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Old Growler - Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old GrowlerOld Growler

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

191 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 191
Reviews: 148
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 5
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Porter |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-10-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 191 | Reviews: 148 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Seemed a cross between a barleywine and a Porter in aroma and taste. Easier drink than a thick stout. Tan brown with a modest amount of lace. And not overpowering as a barleywine. Nice, medium/bit thin mouthfeel. Malty, modest roasty. This works for the sum of its parts.

Sammy, Sep 28, 2004
Photo of brentk56
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a tootsie roll brown body with a beige head that quickly reduces to a film but does leave a few momentoes of lace around the side of the pint glass

Smell: Roasted malt with a touch of chocolate and prune

Taste: Nice dark roasted malt opening followed by subtle hints of chocolate, burnt coffee, dark fruit and a touch of wood

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with modest carbonation

Drinkability: A wonderful example of a subtle but complex porter

brentk56, Feb 05, 2006
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Old Growler is one of the lightest porters that you'll ever see. Non-opaque reddish copper with bright orange highlights capped with a less than firm beige head that doesn't linger as long as it might. Neither does it appear to be all that sticky; therefore... almost no lace.

The underpowered nose has notes of dark malt and dark, dried fruits such as currants and figs. Maybe a whiff of carob, but no dark chocolate or coffee; it's just not *that* kind of porter. The flavor is bolder and more outgoing than the nose, but this beer tastes more like a dark lager than a porter.

My taste buds register flavors of heavily toasted malt, dark toffee and the same dark fruits mentioned above. The body/mouthfeel is overly thin (acceptable, makes it drinkable) and overly fizzy (not acceptable). The finish is modestly bitter, dry and tea-like.

The label informs the drinker that this is 'a traditional English porter' and that the recipe is 254 years old. That's traditional by anyone's definition. Be that as it may, Old Growler isn't really my thing. Simple to drink? Sure. Stands out in any way? Nope. I'm sure that there are adherents to this type of porter in general and this beer in particular, but I'll give it a friendly, respectful pass.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 01, 2004
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.33/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a clear light dark beer with a medium head with standard retention. Aroma is a mix of roasted malt and chocolate. Taste is a bit surprising with quite strong chocolate notes with nice roasted malt with subtle hops and a thin watery finish. Body was lighter then expected for a porter. Overall, this is like a light chocolate porter – not bad, just different I guess.

Phyl21ca, Oct 04, 2004
Photo of GRG1313
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a thick, rich and firm khaki head. Nice looking.

Nose is roasted light coffee with plum tones and hints of cooked stone fruit.

Mouthfeel is medium but with a richness, creamy character and brightness. There is actually a "refreshing" quality to this which is a bit unique in my experience for a porter.

Flavors are assertive, albeit simple, roasted coffee, roasted grain and burnt toast, with an almost lemon citric front palate that goes to the bitter roast.

Finish is medium bitter espresso and lightly burned coffee. Nice drink and very appealing. You want to keep drinking it.

GRG1313, Mar 05, 2011
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark brown body with some ruby hues at the edges and topped with a finger of ecru foam.

Smell: A grab bag of various notes: some chocolate, nuts, caramel, ripe plums, raisins, wood bark, and spice.

Taste: Starts with a sweet mix of chocolate caramel, along with a bold dark fruitiness from the English ale yeast. Spicy, herbaceous hops with a mild bitterness. Small pinch of tobacco along with minor hints of wood and nuts. Dry maltiness on the smooth finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Fairly smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Truth told, the one kind of grew on me. A subtle, well-balanced, easily drinkable porter.

ChainGangGuy, Jan 28, 2010
Photo of oberon
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with a nice amount of amber tint with a thin head that leaves a thin lacing around the glass.A very fruity aroma off the bat with a bitter chocolate note coming thru after the beer sits for a few minutes.Alot of flavor to this porter from a nice juicy fruitiness to a chocolated malted milk to a dry earthiness in the finish.Hey this a very very nice porter light but not watery and alot of nice flavor, one of the better porters I have had in quite awhile.

oberon, May 30, 2004
Photo of Slatetank
4.4/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at State Line in Elkton MD. Poured chilled into a tulip and sipped til just above room temp from a 16.9 oz brown bottle.

A - A dark mocha brown w/ a 2 finger band of tan. The bead is pin sized and lace forms nice rings the head is rocky topped.

S - A dark fruit and mineral odor w/ cocoa, plum and tobacco aroma w/ a hint of toast and wood. There are notes of spice and raisin in the nose

M - A dry clean texture w/ subtle sweet feel. The full carbonation gives this a refreshing texture w/ subtle spice and tinges of roasted and fruit textures in the finish

T - The flavor is roasted at first which gives way to fig and prune-like rich sweetness. The chocolate and coffee is supplemented by toffee and tinges of molasses. I like the toasted and raisiny brown sugar flavors at play here. The taste is deep w/ a woody complexity and very nice dry flavor as it a slight fruit mixed w/ roaste malt flavor behind.

D - This is a great tasting porter in the English tradition. I recommend this if you are a fan of Fuller's and Samuel Smith's Taddy porter. The drinkability is so nice since it is complex, deliciously smooth and earthy. The drinkability is enhanced for me by abv and this is quite the dark gem at the strength

Slatetank, Jul 15, 2008
Photo of russpowell
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep chestnut with a 2 fingers+ taan head. Very good lacing & good head retention

Smell: Slight maltiness (yawn)

Taste: Caramel & slight chocalate up front. Slight hop tea essences, then finishes fruitty, dry & choclatey

MF: Medium, well balanced & good carbonation

Drinks pretty tasty, but a shadow of the cask version I had in England in the early 90s

russpowell, Jun 29, 2006
Photo of jlindros
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big creamy head fades at a med pace with lacing, molasses rosy brown color.

Nose has a dry farmhouse like toasty malts, hint of roast and chocolate, bitter earthy roasty malts, hint of a dry like funk and chewy hops.

Taste is dry toasty stout, bit of chocolate malt, hint of bitter roast, light yeast and dry malts with creamy chocolate at the same time, chewy oats and malts, some bitter earthy hops, a dry irish stout flavor.

Mouth is med bodied, bit creamy, decent carb.

Overall decent, nice dry creamy Irish stout, light dry saison like farmhouse rustic almost funk.

jlindros, Jul 23, 2011
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.35/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

16.9 z bottle, from a 1750 recipe, so they say. Frothy tan head, aromatics are mild: cocoa, nuts. Color, a dark brown. Some hoppiness, good malt, very smooth and easy-drinking. It's just missing something in the character department. There's very little of the flavor I enjoy most in a good porter, that deep, dark, but smooth blend of coffee and chocolate. This version's on the mild side.

feloniousmonk, Dec 05, 2002
Photo of Rifugium
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at the Farmer's Cabinet, Philly, PA

Poured into a tulip glass, a dark cola brown with a nice puff of off-white head that retained well and left just a bit of lacing behind. Interesting aroma kind of reminiscent of some of the sour porters I've been seeing around lately: dark roasty malts, yeast, dark dried fruits. Wasn't sure at first if it was off-flavored or supposed to taste that way, but reading other reviews, I suppose the taste is on. It wasn't that it was bad, just a bit unexpected. Resembled a typical porter with the dark roasted malts, and cocoa/coffee notes, hints of tobacco; but there was a definite yeasty quality, and an infusion of raisin and citrus flavors that almost made it seem like a tripel had been blended in there. Interesting. Medium-bodied, and fairly drinkable, but only if I was really in the mood to try it again.

Rifugium, Sep 25, 2011
Photo of WesWes
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a sweet malty scent that boasts of pale and roasted malts. It's light with some burnt toffee notes. The taste is average. It has a smooth malty flavor that seems a bit light, but goes down easy with some residual sweetness on the finish. It has a funny aftertaste, like molasses or wet cardboard. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is an above average beer, but nothing I'd buy again. I don't really care for the taste.

WesWes, Jan 06, 2006
Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown to black with a beige head. Aroma is English malts and hops with some roasted malts as well. Flavor is definitely English, with roasted malts, English hops and a slight bit of coffee at the end. Slightly bitter, dry finish. Medium mouthfeel and carbonation and very drinkable.

Mora2000, Jan 01, 2010
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +4.4%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 27, 2011
Photo of smcolw
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Four finger tan head. Lasts a long time. The liquid is dark ruby brown where only really bright light passes. Some chunky lace remains on the glass.

Deep caramel aroma with some definitive sweetness.

My house guests found this beer to be a bit thin for the style, but I found it to be appropriate. There's a good dose of hop, but this story is about the toasted malt. An overall smooth beer. Relatively dry.

smcolw, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

When held up to the light this beer shows a brilliantly clear, sparkling concentrated ruby color, otherwise it is a deep, opaque amber hued dark, dark brown color. It is topped by a frothy, initially finger and a half thick, dirty, brown tinged tan color. The aroma is sweet and concentrated; notes of ample malt show aromas of toffee, caramel, sherry, touches of chocolate, toasted & even lightly burnt grain. A soft dark, burnt fruitiness is also here, I notice notes of raisins and figs in equal amounts, and even a related note of rum.

The taste is light up front, but has a rich, concentrated burnt caramel sweetness that certainly leans towards toffee at times. It finishes with an exaggerated malt character similar to the malt found in chocolate-malt-ball candies. A dry note comprised of a touch of chalk and dark chocolate lingers along in the finish along with a toasty, yet sweetish malt note. There is some fruitiness here as well. For some reason I want to say I taste a note of cherry (really a chocolate covered cherry note), but I can't really say why; I definitely taste notes of figs and prunes and even some roasted raisin notes, but not sure why I want to say cherry. This beer is quite quaffable, it is light on the tongue, but has a depth of flavor which allows it to linger on in the palate. This is quite enjoyable, I can imagine that this would taste quite good on cask.

Gueuzedude, Nov 18, 2006
Photo of BlackHaddock
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally got round to buying and reviewing a bottle of this beer. Brown 500ml bottle, 5 months beyond its Best by Date. Poured into my new La Chouffe tulip glass twice.

Wonderful colour, Mahogany red with a tan head that sat for ages on top.

A chocolate aroma with toffee esters hit your nose, lovely.

Rich plum bread type taste (without butter on it). Almost creamy in the mouthfeel, very rich and heavy in its body. If I know of a better Porter I can't think of one right now, this is good.

Glad I got to have this in a bottle, just as good as the cask version, 4's all round again.

BlackHaddock, Aug 12, 2008
Photo of GClarkage
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

07/27/08- Purchased at Bottle Barn, in Santa Rosa, CA.

Presentation- 500ml bottle with no freshness info. Poured into my imperial pint glass.

Appearance- Medium black in color, opaque. Watered down chocolate milk colored head. Very large bubbled and about a 3/4 inch rise upon pour. Medium ring of sticky lace remain.

Smell- Nice aroma of milk chocolate malt, a bit earthy with a touch of enlish style hops.

Taste- Damn, this beer would have brought down the house if it didn't have this annoying metal tinge to it for the entire beer. The milk chocolate was very large for a porter of this modest abv. Quite nutty and with a nice hoppy flaovr happening.

Mouthfeel- Miedium carbonation level with a slight taditional british hop aftertaste. Nice chocolate aftertaste as well.

Drinkability- Without the metal, this would have been a very solid porter, even with it here, it was quite drinkable. Maybe an off bottle?

GClarkage, Jul 28, 2008
Photo of woodychandler
4.6/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

It is becoming a porter afternoon, it looks like. I am waffling between bottles and CANs of late, but simply as an effort to reduce some of my stock. Once the bottles are depleted, The CANQuest (TM) will re-assume its rightful focus.

From the bottle: "This SPECIAL PORTER from an original London recipe which dates back to the year 1750, is only brewed by the Nethergate Brewery in rural Suffolk."

The carbonation seemed a bit low, producing only a moment's worth of light-tan head before falling to wisps. This seems to have held up quite well in the BeerFrigerator, in evidence a deep brown color with cola highlights. Nose had a smoky anise quality, very nice. Mouthfeel was medium with tastes of dried dark fruit, smoke, charcoal, anise and dark chocolate in the mouth. I was liking this even more than the earlier Taddy Porter! Finish was semi-dry with an intense smokiness that not only stole the show, but lingered well after the swallow. The other flavors remained in evidence, but it was the charcoal/smoke flavor that dominated. Was it the (inadvertent) aging that created this? I do not know because I have not reviewed it fresh, but this was a winner!

woodychandler, Jun 23, 2011
Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown with an average tan head. Nose had hints of chocolate with English malts. Taste was of roasted and English malts, chocolate, caramel, and really malty. It was very smooth going down and left me with a smooth malty and chocolate taste. A good porter overall, too bad I am not much on English brews because I cant stand English malts.

barleywinefiend, Jul 14, 2008
Photo of wl0307
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

BB MAR 09, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass. The label says the beer is brewed to a 1750's recipe!

A: very very dark brown in colour, with some mahogany glows against light; the dark beige head retains a 1.5cm thickness very well, leaving even sheets of lacing behind.
S: the aroma upfront smells more like a Dark Mild, due to a strong element of treacle or dark sugary syrup, on top of sweet dates, sour berry fruits, and a light sour, resinous touch of hops, sweet dark chocolates, and prune juice all come to mind.
T: a smooth flow of not-overly-roasted black malts, semi-thick sourness of raisins and prunes precede aromatic black malts and caramelised walnuts, which develop further with jammy black plums and a mild touch of smoked red beans, gradually settling down to a semi-chewy bitter and early hoppy finish reminiscent of sweetened roast tea as well as English hops. Semi-sour undertone lingers, outliving the bitter-sweetness actually.
M&D: refreshing enough, but the fizziness and a slightly thin body still are not as natural as a real cask ale, leaving the palate disagreeing a little with the flavour profile; that said, a decent, light sour fruitiness threads through the flavour, true to the style of English Porter. Overall, this is still a very good take on the brilliant cask version, but the palate makes it slightly less fantastic than the real thing.

* Tasting Date: 12/08/05
Tasted this beer at the Black Bull pub near White Chapel, East London.
4 A: it pours a clear, dark brownish colour with a deep brownish, forthy beerhead slowly fading out, leaving scattered lacing...
4.5 S: rich aroma of dark fruits (like black cherries and black prunes) combined with "calcium pills"(!!) and slightly blue-cheese-like savoury note arrives at the nose... a port wine-like aroma plus overwhelmingly aromatic malty body sustains at the back. How distinctive nose this is!
4 T: rich, chewy mouthfeel of chocolatey malts, on top of a floral and grainy flavour of malts, while the calcium pill-like interesting flavour lingers in the long, warming finish...
4.5 M&4 D: this is a full-bodied porter with a silky-smooth mouthfeel consistently. Very different from the cask-version but very enjoyable.

wl0307, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a Nonic)
A- This beer pours a deep black body with a hint of red in the glow at the base. There is a thick creamy light tan head that last for a good bit. There is a few tiny bubbles that pop of the side and glide up the glass.
S- The aroma of dark fruit and mellow roasted dark malt has a cola almost Dr. pepper quality with a tootsie roll finish.
T- The creamy smooth roasted flavor has a light cola taste to it. The dry finish almost taste flat bit it's more of a roasted quality. There is a faint spice note in the finish and the soft roasted fruitiness lingers for a moment after each sip.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a soft carbonation and no alcohol heat.
D- This beer has a nice flavor but it is just a bit to muted. This makes it easy to drink but just a bit more depth or character could really add some excitement. There are some very subtle characters that I just can't pin down but I think on tap or cask it might really bring those characters out.

rhoadsrage, Nov 11, 2010
Photo of DoubleJ
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

...we should probably get this underway. It's a "platinum winner", and it feautres a small CAMRA logo and a bulldog in the middle. From the 500 ml format, on to the beer:

Nearly black with ruby red hues. The head on top forms an inch thick, is semi-creamy, holds up well on top and leaves reasonable lace. The English accent of aroma is unmistakable from the American counterparts. It features some interesting black licorice notes, and also smoked peat, banana, and charcoal.

There are some things to like from this porter. The flavors are mild overall. Roasted malt and traces of brown sugar start it off. Kisses of licorice and molasses, and later unsweetened chocolate finishes it out. It's medium bodied, on the smooth side, and is easy to drink.

Old Growler hits the mark with this dark offering. It's a reasonably choice if you're looking for a porter that's not so robust.

DoubleJ, May 04, 2012
Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle into pint glass, L1125 bottle code. Pours fairly crystal clear dark reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass. Aromas of caramel, toast, toffee, raisin, fig, cocoa, brown bread, molasses, light roast, herbal, and toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, brown bread, cocoa, molasses, raisin, fig, light roast, herbal, and toasted earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, molasses, brown bread, cocoa, raisin, fig, light roast, herbal, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/roasted malt and fruity yeast ester flavors; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied; with a moderately creamy and slightly slick/chalky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with no warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice English porter style. All around good balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted malt and fruity yeast ester flavors; and very smooth to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

superspak, Jan 20, 2014
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Old Growler from Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.
86 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.