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HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) - George Gale & Company Ltd

HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)

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BA SCORE
88
very good

48 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 48
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 11.56%


Brewed by:
George Gale & Company Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: pezoids on 03-27-2002)
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Ratings: 48 | Reviews: 37 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of FLima
FLima

Brazil

3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark Amber color. It made just one finger head.
Faint malty aroma.
Taste is quite malty with earthy hops, with a dry finish. I could not get much more than that.
Light body with light carbonation and small bubbles.
It is a straight forward bitter ale, no thrills.

Serving type: on-tap

12-23-2012 19:22:31 | More by FLima
Photo of CwrwAmByth
CwrwAmByth

United Kingdom (Wales)

3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on cask hand pump at the Mad Bishop and Bear in Paddington Station, London.

Pours a dark, rich brown colour. Quite a nice looking head on it.

Didn't make any note on the smell so I assume it was average.

Tastes extremely malty, very earthy and wholesome. Never had anything taste like this without going into the realms of dark, burnt malt flavours like a stout or porter. Extremely moreish though it eventually gets a bit heavy, plus it's a bit too boozy for a session beer. Slight hops in the background provide a bit of fruitiness to balance, though they are very faint in comparison.

Overall a really nice offering from the now owned by Fullers brewery. Should be noted that this pub has always served beer at a perfect (for me) temperature.

Serving type: cask

11-17-2012 22:44:53 | More by CwrwAmByth
Photo of DrinkSlurm
DrinkSlurm

Connecticut

3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic pint glass at a pub in Salisbury, England. Pours a deep red with a good head retention. Sweet malt aromas, some slight fuggle style hop aromas as well.
Taste is really nice, great sweet malty flavors and maybe some toffe, but is well balanced with a good amount of hops. Easy drinker but heavy. Im usually not a fan of bitters, but this is one of the best bitters ive had to date.

Serving type: on-tap

08-07-2012 14:01:46 | More by DrinkSlurm
Photo of ADZA
ADZA

Australia

3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear ruby hue which leaves a two finger head and sporadic lacing,the smell is sweet caramelized malts,herbal hops,a touch of dried fruits and also some sweet dark port,the mouthfeel is just over light bodied and has tastes of dark ripe fruits,sweet caramel,marzipan,sticky toffee and finished with a earthy hop bittersweetness and overall its alright and different but not my favourite example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2011 13:27:45 | More by ADZA
Photo of woosterbill
woosterbill

Connecticut

3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Handpump half-pint at the Thornbury Castle. The bartender insisted on pouring me a sample first, in case the beer was too strong for me to handle. Oooh, 4.8%, I'm scared!

A: Clear deep amber body; thin tan head with ok retention and nice lace. Solid, but not memorable.

S: Fairly assertive aroma of earthy hops + caramel malt. Not much complexity, but it smells nice enough.

T: Follows the nose - earthy + floral hops up front, with solidly sweet caramel malt following close behind. Long, bittersweet finish. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

M: Fairly hefty bitter, with good body and moderate, fine carbonation. Very nice.

O: This one was above average, but far from great. I was surprised to see it's A- overall rating on here, as it struck me as being a fairly pedestrian bitter: there was nothing wrong with it, but it didn't have any real subtlety or individuality.

Cheers!

Serving type: cask

06-17-2011 13:30:22 | More by woosterbill
Photo of CanuckRover
CanuckRover

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark red, bordering on brown. Eggshell head, settles to a nice film. Well marked lacings to the finish.

Mostly caramel on the nose.

Nice English malts give a real red ale character to this one. Loads of caramel to start with touches of nice red fruit in the middle. Bittering hops clean up nicely in the finish, making it a very sessionable ale.

Cask was in good condition, no complaints.

Serving type: cask

04-14-2011 16:33:48 | More by CanuckRover
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund

Norway

3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cask conditioned at The Hogshead pub, Ipswich. Deep amber to brown colour, low head. Moderate aroma of English malt vinegar and plums. The flavour is "dusty" malty with notes of malt vinegar and sour fruits. "Dusty" hops in the finish. OKish.

Serving type: cask

02-14-2011 18:41:27 | More by Sigmund
Photo of rarbring
rarbring

Sweden

3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer is clear brown with hints of read, an off-white lively head that leaves lacing.

The smell is rather light, some bread and lemon marmalade.

Upfront tasting sweet and malty, a fresh loaf of bread, citric, lemon and orange, nice bitterness, fresh grass and nettles.

Small carbonation, soft and smooth, a medium body and dry finish.

Well balanced and well done.

Serving type: cask

12-05-2010 22:00:14 | More by rarbring
Photo of dolzan
dolzan

Slovenia

3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very solid, substantial head, and a nice red colour.

Very balanced overall, but I was a bit surprised with this being a bitter, since there is precious little hop that can be felt in this brew. A very drinkable beer, but maybe, just maybe a little bland, especially compared to Fuller's ESB for example.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2010 12:46:54 | More by dolzan
Photo of jpmclaug
jpmclaug

South Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic

A - copper with a reddish tint, a bit light tan head rests on the top

S - raisins, prunes, plums, dates with a sweet smell at the end, maybe a hint of alcohol in there. This smells real delicious.

T - balanced malt hop mix up front with a hint of the fruity taste the smell indicated. A bit of a buttery finish.

M - I really hate to do this because this beer in the bottle isn't anywhere near what I remember this beer being like on cask but the mouthfeel on this is terrible, especially terrible for the style. This is way too carbonated and that really takes away from the flavor.

D - Smells great but the taste really isn't the greatest and the mouthfeel really hurts this one. I remember this being a million times better when I had it out of a cask and hopefully I will be able to try it again that way to post another review for this beer. I wouldn't pick up another bottle of this but would love to try it out of the cask!

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2010 01:44:49 | More by jpmclaug
Photo of ThirstyBird
ThirstyBird

Germany

4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at NERAX
Appears Deep reddish brown with a light tan head that sustains.
The aroma is watery fruitiness, some caramel and bitter hops. The taste though pokes your tongue awake! Wow, lot's of flavor! Rich malt, fruit, The bitterness has a slight sourness which adds a lot of interest. The body is light/medium. The brew is super silky smooth. Very nice and very, very drinkable. I would love to have this beer available in my market.

Serving type: cask

03-26-2010 16:18:04 | More by ThirstyBird
Photo of fullsweep
fullsweep

United Kingdom (England)

3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: clear brown beer with copper tones; 1-finger head with nice lacing (seafoam style)

S: sharp and grainy with some earthy notes

T: bitter, with mild fruitiness, but the bitterness overpowers any sweetness. IMO the bitterness is pretty bold, but not unpleasant

M: crisp and refreshing

D: not bad

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2009 22:39:26 | More by fullsweep
Photo of bark
bark

Sweden

4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The liquid is clear; the colour is red-copper. The finger thick head is pale beige and very compact and smooth.

The light smell is a bit bitter with flavours of fresh bread, wort and ripe grain.

The taste is fresh with a fine hoppy first flavour. Lots of malt and delicate flowery (buttercups) notes. Some sweet wort in the aftertaste, that also brings notes of tree sap and rowanberries. A delicate bitterness in the finish.

The carbonation is medium strong, the small bubbles are soft. The liquid is smooth.

A solid best bitter.

Serving type: cask

11-23-2009 19:16:46 | More by bark
Photo of JohnnyBarman
JohnnyBarman

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask draught at Kickoffs in Waterloo. Always a solid English bitter here, so I'm game.

A - mahogany-brown, leaves a 2cm white head encircling the glass.

S - bread and biscuits, citrus and malts.

T - A fine English bitter (somewhat similar to Fuller's ESB). Toffee, bread, malts that finishes with a crisp bitterness.

M - A bit thin, low carbonation as cask-draught tends to be. Goes down smooth.

D - Terrific on cask - privileged to have tried it in this form. Bitters and I get along just swimmingly, so this will be a sessional for me in the future. Good offering.

Serving type: cask

10-23-2009 04:50:26 | More by JohnnyBarman
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

4.6/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours deep copper with ruby hue and a nice ivory head. Lacing sticks.

The smell is of toffee/caramel - complex maltiness with lemony citrus, apricot and a bit of wood.

The taste is of nice caramelish/toffeeish maltiness with a leafy, citric hop bitterness in the finish.

It has a creamy smooth body that is full-bodied for the style. Coating. Mild carbonation. Silky.

Incredible how they replicated the cask-feel so well in a bottle, adding to the drinkability factor. Very well-balanced and delicious. Complex in a soft and subtle way. This is an exceptional bitter!

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2009 00:45:30 | More by jwc215
Photo of blamoe
blamoe

United Kingdom (England)

4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gales HSB now brewed at Fullers is an excellent example of an dark ale that is highly drinkible and not to heavy, but also not watery. The taste is quite strong with a slight fruit taste and also quite fruit cakey witha malty base and a slight hop kick. This is my favorite Gales beer and can be drunk all night long.

Serving type: can

06-17-2008 18:41:23 | More by blamoe
Photo of wl0307
wl0307

United Kingdom (England)

3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tasted by a pint at Sir Charles Napier, Brighton. This is the first time that I’ve tried the now Chiswick-brewed HSB.
4 A: clear, dark russet brown in colour, coming with an off-white creamy head that leaves tight lacing behind, on top of rather low carbonation.
3.5 S: rich caramel, pear-drops and sour-sweet plums fill the nostrils, added with a touch of palm sugar, but lacking a more assertive hoppy input as before.
4 T: the initial entry of brown malts and caramelised sugar is ensued by the slow manifestation of hops that mix in the flavour very well, leaving a semi-dryish, faintly earthy, and tea-ish aftertaste… a light tinge of sour-sweet ripe plums seems to linger and blends well with the tea-leafy hoppiness. Very pleasant in the finish.
4 M&3.5 D: fresh on the texture, full of micro-scopic fizziness, but the body is lighter than what I can remember from my last pint of Hordean-brewed HSB from three years ago. Although this is still a lovely pint, at the price of 2.95 pounds a pint, I wouldn’t rush to try a second pint at this pub again…

* Review of 14/08/2005:
Another favourite cask ale of mine when living in Sussex. Happy to see it on draught at the Cross Keys, a Wetherspoon's pub in City, London.
3.5 A: seemingly fresh, it comes in a brownish hue, with a thin, white head and leaving uneven lacing. Looking o.k.
4 S: the aroma is dominated by a sweetish raisiny, dark-malt note, a port wine-like deeply aromatic texture is also present. Overall it's very juicy and mouthwatering.
4.5 T: rich nutty malt flavour dominates the palate with sightly tart, raw-nut flavour; gradually a profoundly dryish yet fruity and vertically-structured bitterness takes over and lingers well towards the finish. The flavour in the aftertaste, a bit like the taste upfront, is reminiscent of peanuts, dark fruits e.g. black prunes... while a soft bed of hops sustains at the back as a balancer with the otherwise fruity and rich malty palate.
4.5 M&4 D: very rounded mouthfeel throughout, good depth of dark malts and refreshingly bitter texture are the winners for this beer. Very very nice bitter indeed, extremely drinkable for me, especially in Autumn.

Serving type: cask

12-10-2007 21:40:54 | More by wl0307
Photo of sawbones420
sawbones420

Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Judging by the locations of the other raters, I don't believe this fine ale is imported in the US. Having had the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in England, I've drank my fare share of real ale. My British friend, Matt, always brings me a handful of various ales when he comes to visit, which temporarily quenches my insatiable thirst for British Beer. I had one can of HSB left from his last visit so I thought I'd throw it up on BA.

Regular 440ml can (no nitro), poured into an imperial pint glass. Deep brown color, with a deliciously thick whitish head.

Smell is fruity and full-bodied.

Sips deliciously smooth and fruity, with only the slightest trace of carbonation. A delicious malt flavor overtakes your tongue. Smooth and mild, but extremely drinkable. I miss having this available on tap. And come to think of it, I'm pretty sad this is my last can! Sip? This is a beer to take gulpfuls of.

It's somewhat understandable why Brits are able to down pint after pint of dark ales after you've had a brew like HSB. It may be dark, but it goes down smooth and keeps you thirsty for more. Easy to quaff, and leaves a satisfying malt aftertaste. I know this to be one of the more popular bitters in England, so I can only hope that it may one day be exported to the US, to satisfy our ever expanding national beer palette.

Serving type: can

11-11-2007 02:40:12 | More by sawbones420
Photo of BlackHaddock
BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank at a pub based beer festival in Shropshire 14th Sept 2007.

Great dark colour, ruby red and clear, firm biege head that stayed the distance.

Fruity, hoppy and interesting aroma.

The fruitiness within the fullbodied taste gives this beer a wonderful flavour.

The taste clings to your palat, this is a good beer. Glad I re-introduced myself to it, I won't wait so long between visits again.

Serving type: cask

09-15-2007 08:04:42 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of DaveUK
DaveUK

United Kingdom (England)

3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Dark brown with a small very light brown head that persisted down to half way down the pint glass.

Aroma - too mild for my liking, lightly malty with a hint of hops

Taste - sweet-malt with strong tones of biscuit. Medium finish with a nutty flavour.

Mouthfeel - medium, low carbonation almost flat, dry

Drinkability - the good flavour but mild aroma combines to give a fairly light feel to this best bitter. Nothing outstanding, however, a good session bitter for those who prefer a stronger pint

Serving type: cask

07-08-2007 16:09:06 | More by DaveUK
Photo of GreenCard
GreenCard

Oregon

3.2/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This sample is a bottled version of the HSB with a different label on it: "The Hospital of St Cross & Almshouse of Noble Poverty". The reason for this is that the George Gale brewery provides the beer for the Brothers at this "cloister". If you go to the gift shop and ask for the wayfarer's dole, you'll get a small sample of this beer and some bread. Anyway, they sell this beer in the gift shop with the special label on it.

Appearance: nutty brown, good clarity, nice layer of spongey tan foam, lace

Aroma: bready (pumpernickel?) maltiness, twinge of earthy hops

Flavor: mild malt sweetness followed by an equally mild hop bitterness, touch of yeast, slight nuttiness, finishes semi-dry with a bready aftertaste

Mouthfeel: medium body, mild carbonation, slight astringency

Other comments: Bitters bore me a bit, but this one is quite nice. Smooth and drinkable. It's a shame that this brewery has been bought out by Fuller's and, consequently, might be closed down.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2006 18:43:49 | More by GreenCard
Photo of JanM
JanM

Sweden

3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I can't make up my mind about this beer. It tastes of quality brewing but at the same time it's sort of bland. I drank it bottle conditioned. It poured in a nice amber color, it's smooth and creamy, and has a toffee taste somewhere in the background. Fruity smell. It looses most of its dynamics if served just a little too cold. Looking at the average BA score I think it's overrated. Perhaps it's better on tap?

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2005 16:33:35 | More by JanM
Photo of SteveP
SteveP

United Kingdom (England)

3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A well balanced mix of dark fruit/ginger spice and clean, powerful, but not overbearing hoppy bitterness from the Maris Otter malt and Goldings, Fuggles, Challenger hops. Though full bodied, there is a twisted tin twang which may be the result of the container.


I like this. Even though it's from a can I like it. It's one of the stand by ales I keep in the house... The hops are impressive, even under these poor conditions. The more I drink it the more I like it.

Serving type: can

10-31-2004 18:41:56 | More by SteveP
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
CAMRAhardliner

Ontario (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had high expectations for HSB so I tried this on cask in a Pub in Bornemouth England as well as in London and again in a conditioned bottle.

Its a Dark copper color with a short lasting head and no lace. The aroma is of raisins, raw husky grains and alcohol solvency, virtually no hops in the nose. The flavor is dominated by a bland maltiness. There is very little hoppiness even for an English Bitter. Its a very one dimensional taste. The least hoppy of all the cask bitters I tried. Some sort of burnt quality (burnt grains?) is noticeable in the finish. Not very impressive.

Serving type: cask

08-17-2004 22:18:47 | More by CAMRAhardliner
Photo of CRJMellor
CRJMellor

Arkansas

4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(ed. note - My mom's maiden name is Gale and I'm directly descended from psst Gale's so my review as the potential for bias)

Pours mahogany/teak color with a thin tan head that still manages to deposit enormous sheets of lace to the Imperial pint glass.

Aroma of roasted malts, some caramel and dark fruits and oats.
Distinctive wheat bread note in the background.

Flavor of sweet, gummy caramel with some chocolate, oats and roasted notes and floral yet heavily spicy and zesty bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Sweetness pervades the front but i cut by a full grain middle and an ever increasing bitterness which is truly scrumptious.

Drinkability is very high. Could sit in the garden all day and drink this beauty. A 2nd prop goes to the cellarman at The Castle in Cambridge for this well-kept beauty.

Serving type: cask

07-08-2004 20:25:25 | More by CRJMellor
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HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from George Gale & Company Ltd
88 out of 100 based on 48 ratings.