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Royal Oak Pale Ale - O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.

Not Rated.
Royal Oak Pale AleRoyal Oak Pale Ale

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

73 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 73
Reviews: 59
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 12.28%
Wants: 10
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Pale Ale |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: brewdlyhooked13 on 02-28-2004)
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Ratings: 73 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Dantes:
Photo of Dantes

New Jersey

4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Package: 1 pint, 0.9 oz. (500ml) crowned, brown bottle. “Best before 02 28 05.” Label lists it at 5% ABV. As is common with the O’Hanlon’s labels, it is packed with information: a brief description of bottle-conditioning, the history of its namesake tree, and a description of the beer’s traditional style and recommendation to serve with hearty beef or cheeses.

Cost: $3.99 per bottle

Presentation: Poured into an Imperial pint glass at ~50º

Appearance: Toffee-copper color. Pours very clear. Bone-colored head forms nicely, but is loose, moist, and does not linger long, leaving a thin layer that left some surprisingly substantial lacing. Superfine bubble-threads stream up the sides of the glass. Tiny trace of lees in the bottle.

Smell: Traditionally toasty nose is welcoming and nostalgic. Notes of yeast, fruity and woody esters, and toasty malt with a hoppy prickle. Satisfying.

Taste: The taste delivers on the aroma in a big way. The malts are substantial and complex: the traditional bready, biscuity base supports a substantial hop presence and the dryly fruity and woody notes that float atop. A very “chewy” and substantial beer that belies its relatively low ABV. Less full and round than the bigger Fuller’s 1845, but on a par with their ESB. Shares some characteristics with the winter ales (which is how it was first described to me) from Fuller's and Young's. The refreshingly dry finish is solid, but a bit short.

Mouthfeel: The bottle-conditioning really shows well here. The bubbles are miniscule as they rise to the top and the texture is silky without losing its vibrancy. Pretty damn close to cask.

Drinkability: It doesn’t get much more drinkable than this. Maybe 5% ABV is a bit high for some, but this qualifies as a sessional for me (except for the price, which costs it 0.5 points).

Backwash: Let me start with the good news: This is the quickest and most convenient way to get “Real Ale,” short of BA flight 002! This is a very smooth, totally authentic real ale. It’s warming, complex, flavorful, and very refreshing. Now for the bad news. It almost makes the JFK-LHR Concorde seem worth it. At $3.99/bottle, it is much more expensive than Fuller’s ESB and 1845 (which followed this for comparison). While I know the dollar is weak and this is probably made in smaller volumes, it may be a hard sell, and I want this ale to succeed. Also, despite protestations to the contrary, I do believe that this has been “hopped” up a bit from what I remember. This was one of my all-time favorites when I lived in London, and always found an excuse to find the rare pub that had it. This version seems a bit thinner, lighter in color, and a tad more bitter than the draught version I remember. Anyone who professes a liking for great English Ale, should try this superbly crafted beer. The only reason this isn't a 5 is because I've had the even better cask version. One final note: Phoenix told me they are calling this a pale ale because Americans don’t like the word “bitter,” although I don’t know what the UK labels say. It’s a small quibble, but I’d still call this an ESB or bitter. Major kudos to Phoenix and O’Hanlon’s for taking the time and effort to resurrect this hallowed, handcrafted gem. I hope they get the support they deserve.

NB: I had a second bottle of this with some Cabrales, Manchego and prosciutto and I have to say this is a killer "cheese" beer.

Update: The more of this I have, the better it gets. Maybe I was too harsh at first, with my anticipation level so high. Also, a little cellar time might allow this to improve even more. I'm upgrading taste to 5.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2004 20:34:51 | More by Dantes
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05-15-2012 00:11:09 | More by smi
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3.75/5  rDev -6%

03-22-2012 21:04:43 | More by szmnnl99
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4/5  rDev +0.3%

02-19-2012 21:10:37 | More by djcira
Photo of mrfrancis


4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy, murky amber with a thick, puffy off-white head.

S: Aromas of minerals, toffee, dates, and ripe plums mingle with peppery hops on the nose.

T: Notes of toffee, minerals, roasted chestnuts, black walnut, plums, dates, leather, soda bread, and peppery English hops wash across the palate. The finish is straight-forward and quenching with toffee, nutty malt, and spicy hop flavors.

M: This ale is on the lighter side of medium in body and quite dry. Carbonation is firm. Very drinkable.

O: This is one of the better English pale ales I've tried in recent months. I am particularly impressed with the complexity of the flavor profile. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2012 03:26:46 | More by mrfrancis
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3/5  rDev -24.8%

02-15-2012 02:19:29 | More by jfcaa193
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4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

12-29-2011 17:31:10 | More by cdwil
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New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +25.3%

11-27-2011 15:34:49 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of Halcyondays


4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle,

A: Pours a translucent amber with a finger of white head, great head retention and lace throught the whole pint.

S: Maris Otter malt, some fruit and lemon, but quite light.

T: The flavour is impressive. Strong toffee and biscuit malt, balanced well with some dry, earthy and hearty Goldings flavour. Twinge of sourness mid-palate and finishes bitter.

M: Smooth, medium-bodied but not heavy. Calming hoppy aftertaste. Light carbonation makes it very quaffable.

D: A very nice bitter/pale ale right here. Wish it wasn't so expensive, it could be my new easy drinking British ale to stick with for an evening.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2009 02:03:50 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of mrmanning

Ontario (Canada)

3.35/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this bitter at Chaucer's Pub in London, Ontario. Deep ruby colour with orange hues. Pours a gian rocky white head, leaving plenty of pretty lace. Very fruity aroma off the start (plum), very malty with a good dose of hops. Biscuit and bread as well. Maybe a touch of cherry. The flavour profile is a nice of balance between the sweetness from the malts and a bitter almost piney flavour from the hops. FInishes creamy, buttery maybe, with nice bite from the hopping.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2009 17:44:08 | More by mrmanning
Photo of Traquairlover


4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 pint, 0.9 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Medium oak brown, slight haze from a sloppy pour, very firm bone white head of about one finger that has absolutely incredible retention, looks almost like meringue, leaves medium to medium-heavy lacing.

S = Maple syrup, light earthy hints of hops, some light spices such as white pepper and dried lemon and orange zest.

T = Fresh muffins, lightly covered with three fruit marmalade, nice tartness that shows up at midpalate and remains throughout for a great finish.

M = Light to medium-light body, great mouthcoating for the body, very smooth level of carbonation.

D = This one is a great easy drinker that I could happily pound several of in a sitting and can envision coming back to again.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2009 15:05:31 | More by Traquairlover
Photo of rkinsella


4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic glass.

Appearance - Bit of a cascade effect when poured. Produces a beautiful off white rocky head. Color is copper orange with perhaps a slight haze. Lacing the whole way down the glass.

Smell - A bit sour, tangy fruit, fresh water...I probably served it a bit too cold...as it warmed a little more...WOW, here came all the wonderful carmel and toasted bread smells. Really nice!

Taste - Biscuit/crackers, touch of grapefruit, very balanced with a fruit rind bitterness to finish it.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, silky, lower carbonation...in a word...perfect.

Drinkability - So smooth and tasty, they would go down easy.

My first experience with a bottle conditioned English "Real" Ale.
I now see what everyone is talking about. This is a BEER!!!

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2009 19:46:36 | More by rkinsella
Photo of wl0307

United Kingdom (England)

3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was happy to bump into this bottled-beer again, this time at the Sainsbury's in Basingstoke, at the discounted price 1 pound! BB 15/03/10, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: dark reddish amber to almost light copper hue carrying a beige foamy head that settles fast to a thin cap, along with a translucent whiff of yeasty shadow and extremely fine carbonation.
S: 50-50 chocolatey and caramelised amber malts come on a par with sour stone fruits, cranberries and oxidised Chinese round pears, while a whiff of perfumy hops and nuttiness stay quietly underneath. Sour-sweet overall, showing a considerable input of yeast sediments that could've been intrusive if I allowed a "free", rather than careful, pour in the first place.
T: the taste is sour-sweet fruity (tangerine-ish) upfront with clear yeasty hints, albeit not pungent; then gristy, brown-bready and caramely malt middle-taste catches up, mingling well with aromatic, semi-tea-ish bitter hops, while the roast-nutty maltiness simultaneously goes deep yet rich that makes an almost "warming" palate overall. For a Premium Bitter type of ale, the bitter tail is short-lived and restrained in intensity, yet a tannic-edge almost like crushed grape-seeds still lingers.
M&D: very smooth on the carbonation, medium-bodied, plus semi-balanced flavour profile but still in need of more input from hop bitterness. The yeast sediments seem to be very lively in the glass too, bringing down the overall taste a bit.

* Tasting Date: 17/04/05
Served cool in the goblet specially designed for Fuller's ESB. It's bottle-conditioned, 5%abv in a 500ml bottle, with expiry date of 9 Sept. 05. I've always wanted to try this beer as it's from a prestigious brewery in Devon, UK, and the beer is said to have won the Guardian/CAMRA Champion Bottle-conditioned beer of Britain in 2003.
3.5 A: rhubarb to mahogany colour; hazy and a bit too gassy (coz I stupidly disturbed the sediment...), with a thin but long-lasting head. Again, my question to the editors' categorisation of it as an English Pale Ale: it's anything but PALE, if not only the colour! And to me, though I'm not a very experienced drinker of British real ales, it has a character more of a premium bitter than a pale ale...
4.5 Smell: distinguished ripe-cranberry tart/sweet note; scent of nutty-malty-coriander-perfumy nose. Can't tell which is which, it's pretty complex for me at least...
4 T: a bit disappointing compared to the smell: it's bitter sweet, nutty to bitter-almondy palate. The best part: very lively bitterness throughout; rounded, dry, nuttiness stand out; quite balanced between maltiness and hoppiness.
4.5 M&4.5 D: I would certainly recommend this beer to anyone who loves the idea of an English bitter in bottle-conditioned version. A rare gem, that is!

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2009 20:06:11 | More by wl0307
Photo of Minkybut


3/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer had a amber hue to it. The beer had a malty smell that was promising and hints of caramel. However no head and a cloudy beer was next of what I saw. The beer was just okay, and was not to great. I will not buy again.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2008 17:09:46 | More by Minkybut
Photo of ralree


4.18/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Really cloudy red, disappointing head.

S: Dark fruit, banana, spices, good hops. Caramel malt with some chocolate hints.

T: The malt is very sugary and strong, with hints of chocolate. Fruit is well-balanced and non-cloying - apricot. Hops are pretty weak, but this isn't an IPA, so that's to be expected. Just bitter enough to pucker you a little.

M: Smooth, non-astringent, medium-light bodied, dry. Carbonation good.

D: Drinks better than most beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2008 01:26:58 | More by ralree
Photo of beerthulhu

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a nice burnt orange color off tan head.

S: some dried fruit and a dry british floral hopping.

T: The flavor had a huge malty backbone that coats and smoothers the tongue with a nice lacing. There was some dry honey toast and light toffee notes as well. Some dried fruit (apples, pears) along with a dry floral hopping really make this beer a stand out per style before finishing dry with warm bread and some alcohol notes. The malty character of this beer clearly define its uniqueness.

M: heavy and full with chewy bread and a good carbonation presence.

D: A big malty british pale that is very drinkability per style and enjoyable. A tasty treat to say the least that will fill you up.

Serving type: bottle

07-23-2008 22:26:24 | More by beerthulhu
Photo of DavidSeanNJ

New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass....

A- Amber/brown liquid with a nice creamy/texturized head. Sediment floating around the glass but no lacing.

S- Smell was mildly hoppy with a touch of berry and caramel.

T- Taste was similar to the nose but with the hops being slightly more pronounced. Mild hops followed up by a metallic bite and fruit finish.

M- Creamy and smooth mouthfeel.

D- This is a nice English session ale. I'm usually not a fan of these types of brews but this one was good.

Serving type: bottle

05-26-2008 16:08:24 | More by DavidSeanNJ
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Royal Oak Pale Ale from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
89 out of 100 based on 73 ratings.