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Old Growler - Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.

Not Rated.
Old GrowlerOld Growler

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

191 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 191
Reviews: 148
rAvg: 3.83
pDev: 10.97%
Wants: 5
Gots: 5 | FT: 1
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)
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Ratings: 191 | Reviews: 148 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ybnorml
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown beer with strong red highlights. Has a thick beige head. There is a strong coffee character with a chocolate background in the aroma. A big rush of coffee flavor followed by some chocolate sweetmess and back to a black coffe bitterness for the finish. Quite tasty.

Photo of BeerBuilder
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a deep brown color with a creamy light brown head. The aroma is of roasted malts and toasted malts. It has a nice dark chocolate aroma as well. The flavor is toasty and bready which then flows to a light roastiness and chocolate finish. It has a light hoppy flavor throughout. In the finish is a bit of hop and roast malt bitterness. I very nice drinking porter.

Photo of BrewMaster
3.53/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Served on tap in a standard pint glass at Lucky Baldwin's at the BA Throwdown. It had a weird head made of of very large bubbles. A good portion of the bubbles were the size of Skittles, maybe a bit smaller. It had moderate head retention but the whole time I was looking at it I just kept thinking how stange it looked. The color is dark brown to black liquid with slight amber hues. Almost no light passes through it.

Smell: Again the weirdness comes in. There is sort of a spicy fruit smell to it, but nothing to distinct that I can name. Not very roasty in smell.

Taste: My first few sips of this beer I did not like it. But about halfway through the pint I changed my mind and became fond of the flavor. The beer is lightly sour with a big flavor of plum. It has some dry sweetness to it as well as a sandy, earthy flavor.

Mouthfeel: The sourness is not enough to make my mouth pucker so it is comfortably balanced by the sweetness.

Drinkability: This one gets better as it warms a bit and as more of it passes over my palate. I can't say I love this beer, but with its intriguing flavor I might consider drinking it again.

Photo of DrJay
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear, dark brown beer with coppery/red highlights topped by a dense, light brown head of fine bubbles that reduced quickly to a thin lace. Nice stickage to the sides of the glass. Roasted maltiness leaves the most impression in the aroma, but there is a bit of chocolate and light fruitiness. Burnt, roasted flavour to start, followed by malty sweetness and finishes with a lingering bitterness. Bitterness is fairly mild but balanced, and comes from both hops and roasted grain. The body was a bit thin, but the texture was quite smooth and was aided by the medium/low carbonation.

500 mL brown bottle with best before date stamped on rear label.

Photo of baiser
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown body, almost opaque. Head was disappointing, even after a hard pour. Lacing was ok, but this wasn't a very visually attractive beer.

Aroma of roasted malts, chocolate and a candy-like sweetness.

Taste was initially burnt chocolate and bitter coffee. After the bitterness passes, it's actually quite sweet and candy like. I'd say it was a bit too sweet for me. There's a nice roasted character. Good balance with the bitterness. Medium bodied. A solid porter.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of BeerResearcher
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.09oz brown bottle. No freshness date.
It pours a deep dark mahogany with a thin and fading beige head.
The smell is of slightly burnt toast and brown bread.
A taste of coffee and dark roast malt are upfront. A hint of dark bitter chocolate and smoke peek through.
This brew is fairly hoppy for a Porter. Edgy citrus and a slightly sour tartness mix with a light tea-like bitterness. A mild piney taste is noticed in the finish. A hint of alcohol is present throughout.

Photo of Guinness4me
3.45/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This gem poured a dark coffee color with a slight cream head with a soapy, cascading lace.

The smell had me stumped for a bit...sweet breads, molasses and and tobacco leaves. Extraordinary!

The taste was impressive as well with slight hazelnut and fig flavors. The most pronounced flavor was deep, rich coffee.

I found the tastiest part of this beer was the aftertaste which reminded me of coffee candy. A very nice porter that I will definitely enjoy again.

Photo of pootz
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 5.5% version. Poured a lovely dark cherry cola color with a respectable tan cap that goes to a sticky lace....delicious aromas of smokey figs. Low carbonation. Front side is mild, smooth sweet roasty malt pronounced....great mixture of fruity tastes, burnt toffee and some juicy lemony hops that ride in the background to keep this porter from becoming too sweet...finishes up fairly clean with a wonderful bready-sweet lemony tastes...A nice porter....one of the best I've tried for being very smooth and drinkable...well put together. like a casked draft porter from the 1800s Recommended.

Photo of Suds
3.83/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Dark, opaque, brown and slightly reddish color with a negligible head. Roasted and burnt malt aromas with a touch of under-ripe fruit and a sweet, grist-like smell. Coffee and bit of hops in the aroma as well. Initially sweet, with a sharp hop finish. Mid-taste is somewhat hollow and the mouthfeel is light, nearly watery. Still, the beer has a soft feel about it, in a very easy-drinking manner. It’s an uncommon porter, but drinkable, has a pleasing smell, and is worth a try (once).

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.55/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this on cask at the Romsey Beer Festival in Hampshire UK.

It has an ink black appearance with a big tan head that sticks around for a while (something that seems quite unusual with British Cask ales). The aroma is very toasty and full of coffee flavors. The taste is very intense. Lots of dark chocolate, deep coffee flavors, toastiness and a very strong bitterness. A very bold Porter. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth. Absolutely amazing, one of my favorite cask beers I had in England... packed with flavor.

Photo of maxpower
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear reddish-brown in color, small creamy light tan head that doesn't last, some lacing. Aroma of dark roasted coffee and malts. Light body, thin and soft mouthfeel. Smokey coffee and chocolate flavors, with a light burnt bitterness in the finish, somewhat watery but tasty and very drinkable.

Photo of Brent
3/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a dark cola color, with a good deal of light penetration observed around the edges. Aroma was a bit vinious, red wine and dark fruit. Not much head even on vigorous pour. Mouthfeel was moderately thin. Up front, the beer boasts a medium dark-roasted malt flavor, and a firm, non-aromatic hops bittering lands at the back of the tongue. The beer dries at the finish. The beer bills itself as a "traditional English porter," so I wouldn't expect it to be loaded up with hops or carry an unusual malt load, but, even so, this beer lacks substance. Seemed to have more in common with a mild brown ale than a porter.

Photo of Morris729
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, color with little to no head and only a thin collar of tan lace. Nose is a bit subdued at first but becomes more pronounced as the beer warms with notes of raisiny port, molasses, cocoa, and black liquorish. Medium to full in body with a winey texture. Tastes begins with roasted malts and dark fruit followed by some unsweetened chocolate. Next is some smoky and earthy notes of burnt wood and charcoal followed by some mildly sour prune notes. A nice brew that should be drunk near room temperature.

Photo of kbub6f
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

This beer is brown/black, mostly clear. Garnet against the light. The head is a minimal, yellowish-beige film. There is one spot of lacing, maybe two. Sweet chocolate in the nose with a little toffee, maybe a little nuts. The front shows unsweetened chocolate, roasty and tangy. The flat, oily middle is a little sick and a little buttery. Bitter chocolate in the tangy, buttery, roasty, toffee finish. This is a very good beer that falls short of great. But it does develop nicely with temperature, getting more creamy and rich. Quite enjoyable.

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.

Photo of Rumrunner
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1Pt .9 oz brown bottle. Large tulip style glass.

Pours a dark brown with a burnt wood quality to the appearance. Light carbonation leaves a light tan head. The head dissipates quickly but remnants stay throughout the drink. Good lacing down the glass. Scents are heavy dark fruits. A red wine tannin scent is very present. Toffee and unsweetened dark chocolate permeate the scents end with some mild coffee bean. Very nicely done.

Flavors are many and well controlled. Sweet and sour to start. The vinious wine quality is very present in this porter. Some dark chocolate and hints of coffee appear. Very minor liqour flavors appear here and there. A final hop flavor appears in the finish. No one flavor over powers the others. The flavors are very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is smooth and easy. Medium bodied. A bit slick but this is a very easy drinking porter. A nice sipping porter. Let it warm and go slow. It gets better as it warms. I think this is a fine porter.

Photo of HochFliegen
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer had little to no head with minimum amount of carbanation. The color was a deep brown with slight red tints to it. The smell was malty almost a carmel smell with a little hint of fruity tones. The taste was carmely as well with a hint of coffee and maybe even chocolate. It was amazing I really enjoyed the taste of this beer it was very smooth and clean. The mouthfeel was oily and bold. This is one of my new favorite beers.

Photo of moulefrite
4.35/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very little, if no head-the the color is deep brown, near black and appears to be very thick and viscous in texture-some ruby hues. Aromas are fruit driven (raisin/prune) deeply roasted, and a tad woody. In the mouth the beer is quite dry, and again very fruity. Fruit and dark chocolate come to mind as well as freshly brewed coffee. Woody and even slightly oxidized notes appear as well. On the finish a kiss of sweet cream. This is a fine porter, but not the run of the mill type. Give this one a couple shots and it wil surely grow on you.

Photo of Doiv
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now this one is a real treat. It emerges from the pump as dark as an Old Peculier, and it has that very ashen, smokey feel that makes Old Speckled Hen so great.

This has an incredibly strong flavour, putting it somewhere between a mild and a stout. (If such a thing is possible!) It tastes dense and almost silty, with a very dry, crisp overtone reminiscent of Guinness Original. This is a real winner.

Photo of Gusler
3.6/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer evacuates the bottle and pours a transparent deep incarnadine color, the head minute in size, the texture spumous, and the color a light tan with the lace a filmy slip to conceal the glass. The nose has a light toasted grain aroma at the front, slight sweetness in the middle and the end fresh and clean to the senses with the start nicely malted with a touch of caramel sweetness, top is thin in its feel. Finish is bearably acidic, the hops judicious in their spiciness, very dry aftertaste that lingers on the palate, a drinkable and light English Style Porter.

Photo of CRJMellor
3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep maroon with yellow highlights. Small white head, falls apart quickly leaving minor lace.
Aromas of roasted coffee and chocolate dominate.
Flavor is sweet chocolate, roasted barley, some espresso notes. Finish leaves a lingering bitterness.
Very light in the mout, too watery for the style.
Drinkability is OK, nothing really too great.

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Comes in a 1 Pint 0.9 fluid ounce “Half Litre” Bottle. Simple looking obverse label, that has a dark green belted oval with the words ‘Old Growler, a Traditional English Porter’ with the head of a fierce looking British Bulldog underneath. Crown capped with a different picture of an equally menacing looking Bulldog. Scary stuff. First Brewed in 1989, three years after the Brewery was established, it is brewed to an original London recipe which dates back to 1750, and it has been a firm favorite ever since and is often seen in the UK Cask Free Trade. I have never seen it in bottles, so I reckoned I should check it out.

Appearance: Dark brown clear looking mahogany body with a lovely, rather fluffy tanned head that has some large bubbles sat atop its otherwise smooth looking surface. The head has good staying powers and never gets below ¼”. Nice conditioning.

Nose: Malts laden with a liquorice toffee feel. Dark fruity aromas and pungent warm wafts of roast malts with dark chocolate & coffee in the back-end.

Taste: Slightly sweet/sour beginnings with a strong but short punch of roast malts. Middle is definitely fruity. Dark cooking chocolate ending with a nice hop bitterness. Lingering chocolate with some light liquorish skid-marks on the tongue. The finish has a vinous Old Ale character to it which is highly enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Smooth body, the conditioning is perfect and adds a nice dimension to the feel of this beer in the mouth and on the tongue. Has quite a powerful feel, way higher than the 5.5% would suggest.

Drinkability: No problems, I loved this one, brought back some memories of a few trips to Suffolk. A great Porter that drinks well.

Overall: Better as it warms. Not easy to “get” straight away, you have to work at this one, but it is rewarding & worth it. It’s very interesting to see these old recipes re-activated, and to see how much they differ from peoples “perceptions” of what a “good porter should taste like”. Try this and the Flag Porter next to each other and it is obvious that Porters of old were not as strong, thick and dark as people imagine, or rather should I say “led to believe”. The vinous trait in the back end is particularly authentic and often missed in more modern day versions.

I have drunk this beauty on Cask more times than I care to even remember when I lived in England. Somehow, its body and complexity loose a little something in the bottle. Nevertheless, this is a solid beer that is well worth trying.

A former CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain. But its favored serving method remains Cask-Conditioned, dispensed through an Angram Quarter Pull Beer Engine with a tight Sparkler (despite what the Brewery say), for me at least.

Old Growler from Nethergate Brewery Co. Ltd.
86 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.