“What the shit is a West Coast golden ale?” I said to no one in particular as I inspected a bottle of True Gold. My dog looked up at me, but she had no answers, either. Golden ales aren’t a defined style in the way that blonde ales or Irish stouts are, so presumably, it’s a handy catch-all term for ales that are golden in color but don’t fit neatly into a specific category. And West Coast? That could either reference Breakside’s home base of Portland, Oregon, or the fact that this beer has a lot of hops in it. Semantics! Once I took a few sips of the beer, though, I learned to stop worrying and love it.
Breakside is renowned for its intensely hopped IPAs, which are delicious but not everyone’s cup of humulus lupulus. As the pendulum in craft beer corrects a bit back toward easier-drinking pilsners and session beers, breweries aren’t touting massive hop bombs so much as balanced, easy-going backyard beers—especially as we roll into summer.
I’ve always admired Breakside’s beers because while they packed a ton of flavor, they weren’t too extreme. (Shout out to Lunch Break session IPA.) The brewers have taken that concept even further with True Gold, which wrings all the melon and mango notes out of Galaxy and Mosaic hops but keeps the IBUs at a double-take-worthy 18. For reference, some IPAs can boast IBUs in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and upward.
True Gold is decidedly not an IPA, but tastes instead like a beefed-up blonde ale with tropical hop aroma and flavor. There’s a not-insignificant malt base that tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios, overlayed with Mosaic’s orange juice tones and Galaxy’s prismatic cantaloupe, mango flesh, and pineapple. The brewery touts True Gold as “lager-like,” but it lacks the snappy, here-and-gone finish of a lager. That’s not a bad thing, as True Gold is a substantial but not overwhelming beer for warm weather. It’s not watery like some session beers, but only clocks in at 5.1% ABV.
If you’re a fan of tropical hop flavors but can’t handle the building bitterness of three consecutive IPAs, True Gold has your back. I still don’t know what a West Coast golden ale is, but I find I’ve also stopped caring.
Breakside True Gold is available on draft and in bottles in Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Northern California, British Columbia and Alberta.
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