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

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X Ale, 22nd November 1838X Ale, 22nd November 1838

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41 Reviews
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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.
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Reviews: 41 | Hads: 83
Photo of timster01801
4.3/5  rDev +17.2%
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.

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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 YouSkeete
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a mildly hazy golden yellow with a short, bubbly white head. White bread, pale malts and fresh hops in the aroma. Very floral with some smooth yeast characters. Big, bright, bitter hops with some smooth pale malt, notes of honey and some kitchen spices. Nice, rich, smooth, floral, medium sized body with moderate carbonation. Dry, hoppy finish.

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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 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 Puttenham
3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a pleasant golden hue, slightly hazy.

After the pour a thin head quickly dissipates into a few stray colonies of miniature bubbledom.

The aroma is of a steady breadiness with the faint but unmistakeable smell of alcohol in the background. Ohhhh yeah, I can tell I'm going to like this one even before i drink it.

The taste is delicious. A nice interplay of bready malt with a somewhat subdued bitterness.

Light carbonated mouthfeel.

The bitterness comes out with more assertion in the aftertaste, but still a nice balance.

7.4% alcohol. It gets the job done!

No bottle conditioning. Doesn't need it. One tasty beer. Surprisingly bitter for an English ale. Love it.

Thank you Dann Paquette and Ron Pattinson. Great job.

ps: I would love to see Dann and Ron find some recipes for "lost" top-fermented German biers Broyhan and Mumme (among others) and resurrect them. Hmmm?

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Photo of brureview
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This must be drunk warm, as it was probably served in 1838. I refridgerated the beer for only 20 minutes, as recommended by the brewer, who was pouring it at a tasting at the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA.

The beer pours a light tea-copper color, with a pleasant lemon-pie smell to the head. The mouth feel is malty, and intially there was a slight bitterness to the finish, which develops into a nice peppery-lemon.

The beer goes down easily at room temperature.
Surprisingly, I thought I wasn't going to like it- at the tasting( albeit in plastic cups) it was just okay.

It's a good beer from a bygone era and worth drinking.

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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 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 Bendurgin
3.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice. This one pours a clear golden with a finger of fluffy white head

The aroma is mild with bitter hops in the background and some lingering apple aromas. The pallet has a nice bitter hop flavor with some buttery flavors. Mild bready malts are in the background.

The body is heavy leaving a buttery flavor on the pallet. Overall this one is pretty tasty. I've really come to enjoy Pretty Things.

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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 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 PeterIngemi
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Spilt a 22 oz bottle poured into a duvel snifter

A: pours a hazy golden with a finger of white head that dissapates nicley and leavs a very nice lacing.

S: yeast, light citrus, bannana, nothing overly complex but a nice aroma just the same.

T: deffinatley yeast, and Breadyness, again, I get a touch of light citrus, almost a touch of bannana in there. Again nothing over the top but a very tasty brew, very drinkable, I enjoyed it very much, almost a little saison like but not really, almost a little like a golden but again not really. Oh yah and hops, add a nice earthy bitterness. Not a ton of hops, but they are noticeable

M: medium bodies with crisp medium carbonation. And a touch of dry bitter on the end.

O: a very interesting brew, especially when you know the story behind this and it's comparative brew the 1945 x ale. I really enjoyed this and everything behind it... Thank you pretty things.

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

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy, light orange with no head and not much lacing halfway through the glass. I quite like the color, though admittedly it does resemble fizzy papaya nectar. No points off if historically accurate.

Smells like an English ale. Mild, grassy hop character with malt undertones. Not this beer's best quality, but not at all bad.

Taste is pretty unique. Floral, grassy hops dominate up front, giving way to a funky, lemony malt backbone. Somewhat musty. A strong flavor of honey is noticeable in the finish. Three-quarters of the way through, I am becoming a fan. Medium to high carbonation, light bodied and crisp save for some slickness toward the end; reminds me of black tea with honey.

Overall a solid brew from Pretty Things. Highly doubt I would purchase another bottle, but I would certainly order on tap if given the opportunity.

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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 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 rudzud
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared this bottle purchased at Julio's with veotho. Poured into a Chimay chalice.

A - Pours a clear golden hue with a one finger creamy head that fades to leave a light cloud and halo.

S - Malts, corn (in an adjunct sense), grains, and light floral hops. The floral hops is quite nice.

T - Ehh..light booze (infact, a bit too much for my liking), sweet malts, slight grainy notes, light honey like sweetness. All these flavours are quite light.

M - Mouthfeel isnt too bad. The ABV is noticeable but the finish is crisp and drinkable.

O - Overall this is a good and unique beer. Glad I got to try such an old recipe but I personally preferred the 1945 version of the beer (which in itself earned huge unique points).

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

22oz bottle.

Pours hazy gold with an inch of dense white head. A partial skim coat for the duration and tattered sheets of lacing.

Aromatics are a blend of earthy hops, honey-drizzeled malt, and pear skins. Cut grass and apples follow through.

Medium bodied with a crisp mouthfeel.

A pressing, almost numbing bitterness starts off the palate. Grapefruit, bitter greens, and pithy fruit stones follow through with light malt running under.

Finishes with a lenghty, assaulting bitterness, biscuity malt, and a trace of warmth.

If this is a solid representation of this recipe from 1838, I would say the IIPA was well on it's way at that time.

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