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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

51 Ratings
THE BROS
96
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 51
Reviews: 37
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 11.31%
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: 51 | Reviews: 37 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund

Norway

3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

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.

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

Sweden

3.73/5  rDev -6.3%

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.

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

Slovenia

3.78/5  rDev -5%

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.

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

South Carolina

3.58/5  rDev -10.1%

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!

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

Germany

4.08/5  rDev +2.5%

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.

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

United Kingdom (England)

3.68/5  rDev -7.5%

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

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

Sweden

4.38/5  rDev +10.1%

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.

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

Ontario (Canada)

4.08/5  rDev +2.5%

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.

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

Wisconsin

4.6/5  rDev +15.6%

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!

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

United Kingdom (England)

4.22/5  rDev +6%

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.

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

United Kingdom (England)

3.8/5  rDev -4.5%

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.

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

Massachusetts

4.33/5  rDev +8.8%

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.

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

United Kingdom (England)

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%

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.

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

United Kingdom (England)

3.58/5  rDev -10.1%

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

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

Oregon

3.2/5  rDev -19.6%

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.

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

Sweden

3.65/5  rDev -8.3%

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?

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

United Kingdom (England)

3.73/5  rDev -6.3%

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.

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

Ontario (Canada)

3.25/5  rDev -18.3%

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.

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

Arkansas

4.5/5  rDev +13.1%

(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.

07-08-2004 20:25:25 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of GeoffFromSJ
GeoffFromSJ

New Jersey

4.55/5  rDev +14.3%

This is an excellent bitter. Simply excellent. Good color with little head. Has an excellent malt smell. The taste is very good, incredibly drinkable. Noticeable but not overwhelming hops presence. You want to have this at a nice temperature. A very good balance for a bitter. Carboniation seems perfect for mouthfeel. This has got to be one of the best session brews I have ever had the pleasure to drink. This beer makes me rethink the quality of canned beers.

06-25-2004 02:54:54 | More by GeoffFromSJ
Photo of cokes
cokes

Wisconsin

4.68/5  rDev +17.6%

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.

06-22-2004 20:41:56 | More by cokes
Photo of pezoids
pezoids

Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +13.1%

Bought a four pack of this at Monster beverage in Glassboro, NJ. Poured a bright and clean orangey amber brown and was topped off by a rich and creamy head of tan foam. The aroma has some metallic notes and leans more towards the sweet and malty side rather than the bitter and hoppy. Has a candy like caramel malt sweetness. The taste is full of flavor and the sweetness is dead on. The hops are there but barely noticeable. Nicely blended. This leaves a sweet butter toffee tang on the tongue. I really enjoyed this beer, although it should have been a bit warmer.

05-07-2004 05:41:27 | More by pezoids
Photo of UnionMade
UnionMade

New York

4.95/5  rDev +24.4%

The beer pours an orangey earthy brown, topped with a tight beige head. The foam settles into a thick, even mist after a few minutes, keeping a thick collar all the way through. Somewhat chill hazed, with a deep, rich color that suggests considerable depth. Loads of sticky belgian lace forms rings all the way down the glass.
The aroma is just outstanding. Biscuity maltiness is supported by a soft, yet present goldings hoppiness. Excellent estery fruit, just enough, with a light woodsy nuttiness and a slight earthiness to the hopping. A touch of grassy fuggles. Hints of apple and pear, adding to the brew's complexity. A bit of caramel aroma to the malt, adding a touch of sweetness.
The flavor starts out with strong maltiness. Very biscuity, with a distinct maris otter flavor. Toastiness paves the way for soft floral esters, conveying a distinct pear taste, along with some red apple. The malt takes on some caramel sweetness into the finish, where it meets with a gorgeously balanced goldings hop flavor. Earthy, leafy and floral, with a slight fuggles grassiness, like a newly mown lawn, I'm thanking the fact that this is canned and impenetrable to light. Some nuttiness is present in the finish, reminiscent of walnut and hazelnut. A touch of yeasty breadiness, which carries into the aftertaste along with biscuity caramel malt and goldings goodness. The aftertaste lingers forever, allowing me to languish in the heavenly flavor. Pleasant hop burps. Rather full bodied, the smooth silkiness supported by soft, minute carbonation. I am so glad this beer is available in the US, and I feel pangs of jealousy for those that enjoy this on a regular basis.
Canned or not, this will be a staple in my fridge. A most enjoyable pint, easily one of the best bitters I've had, if not the best. I actually feel a little sad when I take a sip, as I want the glass to last forever. This is exactly what I want in a bitter, and I'm determined to track down a cask. Perhaps this is my holy grail? The only thing keeping this beer from a straight 5 review is the fact that I know it's got to be even more amazing cask conditioned. My only complaints are that I'm having a difficult time allowing it to warm, and the only place i know of that sells it is a small store in north jersey. I can't get enough. A case or two is coming home with me next time I see it.

02-08-2004 23:53:37 | More by UnionMade
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +10.6%

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!

08-17-2003 21:38:24 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of beerguy101
beerguy101

California

3.9/5  rDev -2%

Medium brown color, large head. Aroma is nutty and malty.Toasted malt flavor, nicely hopped. Good balance. Nice flavor, large body. Mouthfeel is full and round. Smooth taste, somewhat dry. Finish is clean and crisp. Aftertaste is malty and full, very slight bitterness.

08-17-2003 02:12:03 | More by beerguy101
HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from George Gale & Company Ltd
88 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.