Category Archives: Bitter/ESB/English Strong Ale

Five Barrel ‘London Calling’ ESB


“This is an English Style Ale known for its balance between malt and hop
bitterness. ESB’s have an earthy, herbal English-variety hop character. with a medium to high hop bitterness, flavour and aroma.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Pours a redolent deep amber with full transparency. It only manages a short khaki head that peels off rather quickly. Nice wavy lace being strewn down the glass.

Aroma: Smells pretty good on face value. Well balanced, sweet, toasty and spicy with those brilliant EKG and Fuggles hops throwing out the earthy herbals and wet grass. Lots of caramel sweetness and toffee, dark fruits like golden raisins and blood plum, caramelised pear/apple and marmalade on toast. We didn’t realise it at first but it’s actually quite a complex number with good depth.

Flavour: Follows on from the nose – a supremely balanced blend of sweet, toasty and biscuit malts with the herbal, grassy and citrusy hops to counter it all. A delicate bitterness and earthy dark fruits push through the middle and lay down for a really dry, bitter yet mildly sweet and citrusy finish which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Slick, a little sticky and chewy. Mild-moderate carbonation, medium body. Only 4.3% ABV which is pretty low for an ESB.

Overall: To pick up again on the low ABV…for ESB’s we expect to see it land between 5-6%. At 4.3% we’d be calling it a straight English Bitter in our opinion. It still drinks like an ESB though; nice and plump, full flavoured and slightly complex…just without the higher ABV 😉

Bad Shepherd ‘Aries’ ESB


“The long-awaited return of our ESB is finally here with a new name and fresh look. Originally launched in 2016 as part of our Brew Crew Series, our take on the traditional British style Extra Special Bitter pours a beautiful rusty hue with subtle hints of caramel and biscuit malt, and a delightfully creamy mouthfeel. The name is a nod to the mighty Ram; a symbol synonymous with change and as we leave 2020 in our dust, we are all looking forward to that.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Bold amber with full clarity. It whips up a two finger head which holds for a little while but eventually peels off. Nice webbed lace clings to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: It’s noticeably sweet but with a soft touch of toasty malt which takes some of the edge off the heady caramels, toffee and honeysuckle. Quite musky and floral with a distinct Noble hop-like quality which provides earthy and herbal accents. Slightly syrupy/cloying which is a shame though. It ain’t bad just seems a little off the pace.

Flavour: Delivered with a lot more balance. We’re getting more of a robust earthy-ness which counters the malt sweetness nicely. Mild orange citrus, musk/florals, honey and toasty malts through the mid then rolling into a nice toasty finish with delicate caramel sweetness and earthy herbals drawing out on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Slick but still somewhat crisp and clean. Moderately bodied, finely carbonated. 4.9% ABV is about on par for the style.

Overall: It’s a fairly decent crack at an ESB but it doesn’t really cut the mustard unfortunately. Maybe it’s all these Fuller’s Vintage Ales we’ve been treating ourselves to lately that’s set the bar too high! Not bad but not great either.

Fuller’s 2015 Vintage Ale


Get your hands on the limited-edition Vintage Ale 2015 – a beautiful beer brewed celebrating the 50th anniversary of famous British malt variety Maris Otter and brewed using exclusively British ingredients. The floor-malted Maris Otter is combined with home-grown Target, Northdown, Challenger and Goldings hops to create a best-of-British beer with complex flavours, a fruitful aroma and a bitter finish.

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Like its younger siblings this ’15 vintage pours a muddy light brown with a short khaki head which fades pretty quickly. Minimal lace as we go.

Aroma: Seriously, this vintage series is the pinnacle of English brewing. The rich concoction of residual sugars, toffee and toasted malt, earthy and slightly fruity hops is simply glorious. One of the aspects we’ve loved the most is the quasi-Belgian yeast profile which throws out this distinct dark fruity sweetness. It’s divine. Hell, the whole series is divine!

Flavour: Amazing. Theres a kinda yeasty fruit profile, rich toffee and caramel, toasty and doughy malts, residual sugars and earthy hops which all converge and dance on the palate like there’s a rave party in the mouth. It continues with this semi sweet, savoury biscuity quality that joins the rest of the party and finishes with it all hanging to the back palate for dear life!

Mouthfeel: Smooth, velvety, slightly creamy. Medium-full body. Once again the 8.5% ABV is nowhere to be found. Incredible.

Overall: We’ve now found it. This one is the pick of the bunch. Could it be that the older they get the better? It sure looks that way. What’s depressing is we can’t find a bottle of ’14 or earlier anywhere *sad face. Absolutely superb.

Fuller’s 2016 Vintage Ale


The 20th limited-edition beer in our Vintage Ale series, Vintage Ale 2016 is a rich, smooth Barley Wine that promises a distinguished drinking experience. Packaged in our signature Vintage Ale gift box, it’s a special beer inside and out, perfect as a gift or to add to your own collection. Brewed to 8.5% , Vintage Ale 2016 brings together classic British ingredients with the aromatic Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand  – used here both for bittering and as a dry hop. The global combination of ingredients gives rise to a rich and complex amber beer, with aromas of sherry and Cognac, and a flavour profile that picks out toasted grains and sweet cherry Bakewell Tart.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Quite a muddy number this one. Kinda light brown centre working out to rusted amber edges. It forms a thumb of light tan head which slowly retracts. Spotty and wet lace trails it down.

Aroma: We’re noticing that as we go further back in this spectacular vintage series the more Barleywine-like they become. This ’16 vintage is certainly showing some residual sweetness along with hearty toffee/caramel, buttered bread, marmalade and yeast-driven fruit esters. For this vintage they’ve added Nelson Sauvin hops (apparently!?). They’re very hard to detect but there is a very subtle hint of white grape coming through.

Flavour: So satisfyingly English. And so savoury! Oodles of residual sugars and caramel malts, toffee, doughy bread pudding, toast, buttery biscuits, marmalade and golden syrup. There are some fleeting hints of earthy hop but the typical attributes of Nelson Sauvin are pretty much MIA. Raisin is as close to grapes as we can get. That aside, it’s still an absolutely amazing flavour profile.

Mouthfeel: Sticky and gelatinous, medium-full body and soft carbonation. Like past vintages the 8.5% ABV is remarkably well hidden.

Overall: Brilliant. We reckon it’s safe to say this is our pick of the bunch so far (between the ’16-’20). It straddles the line between English strong ale and Barleywine and the result is outstanding.

Fuller’s 2018 Vintage Ale


This year’s Vintage Ale is a celebration of Fuller’s long-lasting friendships with the hop growers, merchants, and maltsters of the UK. It has been brewed using exclusively home-grown ingredients. The beer’s passionfruit, grapefruit and mango notes might be synonymous with the ‘new-world’ hops of America and Australia, but the beer’s tropical flavours, in fact, come from the British Olicana® variety. Alongside Olicana®, Ernest hop from Kent has been added to the brew – a variety that brings apricot, citrus and spicy notes. There are also herby, pine and earthy flavours to discover, from the classic combination of Target, Goldings, Challenger and Northdown hops.

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Somewhat rusty amber pour with a short khaki head which slowly peels off. It settles at the rim and drags a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: Crammed full of the classic EKG and Challenger hop qualities; earthy, herbal spice and grassy but accentuated with a lesser known British hop named ‘Olicana’ which is said to offer passionfruit, grapefruit and mango…all of which are quite hard to detect through the big and beautiful Maris Otter-driven malt profile. Love!

Flavour: Simply amazing. Rich and savoury sweet. Jam packed with nutty malts, toffee/caramel, buttery biscuits and brown leather. Kinda sweet and earthy apricot, orange citrus and raisins fanning out to more greener notes of pine and old herbs as it nears the finish. Definitely ends much sweeter with an emphasis on this syrupy/fruity note which lingers.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and silky texture. Flat-ish Co2, medium body. Seriously can’t believe it weighs in at 8.5% ABV. So well buried.

Overall: Full credit to these masters. Sometimes the old world styles need to be paid the respect they deserve. And this one is due for some honours. Superb.

Fuller’s 2017 Vintage Ale


“As the new Head Brewer, this 2017 edition of Vintage Ale champions a new American hop variety Denali, used to give the beer a citrusy, pine-like flavour and a new British malt variety Laureate. Combined with trusty British hops Target and Goldings, our 21st Vintage Ale is a well-rounded and balanced beer with Fuller’s yeast adding the orange, marmalade characters to it.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Slightly muddy copper pour with a short fizzy head which quickly disappears. Next to no lace as we go.

Aroma: The classic sweet malts come to the forefront bringing toffee, caramel fudge and rich butterscotch. Not as much toast and nutty malts as your typical English ale though, they’re replaced by residual sugars, port, raisin, dates/prunes and jaffa. Even after all these years it still holds on to some hop character too – a touch of sweet orange and candied lemon, herbs and spice. Impressive.

Flavour: It’s like this thick, earthy and malty presence that masquerades as a Barleywine but is light enough to pass as an ESB. All the while offering your classic English particulars like toffee apple, caramel, marmalade, orange citrus, biscuits, fruit cake and ginger-like spice. It’s amazing…it keeps this intensity of flavour all the way through to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense and meaty. Quite surprised by the Co2…it’s fairly active for the style. 8.5% ABV is so well concealed.

Overall: Well well, what a beer. We only just tried the 2019 vintage a week ago and now we’re on a mission to try them all. This 2017 vintage is immaculate. Who’d have thought we’d be giving brewery of the month to Fuller’s! Completely deserved though.

Fuller’s London Pride


“London Pride is a smooth and astonishingly complex beer, which has a distinctive malty base complemented by a rich balance of well developed hop flavours from the Target, Challenger and Northdown varieties in the brew.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Beautiful deep amber hue with full transparency. It forms a thumb of off white head which gradually peels off. It drags a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: The first thing that strikes us is the impeccable balance. She’s obviously malt-driven…dominated by the sweet caramel and toffee, bready and nutty malts but the citrusy, earthy and kinda spicy hops cut through it like butter. Certainly picking up the fruity/estery yeast as it’s offering up hints of banana, apple/pear and rosewater. There’s even a flutter of umami! Incredible.

Flavour: It follows on from the nose with that exquisite balance. Just as the sweet, bready and nutty malts start to tip the scales the hops counteract with notes of orange citrus, marmalade and more of an earthy spice late in the piece. And keeping with the flow of the beer those sweet malts return to deliver a beautifully balanced finish with excellent duration.

Mouthfeel: Slick, gelatinous, medium bodied. Co2 is perfectly weighted. 4.7% ABV. Everything just screams balance with this beer.

Overall: This is the epitome of English ale. Well structured malt bill with just enough hops to keep it in check. Full flavoured yet somehow sessional. No wonder they call it “London Pride”…plenty to be proud of with this. Top shelf.

Fuller’s 2019 Vintage Ale


“For the Vintage Ale 2019, we have traveled 12,000 miles for inspiration, as West London meets South Island New Zealand. Wai-Iti hop brings mandarin, lemon, and lime to the fore, whilst Crystal malt – grown on the New Zealand’s Canterbury Plains – adds notes of toasted bread and honey. Looking a little closer to home, our famous Fuller’s yeast gives the beer its familiar orange marmalade backbone.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: An attractive burnished chestnut with a short khaki head. It quickly retreats to the rim with minimal lace in its wake.

Aroma: A dead set malt bomb but we dig it! Initially it’s all about the super sweet toffee, raisin, dates/prunes, butterscotch and floral honey but as it settles it takes on more of a dry-aged character with hints of old oak, licorice, tobacco and banana bread…although the latter is probably representative of the old world English yeast. Mild spicy and citrusy hop qualities in the background. Superb!

Flavour: It’s a mirror image of the aroma but we must admit there’s a lot more earthy-ness and hop bitterness setting it apart. Alas, tonnes of dark fruit sweetness, honey, caramel, toffee and buttery biscuits alongside the floral and citrusy hops and somewhat fruity yeast profile. There’s a long drawn out finish of toast, orange blossom and dried wood which punctuates beautifully.

Mouthfeel: Fairly chewy, dense and silky. Medium-full body, mild-moderate Co2. The 8.5% ABV is perceptible but mostly well contained.

Overall: Believe it or not this is our first crack at the Fuller’s vintage range. Damn we wish we jumped on sooner as this is amazing! It’s rich, warming, sweet yet a little bitter and earthy. Brilliant.

Coniston Brewing ‘Bluebird’ Bitter


“It is, quite simply, a wonderful beer. It is exceedingly pale (21-22 units colour), with just a hint of colour in its cheeks from the dash of crystal malt. It has a massive orange fruit aroma from the challengers, balanced by biscuity malt. Juicy malt and tart hops vie for attention in the mouth while the finish is tart and hoppy but well balanced by creamy malt. The bitterness rating is a substantial 36-38. The tangy fruit lingers on the back of the tongue until it develops a hint of orange liqueur.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Clear bold amber with a short white head which quickly retracts. Not a lot of lace is left in its wake.

Aroma: Slightly muted notes of semi sweet honey malts, light musky florals, peppery spice, somewhat earthy hops and cereal grains. It all started off a little shy but as we go it starts to come out of its shell. How ironic that we’re talking about a beer in that fashion!

Flavour: Very much like the aroma…soft and almost watered down notes of caramel and honey mix with earthy and floral hops. A flutter of herbal spice here and there as well. Some toast and cereal grains coming through as it finishes rather vague and bland. Not a great deal of length to it either.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, silky, maybe just a tad lean but it is only 4.2% ABV. Flat-ish Co2, moderately bodied. A bit meh.

Overall: It’s all a bit meh to be honest. It’s very weak and insipid at times. The upside is that it does hit the traditional English ale features but it’s just too shy for our liking. Won’t be wasting our time on this one again.

Black Sheep ‘Riggwelter’ English Strong Ale


“Riggwelter takes its name from a local Yorkshire Dales farming term which has Nordic roots; “rygg” meaning back, and “velte” meaning to overturn. A sheep is said to be rigged or ‘riggwelted’ when it has rolled onto its back and is unable to get back up without assistance. What better name for a strong beer from the Black Sheep Brewery in Yorkshire, eh?!”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Gorgeous deep crimson pour with two fingers of finely beaded foam resting atop. Excellent retention and healthy lace clinging to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: We already love it as we can smell it as it sits idle on the table. Below the nostrils it offers an intense array of sweet malts and floral and fruity hops. Oodles of caramel, toffee, dark fruits like raisin, dates and plum, light florals, variants of orange citrus like blossom, marmalade and flambèed. Getting this scent of burnt butter and mushrooms? Kinda nice though.

Flavour: She’s actually richer and more complex on the palate. It almost reaches Dark Ale level with its heavy caramel, toffee and lightly roasted malts. Still plenty of dark fruit sweetness but the burnt toast, coffee and cocoa through the mid adds another dimension to this already brilliant beer. Then throw this almost funky English yeast in the mix and we have one smashing beer.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and gelatinous yet still quite crisp and perfectly balanced. Medium body, flat-ish Co2. 5.7% ABV is nicely disguised.

Overall: We’re absolutely loving our English ales lately. They’re such an underappreciated style and when they’re done this well you just have to appreciate it. Superb.

Timothy Taylor’s ‘Boltmaker’ Yorkshire Bitter


“A well-balanced, genuine Yorkshire Bitter, with a full measure of maltiness and hoppy aroma – Boltmaker is first choice for the discerning drinker – on both sides of the Pennines. Formerly known as Best Bitter, Boltmaker has won many awards over the years but most recently it was awarded the CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in 2014 and Champion Beer of Britain – Bitter category in 2016.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Bold amber with full transparency. It forms a thumb of khaki head which hangs around. Nice webbed lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Smells absolutely amazing. Malty sweet but nicely balanced by the spicy and herbal old world hops. It really is the malt show though…packed full of caramel, toffee, nuts, toast/doughy bread and sweet dark fruits i.e raisin, prunes/dates and fig. A faint hint of marmalade in there too. Top shelf stuff.

Flavour: English ale at its finest. The palate is swamped with sweet malts ranging from caramel, butterscotch, dried dark fruits and nuts but it’s kept in check by a fine hop bitterness along with orange peel, spice and earthy herbals. Beautifully balanced finish with lingering notes of wheatmeal biscuits and toast.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full yet still light on…the bitterness certainly helping there. Moderate Co2. Only 4.2% ABV so well in to session territory.

Overall: An absolute corker of a beer. The epitome of English ale – easy drinking, sweet but balanced and highly palatable. Brilliant.

Cooper’s 2020 ‘Vintage Ale’ English Strong Ale


“The 2020 release of our much-loved Vintage Ale had to be special to recognise the 20th brew of one of our most famous ales. The Coopers brewing team has revelled in the challenge of making an authentic Vintage Ale with that special twist we have become accustomed to. A special ‘Leabrook’ barley from the Adelaide Hills was chosen to create the Pale malt for this brew and, when combined with crystal and wheat malt, provides a smooth mouthfeel and a fine creamy head.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Kinda muddy light brown with toffee highlights. It manages a short beige head which slowly peels off. Nice wavy lace clings to the sides of the glass.

Aroma: A proper malt bomb but that’s exactly what we were expecting. The fact that it’s still pretty green means it’s displaying a fair bit of earthy and floral hop but the lovely nutty, toasty and toffee-laden malts take centre stage. The classic Cooper’s yeast in all of its estery glory plays a big part too. Solid!

Flavour: It’s definitely a bit more bitter than we expected… probably due to its freshness again but the earthy, floral and grassy hops certainly provide a heady dryness that counteracts the toasty malts. Burnt toffee, cocoa, carob and toast finish with a nice dry grassiness in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and well rounded with a defined bitterness in the swallow. Medium-full body with low-ish Co2. 7.5% ABV is slightly noticeable.

Overall: Probably not our most favoured vintage.. which works with the sort of year we’ve all had anyway, so it’s fitting right?? Not bad.

Fuller’s ‘Past Masters – 1909’ English Strong Ale


“A smooth, well balanced and fruity beer. 1909 Pale Ale is the Tenth beer in our celebrated Past Masters series, which sees long-lost recipes revived from our famous brew books. Every single afternoon since 1845, the Fuller’s brewing team has diligently written out the ingredients of the day’s brews – and the Past Masters series is a great example of why we do it.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Golden amber with a fluffy two finger head. Good retention and lots of spotty lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: Initially we pick up a certain tangy orange note which reminds us of Jaffa. It morphs in to marmalade and then eventually apricot/rockmelon. It has a bit of a syrupy note which we’re not totally fond of. It’s quite yeasty too, providing estery pear/apple, butterscotch and banana. Very chewy and doughy malt profile filling it out.

Flavour: The yeast esters are even more pronounced here – banana, apple/pear, tangy orange, chewy caramels and butterscotch. Again the syrupy sweetness is a little cloying. Doughy malts providing a hint of toasty-ness as it finishes a little sticky and sweet with hints of candied orange and banana.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light for its size. – 8.7% ABV. A little chewy and gelatinous, flat-ish Co2.

Overall: It has traits of our very own Cooper’s Vintage Ale (which personally we think is better than this). Love the acknowledgement to the history of this brewery but the actual beer itself doesn’t really float our boat.

Durham Brewery ‘Cloister’ Premium Bitter


“A simple malt grist of maris otter pale malt and a small amount of crystal malt is bittered and aromatized by a complex addition of a unique blend of hops. English, Czech and American hops mingle throughout the boil to give a heady flowery aroma, and a tantalising peachy flavour, offset by a refreshing degree of bitterness. Despite its complexity this beer is clean and thirst quenching.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Amber with a soft orange tint. It produced two fingers of finely beaded foam and retains nicely. Webbed lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: So satisfyingly English. In this day and age of crazy hopped out juicy oat cream hazy IPA’s it’s very refreshing to take in such a traditional aroma profile. Super earthy, lots of orange citrus/marmalade, a touch of candied lemon, black pepper, mixed berries, mildew, basil and mild lychee or watermelon. Love it! Love a good English bitter.

Flavour: Again, the earthy-ness is the integral part. Surrounding it is the semi sweet orange citrus and berries and the subtle spicy herbs i.e basil, coriander and rocket there in the background. The classic toasty/bready malt counteracts it all beautifully. Citrus comes back in to the fold before it wraps up with a grassy/herbaceous finish which endures.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and inoffensive. Slightly dry post swallow. Medium body and Co2. Only 4.5% ABV so it’s certainly in session territory.

Overall: Just a lovely English pale. Conventional and impeccably balanced yet chock full of flavour and aroma. Our first entry for this British brewery and we’re impressed.

Dieu Du Ciel! ‘Voyageur Des Brumes’ ESB


“This mahogany coloured beer has a caramel malt bouquet accompanied by the light aroma of hops. The caramel malt taste sails wonderfully into the mouth alongside a fruity taste brought about by a trio of hops.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Pours a lovely copper to deep amber with a short off white cap. It gradually breaks up and settles at the rim. Reasonable lace chasing it down.

Aroma: A heavenly mix of sweet caramel, buttered bread and toffee meets the olfactory’s. Really earthy hop profile with hints of marmalade and sweet orange citrus. Lots of biscuity sweetness beginning to opening up along with subtle touches of black tea, dried apricot and honey. Absolutely on point!

Flavour: Similar to the nose but with a slightly more pronounced hop bitterness. Caramels, buttery toast, toffee and honey are balanced by slightly bitter orange peel and marmalade. It hits a nice toasty note midway and continues in to a dry finish full of mild roast , toffee and earthy/spicy hops.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, kinda creamy with moderate bitterness kicking in post swallow. Medium body and Co2. 5.2% ABV is well placed.

Overall: DDC is one of the first craft breweries we ever fell in love with (going back some years now!). Their consistency and quality is their best trait. Just take this ESB as a prime example…they brew one better than the Poms! World class.

Coastal Brewing ‘Old Bar’ Best Bitter


“A straw coloured English Best Bitter brewed in the English Black Country style. Smooth and sessionable sitting at 4.0% ABV – perfect for an Autumn evening. Named after ‘Old Bar’ – a beautiful coastal town to the north of Forster where the brewery is located.”

Glassware: English Pint

Appearance: Almost 100% clear golden complexion with a short yet well retained cap on top. Healthy lacing as we go.

Aroma: Classic Euro-centric spicy and herbal hops with additions of light florals, mild lemony citrus, cut grass, earthy/woody notes and semi sweet malts. Not a whole lot else really…it’s just super crisp, almost Pilsner-esque daytime neck oil.

Flavour: Follows the nose with Noble hops for days – peppery spice, grassy herbals, florals and slightly earthy accents fuse with the subtle honeyed malts. Very delicate citrus across the mid palate leading in to an ultra clean finish which offers some grassy and spicy tones on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Again very Pilsner-esque – light, crisp and clean with super soft bitterness and fine carbonation. 4% ABV definitely has it in session territory.

Overall: Even though we’ve tried many of CBC’s beers before this is actually our first review. It’s very basic but essentially it’s true to style and bloody easy to put back. Not going to break down any doors but it’s a fairly decent drop.

Holgate Brewhouse Double ESB


67322980_1134239863426824_7070321127691649024_n“Our Double ESB is a strong and celebratory take on the classic. English crystal and roast malts give a rich and chewy malt character alongside a quintessentially English hop character (floral, spice, honey) courtesy of East Kent Golding hops.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Deep amber complexion with a fizzy three finger head emerging on top. Retention is pretty good so we’re seeing a thick and soapy lace sticking to the glass as we go.

Aroma: It’s got those hallmark bready and caramel malt-forward scents followed by toffee apple, fresh brown bread, toast, herbal spice, raisin, marmalade and subtle orange peel. A bit of a sweet nutty accent happening as well. They’ve hidden the 7.5% AbV remarkably well…can’t even get a hint of it! They’ve absolutely nailed this aroma.

Flavour: Nice transition from the nose…again, bready/toasty and sweet caramel malts dominate the fore. Just a hint of the warming booze creeping in. Right on cue those zesty orange notes come to the party – pithy orange peel and hop bitterness drying things up nicely. Caramel, toffee and light brioche carrying in to a bitter sweet finish that goes the distance.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full, chewy and gelatinous with mild-medium co2. A slight burn from the booze but honestly it’s pretty well shackled.

Overall: Holgate’s original ESB is one of Australia’s best interpretations of the style so it comes as no surprise that this iteration is practically faultless. The AbV shows through a tad but we can’t blame them for that (it is a double ESB after all!). Kudos Holgate that’s top shelf stuff.


Wayward Brewing ‘Furious Gnome’ ESB

46505754_986744881509657_241970043615707136_n“A super smooth English Ale with a deep amber colour and aromas of biscuit, coffee and caramel. This style of beer is actually not especially bitter at all. Cool fermentation provides a clean finish which, alongside subtle hop bitterness. Perfectly balances the rich malt driven palate.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Deep amber with excellent clarity. It builds a finely beaded finger of head which persists and decorates the sides of the glass nicely.

Aroma: It offers a rich and sweet caramel malt profile which leads in to somewhat buttery and bready undertones. Really holding true to its English roots with its toasty, nutty, toffee and moreish butterscotch supported by more faint notes of gentle roast, biscuits and light florals. Certainly one of the better Aussie ESB aromas.

Flavour: Transitions nicely – really hitting that malt sweetness with perfection. It’s mostly caramel-driven but well layered with mild roasty notes, butterscotch, biscuit, nuts and a very delicate roast. Some floral hop character in there, again, staying true to its origins and playing 2nd fiddle. Finishes light, toasty and slightly dry with excellent length.

Mouthfeel: There’s a lifted co2 and AbV (5.6%) but otherwise it’s medium weight and low on bitterness (26 IBU) with a kind of creamy texture.

Overall: Really solid ESB…almost in Fuller’s territory. We recall trying this years ago at the brewery and being very impressed so we’re glad to see that hasn’t changed. This here is the real deal, without a doubt one of Australia’s best interpretations of an ESB

Young’s Special London Ale

27072558_806470756203738_9011592309726723291_n“Young’s Special London Ale is the UK’s No.1 bottle conditioned ale. It is an unpasteurised, living beer, matured in the bottle for a fuller, more complex, multi-dimensional, fresher taste. Without artificial carbonation, the only fizz is the natural effervescence created by fermentation.”

Glassware: English pint.

Appearance: Relatively clear amber colour with a healthy two finger head forming on top. It slowly retracts and dispenses a fine lace as it subsides.

Aroma: Big malty notes erupting out of the glass. Oodles of caramel, toffee, bread crusts, hay and toast. Solid hop bill as well, it almost results in an English IPA with its zesty orange citrus, floral notes and soft spicy characters. Some dried stonefruit coming through as it settles. Surprisingly good, really good actually.

Flavour: Delicious malt profile that provides sweet caramel, toast and honey. Like the aroma there is a sturdy hop presence bringing stonefruit, marmalade, apricot and earthy spice. It hits a slight dryness midway then surges in to a long, sweet and kind of spicy finish with a hint of grassy hop in the tail.

Mouth feel: Texture is drying but also smooth as silk. Moderate co2 with medium body. Very well hidden ABV (6.4%).

Overall: We are really surprised by this. Here we are thinking this would be a straight forward traditional ESB but it’s far from it, she’s crammed full of malt sweetness and spiked with a big hop profile. Teetering on the edge between an ESB and an English IPA. Impressive.

Young Henrys ‘Real Ale’ Best Bitter

18057637_681836508667164_626769631882701101_n“The Real Ale is our take on a traditional Best Bitter. In other words, where British style meets Australian tastes. We start with a 50/50 blend of English and Australian malts then add three of our favourite varieties of Aussie hops; Topaz, Galaxy and Ella. This gives a New World kick to an Old World classic. Thanks to some lingering sweet toffee and caramel flavours, the Real Ale packs loads of flavour into a 4% beer. So much so that we were invited to the UK for the 2014 International Real Ale Festival and were incredibly honoured to see this beer pick up the Gold medal, matching it with some big hitters from the home of Best Bitters.”

Served in an English pint. Slightly hazy deep amber complexion with a short head topping it off. Good retention though, allowing a wavy lace to stick to the glass as we imbibe.
Quite a simple aroma, but very effective. It obviously focusses on the sweet bready malt with caramel meeting the floral and earthy hops. Some jammy characters in here, marmalade and apricot come forward with a nice toasty note working in. Something candy-ish in here that we just can’t put our finger on. Toffee apple maybe? Either way it’s a nice touch.
Super smooth in the mouth. Creamy texture, mild Co2 and a very gentle bitterness. Just 4% ABV as well so session ability is what it seems the brewers are going for here.
The flavour backs up with a big impression of white bread, caramel, earthy hop and light florals. Somewhat of a nutty middle makes way for a super smooth finish which reveals biscuity malt, subtle herbs and dough on the back end.
We can now see how this ale picked up a gold medal in the UK real ale festival, it’s about as traditional as you can get. Wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this pouring right next to a tap of London Pride in any classic English pub.