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

243 Ratings

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 243 |  Reviews: 145
Photo of womencantsail
3.55/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Mike for sending me this one awhile back.

A: The beer pours a clear yellow/golden color with a finger's worth of white foam.

S: Yeast is the first thing I smell followed by bread. There are some nice fruit notes of oranges and bananas. Some slight spice notes of clove are present too.

T: Sweet and fruity is the best way to describe this one. Lots of banana, pear, oranges, and apples. I get a fair amount of yeast, but not as much as the nose showed. Definitely some bread and candi sugar there to provide more sweetness.

M: The body is medium with a moderate to high carbonation.

D: Not bad, but not terribly good either. I probably wouldn't care to have this again.

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Photo of Chaney
2.93/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I got this as an extra in a trade with Pittsky. Thanks Jesse!

A: Hazy golden color for sure, with a slight reddish tint, and about a one finger head that died down into a ring formation on the brew.

S: A tinge of Belgian funk, muted citrus, and much, much more than a hint of candy sugar.

T: Very sugary and boozy, however, I got used to this after a few sips, but the sugar on the other hand.... ugh. The citrus was there but seemed a bit stale and the finish was somewhat dry due to the overwhelming alcohol element.

M: Like I stated, this was fairly boozy and sugary, but the carbonation was substantial. Still, it couldn't quite cut through the intense sweetness.

D: Not drinkable at all, but I still finished the bottle. I'm glad I got to try this brew, but I wouldn't exactly beg for it in the future.

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Photo of jlindros
3.52/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A nice fluffy 1 finger head rises and fades slowly, with a slight Belgiany fluff, and fades semi slowly with a decent lacing. The color is a mostly clear slightly hazy golden orange color.

Nose of light Belgian malts, a little spicy dry saison like malt, golden Belgian yeast, light spices and citrus, little lemon grass, sweet malts and touch of booze.

Taste is fairly sweet with some warming and tingly booze, and boozy taste, Belgian malts, light dry saison malt flavors, sweet malts, a bit of candi sugar, light citrus, orange peel, and Belgian fruity yeast. Finish dries a bit, lingering sweet malts, light spices, and some booze.

Mouth is medium bodied with decent carbonation and pretty boozy warmth and tingle.

The drinkability is meh, with more of the tingly and warming booze, drinks higher than 8.5%, and a slight sticky feel over the dry finish.

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Photo of WeezyBoPeep
2.79/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A: Slightly cloudy light orange with a little fizzy head and hardly any retention to speak of.

S: Definitely nutty and yeasty with an apple note in there. Also detectable are ripe bananas and cherries, lemon zest and pears. Fruity.

T: Definitely unique. When I first tasted it, it felt watery and sweet. Definite alcohol presence which is a little much. Nutty and fruity on the finish. White sugar presence all the way through. Overall, not very good.

D: Ehhh...

Value: Overpriced. Just because it's a belgian style beer doesn't mean it needs to cost 11 bucks a sixer.

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Photo of Tabni
4.05/5  rDev +23.1%
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 Brent
3.58/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

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Photo of tone77
3.7/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a cloudy golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of fruits and spices. Taste also has some fruits coming through, alcohol is present, a touch of spices. Feels full bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this is a good quality beer.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.05/5  rDev -37.7%
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 EgadBananas
3.23/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

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Photo of pmlondrigan
3.7/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty blah for a belgian golden ale. Right color, but lame head, no real puffy carbonation, no lacing and no retention. Aroma is lack luster, probably a result of the poor carb. The right aromas are there, just not in the right strength. Flavor saves this beer. Nice yeasty showcase, some good esters, banana and clove, ginger, spices, clean finish. Just a little biscuity. Good feel, dry and clean as it should be. Yeah its drinkable. Plenty happy to try this beer from Florida.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.95/5  rDev +20.1%
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 yeahnatenelson
3.18/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thrown in as an extra by dimenthefield - what a nice guy!

Appearance -- Pours a hazy orange/gold with two fingers of stiff and sudsy white head.

Smell -- Bready malt, earthy Belgian yeast, cut grass, faint spicy hops. Not a whole lot going on.

Taste -- More or less follows the nose: Bready malts, honey, floral hops, cut grass, faint spiciness. Mild spicy hop finish.

Mouthfeel -- Medium in body with ample carbonation. Not bad.

Drinkability -- Eh, wasn't blown away, but it wasn't bad, either. Not much depth of flavor, too much unchecked malt sweetness, but it is a bit tasty.

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Photo of RomaniIteDomum
3.52/5  rDev +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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Photo of SuperSpy
3.15/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a Chimay glass. 2009 on the label.

A - Golden and hazy. An eggshell colored head dissipates quickly but leaves behind lots of lace. Very disappointed in the lack of head and head retention.

S - Fainter than expected but there are hints of light fruit, pear, apple, white pepper. Some bready yeast aromas but again it's all very faint. Not bad really, but it's not at all what I would expect for the style.

T/M - Nice and heavy bodied. The flavor is biscuit, white pepper and other spices. Very nice actually, and a pleasant surprise after the disappointing head and aroma.

D - Not a bad beer but there are better Belgians.

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Photo of JISurfer
2.65/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I read on the bottle that it's actually brewed by Thomas Creek Brewing, up in Greenville, SC. Anyways, this was a disappointing Belgian Pale in my opinion. Not much to the appearance. Yeah, it had the haziness that's associated with the style, but other than that, nothing really. There was no real head to speak about. What "head" there was, died out rather quickly. The smell wasn't as strong as I'm used to. It was kind of faint, had to smell it quite a few times to get anything to register in my brain. Taste was the same, but even more bland. Nothing really stood out, not even the higher alcohol, which I guess is good. I was hoping for more with this one. Maybe I got a bad bottle or something, because everyone else seems to enjoy it.

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Photo of adkirkish
4.05/5  rDev +23.1%
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 Shaw
3.8/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty golden color with hardly any head. Instead, there is a thin ring in my glass.

The aroma is of Belgian yeast and lightly fruity and funky.

The taste is good. It's sweet and grainy with a hint of biscuit, alcohol and spice. Classic Belgian flavors.

The body is creamy and hefty.

Overall, this is a pretty good beer, especially being one originally brewed in Florida.

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Photo of DIM
4/5  rDev +21.6%
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 ThaBobfather
3.87/5  rDev +17.6%
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 mwa423
3.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Hazy golden color with some white head that well enhanced aroma.

S - The aroma has some light Belgian notes but little else.

T - The taste is quite pleasant, one of the better in style I have had. The taste is a bit beefier in the taste with yeast, and sweet maltiness along with some alcohol burn.

M/D - Mouthfeel is thicker than most in the style, leaves a nice taste in the mouth. This is decently drinkable that was a great trade extra!

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +21.6%
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 portia99
3.65/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle (2009) poured into a Russian River stemmed Belgian glass.

A - Pours a hazy, yeasty pale golden orange color...no head (not too surprising given the 8.5% alcohol here), just a thin white collar and a few wispy swirls on the surface of the liquid.

S - Spicy on the nose - cinnamon, coriander, some cloves, Belgian yeast character for sure, maybe some wintergreen, a touch of black pepper. Definitely Belgian in character...very solid.

T - Good hits of alcohol, spices - cloves and cinnamon notably...tons of Belgian yeast character and a bit phenolic. Good underlying malt character - sweet and bready...hop bitterness is good - crisp but not overpowering. Can't quite place it, but there is some kind of off flavor on the swallow...maybe a bit of oxidation, but not sure either....only a 2009, but don't know when in the year it came out...

M - Thin to medium in body...carbonation is medium too. Lots of spiciness that stays behind after the swallow, unfortunately along with the strange (oxidized) off taste.

D - Good smelling and still good, but to a lesser degree tasting strong Belgian ale...enjoyable overall, but I am spending most of my time trying to identify the off flavor more specifically. Alcohol is on the high side at 8.5% but not at all hot, but definitely noticeablei in the flavor profile.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
3.48/5  rDev +5.8%
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 walt4
4.11/5  rDev +24.9%
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 alpinebryant
3.69/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark marigold orange yellow with a healthy white head on top that later subsided to a ring around the edges.

Smell of belgian yeast, pepper, banana
Taste of banana , doughy belgian yeast, pepper, and pale and pilsener malts.
Quite a drinkable golden ale for 8.5 with medium carbonation and a medium mouthfeel.

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Holy Mackerel Special Golden Ale from Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers "the garage project"
Beer rating: 3.29 out of 5 with 243 ratings
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