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X Ale, 22nd November 1838 - Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

Not Rated.
X Ale, 22nd November 1838X Ale, 22nd November 1838

Educational use only; do not reuse.

41 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 41
Hads: 83
Avg: 3.67
pDev: 10.35%
Wants: 3
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  7.40% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: UncleJimbo on 03-17-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

So, these are our new historical beer releases: two beers from the same brewery, brewed under the same brand name, 107 years apart. X Ale, 22nd November 1838, and X Ale, 22nd February 1945. These beers were from Barclay Perkins brewery in London (now long closed). They were brewed & sold as the same beer over these 107 years, but the recipe and process changed dramatically. The beer changed from a golden, 7.4%, extremely hopped ale in 1838 into a 2.8% dark grainy beer in 1945. Probably a lot of factors came into play: wars, hop shortages, grain pricing, rationing, taxation, patriotism, the motorcar, the industrial revolution… I’m guessing these all played a role in the weakening and darkening of this beer. Interestingly, since 1945, Mild ale in Britain hasn’t changed so much: it’s still dark, and one of the weakest beers produced.
View: Beers (17) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 41 | Hads: 83
Photo of laituegonflable
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale orange colour. HEad is off-white, decent when poured but now a thin crown of large bubbles. Decent pattern of lace left behind. Looks OK.

Smells sweet, but with a tangy edge. Rather citric like raw batter for an orange cake. Caramel, vanilla and orange peel, the latter all on the back, with mild bitterness and slight phenolic edge. Bit too subdued; what's there is quite nice and I'd like more prominence.

Taste is more bitter and hoppy. Mild battery malt on the front that develops a prolonged depth of hoppy bitterness: citric and slightly leafy with notes of earl grey tea, marmalade and a slight grassy edge at the back. Maybe a touch too much bitterness, especially on the back. Potential to be tangy and fresh and it sinks a bit at the end. Otherwise, quite nice.

Thinnish, but a decent foaminess. Fairly warm, stripping texture at the back.

Not bad, but methinks it could have been a lot better.

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Photo of DrJay
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright yellow/gold with the faintest of haze, fluffy white cap with sticky lacing. Pale malt and toasted marshmallow aroma, earthy hops, biscuit, and slight fruitiness. Moderate bitterness up front that really lingered in the finish and gave off an herbal character. Pale malt sweetness, sugar, light alcohol, a bit earthy. Medium to full bodied with creamy carbonation and mild warmth. Quite enjoyable. Not a lot of complexity, but well crafted.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Brewed 13 Feb 2012. The style on Beer Advocate is incorrect -- this is an English mild not an English strong ale.

After reading Martyn Cornell's 'Beer - The Story of the Pint' I was excited to try the newer version of this style. Thanks to Dann and Ron for resurrecting it!!

A: clear, straw colored with nice thin laced but creamy head
S: medium nose, some fruit and malt with a hint of EtOH
T: Wow!, well made, held up to nearly 18 months in the bottle, vinous, grainy with pronounced hop bitter finish
M: thirst quenching, nice mouthfeel, creamy

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Photo of RickS95
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Doesn't look anything like I expected and not sure it fits the style, but it's still a nice looking beer. It looks like a cross between a wit and a pale ale. Pours a milky golden grapefruit color. Very hazy. The head is non-descript, fleeting and doesn't have much retention.

The smell is a combination of malted grains, Royal hops, with a lemony honey splash. When swirled, it releases a Sprite like waft.

The taste is strong. Very aggressive, but good. Bold flavors of grains and hops, with alcohol hitting in the swallow.

I think the mouthfeel could grow on me. I've had stronger, more bitter beers, but this was one of the boldest, most aggressive feeling beers. Full bodied. There's a citrusy sweetness before the hoppy bitterness shows. There's more bitter and some heat from the alcohol in the finish.

I'm not very familiar with the style or the brewer, but this old school beer is exactly what I expected English beers from two centuries ago to taste like. The look with throw you, but the taste is what you'd imagine. In between a drinker and a sipper, it's a good manly beer.

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Photo of brentk56
3.81/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy honey color topped by a very impressive head; nice retention and some streaky lacing is left behind

Smell: Nougat and buttered popcorn, with hints of fruit

Taste: Rather malt forward, with an unusual blend of vanilla, nougat, buttered popcorn, pear, strawberry and apple; in the middle, the earthy hops build and the lingering bitterness extends into the aftertaste but the sweeter malts hold their own through the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Certainly an interesting historical anachronism but it makes me glad that I am a beer drinker in the 21st and not the 19th century as I am not a fan of diacetyl

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Photo of TheFightingMongooses
3.77/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass. Brewed on Feb 13th, 2012...not sure if this is the bottling date or what.

Appearance - Light amber with a hazy orange glow, though I'm pretty sure it's filtered. Healthy bone-white head with lots and lots of lacing, carbonation is medium-low.

Aroma - Mild fruity hops, slight peach aroma. Malts bring to mind dark baked bread. Earthy and very nice.

Taste - Fruity hops and sweet malts combine to create a black licorice flavor. A tea-like herbal aspect is present throughout.

Mouthfeel - The mouth has an almost tannic fullness. Soft and full bodied, the mouthfeel works perfectly for this beer.

Overall - Straightforward, full of flavor, and easy to drink. This is just an all around good beer.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I love this beer series (and Pretty Things in general). Can’t wait to see what was going on in a little English brewery 174 years ago…

Brewed seven months ago to the day (“This batch brewed Feb 13th, 2012”).

A: Pours incredibly cloudy with only a touch of white bubbles – seriously, the body looks just like grapefruit juice, pale tannish-orange. Creamy white retention encircling the inside the inside of the glass.

S: Light vanilla and toffee, full-on English scents, with a candy-like, nougat character. Sugary, malty, and with creamy, fruity notes of sweet peaches, pear, and mango; that, on a layer of biscuit dough, comprises the grain scents. Light sprinkling of hops, as well, showing a touch of pepper. A subtle nose, but with remarkable old world style.

T: I have to say, that’s one of the most naturally bitter brews I’ve had in recent memory – playing off a peppery grapefruit and lime rind hoppiness, a long grain note of grassy, green tannics comes out as the main driving force of the palate. It’s nuanced by vanilla and mild fruit (again, pear and peach) tones, but still remains a fundamentally bitter beer; an unexpected profile, sure, but not unsatisfying. The finish is slightly nutty, though boldly astringent.

M: Sweet and smooth, this is a beer that I could drink all day. Exactly what a strong British pub beer should be.

O: Each of these back-in-time beers hits something special with me – probably because I always get something different than I’ve had before. This one is pleasing in a manner like no other, partly because of its uniqueness, but mainly due to its evident craftsmanship at ever y subtle turn.

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Photo of Scottgeo
4.25/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I bought this in comparison to the 1945 recipe of the same beer. The two were surprisingly different. My preference is for this one. It's hoppier with a nice creamy mouthfeel. The color is a beautiful deep gold. The alcohol is apparent, but not overpowering. Long finish.

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Photo of philbe311
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - A finger's worth of full and fluffy head that has a slight orange colored tint to it... Slight retention gives way to a full creamy lacing... Interesting in terms of haziness where the top half has a moderate haziness, but the bottom of the glass is clear... The color is a fairly vibrant mix of pale orange and lemony yellow... Loaded with moderate to quick paced carbonation... A very pleasant looking offering...

S - Honey and butterscotch are the first to meet the nose... Some orange notes... A bit of candied sugars... Subdued, unique, and rather satisfying...

T - Butterscotch is first on the palate as well... A slightly more than faint euro hop presence sits on the tongue as well... A light fruitiness... Lemon zest as well... A bit yeasty... A bit spicy... Some light candied sugars... A slight spice kick on the deep finish...

M - On the lighter side of medium bodied... A bit sleek... A bit sticky... Lots of very muted subtle carbonation... The finish is both a touch dry and a touch chalky...

D - An interesting beer that seems true to description as this seems like nothing brewed in 2012, but rather harkens back to an earlier edge... Not something that I would drink with regularity, but text book Pretty Things... I love the artistry and history that comes a live with this offering...

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.44/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Found these two brews at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA, and found the concept intriguing. I brought them home to Australia and shared them now, side-by-side with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a very pale golden colour, with a frothy, crackly but insubstantial head of white that leaves patchy lace. Body is surprisingly light for a big beer like this. Overall, I'm not overly enthusiastic, to be honest.

Nose is mild, but with a smooth malt character, and a slope of something slightly sour, or perhaps coppery to it. It may well just be a clear English hop fragrance, but it melds very oddly with the malt character. Interesting, though.

Taste is light on flavour, but with a solidity to the feel and the vectors that would normally carry that flavour. Mild, weak grain, and a touch of booziness comes through, along with a faint hint of coconut. It's not unpleasant, but it's pretty mild.

Overall, it's a little bit dull. Not unpleasant, just dull—and let's face it, getting a 170-year old 7.4% strong ale recipe to be dull is something of an achievement.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled I brought to share on the party bus to San Diego, CA.

Brewed 2/13/12.

Pours a slightly murky yellow with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, yeast, and some fruity aromas. Taste is much the same along with some hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is pretty drinkable but not something I would go after again. Definitely an interesting concept for the beer.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a super hazy, oxymoronic deep pale colour, with a light coloured head that laces slightly. The aroma is earthy breadiness, flowery hops with some hints of grass and biscuits. Rather bitter punch up front on the taste, with a bread sweetness, maybe some wheat, with some flowery hops on the finish along with some more bitterness. There is some noticeable heat. The body is medium, creamy with a good carbonation level.

Quite interesting that this was considered a "Mild" back in the day. But then again, if I was a common working man back in London at that time, this probably would be perfect after a hard days work.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: poured .com pale golden yellow in color with slight orange highlights and a finger of bubbly head that left some good lacing sticking to the glass.

S: lots of malty sweetness was apparent on the first whiff but had citrusy, grainy, and hints of spice.

T: there was tons of grain flavor on the palate alongside citrusy accents, sweetness from the malts and a touch of spice.

M: the brew was light to medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, citrusy, mild spice, and crisp finish.

O: it was a decent refreshing beer that wood go good lounging out pollside on a hot socal summer day.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, label says brewed on February 13, 2012. Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a hazy golden/orange color with about an inch off-white head that stayed around for a while. There's also a good amount of lacing. The brew smells like bready malt/grain, citrusy hops (orange peel, apricots), and a bit of caramel. I think the brew tastes mostly like the aroma, but the citrusy flavors (plus some lemon peel) are dominant compared to the other ones. There's also a bit of bubblegum noticeable in the taste, along with a bitter finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and is well carbonated. For $7.99 a bomber, I'd try this one again for sure. I thought it was good.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber,

A: Pours a translucent goldenrod with a medium white head, very good thick lace.

S: Cedarwood and pine, some citrus peel character as well.

T: Pine oil and melon rind are heavy (especially in the finish). Light malty notes of bread, white grape and sugar cane. Some minor booze is noticable.

M: Crisp carbonation, medium-bodied, fairly clean finish, turbid to a degree. Medium-long aftertaste of the hops.

O: An interesting beer, kind of a cross between a modern day Double IPA and a Malt Liquor. Nice to get a glimpse of history. I'd certainly like to try the 1945.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy golden-orange with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down fairly slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet bready malts, citrus and earthy hops, and a bit of English yeast esters.

T - Starts off with a mix of bready malts with a bit of earthy hops and a touch of lemon peel. Through the middle, some resiny hop and a touch of bitterness alongside some English yeast flavors. The finish is a mix of sweet bready malt with some piney hops, some light fruits, and a touch of light booze.

M - Medium-plus bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a dry and lightly boozy finish.

D - Very drinkable. Smooth and overall nicely balanced. The simple malt bill allows the other flavors to come out a bit more.

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Photo of mactrail
4.15/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy, golden amber beer that gets cloudier as you stir up the yeast in the bottom. Fresh scent of yeast and with a hint of perfume. Full bodied with nice carbonation filling the mouth.

Loads of malt. Full of the lightly roasted barley flavor. Ends on a bitter note with the yeasty sediment. Some rustic hints like a good Saison. Rye bread with a hint of apples. Lots of hops but balanced with the malty richness. It all seems very appropriate to the stronger beer style.

I think is is really an intriguing and satisfying beer. One of the most drinkable beers on my Philly trip. Hats off to Pretty Things for not just trying something weird but doing it well. 22 oz bottle from the Foodery.

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Photo of natemort13
3.52/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer pours an uninspiring hazy and grainy dark straw yellow. The head is small and quickly puddles unevenly. Lacing is excellent as it goes down.

Nose is very "beery" with soft citrus accents. Strong bread and some ethanol is present. Sweet grains.

Alcohol is extremely present in the taste. Much heavier than many 10+ % abv beers I've had. Some grassy notes from the hops. Like the aroma the taste is very grainy. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel is slightly prickly from the alcohol and carbonation with a nice underlying velvety texture.

Overall this is a very interesting beer. The idea of resurrecting a beer from the past intrigues me very much. Good to have some sort of an idea of what beer may have been like a century and a half ago, but I'm glad beer has become what it is today after having this one.

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Photo of popery
3.67/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours bright and amber. It's a nice pale brew. The head is white, fluffy and not long for this world. Hazy, unfiltered.

The aroma is full of big, earthy hops. It's fresh herbs, grass and rich soil crushed together, and underneath, the pale malt provides plenty of simple sweetness. I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of such a simple malt bill - there's a healthy cider note to it - but it's an interesting beer and full of English flavor. Some fusel alcohol.

The taste is heavy on the hops and pale malt, unsurprisingly. The hops taste of grass, raw mushrooms, lemons and pine resin. Plenty of bitterness, particularly in the finish and aftertaste. The beer is drier than expected but still feels heavy with pale malt. It's not a bad malt flavor, particularly for such a simple malt bill, just simple.

The mouthfeel is relatively low on carbonation and a bit slick. Definite alcohol and strong bitterness in the finish.

I was more excited to try this beer than the 1945 version, but I ended up preferring the 1945 version. This beer is interesting, particularly as a historical recreation, and fairly enjoyable, outside of that angle, however it's almost too close to modern beers. It's just hard not to compare it to modern IPAs. Sure, it's all English in character, but it's not hard to see past that to the basic simple malt plus lots of hops formula. And in that respect, it's a nice change of pace, but I still prefer the modern take on the formula.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pourz a hazed gold with a good sized white gead that fades to a film.
the aroma has got some good grassy hoppiness coupled with a grainy maltiness. there are also touches of bubblegum.
the taste is much the same as the aroma, grainy malt, that gives way to sweet biscuit, bubble gum and ambiguous other fruitiness, with a solid grassy hop aspect. moderate bitterness cleans up the back end, leaving just a touch of grass hops and dinner roll.
the mouthfeel is medium bodied and lightly carbonated, soft and smooth on the palate
uncomplicated, but satisfying and enjoyable, it clearly comes from the hand of a craftsman. fascinating concept also.

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Photo of SirSketch
2.59/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

A - As the label states, much lighter than you would expect a mild to be. Gold in color, tinged with orange, with a fantastic rocky white head.

S - Loads of esters, some bubblegum, a little solventy, and a nice sweet, toasty malt aroma with some herbal hops, too.

T - Again, lots of bubblegum esters, noticeable alcohol and a curious smoky flavor. Little maltiness as compared to the intense esters.

M - Light to medium bodied and creamy mouth.

O - There seems to be some serious flaws with this beer. I understand this is a 'historical' beer, but the uncontrolled esters and alcohol make this hard to drink.

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Photo of smcolw
3.26/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep amber/light brown color. Clear. Good starting with some lasting power. Leaves plenty of spotty lace.

Very astringent, strongly earthy aromas. Literally smells like mud.

Dry, dry, dry malt flavor. Very thinly bodied even though the carbonation level is quite low. There's a mild touch of bitter hop but it does not last through to the aftertaste. Not as harsh as the smell indicates.

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Photo of jondeelee
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This version of the X Ale--22nd November 1838--isn't much to look at, being pale, watery, and highly translucent to the eye. Open the bottle, and the initial aromas are also fairly plain, but in this case coming across as lovely, the beer mainly featuring yeasty malts which come across as floury baguettes, toast crust, and biscuit atop a bed of brown sugar, lavender, molasses, white grape, and apricot. Only the slightest hints of citrusy grapefruit zest speak of hops. The overall effect here is of a well-made, simple Pilsner which, while it might not have many ingredients, the ones present have been meticulously selected for quality, and the beer crafted without fillers by someone who truly loves a delicious beverage.

On the tongue, the beer is malty and sugary, the opening notes being bread crusts and brown sugars, these joined quickly by berry, apricot, orange, white grape, and apple fruit esters, as well as touches of vanilla and caramel. Hops do add a small grapefruit-and-pine backing, which mainly sits in the background and keeps the sugars in check, though it does make a larger appearance later in the mouthful as the sugars die off, and constitutes an even larger portion of the aftertaste. In subsequent sips the finer nuances of the fruit esters are lost, and what remains is a bread-and-brown sugar base, with touches of grapefruit and vanilla, as well as grapefruit zest. The aftertaste is, again, largely hops, but here, unfettered and unchecked by sugars, they take on a slightly astringent and bitter quality, much like biting into fresh grass or dandelion stems, and the effect doesn't mesh well with the sugars in the main mouthful. Mouthfeel is medium-light, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, the opening flavors of this brew were excellent, but there just aren't enough ingredients in here to support those flavors over time, and over the course of several mouthfuls the beer becomes more and more bitter and astringent, much like the white pith of a grapefruit rind. This effect never becomes overwhelming, but it does mar the beverage. However, even with the lightening of sugars, the brew's 7.4% ABV stays nicely in the background, only contributing a pale alcoholic whiff to the edges. Worth trying for the historical interest, but I'm certainly glad brewing has progressed since this recipe was invented.

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Photo of Kinsman
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright, slightly hazy, golden orange body with a nice tight bone white head on top.

Lots of floral and spicy hop character upfront on the nose. Pale grainy malt notes and a bit of a fruity yeast note.

Solid malt backbone lays a slightly sweet and bready flavor upon with the hop flavors build. Delicately floral with a nice touch of earthy spice. Lighter fruit notes help round things out.

Mouthfeel is creamy with a rather heavy body to it. Overall, a tasty and refreshing beer. With beer like this, it's easy to see how mild became so popular for so many years.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle served in a nonic. Pours a pale, straw gold hue with a semi-hazy clarity and a loose, quarter inch bright white head that quickly dissipates towards the shoulders, leaving a thin band and a sudsy skim. Nose is very discrete - pale malts and a suggestion of earthy hops. Taste is consistent with nose; however, there's also a bit of sweetness to this (almost like cereal grains). Mouthfeel is light-medium in body with an even carbonation and a slightly oily consistency. Overall, a decent brew, albeit lacking in much complexity. That said, I have to give Pretty Things a great deal of credit for embarking on this interesting historical journey.

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X Ale, 22nd November 1838 from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
83 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.