Welcome, folks, to another exciting episode of Adventures With Beer! Today I have an interesting little brew from the Branchline Brewing Company of San Antonio, Texas. That beer is Shady Oak Blonde, a blonde ale brewed with honey. Branchline beers are not sold in my area, but acquired a bottle thanks to the magic of the beer trade (thanks Bill and Jenny!).
It appears Branchline produces three beers currently, or at least those are the only ones they speak to on their website. There is the Blonde of which I shall shortly speak, Evil Owl Amber, and Woodcutter Rye IPA. My sample of Shady Oak Blonde came in a convenient 22-ounce bottle, though I am not sure of that’s the preferred bottling method for the rest of their line. Branchline does sell draft beer, too, of course.
Shady Oak Blonde is described as an “American Blonde Ale” by the brewery. It’s made with Texas Wildflower Honey, white wheat, Crystal malt, and 2 row barley malt. The beer is seasoned with Cascade and Amarillo Gold hops, has 21 IBUs and an alcohol content of 5.8% by volume. The stats for the beer are from the bottle, and some are listed differently on the website.
Shady Oak Blonde pours to a hazy blonde color with a sweet biscuit malty nose laced with notes of honey and a towering head of rocky foam. Sipping, I get a sweet amber maltiness up front laced with richness from the honey and a good bit of toasty honey flavor. There’s a gentle sweetness in the finish that's balanced at the last minute with a gentle hop bitterness.
Overall, I find this beer to be an easy drinking, tasty delight. Much of honey is sugar, and that will ferment out when yeast set their sights on it. Still, honey can add for me a wonderful toasty flavor and I get that here. It’s much like the character of a spoonful of honey but in much lower proportion.
Don’t compare Shady Oak Blonde to an Imperial Stout; that’s a recipe for failure. Judged by its style, this is a very tasty brew, and one that I enjoyed on a warm spring day while grilling out steaks (first half of the bottle) and later with them (second half of the bottle). This is a great beer, too, for those just venturing into their first episodes of Adventures With Beer.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.