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Notes on beers in the style

English Bitter

Ding
The English Bitter

I have not spoken to Bob Sandage about 'Ding', so I cannot comment on its origin with any degree of certainty, but here is what appears to have happened. Recently Bob went to England for a short visit where he was exposed to some classic, English Bitters. His trip happened to coincide as our argument/discussion about the characterization of cask beer in America was coming to a head, and as a result of those two events, he decided to brew Ding, The English Bitter. If that's inaccurate, my...

Cains Finest Bitter

Having had this from the can several months ago but I wanted to refrain from reviewing it until I could at least get the kegged version (given that I was pretty sure that I'm never likely to see the cask presentation here in the US). Patience, and up this pops at Hop City, Atlanta, GA for a very pleasing $3.99 for the 32 oz growler. Sensible price, sensible volume, and sensible ABV; quite the novelty combination here in the USA. Pour is a little on the uncarbonated side but it does give a very...

Iron Horse

500 mL bottle, Hop City, Atlanta, GA $3.99. Good value I thought. Light colored, amber body with plenty of airy bubbles and head. Good retention and some nice, sticky white lace that leaves an attractive pattern. Nose is a light, floral note. Hops upfront, but in a subtle, non-assertive English manner. Tastes deliver a dryish experience with more hops than I was expecting. To be honest this drinks more like an English Pale Ale or perhaps even an English IPA rather than a Bitter. it lacks much...

Pullman

Delighted and surprised to get hold of this from Hop City, Atlanta, GA, USA. Obviously a new entrant to the American market, let alone the Atlanta one. 500 mL bottle that I bought along with the Old Ale and the Iron Horse Pale. Obviously a railway theme, both from the names and the shape of the Hepworth logo on the label. Good stuff. Pour is quite a surprisingly light gold in color and the carbonation seems a touch on the high side, even a little bubbly. Some nice sticky lace. Nose is a strong...

Ruddles County

500 mL bottle from Peace Street Market, Raleigh, NC, USA. $4.99. I've been drinking Ruddles County (and Ruddles Best with the blue logo) for about 25 years, but not so much in the last ten since I've been marooned in the USA. My past experience has largely been on draft and in cans, but this is one of the clear glass, imported bottles. Pour is resplendent. It gives a beautiful, light copper body and a fantastic, frothy, large bubbled, sustained head and great sticky lace. HUGE, light biscuity...

Newcastle Summer Ale

Good GOD, Geordies across the globe will be horrified I'd imagine, and as for the old-timers, well they must be mortified. I'm really not at ALL sure what style of this beer is supposed to be and S&N's web site (including the Heineken USA site) reveals nothing. HILARIOUSLY, a 'phone call to Heineken USA in White Plains, NY connects me with a courteous young man who tells me that no such beer exists - he takes my number and promises more research! === *** PLEASE NOTE: I've entered it here as a...

Hooky Bitter

$5.00 for the 500 mL bottle from Bruisin' Ales, Asheville, NC, USA. The pour is WAY TOO light for my liking. I'm alarmed by the golden color that competes with the word "Bitter" on the label. NOT my idea of the look of an English Bitter at all, but maybe times have changes somewhat and the advent of the English, "Golden Ale" seems to be permeating all kinds of areas that I never thought it would. Outside of the appearance I get a whole load of things that seem more familiar to me. Light,...

Pisgah Pub Ale

Drunk at the brewery on 4/3/09. Very difficult to categorize this, nor am I sure what Pisgah is trying to do here, but here we go. This is described as a "Pub Ale" but I have no idea what that really means. My suspicion is that they have drawn inspiration from the nasty, cream-flow, pseudo English bitters that we get in cans in the US. Seems like an unlikely source of inspiration for Pisgah, but hey, whatever. The beer is presented on nitro pour with a Hefe-like, clouded yellow body and a...

Golden Pig

From notes: Interesting brew this, mainly because it has the name and the appearance that would suggest that it is one of the infamous "Golden Ales" that have grown up in England over the last few years as dumbed down, traditional English Bitters. HOWEVER, despite the appearance (which is decidedly in the Golden Ale category), this beer drinks as a definite, standard English Bitter to me. A yellowish appearance with nice, bubbly head and a decent spread of lace, the challenger nose is...

Wainwright

Well, interesting stuff. This, along with Shuttle, Bomber and Double Century have recently made it to the US in 500 mL bottles. The presentation looks good and some thought has gone into this. They seem to be retailing for $4.99 across the board. I am worried about a couple of things about the range in general. These beers tend not to travel well, and in any case they are simply beers that are infinitely better in their cask versions, close to the source. Hardly any bottled beer of this type...

Skinner’s Betty Stogs Bitter

Deliciously sessionable, simple example of an English bitter. Summer 2007 from notes - somewhere in Cornwall! Main characteristics include the biscuit malts, the smooth mouthfeel and the drinkability. This is the kind of beer that one thinks of as being typical of the refreshing, quaffable and moreish bitter of yesteryear. Mid brown pour with a better than expected head considering the cask serving. Long, drawn out nose and aftertaste that match perfectly. Malts compete with one another in a...

Golden Seahawk

Another classic English bitter if not quite a classic in its own right. Cask offering at The Well House, Cathedral Yard, Exeter, Devon, England. Summer 2007 from notes. This was offered at the end of the Real Ale Festival at the pub the week before. Very Pale, golden color almost yellow. Subtle flavors with honey sweet notes and a typical biscuit malt and Goldings combination (not sure if Goldings are used in this but it seems that way to me). Light, bitter aftertaste and finish. Slight...

Princetown Jail Ale

Quite surprised to see this one already in the database. Purchased from an independent, gourmet food store on the high street in Okehampton, Devon, England. Very impressed with the color of the pour, and quite surprised at the depth and richness of the head and lace. More than I was expecting. Color is a distinct, fairly dark copper, and has nice clarity and good depth. A simple malt based brew, typical of the style but also with (for an English beer of its type) a rather raised hop profile....

Uncle Teddy’s Bitter

On tap at The Brick Store, Decatur, GA, USA. Pint poured with a surprising degree of chill haze and a distinct lack of clarity which worried me. The head was not well formed either, and the lace suffered a little - I was also surprised at the temperature - The Brick Store is usually pretty much spot on with temp, but this seemed too cold. Mid-brown body. Not the best beer i have ever seen in the glass. Nice malt based bitter with a simple light hop profile lurking underneath and in the finish....

Adnams Regatta

From notes, Summer 2007 when I drank this at "On the Waterfront" in Exeter, Devon, England. Spent MANY, many happy hours at this pub eating the "dustbin lids" pizza's as a student - now I'm back with the wife and kids! GULP. Well - what a shock! Adnams is a brewery that I have GREAT respect for, and generally I love their beers, but this was a HORRIBLE disappointment. Essentially a lager, and not a very good one at that. I guess this is simply one of these, dumbed down Golden Ales that have...

Spring Tide

Taken from notes, Summer 2007. Drunk in several East and South Devon venues both on Cask and in bottles. This is the bottle version review. Pour gives a low carbonated, simple amber body but the lace is very pronounced considering the head. It's simple, well balanced malts all the way, with a slight hop bite in the finish. Sessionable features (if a touch on the high ABV side), but it all works well. Typical of the style, very easy drinking and nothing much to report outside of a solid version...

Anchor Small Beer

I've been wanting to try this for a while, and I finally got around to getting some on my recent jaunt up the East Coast (we don't get this particular Anchor product in GA). $3.79, it came from State Line Liquors. 1 Pint, 6 floz "Anchor Style" shaped bottle, a really good looking presentation. 7LP in the usual Anchor style, dot-matrix printing on the rear label. Pour reveals plenty of head and lace, and a lovely golden, orange clear body. Lace is very good, carbonation is high. Very mild...

American Best Bitter

Apparantly (I've never been here before so I am guessing slightly) this is part of the "Peachtree and 14th" rotating cask series at TAP, Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA, USA. Surprisingly light, golden colored beer that reminded me of a (recently) popular English Golden Ale in terms of its appearance. Low carbonation (as expected) but more thin head and lace than I was expecting. Nice biscuit malts are present as I would I expect, and these do linger nicely into the aftertaste. Tasty brew with a...

Free Beer

An interesting concept, here's the official line from the brewery web site; "FREE BEER (version 3.2) is an open source beer! And if you are wondering what that means keep reading. The recipe and branding of FREE BEER is published under a Creative Commons license (Attribution-ShareAlike2.5). This gives permission for anyone to use the recipe or create a derivative to brew their own FREE BEER and to use the design and branding. FREE BEER (version 3.2) from St. Austell Brewery is based on classic...

St. Austell Tribute Premium Cornish Ale

This beer was absolutely EVERYWHERE I went in Devon & Cornwall in the Summer of 2007. I drank it on several visits to loads of different pubs. It was mildly depressing that it was so available since it gave the impression that the St. Austell Brewery had become the BMC of the South West. I suppose, since the beer was so solidly good, that was not really such a bad thing! Standard amber pour with a nice looking bone-white head. Good lace. There's really not much to say about this beer other...

Cotleigh 25

Sampled at The Well House, Exeter, Devon, England. Summer 2007, reviewed from notes. Advertised in the pub as the 25th Anniversary brew. Typical light amber pour with a hint of cloudy chill-haze in the appearance. Light and sparkling with a generous combination of bright malts, refreshing orange zestiness in the hops, and a decent caramel finish. Light drinking, good summer stuff. Exceptionally tasty, this beer reminds me of a summer shandy. Delicious.

#’s Ale

Part of a sixer from Green's, Buford, Atlanta, GA, USA. 12oz bottle. Great looking pour into the Young's Imperial Pint glass. Big, billowing head and some nice lace - good retention too. Light copper color with very good clarity and some fine, but very nice carbonation. Pretty darn good looking beer. Soft, soapy hops in the nose but this is very reserved. Taste shows somthing unusual - a simple, balanced and well made beer that is not trying to prove anything, rather it is content to be a...

Double Drop

Taken from notes from England, July 2007. Cheers Chris! Dark golden colored pour from the clear 500 mL bottle. Wispy, bubbly head, some creamy lace. Looks nice. Sweet malts dominate this typically English brew, with a small hop presence in the finish. Dry and sweet at the same time. Bitterness is more in the nose rather than the taste. A little caramel and toffee come through, with the classic shortbread and biscuity based malts. Very drinkable. Won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I could...

St. Peter’s Ruby Red Ale

From notes taken in July of 2007 in England. Cheers Chris! Pour reveals a really quite dark body with a small, but dense ad creamy head. Spotty head (again creamy), some lace. Interesting beer that combines a number of attributes; creaminess of a Porter, a little spice that is reminiscent of a Winter Warmer (that apparently comes from the Goldings), and the classic biscuit malt subtlety that you would expect from a typical, simple but well made English bitter. Extraordinarily drinkable, a...

Old Moggie

Arguably THE best beer that I had on a recent trip back home that included over 100 different beers in a three week period. Exceptional malts are upfront which hold the whole brew together. Perfectly balanced hop profile cuts in, but the sweetness of the malt make this beer for me. Almost honey-like flavor and smoothness, real ambrosia. Pour is a mid amber color with a good head that is dense and well retained. Lace is superb. To say this beer is easy to drink is the understatement of the...

Back Beach

Available in a number of Devon locations, but I drank this on tap at The Firehouse in Exeter, Devon, England. Pat and Don are no longer the owners at the Firehouse (from my days of working there) but the building and the pub were almost identical. Happy to find the old place still looking the same after 15-20 years! Back Beach was one of three or four cask beers available. I think this is the type of English Bitter that has gained in popularity so much in recent years and is often called a...

Pot Wallop

Another one of the lighter bitters that have often been called "Golden Ales" in recent years in the UK. Golden pour with good clarity and nice carbonation. This is a very light beer with some simple and straighforward bitterness and a good malt backbone. Although nothing to write home about, I always look for a brewery to have a couple of beers like this in their stable because they can show off a mastery of the art and a level of consistency that is often missing. Fresh, grassy and a little...

Hopback Summer Lightning

Very nice. Clear, golden pour with good carbonation but this fades quickly and there is not much lace. Mildly disappointed in the look (perhaps a function of the bottling). Very distinct hop aroma with almost a sweet, oak aged or whisky type smell - VERY attractive! Extremely light drinking, this is well named. Refreshing and initial sweetness is backed up with perfect balance that takes the drinkability to a new level. I am guessing that this suffers a little in the bottle, so, fresher and...

Old Man Ale

Updated notes 11/19/23 (pictured) NOTE: Scores on this fresh bottle would be; 4.5, 4.0. 4.5. 4.5. 4.5 Note: This is labeled as 4.8% these days as opposed to the previously recorded 5.0%. This has been classified as an English Brown Ale in some places, but I don't see it that way at all. It's more of an English bitter or ESB, even if it's a little hoppy for that, and a little drier. Another beer that I thought I wouldn't see again in the USA, but here we are, over 16 yers later. Great clear,...

Ridgeway Bitter

Green's, Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA, USA. 500 mL bottle. Light orange pour with a small but persistent, bright white head. Significant lace, quite thick on the inside of the glass. An all malt nose with typical biscuit sweetness. Nice. The tastes are more bitter than I was expecting and the mouthfeel a little thinner. A little drier in the finish than many of the style. Mild soap in the aftertaste. A little less smooth than many of the other English Bitter imports that we get in the USA.

Honker’s Ale

12 oz single from Liquor Barn, Lexington, KY, USA. I don't know if this is your typical English bitter, in fact I know it's NOT, but nevertheless it is a pretty nice drink. Nice light color, but a fast fading head. A small amount of lacing. To me this drinks more like a hybrid English/American IPA. It lacks the biscuit malt subtlety of a typical English Pale Ale or Bitter, and it fails to deliver that mild fruity aftertaste, but it does compensate for some of those shortfalls with pleasing...

Old Leg Over

Presented in a 500 mL brown bottle (that will please some, but matters little to me) with a slightly updated label compared to the BA database picture. Lots of information on the label too. Lovely clear mid-amber pour with a nice head and some lovely lacing. This is a mild beer in all respects, and will probably be horribly under appreciated in the US. Well, this is a typical English Pale Ale with plenty of lovely soft biscuit malts, delicate mouthfeel and excellent drinkability. With an ABV...

Younger’s Special Bitter

Light amber pour with some chill haze and a nice full head. Some decent lacing too. Aroma is of mild hops, but generally pretty non-descript. Extremely middle of the road bitter. Balanced malt profile with a small amount of bitterness in the finish, but very little to report. A fairly dry finish too. Refreshing, but lacks depth and body. Session possibilities, but not especially captivating in any way.

Cropton’s Calamity Ale / Uncle Sam’s Bitter

Toffee and butterscotch body is topped with a huge head and some cloudiness in the bulk of the beer. The carbonation is massive in the bottle and gets just a little annoying on the pour. Malty alcohol is a wonderful treat for the nose and this is the best part of the brew. This is followed up by the mixed fruit alcohol and then some really quite bitter hops in the finish. Actually quite metallic. Strangely pitched against the metallic hops is a cloying sweetness - a very odd combo! This seems...

Camerons Strongarm

Chill hazed, light brown body, small but creamy, thick and reddish head that hangs around nicely. Some nice lacing. Definite aroma of that "matured in whiskey casks" type smell, but it is fairly muted. By that, I mean a rich, sweet liquor type aroma the lies on top of the nutty malts in the nose. Caramel and malts dominate the taste, with sweetness and balanced light hop bitterness coming together to give the feeling of a traditional English pint. Like many similar beers it's best not to drink...

Bluebird Bitter

Additional notes 10/26/22 Seventeen years between these notes! Color the same but significantly less hop notes than the original notes suggested. This is MUCH close to a biscuit based, gentle, and subtle English Bitter than one would ever gather from my 2005 notes. Some light coinage metal in the nose that is not really reflected in the tastes. Very light, easy drinking which is what I would expect in the forst instance. Odd that my original notes don't reflect this. Light, easy drinking,...

Young’s Dirty Dick’s Ale

I spent several years drinking in Dirty Dick's pub in Bishopsgate, in the heart of the City of London in the early 90's, and until I read the label on the back of the bottle I hadn't associated this beer with the pub - now I know. Nice bottle with the raised glass seal near the neck. I like the corporate branding of Young's beers, they are distinguished. Light amber pour with a small head. Disapates soon with some limited lacing. Some citrus (possibly) orange in the nose. Very mild hops and...

Wexford Irish Cream Ale

The points for appearance, mouthfeel and drinkability (all 4.0) for this brew are almost always the same for these "creamy" nitro-can ales. Unfortunately they are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between, and are becomingly increasingly bland - Wexford Cream Ale was no exception. It pours a slightly cloudy pale orange color, but soon clears to give the typical nitro-can, creamy topped, appetizing look. The smoothness of these beers in general makes them highly drinkable (in terms...

St. Peter’s Best Bitter

Lovely. Love the St. Peter's bottles and the look of this fine brew. An amber pour with a really frothy head leaving some excellent lacing. A really refreshing, light "ale" taste, but still flavorful. Slightly fragrant aroma which is something I don't normally enjoy, but the light refreshing nature of this brew was really different. Almost like a "light" beer for serious drinkers. I was pleasantly surprised. Very drinkable since it goes down so well.