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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

39 Reviews
THE BROS
95
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 39
Hads: 59
rAvg: 4.06
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 20
Gots: 1 | 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:
Beer added by: pezoids on 03-27-2002

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 39 | Hads: 59
Photo of SteveP
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
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. (471 characters)

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.26/5  rDev -19.7%
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. (584 characters)

Photo of CRJMellor
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
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. (812 characters)

Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.54/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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. (462 characters)

Photo of cokes
4.7/5  rDev +15.8%
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. (1,109 characters)

Photo of pezoids
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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. (566 characters)

Photo of UnionMade
4.95/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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. (2,364 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.36/5  rDev +7.4%
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! (1,481 characters)

Photo of beerguy101
3.88/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (269 characters)

Photo of assurbanipaul
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a glorious, thick head that lasts forever and laces well. Strong nose of chocolate and malt. Lightly carbonated, color is a deep, rich amber. Palate is heavy, rich and strong. Yeasty malt taste, roasty, almost like cola with a strong hop aroma.

Good example of an English bitter. Seems not to suffer from living in an aluminum can. (346 characters)

Photo of doerickson
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown coloring with little head. Soft nose with a bit of light malt. Low carbonation. Toasty caramel malt in the forefront with some light hops to balance; short finish. High drinkability. Very nicely made. (206 characters)

Photo of Viking
4.3/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

[cask conditioned and served fairly warm]

Reddish-amber beer, with a full head. Aroma a blend of caramel and floral scent. Nice hop bitterness, but not overpowering. Sweet, almost creamy, malt taste balances the bitterness nicely.

A wonderful beer to drink while kicking back, talking with the cute barmaids, and watching a pivotal playoff-implication hockey game. (372 characters)

Photo of Todd
4.26/5  rDev +4.9%
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. (1,246 characters)

Photo of sponberg
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
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. (617 characters)

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HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from George Gale & Company Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 39 ratings.