I recently bought a 6 pack of Shiner Blonde, and just loved the taste of it. What differentiates a blonde beer from others, other than a lighter color and flavor? Also, how do you make a blonde, and does anyone have any great recipes to experiment with?
At a quick glance, a blonde can look like a pils. To distinguish, a blonde has these characteristics:
- is usually a light color, but not always as light as a pils, often a deeper golden color.
- is made with top-cropping yeast (ale yeast)
- it's sweeter/fruitier than a pils, with taste balanced on side of the malt (cf. pils which can be quite highly hopped in some instances.)
(This is meant to give you an impression of the beer - the BJCP can give you the vital statistics for a Blonde Ale in figures.)
As to recipes, it's often mostly pils/lager/pale malt, often with a touch of light/medium crystal or lightly kilned malts such as munich. Low hop bitterness and with a water profile with 50-150ppm chlorides to accentuate the malt.
A blonde beer is almost always an ale, while a pilsner is always a lager. You can read the BJCP definition of a blonde here...http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style06.php#1b
Denny already linked you to the BJCP style guide, but I realized my comment actually answers half your question, so I've put it here.
Here's a link to one of my favorite house beers: Biermuncher's Centennial Blonde. It's inexpensive to brew, quick to mature and is always a crowd pleaser.
The simple and awesome way to make a Blonde is to use the SMASH method (Single Malt And Single Hop). I think a Blonde should be simple and easy to drink. So your Grain Bill would be 100% 2 Row and a good neutral-type hop. My favorite is Sterling. Keep the IBUs at around 18-25 approximately. Matter of fact, I use only two hops for every different type of brew, at the moment. I use Sterling for Blondes and American Wheat, and Cascade for American Pale Ales.
Blonde Ale and APA are my two favorite beers in the world!
http://www.beertutor.com/styles/lager_styles.shtml lists Shiner Blonde as a Pilsner, I would generally agree with that except I believe it runs rather low on the hop scale. As mentioned elsewhere the BJCP Lists blondes as ales rather than lagers. It's not uncommon for commercial brewers to step outside of style guidelines so I feel it's worth mentioning the BJCP Style but not worth retracting what I was able to find.
Elsewhere "The Internet" lists a recipe of:
5.0 Gallon Batch, OG 1.044, 13 IBU 7.0# Pale 2-row malt 1.0# Flaked Corn 3/4oz Czech Saaz Hops @ 60 min 1/4oz Czech Saaz Hops @ 15 min Ferment with WLP 800 or 802 at 50-55F for 3-4 weeks, then lager at 35F for 4-6 weeks.