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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
84
good

83 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 83
Reviews: 41
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 10.13%
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:
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.

(Beer added by: UncleJimbo on 03-17-2012)
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Ratings: 83 | Reviews: 41 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by dancaplette:
Photo of dancaplette
4.5/5  rDev +20%

More User Reviews:
Photo of marchnlv
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of jondeelee
3.6/5  rDev -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.

Photo of hagbergl
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%

Photo of weonfire
3.75/5  rDev 0%

Photo of timster01801
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty unique tasting beer. I like it. Some agreeable funkiness with a nice hop bite! I'll definitely have this in the fridge alongside bottles of Jack D'or and Fluffy White Rabbits. Great job, Pretty Things.

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

Photo of let8it8grow
4/5  rDev +6.7%

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.

Photo of Kinsman
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

Photo of Sailracer
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of bluejacket74
3.9/5  rDev +4%
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.

Photo of philbe311
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
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...

Photo of Devi0us
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%

Photo of EgadBananas
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Photo of HattedClassic
3.75/5  rDev 0%

Photo of raythealeman
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of ZacharyJ
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of natemort13
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of rbrefbeerman
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%

Photo of greenengineer
2.58/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle into a plain pint glass. Served slightly chilled. Brewed 2/13/12 according to the bottle
A - clear yellow/amber, decent head fades quickly, buts sticks to the sides of the glass. As the bottle says "paler than you might expect"
S - malty aroma, hops hard to detect
T - bitter, astringent even. Not liking this much. Has a bit of a metallic taste. Doesn't taste like it has really come together. Second and third sips are tasting a bit better, but still not terrific.
M - thin, but good fizz.
O - I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that this needs to spend a bit longer in the bottle. I like so much of what Pretty Things does, but this misses the mark for me. Hops bitterness very strong in the taste, but not in the nose. Extra point for local.

Photo of kmo1030
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

Photo of jlindros
3.45/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, much brighter and lighter colored than the 1945 version, this one pours a light fluffy 1/2 finger head that fades semi slowly with nice lacing, similar to the other, but the color of this is an opaque golden with a hint of a yellow-orange.

Nose is fairly light, much lighter than the 1945 as well, but completely different. This brings some light aromatic fruity hops, bit grassy as well, very light toasty golden malts, mostly missing on the nose.

Taste is bigger, almost golden Belgiany flavored actually... starting with the malts, the malts seem more complex than just 100% pale, and it has an interesting body feel. Some fruity flavors come through, most likely from the yeast, with a light estery flavor. then hops, decent bitterness with some grassy floral hops, and slight earthy flavors. The hops also seem to get slightly fruity, and eventually slightly herbal, but also surprised to see that just Kent hops. The bitterness builds to a big decent bitterness towards the finish, and lingers well past the finish. It dries a bit on the finish as well, with some light lingering malt and fruity yeast flavors, but mostly grassy earthy hop flavors. the booze is there, definitely gives you a warming and slight boozy kick.

Mouth is fuller bodied, almost abrasive gritty like, with a decent warmth of booze that almost starts to tingle, and decent carb.

Overall not bad, a much bigger and completely different beer from the 1945, bolder, hoppier, stronger, etc, but I think I prefer the complexity of the overall beer in the 1945. Interesting how much it changed, almost as if going down by so much in grains, alcohol, hops, etc should have made the beer worse, but at the same time they learned how to do more with less. This being a fairly simple recipe makes it a bit too bland overall IMHO, but still a fairly tasty beer.

Photo of TheFightingMongooses
3.75/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of GuidedByBill
4.5/5  rDev +20%

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