My first foyer into something other Natty Light in college was at a great Corner Bar called Micheal’s Bistro. There, we would try beer that a vast majority of other places we frequented wouldn’t have. This was my first dive into the Belgians. Duvel. Chimay. While the extent of our tastings were mostly Dubbels and Tripels (and which were few and far between due to lack of money), I had not really tried any 18As until this past year. The lightest of the Belgian family is the Blond (Blonde) Ale and is a brew that a decent number of Virginia Breweries have adopted. One of them comes from SWVA brewery Parkway Brewing called Bridge Builder, and as a contractor, I couldn’t pass this up.
Bridge Builder Blonde, Parkway Brewing Co. (Salem, VA)
Belgian Blonde Ale, ABV: 5.9%
Presentation: Bottle poured in tulep
Appearance: Golden brown hazy with little to no head.
Taste: Right on par with other Belgian style beers up front and a pils back. Think of a deconstructed banana nut bread. You get the spice and banana up front and a yeasty/bread on the back with a hint of hops.
ABV/IBU: Smooth to very smooth. Little notice of perceived alcohol or hops due to malt flavors (another common 18 ale trait).
Overall: It’s still a mixed bag over the blonde ales. It’s the summer versions of Belgian ales. You’re not going outside on a hot summer’s day with a Delirium, but if you enjoy that style of beer, this would be the perfect mix. Bridge Builder Blonde is a very solid choice, but takes a knock on lack of carbonation balance and some muted flavors. While this can be enjoyed outside, this beer pairs with grilled seafood like mussels or lobster or game like venison. Worth a try if you are into this style of brew.