Developed by British cask ale brewers as a fightback against the lager boom of the 1980s, golden ale has finally come of age.

Demand over the last two years has, in fact, exploded and the category is growing at 24 per cent to £116m in sales a year (CGA brand index to August 8, 2015).

Some of our most popular ales are golden (Wainwright, Old Golden Hen) and its place as the style of the times was cemented when mega-brand Guinness launched Guinness Golden Ale last March.

So who is drinking all the gold stuff?

Well, 63 per cent of golden ale drinkers are under 44 years old, according to Cardinal research on behalf of Greene King. As well as these younger drinkers, the research suggests golden ales are attractive to women (44 per cent of golden ales are drunk by females compared with 17 per cent for a typical cask ale), and more affluent customers.

These are three markets coveted by brewers everywhere, which goes some way to explain the sheer number of golden ales available now, so here's a guide to 16 of the best on the market.



1. Spitfire Gold
Shepherd Neame
Launched just a few months ago, Spitfire Gold marked 75 years since the Battle of Britain — the original Spitfire Kentish Ale was brewed to mark the 50th anniversary of the battle in 1990.
Described as a "well-balanced, light, golden ale", it is made with three malts, oats and some of the world's most popular hops including Challenger, Centennial and Saaz.



2. Tetley's Gold
Launched back in 2012, just as the promising shoots of the golden ale growth were beginning to show, this was the first significant addition to the Tetley's family of beers there had been for years.
Specifically created to attract younger drinkers to the brand, the beer is made with Cascade and Marynka hops and is described as a "sprightly, quenching citrus" brew.




3. Two Hoots
Joseph Holt
As regular Inapub readers know (from our What's in a name? feature last August) this brew was named after an owl that took up residence in the eaves of the brewery for many years — although sadly it is there no longer.
Of all the beers made under its watchful eyes, only this one was inspired by its presence — a 4.2 per cent ABV ale with a fruity balanced bitterness, according to the Manchester brewer.



4. Old Golden Hen, Greene King
The rare Galaxy hop — famed for bringing a distinct character to beers with its passion fruit and peach-like aromas — is used in this brew, part of the Old Speckled Hen family. It has a light golden colour, tropical fruit notes and a smooth finish that is best enjoyed cold. It is available in cask, keg, bottle and cans, so there's no excuse for failing to consider one of the category's most popular beers.



5. Oval Beach Blonde Ale
Saugatuck Brewing Company (available via Heathwick)
This Golden beer is "so versatile" according to the team at the Michigan brewery behind it. "Slightly creamy" on the tongue, this brew really brings out the best in food and is a great match for a wide range of flavours, from minted lamb burgers to foie gras and marmalade.
At a decent five per cent ABV it, is made with five malts (2-Row, Carapils, Crystal, 10L and Vienna) and two hops (Cluster and Cascade) and is available in both bottle and keg formats.



6. Golden Sheep
Black Sheep Brewery
This brew gained a fresh new look a few months back, with a more modern label designed to attract younger drinkers to the brand. The cask version of the beer also got a recipe tweak and now has a bigger hop hit (from Challenger and First Gold hops) to boost aromas and bitterness levels.



7. Wainwright
This is the UK's best-selling golden ale and has won a raft of awards, including a Bronze medal in the bottled ale category at the most recent International Beer Challenge.
Named after Alfred Wainwright, the author of a famed series of guidebooks for walking in the Lakeland Fells, it has delicate citrus flavours and is a top match for smoked salmon, soft cheeses and aromatic, lightly spiced dishes such as Thai food.



7. Saga Ale Blanca
Cinco de Mayo (available via Heathwick)
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that this Mexican beer is named "white" (Blanca) but golden it most certainly is.
Spiced with both orange peel and coriander and at six per cent ABV, it's a fruity, punchy little number that goes well with Mexican foods and meals spiced with chilli, as well as white meats and salads.
In case you were wondering, the brewery, based in Puebla, takes its name from the Battle of Puebla where, on May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) 1863, the Mexicans won a surprise victory over the mighty
French army.



8. Bombardier Burning Gold
Charles Wells
This "Bang On!" brew was made a permanent part of the Bombardier range just last year, following its popularity as a guest ale.
"Bombardier Burning Gold in cask really made its mark as a guest ale and has been so incredibly popular we had to make it a permanent fixture standing side by side with the original Bombardier," says marketing manager Emily Hudson.



9. Oliver's Island
This is the London brewer's only golden cask beer which, at its launch last year, became the first permanent addition to the Fuller's cask family in seven years.
It is named after an island in the Thames, just two miles from brewery HQ in Chiswick, where Oliver Cromwell was said to have once taken refuge. The beer is spiked with orange peel during the brewing process to give it a citrus boost.



10. Dizzy Blonde
Frederic Robinson
Brewed with the pleasingly named Tipple malt, this offering has a distinctive herbal aroma, followed by a clean, zesty taste. At 3.8 per cent, the deep gold beer has proved a popular brew since it was first launched as a seasonal brew back in 2007.
Fact fans might like to know that, for reasons undisclosed to your writer,
Dizzy is known as Peggy by everyone at
the brewery.



11. Tod's Blonde
Little Valley Brewery
This Yorkshire family-run brewery high on the moorlands of the Pennines produces 10 beers in total, all of which are organic and vegan-friendly.
This golden brew weighs in at five per cent ABV and is a "bright yellow blonde ale with a pleasant malty taste and a smooth bitter finish".



12. Guinness Golden Ale
When this was launched last April it was the third beer to emerge from the Brewer's Project and the first that was not a stout.
The brewer, Peter Simpson, described it as a "bold new step" and designed the beer to appeal to as broad a range of drinkers as possible.
The beer is still brewed with Guinness yeast, alongside Irish barley and Amber malt, used give the brew its "rich, golden" colour, Peter says.



13. Tribute
St Austell
This South West's favourite is a 4.2 per cent ABV beer made with Cornish Gold, Pale and Maris Otter malts and Fuggles, Celeia and Willamette hops.
Drinkers love its "light, hoppy, zesty" taste, which can be enjoyed with classic pub grub such as burgers and fish & chips, as well as that regional classic, the Cornish pasty. Yes please!



14. MPA
JW Lees
With marketing stunts, including a host of ballet-dancing Liam Gallaghers hitting London with a "Manc dance", the beer has been promoted with all the confidence and swagger you would expect from a Manchester brand.
The move has paid off and the golden yellow brew has proved popular with trend setters in its home city and beyond since its launch in 2013.
It's a modern style of beer, medium bodied and well rounded, according to the brewer.



15. Blacktop Blonde Ale
Tailgate Brewery (available from Heathwick)
This brew hails from Tennessee and is an easy-drinking, smooth ale designed for "everyday drinking" and "casual sipping."
It makes for a good food-matching beer, working particularly well with Italian and Middle-Eastern cuisine and is a great beer with which to make "beer butt chicken" (in which a can of beer is inserted into a barbecuing chicken) by all accounts.
It's won a ton of medals and is well worth a punt if you are looking to offer something a little different.



16. Batemans Gold
Originally named Yella Belly Gold, in reference to the nickname given to those who live in Lincolnshire, it was changed last year to clear up confusion
for those who live further afield.
It's made with lager malt, alongside Chinook and Cascade hops, to make a light gold, refreshing beer that goes well with chicken and fish dishes.