Not bad, not wonderful. Will have to keep these sitting for a bit longer.

 551 characters

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.

 403 characters

Photo of IckyT2012
3.42/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of ordybill
3.52/5  rDev +5.4%
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.

 195 characters

Photo of patre_tim
3.75/5  rDev +12.3%

Photo of Coorsy
3.09/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

 359 characters

Photo of Brent
3.58/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wasn't sure what I was getting with this one based on the name and label, but the Belgian strong pale character was unmistakable. Alcohol was up front and lent a bit of a rough edge to an otherwise reasonably smooth beer. Some candy sugar notes toward the end, wiht a little powdery finish. Not great, but not bad, either.

 322 characters

Photo of bcsbeer
3.25/5  rDev -2.7%

Photo of BKotch
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%

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!

 1,967 characters

Photo of NJBeer265
2/5  rDev -40.1%

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.

 626 characters

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.

 1,973 characters

Photo of wisegreensoul
3.5/5  rDev +4.8%

Photo of rorjets
2.37/5  rDev -29%
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.

 381 characters

Photo of animal69
3/5  rDev -10.2%

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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