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

Not Rated.
HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

53 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 53
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 11.59%
Wants: 18
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 53 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by CwrwAmByth:
Photo of CwrwAmByth
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

CwrwAmByth, Nov 17, 2012
More User Reviews:
Photo of Todd
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Sturdy 500ml English style bottle-conditioned ale bottle. Freshness date scored on the back label.

Appearance: A solid dark woody/brown beer with a patchy white large bubbled foam head. It fades into a foamy lace, but is still pleasant. Contains very little dregs in the bottle.

Smell: Clean, light aroma of leaf, earth, faint bubble-gum.

Taste: Smooth, extremely mellow with a water-like mouth-feel/consistency. Malts are very light with hints of earth, bark, toasted malts, faint chocolate and a very tame mild malt sweetness. Just a touch of fruity flavours lingers about, and there's a barely detectable note of medicinal in the back. Hops bring a gentle raw, leafy bitterness to the palate that both balances and intrigues. Dry, leafy and earthy in the finish.

Notes: Naturally bottle-conditioned. I highly recommend that you stand the bottle to let the yeast settle and server at ~55F. With a careful pour, leave the dregs in the bottle.

Quite possibly one of the most drinkable beers on the palate, where nothing overwhelms and all is in harmony. A top-notch session beer, to say the least, and much like a cask ale in the bottle. We need more real English-style bitters in the US. I'll have to write Congress.

Todd, Apr 11, 2002
Photo of sponberg
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer sampled: on draught, 45 degrees, in mug 10283.

The color is a deep golden/auburn, with very little head as poured. The smell is typically English malty, with hoppiness in the background.

HSB starts off with a decided hop presence (I noticed it more on tap than I remembered in bottle) and firm bitterness, with a round, almost buttery malt to complement the hops. The hops are present throughout the sip, leaving a pleasant, just shy of unbalanced bitterness on the tongue along with the lingering malt flavors. As the brew warms, the malt comes to the forefront as expected. A very, very drinkable ale.

sponberg, Mar 27, 2002
Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

JohnnyBarman, Oct 23, 2009
Photo of rastaman
3.45/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very nive english bitter, had it on cask and enjoyed it a lot, a good example of the style, lots of zesty hops, with a decent maltiness.

rastaman, Apr 14, 2002
Photo of cokes
4.68/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

So often I automatically skip over the "can" section of my local stores. What a mistake that has been. I've seen this one before, but never given it a second glace. Until today.
Thought it was nitrogenated. It's not, but it pours like it is. Huge rocky tan suds on top of a blurry bronze fluid.
Enormously fragrant. Rusty iron, bitter herbs, weathered barn doors, biscuits, apples, buttery dough, toffee, grapes, flowers.
Enters the mouth toasty and nutty. Roasted walnuts. Plenty biscuity too. Buttered English Muffins topped with dry toffee. Apple pie arrives next. Crisp and crusty, glazed with caramel. Migrates to a fuller fruity sensation, but this time of pear. Amazingly enough, there are even traces of vinousness, white and grapey and bright. Dough exists through it all, coupled with wood splinters. Bitterness builds gradually. Begins a bit rusty, turning to florals, then to a grassier sense. UK hopping (Fuggles and EK Goldings?) done exactly right.
Nearly full bodied initially, but it wanes over time. Never weak in stature.
This might be the best thing that's ever happened to a can.

cokes, Jun 22, 2004
Photo of CanuckRover
4/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

CanuckRover, Apr 14, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A slightly hazy chestnut body with deep reddish-copper highlights is topped by a good-sized head of rocky "vanilla" foam. The head holds quite well, and it leaves some very nice rings of lace throughout the pint. The nose displays an earthy/mineral (but not quite metallic) and leafy character that seems to come from a combination of both malt and hops; over a decidedly caramelish malt. The medium body is accentuated by a very fine and delicate carbonation that leaves it creamy, soft and smooth in the mouth. There's just enough carbonation to give it a little mouthfeel and bring out the flavors without becoming gassy. Very nice, and perfect for a session beer. The flavor reveals basically what the aroma indicates with a maltiness that's just as equally earthy and dusty as it is caramelish with a touch of mineral, some leafy hops, and a mild woodiness. More complexities arise, however, with a bit more investigation. There's an underlying touch of yeasty, berry-like fruitiness; and a toasty, chocolate side to the malt that becomes quite apparent in the finish. It's very well-balanced with a bitterness seems to hide itself in the shadows but continually keeps things dry without ever building on the palate. Again, it's perfectly balanced and makes for an excellent session ale. There's enough character to keep it interesting throughout an evening; a brilliant balance that makes it workable; and a low enough alcohol that you can do it at a session pace. Brilliant!

NeroFiddled, Aug 17, 2003
Photo of sawbones420
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

sawbones420, Nov 11, 2007
Photo of blamoe
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

blamoe, Jun 17, 2008
Photo of CRJMellor
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
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.

CRJMellor, Jul 08, 2004
Photo of dolzan
3.78/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

dolzan, Jul 20, 2010
Photo of BlackHaddock
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

BlackHaddock, Sep 15, 2007
Photo of Drummermean
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Drummermean, Sep 21, 2014
Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
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.

DrinkSlurm, Aug 07, 2012
Photo of pin
3/5  rDev -24.4%

pin, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of jpmclaug
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
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!

jpmclaug, Apr 15, 2010
Photo of jwc215
4.6/5  rDev +15.9%
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!

jwc215, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of EmperorBevis
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%

EmperorBevis, Nov 01, 2013
Photo of BigBry
4/5  rDev +0.8%

BigBry, May 19, 2013
Photo of Sigmund
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

Sigmund, Feb 14, 2011
Photo of rarbring
3.73/5  rDev -6%
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.

rarbring, Dec 05, 2010
Photo of JanM
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
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?

JanM, Aug 11, 2005
Photo of GreenCard
3.2/5  rDev -19.4%
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.

GreenCard, Jan 11, 2006
Photo of cdwil
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%

cdwil, Dec 29, 2011
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HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from George Gale & Company Ltd
88 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.