Nearly every American craft brewery and brewpub seems to have a blonde ale on its menu, yet one of the best I've had was recently released and is made in Scotland.
Newcastle has just released its Bombshell blonde ale and, unlike most of its American counterparts, it has delicious, delicate malt and hop flavors instead of the typical "dirty"-tasting American blonde ales I usually come across.
I use the word "dirty" because these beers usually don't seem very balanced or have much of a flavor profile, as if not much thought went into the brewing process. I get the impression that a brewery owner one day decided to add a blonde ale to the portfolio, so an easy formula was quickly thrown together with some light grains and a bunch of hops tossed in the mash, then fermented quickly and bottled. Bombshell does not give that impression.
What's most surprising is that Bombshell contains Cascade hops, typically used in American ales to add pine and grapefruit flavors and aromas, plus extra bitterness. However, there is no hint of these characteristics in Bombshell, which also uses German Hallertau and English Northdown hops.
Despite the Cascade presence, Bombshell has more in common with typical British ales. The malt in the 4.4 percent ABV Bombshell is delicate, yet the flavors of biscuit, caramel, toffee and butterscotch are easily discerned.
The slight hop flavors are grassy and floral, and there is just a touch of bitterness, mostly in the finish, that ends quickly. It's a very tasty sipper that has excellent flavor without being overpowering.
Heineken is the owner of the Newcastle name and the Caledonian Brewery Co. that produces Bombshell and other Newcastle brands. Bombshell will be available through July and will have wide distribution throughout the United States.
Surprisingly, I could not find any website associated with Newcastle or Bombshell. The link for Newcastle on heinekenusa.com is a dead link. The Caledonian website does not mention Newcastle. Apparently Facebook is the only official online presence, so get ready to scroll through the multitude of pointless "yr kewl" and "yer awesome" comments.