1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 73 | Reviews: 59 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sstackho

Ontario (Canada)

3.38/5  rDev -15.3%

500mL bottle purchased from LCBO in Toronto iwth a best before date of March 2009. Pours a cloudy light brown. Lots of sediment at the bottom which I shake up, and causes a neat two-colour head at the end of the pour. Lots of floaties. Very interesting colour. Aroma is a bit lacking, but slightly hoppy. Flavour is a little thin and tinny, with a bit of ESB bitterness, but not a lot. I'm not enjoying this one as much as either of the LCBO's English bitter releases from last season.

02-20-2008 04:43:13 | More by sstackho
Photo of francisweizen


4.3/5  rDev +7.8%

from notes:

Rusty orange/brown with a huge pillow/billowy head of off white. Aromas of a nice proper English pale ale/bitter ensue with toasted malt, and a nice hop in the back palate. Taste is not very hoppy but very malty and complex, yet simple at the same time, if that makes any sense. Mouthfeel is smooth and fantastic as is the drinkability. Super duper solid enligh pale right here.

02-09-2008 03:31:19 | More by francisweizen
Photo of Atlas1


3.95/5  rDev -1%

A bottle conditioned pale ale in a cool bottle I'd never seen before. Yes, thank you very much.

Poured carefully into a barrel pint glass, the Royal Oak is a reddish amber color with a creamy off-white head with big bubbles and some lace. The nose is earthy with strong fruit scents and a strangely acerbic tartness (can an aroma be tart?). The aroma almost reminds me of a lambic; it has an almost wild ale scent to it - I think that it must come from the bottle conditioning. The Royal Oak tastes light, but fruit-sweet, with a mild bitterness in the finish. I get pear and apple and cherry flavors. Mouthfeel rounds out as the beer warms up to room temperature.

Really a fine ale. Mild, but perfectly drinkable. Would make an excellent session beer at 5% ABV as well. American brewers of pale ales are so often too consumed with over-hopping that they forget sometimes where the style originated and what it still can be. I'd love to try this on tap.

01-24-2008 01:26:22 | More by Atlas1
Photo of funkengruven

Ontario (Canada)

4.47/5  rDev +12%

This bottle conditioned beauty poured a nice cloudy brown with some pretty nice puffy cloudy head, smell is malty, with a slight sour smell, typical of real ale. Taste is great, clean and malty initial flavor with a slight sourness, some hops in the flavor and a profound nuttyness in the finish. Mouthfeel is a thick, smooth and creamy.

A wonderful brew. Hope to see this out for a while.

01-08-2008 22:36:43 | More by funkengruven
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

Half liter bottle, I think this was supposed to be in an earlier LCBO release so probably not very fresh at this point.

Pours a cloudy rusty orange, massive thick off white head forms, leaves some nice lacing behind, settles to a medium layer. Smell is fruity, yeast, some bread, bit of toast, citrus hops, spicy nuttiness, not a lot there but the aroma works well. Taste is bready malt, some citrus, yeast, very spicy middle, nutty, very fruity and spicy finish, solid bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium carbonation, relatively smooth, easy to drink, not bad.

12-22-2007 20:21:56 | More by Viggo
Photo of jwc215


3.88/5  rDev -2.8%

Best before 05/23/08:

Pours hazy amber with a thick off-white pillowy head that descends to a lasting creamy cover. Some traces of lacing stick.

The smell is of a cherry-like fruitiness and spiced bread. Caramelish graininess mixes in in the back.

The taste is of sweet cherry-like fruitiness with lightly spiced caramelish breadiness. Fairly balanced sweetness in the finish. Taste is a bit more muted/softer than the aroma.

It is smooth - with a push from the carbonation - and medium-bodied.

I thought, from its name, that it would be oaky. But - it's not. It refers to a story of King Charles II (wonder if his friends called him "Chuck 2" ? ;) ) hiding from Oliver Cromwell (Ollie?) in branches of an oak tree - as described briefly on the label...
Anyway - it is "sessionable" - easy drinking...Would have been nice had it had more bittering hops - would still be "balanced" - even more so I'd say. Nothing especially notable, but it does have a nice appearance and aroma and a high drinkability level, and taste isn't bad - though not much higher than typical for style.

12-10-2007 22:26:17 | More by jwc215
Photo of livingregret


2.63/5  rDev -34.1%

Serving Type: 1 Pint .9fl oz Bottle

Appearance: Poured a cloudy amber colour w/ a finger head that had some lacing

Smell: All that I get is hops and malt. A touch of sweetness...not much here. A bit woody

Taste: The taste is a bit better than the smell(which isn't saying a whole lot) I get a sweet hops taste mixed in malt. A touch of citrus

Mouthfeel: Pretty medium feel drink....lingers some in the mouth and leaves a slighty dry feeling in the throat

Drinkability: This isn't a bad drink, but I feel that there are better English Pale Ales out there.

08-30-2007 22:14:34 | More by livingregret
Photo of NJpadreFan

New Jersey

3.55/5  rDev -11%

Royal Oak Pale Ale

Appearance- Cloudy/ hazy orange with a thick heavy lacing head.
Smell- Strong dried fruits and malt.
Taste- Immediate dried fruits. Prune, raisin, maybe a little cherry and apple. Light bready malt with mild wood flavored hop hints.
Mouthfeel- Slighty dry and bitter up front but building up to a flavorful and slighty sweet fruity beer. Alcohol seems noticable at 5%?!

Overall- A nice evening sipping beer or a good 1 to drink during a meal.

01-22-2007 23:27:55 | More by NJpadreFan
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.1/5  rDev -22.3%

Pours a three finger off-white head that fades to a thin layer leaving a little lace. Almost clear, amber color. Light carbonation and light-medium bodied. Woody apple nose. Starts nearly balanced with moderate hops, finish is distinctly hoppy but not as harsh as American pales. Tastes fresh even with a best before Feb 28, 2005. $3.69 for a 500ml bottle from Lina's Beverages Painesville, OH.

10-28-2006 22:39:30 | More by jdhilt
Photo of feloniousmonk


3.93/5  rDev -1.5%

Royal Oak Pale Ale, brewed in Devon, full of legends and Parliaments, and kings, Cromwell's Roundheads, grilled meat and cheeseboard.

Opaque, dark amber hue, maybe maroon?, highly carbonated, with a big fizzy head that drizzles down quick.

Big cherry aroma, rich and malty, nice hops, rather mild, though. Sweet and serene. Nice.

Remains sweet and tasty on the tongue. Decent hops, not too large, but a neat, if mild little firedance in the mouth. Continues bitter and sweet throughout. Cherry flavor dominates.

Nice, but... Not one I'll return to, unless I get filthy rich sometime soon. Quite different from other british pale ales, perhaps overly carbonated, a little too much for my taste. Just not loving it. MEh.

09-06-2006 07:29:34 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.48/5  rDev -12.8%

Pours with a lightly hazy, darkish, ruby amber color. The head is topped by an amber-tinged, tan colored head that leaves a bit of lace as it falls back into the main beer. As I pour this beer an deep fruity note is immediately noticeable; a sort of cross between red grapes, raisins and sweet plums. As I go in for a deep smell, an immediate tart note is noticeable. It is a bit like tamarind, and definitely reminds me of a sour plum.

The beer is quite well carbonated, at least much more than I was expecting. There is still a touch of sweetness here though, it accentuates a caramel like note that in turn accentuates a raisin, sweet plum and even apple like fruitiness. A touch of hop bitterness is found throughout this beer, it adds a bit of tingle to the throat, which competes a bit with the tart flavors. There are other hop flavors here as well; lightly grass, a bit herbal, and even a touch of fruit character (a hint of citrus, and even some currant like berry notes perhaps).

This is on the verge of being quite tasty, I can’t tell if the tartness is just a product of the yeast (sort of doubtful), or is a low grade bacterial infection. Either way it is still quite drinkable, I easily finished this bottle of, perhaps slightly infected, brew.

08-18-2006 04:41:20 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of xav33


3.48/5  rDev -12.8%

OHanlons Royal Oak.
Pint bottle.
Unknown bottling, best before date of 02/05, gustated 08/06.
Medium Pour in an English Pint Glass.

Poured a hazy brownish amber with a thick fluffy offwhite 1 inch head. Slowly diminishing 1/8 inch head remained, with excellent lacing.

Smelt of molasses and a hint of candied cherries and cognac.

Taste begins with dry smokiness and toffee malt, with a quick hop kick. Then an unpleasant sourness peeks in for a fraction of a second to let place to a body of molasses sweetness and fermented dark berries, as it all dies down slowly in a earthy well balanced malty and biting hoppy finish. Mouthfeel was light and lively carbonation.

Overall, a pleasing bottle conditioned slightly aged English Pale Ale that barely survived 6 months past the freshness date, as indicated by the slight sourness, but taste was otherwise well rounded. Will be revisited with a fresher bottle.

08-08-2006 03:47:57 | More by xav33
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4/5  rDev +0.3%

Appearance: Volcanic opening of the bottle - it was still spuming even after half the liquid had been poured; pours a cloudy toffee brown color with a mountainous head that leaves lacing all over the glass and remains intact throughout the tasting

Smell: Pears and apples, leather and yeasty notes emerge from the brew

Taste: Starts out with an orchard fruit flavor with a touch of caramel; after the swallow, some earthy bitterness steps in along with some sour lemon flavors and mixes with some chocolate hints; the finish is long-lasting

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but a bit too fizzy (the offset of the great visuals)

Drinkability: A very nice and distinctive effort that casts a vote for what's good about English brews; for those who are arguing that it is more an ESB than an English Pale, I disagree - according to the BJCP, English Pale is often considered to be the bottled version of ESB and this beer's abv and carbonation levels are too low and high, respectively, to fall squarely within the ESB category

(Best by 7/18/06 so I have a relatively fresh bottle thanks to the
dedicated efforts of Knightly Spirits in Orlando.)

05-06-2006 18:09:11 | More by brentk56
Photo of russpowell


3.98/5  rDev -0.3%

Okay I saw on the bottle now that I've already opened it BBD of 02/28/05!!?! So I was just gonna drink it & forego the review, nope this still acquit itself well (bottle conditioning helped, I'm sure!)

Pours tea colored with a fluffy of white head exceeding 4 fingers. Very good head retention & lacing

Smell: Fruitiness, brown sugar & honey

Taste: fruity, dry &slight floral/bitter hops taste. Finishes dry & fruitty

Slight syruppy feel, good carbonation, maybe skews a little dry to me...

Pretty drinkable, not ponderous, but flavorful. Would love to try a fresher bottle. As I recall this was very tasty on cask in devon & other parts of england (was made by a different brewer as I recall)

04-14-2006 03:33:13 | More by russpowell
Photo of Graebner


4.05/5  rDev +1.5%

The first thing you notice on this beer is that you can't pour a full glass because there's so much head. In fact, I couldn't even pour a half glass, and I'm no novice pourer. We're talking 8 fingers of head, and though it dissapates a bit after five minutes or so, it never goes away. The second thing you notice is that this beer is gorgeous. Pours a red-orange with tons of particulate in it. The carbonation continuously moves the sediment around and makes a very very interesting beer. It also has yeast particles sitting in the head, so you'll see brown flecks floating in there.

Smells like white wine, honey, some floral hops, and clover. The honey really comes through the most.

Taste is very sweet up front, lemon, coffee-like bitterness without the coffee flavor. It finishes a little sour and quite bitter and astringent. The astringency fades slowly, as does the sourness, which fades first to sweetness and then fades completely. At first you think it will be cloying, but it turns out it isn't. Quite nice.

The mouthfeel is initially a little cloying, but it quickly goes away and only a slight bitterness remains.

Overall this is a very drinkable beer. It doesn't sour your stomach or anything...you could sit down with this one for a while.

03-27-2006 01:56:23 | More by Graebner
Photo of bigbubba


4.05/5  rDev +1.5%

This is a nice copper color, slightly hazy. The head is a light tan. It has a great English hop smell. The taste is a surprise. There are caramel and fruity flavors that I wasn't expecting. It finishes with a dry hoppy flavor. The mouthfeel is a bit watery for my taste, but not bad. Drinkability is very good.

03-03-2006 23:05:33 | More by bigbubba
Photo of daliandragon

North Carolina

4.53/5  rDev +13.5%

Wow, as I pour this beer in preparation for the review I am shocked at how damned impressive it looks..opaque caramel color with unbelieveable whale of chunky, tannish head that refuses to retreat..it's taken me fifteen minutes to fill the glass even two thirds full..quite appetizing.. The title jumped out at me at the distributor today..it's a common pub name in England, including a terrific, ancient pub across the street from the Minster in York where I spent a memorable evening a few years ago. The nose is spicy and malty and almost as enticing as its looks. There's hints of hops and alcohol as well. I didn't love my last O' Hanlon's effort (Rye) but I'm sure ready for this one.
A very strong taste hits the lips..the first discernable flavor is orange peel, then hops and roasted malt. Next some smooth sweetness and a bitter finish. Mouthfeel is classic English pub style..low on carbonation and round as a basketball..flavor lasts for minutes after the swallow too.
I'm almost speechless, this is really, really good, surpassing even my lofty expectations after reading the unanimously glowing reviews. Guess there's something to this bottle conditioning, huh? Can't wait to try this on tap next time I'm in Devon..

12-05-2005 03:27:18 | More by daliandragon
Photo of Padron4KM


3.1/5  rDev -22.3%

16.9 oz bottle. Best before 07/18/06.

Cloudy amber with a fluffy tan head.

Despite careful pour I still ended up with yeast floaties in the glass.
Head disapates slowly leaving small patches of lace.

Aroma is mostly caramel, with some light woodieness.

Flavor is lightly caramel with a citrus zest finish.

10-29-2005 06:34:44 | More by Padron4KM
Photo of Bitterbill


4.33/5  rDev +8.5%

Poured a lovely cloudy gold with a great head and nice lacing that remained throughout.

The smell is definitely malt mixed with fruit...one of the nicest aromas of any Pale Ale I've tried.

The taste is malt with sour undertones that represent the fruity smell I spoke of and is pretty long lasting. A very nice ale for sure and one that I'd visit again.

PS: This bottle's best by date is 02/28-05.

10-16-2005 20:11:22 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of ADR


4.05/5  rDev +1.5%

Pours out as a hazy bottle-conditioned copper color with a nice head of about 1/2 an inch in height. Nice laces, loads of comma-like marks on the glass. Aroma of hops, citrusy with some cantelope fruit tones. Somewhat less than medium body with pretty nice carbonation when it gets a chance to sit (initially, its a little too bubbly). Malt is well-composed, a little too much molasses for me, giving a slightly overpowering finish and swallow (almost eggy). Hops are not hidden or subtle on this one, lend a juicy bittering. Finishes a bit thin to my mind in mouthfeel, but with an interesting yeastiness. Pretty good, a good sense of balance but with a definite personality.

10-14-2005 01:13:20 | More by ADR
Photo of Dukeofearl


4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Pours a nice, slightly hazy pale brown with a beautiful off-white head that builds into a large merangue that wouldn't even consider flowing down the side of the glass- now that's a head! And it keeps coming; as I refill the glass with the rest of the bottle, the head builds right back up!

Aroma is a nice, British hop but mellowed nicely by toffee, nuts, and a dark loaf of multi-grain bread. Flavor is, well, all I can say is that this is really nice- quite complex. The more I drink, the more I find. Dry, weed-like vegetation notes (you know, the rabbit food in "greens" salads). Woody. Black pepper. It's hoppier than expected, and the dryness/astringency at the end of the swallow is pronounced.

Mouthfeel is almost perfect- if the hops were a tad less harsh and slightly more creamy, I could drink it all day. Drinkability on this is quite good.

Overall, I like this and want to try it again, because I know that I am just scratching the surface of this complex brew. I think my store has a couple bottles left. Excuse me, I have an errand to run.

EDIT: I just noted, on 10/5/05, that this bottle is Best Before: 2/28/05. Well, I haven't had it when it was at it's best, I guess, but it is still quite good. Maybe I can get some more at a discount then!

10-06-2005 01:46:46 | More by Dukeofearl
Photo of Higravity


3.68/5  rDev -7.8%

A cloudy orange-brown white a large chunky off-white head that hangs out and leaves chunkes down the side of the galss as you drink it in. Smells of metallic maltedness and a twinge of cirtus. The taste is of caramel malts from a long boil and a nice splashing of nobel hops on the tongue that leaves a citrus bite along with a metallic finish. Overall it is quite good and I like the secondary fermentation that goes on in any bottle. Nicely done, I would buy this many more times.

09-16-2005 20:49:23 | More by Higravity
Photo of marcobrau


3.73/5  rDev -6.5%

Yikes! This bottle of Royal Oak was very carbonated; even a gentle pour yielded an entire pint glass of foam. As the foam settles, an enormous rocky head forms, which eventually falls apart leaving a sticky layer foam down the sides of my glass. Wow. The aroma is massively sherry-like aroma, accented by a just a hint sulphur. Chunks of yeasty material occasionally float up; most parts sit on the bottom. As the label says, this is a true bottle-conditioned ale. As a homebrewer, I can certainly appreciate that.
The carbonation tingles the tongue. The taste of this beer is first a fizzy fruitiness, followed by a character reminiscent of blanched almonds that then dissolves into bitter hops that provide a long finish full hop bitterness and champagne-like dryness.
The intense carbonation provided for a spectacular appearance, but I didn't like the fizzy character of this beer, hence a low score for mouthfeel.

08-12-2005 01:55:17 | More by marcobrau
Photo of Zorro


4.15/5  rDev +4%

A clear reddish orange colored ale with a tan head.

Smell is sweet and grainy with spicy hop scent and notable fruitiness. Faint citrus scents and some maltiness.

Taste is malty and chewy from the beginning. Nice bitter snap in the finish. Fruity and a bit woody and a little astringent, there are herbal flavors in the hops. Faint flavors of vanilla and burnt sugar in the background

Mouthfeel is good, creamy sensation to this.

Nice drinkable ale here mild and flavorful and well executed.

08-07-2005 04:04:46 | More by Zorro
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.1/5  rDev +2.8%

Significantly murky apricot filled with a furious fusillade of frenetic carbonation. The orangish ivory head is Brobdingnagian in size, initially filling 95% of the glass and causing me to break off my pour almost before it began. This is a lively one, no doubt about it. The foam is as stiff as the Queen's upper lip and as it settles, interesting geologic formations take shape. It's sticky as well since a fair amount of lace ends up on the glass.

The nose is deeper and more complex than the run of the mill English pale ale nose. It lacks a corresponding power, though trying to take its measure through several inches of foam might have something to do with that. I smell herb-dusted orchard fruit that is more sour than it is sweet.

Thankfully, the deep and complex nose translates into a deep and complex flavor profile. It's more toasted than most, with hints of toffee and a definite, firm woodiness. I have no idea if Royal Oak ever spent time in oak--or any other wood for that matter--but it sure tastes like it.

This really is a supremely balanced ale, which would ordinarily cause me to complain about a relative lack of hoppiness. There's enough hop flavor to keep me quiet, although it is a bit lacking in the bitterness department. As in the nose, spicy-herbal-fruity hops are in the front seat, if not in the driver's seat. It's still more sour than sweet until the finish, when a modest sugary sweetness makes an appearance.

The body is medium-firm and fits the flavor well. Despite the appearance and the controlled explosion with each pour, the mouthfeel isn't all that fizzy. Oh it's energetic all right, but Ritalin won't be required.

Royal Oak is a solid English pale ale that is different enough and tasty enough to warrant its reputation. I don't believe that it's the best of this style that I've ever had, but it's among the leaders for damn sure. I'd love to taste it on-tap or on-cask, so that trip to England that my wife has been bugging me about for years may yet be in the offing.

05-24-2005 15:42:16 | More by BuckeyeNation
Royal Oak Pale Ale from O'Hanlon Brewing Co. Ltd.
89 out of 100 based on 73 ratings.