The Sister left the Greater Syracuse area sometime in the mid to late 2000s so she could attend graduate school at Stony Brook University. She graduated and wound up getting a job in a Congressional Office on Long Island. She would settle in Bay Shore, living in an apartment across the street from a most excellent beer bar called T.J. Finley’s. The house beer, Great South Bay, was made down the road in a small brewery by an anesthesiologist named Rick. The Sister got to know Rick, who started off as a homebrewer in college, and they have since become friends (when The Sister had her tonsils out five or six years ago, Rick sent her pumpkin ale popsicles to take the edge off the pain).
Rick has an Upstate connection, raised in Apalachin and related to people in the Syracuse area (I went to high school with one of his cousins). He recently announced distribution deals that will expand the brewery’s reach throughout the Empire State. Until then, I rely on The Sister to shuttle beers home during her visits. When she arrived for The Kid’s birthday party, she came bearing gifts of wheat, barley, malt, and GSB.
Great South Bay’s signature beers are its Robert Moses Pale Ale, Blood Orange Pale Ale, and Massive IPA, but the beer that seemingly everyone lines up for is the Blonde Ambition. Once a year-round ale, Blonde Ambition is now relegated to the summer season. A light, Belgian-inspired ale, this has all of the visible characteristics of a kölsch: clear and golden with a wispy head.
It opens like a pilsner, but turns into a fruity beer with essences of peach and apricot. It reminds me a little of Leinenkugel’s Summer Wheat, only much lighter and not as fake tasting. The end is pleasant and dry with a fruity aftertaste.
Yes, I’m partial to Great South Bay beer and I’m not ashamed to admit my bias. Earlier this summer, I said that 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon was the perfect summer beer. In the same vain, GSB’s Blonde Ambition is the perfect poolside beer or, if you aren’t much for swimming, the perfect summer beer for the watermelon-hater in your life.
Brewer: Great South Bay Brewery
Beer: Blonde Ambition Summer Ale
Style: Belgian-Style Ale
ABV: 4.9% IBU: 22
Container: 12 oz. bottle
Price: n/a (The Sister bought it, though I’ve seen it go for $10.99 to $11.99 per six pack on Long Island.) Point of Purchase: Syosset Beverage, Syosset, N.Y.
To The Eye: Crystal clear and brassy with a thin, soapy head.
To The Nose: Fruity.
To The Palate: Moderate to low carbonation, and light body. Flavors of stone fruit (peach and apricot, primarily) throughout.
Aftertaste: Dry and fruity.
Boozy Factor: Deceptive. They go back too easily and could be dangerous in after the fourth or fifth.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8.0