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X Ale, 22nd February 1945 - Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

Not Rated.
X Ale, 22nd February 1945X Ale, 22nd February 1945

Educational use only; do not reuse.

42 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 42
Hads: 91
Avg: 3.61
pDev: 19.67%
Wants: 2
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
English Dark Mild Ale |  2.80% 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 (20) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 42 | Hads: 91
Photo of JavierGC
4.71/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Marrón con una soberbia espuma con buena retención y que deja encaje en el vaso. Aroma a frutos secos y algo de caramelo. Cuerpo medio y buena carbonatación. Maltosa y acaramelada, con bastante sabor para el poco alcohol que tiene.

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Photo of laituegonflable
2.8/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a deep red colour, streaming cascade of bubbles up the body. Head is cream-coloured, fairly dense with sticky lace. Looks good.

Smells massively sweet. Slight toasty edge with toffee, creme anglaise and buttermilk the main components; nicely but not wholly tempered by a light roasted bitterness which gives a slight boiled-sweet aroma. Some coconut and marshmallow. A bit sweet, but very nice.

Taste is very disappointingly sparse. Weakly sweet, with a hole in the middle of the palate. Sweet on the assault, then quickly watery with light pearl barley and some rice pudding notes. Slight vanilla on the finish and maybe a touch of toastiness, but it's a weird and disappointing palate, bereft of flavour and almost entirely bereft of complexity.

Quite thin, but a bit of texture to it. Gets watery again by the end. Pretty meh.

Held such promise until I tasted it. I'm really baffled as to where the charming aroma character went. Just a big gaping maw where a nice tasty beer might have been.

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Photo of DrJay
3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Clear copper with a fluffy beige cap, sticky lacing and good head retention. Mild aroma, malty and earthy with a hint of fruit, a bit herbal -- very nice. Medium bitterness with mild malt character, herbal hops, light breadiness, perhaps a hint of mint. Very light bodied and nearly thin, with moderate carbonation and a bit of dryness. Pretty tasty and easy drinking with an interesting hop profile.

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Photo of palma
4.58/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Dark pale body. Small off-white head. Very good surface lace thoughout the session.

Nose: Swiss Miss hot cocoa, nutty, dark fruits, caramel, molassas, warm bread.

Taste: Rye bread, unsweetened chocolate, cream, almonds, a bit of fruity ester. Semi-dry to dry. Very lightly hopped but just enough to give a slight bitterness in the aftertaste only.

Mouthfeel: Very thin and light bodied. Dark but still refreshing and very drinkable. I could drink this all day.

Wow. Pretty Things hit this style perfectly. Props to the brewer for taking a chance and making a style of beer that is often overlooked or even dismissed, rather than trying to appease the many beer geeks out there that favor high abv/high octane beers these days. Probably the best dark mild I have ever had.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.6/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: clear, copper color, poured with thin, but compact, creamy head
S: medium nose, malty, roasted, toasted, grassy, nutty
T: very light but still has some decent taste, light roasted malt with some bitter/astringent finish
M: thin (obviously for ABV) but quenching, albeit light
O: thanks to Ron and Dann for recreating a style that was nearly lost, I love tasting history

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Photo of metter98
3.43/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy caramel-amber in color. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that left lacing on the surface and a ring of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are very light aromas of malts in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but is slightly stronger; flavors of grainy and toasted malts are distinguishable.
M: It feels light-bodied (but not thin and watery) on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very light and refreshing, making it easy to drink and perfectly sessionable.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a hazy golden copper to amber in color with very light amounts of visible carbonation near the surface of the beer. The beer has a thin (maybe an eighth of a finger tall) white head that quickly reduces to a medium sized patch of mottled extremely thin film with a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light to moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: The overall aroma of this beer is quite mild with light malt smells.

T: There are moderate flavors of toasted and grainy malts with just a very light hint of sweetness. Overall the taste is pretty well balanced.

M: Light bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: A very interesting experiment to bring back a beer as it was brewed over 65 years ago - I think the experiment was successful and I would definitely enjoy this beer again if I had the opportunity (perhaps I will seek out some of the others in this series when I go shopping next time). Very easy to drink and very sessionable.

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Photo of mountdew1
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a light golden brown wit ha 1 finger off white foamy head. Head lasted a few minutes before leaving a small layer and copious amounts of lacing on the sides. Handfuls of carbonation bubbled up from the bottom. Aroma was earthy, with caramelized grains being predominant. Taste was malty, a bit thin oatmeal bread. Felt thin in the mouth. Didn't coat well at all, but was nicely carbonated. Overall not a bad beer. However not an outstanding beer. Definitely not as developed or flavorful as others from Pretty Things.

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Photo of Scottgeo
2.95/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I bought this beer as a companion to the 1838 recipe version. In comparison, there is no comparison! The 1838 recipe is so much bigger. Even considering this one on its own merits, I didn't find much exciting about this mild. I didn't get the creaminess I expected. It seemed a bit granular. Interesting experiment though.

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Photo of mactrail
3.63/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a lovely dark amber in the big chalice. Grains in the nose, kind of a brown rice aroma. Not as light bodied as you might expect, though certainly watery in a pleasant way. Plenty of carbonation to add some kick to the mouthfeel.

The grainy flavor is quite robust. Some browned biscuits and a little hop bitterness. Rather hoppy, but finishes with some restraint so as not to overpower the delicate malt. Sort of a rye toast flavor with some roasted malt and an interesting zing of bittering hops. Quite interesting a sensationally flavorful given the "table beer" strength.

An excellent quaff, nice for recalibrating the fluids after the salty surf. From the 22 oz bottle bought at Krisp, formerly Best Damn Beer Store, aka Super Junior Market.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Saw the two bottles at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA, and brought them back to Sydney, Australia to share side-by-side with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe.

Pours a clear deep coppery colour, with a mild, filmy head of white that stays in pock-bubbled islands on the surface of the glass. Body is pretty solid and holds carbonation nicely. Looks decent enough.

Nose is rather pleasant. Firm grainy, slightly roasted and sweet malt characters, with a twist of biscuity nuance and even perhaps some vanilla. Not bad.

Taste is clear and clean, with more crisp grain notes giving an aromatic, sweet cookie fragrance to the brew as a whole. Despite the very thin body, the grain flavours manage to pull it through to the finish, leaving no weak or empty spots on the palate. It ends up pretty tasty.

Feel is weak and light, which is not unexpected.

Overall, this is decent stuff, and (surprisingly, given the back story) easily the better of the two. Perhaps I'm just a child of my century, but I much preferred this grainier, more flavoursome 1945 version than the insipid (although markedly stronger) 19th century version.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

Brewed 2/14/12.

Pours a murky dark orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, and herbal hops. Taste is much the same but the flavors are somewhat mild. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a better smell than taste and not something I would go after again. Really interesting to see how the same beer changed over 100+ years with different recipes.

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Photo of smcolw
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Rich, three-finger head that settles in a lumpy fashion. Leaves plenty of chunky spots on the glass. The liquid is amber leaning on the darker side and cloudy.

Dry and earthy smell. Darker malt but with no sugar.

The flavor matches the nose but with a stronger level of bitterness which shows up in the swallow. Lighter body with an above average carbonation. There's a bit of a bite to the dry malt flavor.

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Photo of axeman9182
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, thanks to jaasen64 for the hookup. It was poured into my Dogfish Head signature glass.

Pretty Things OUAT X Ale, February 22, 1945 pours an opaque amber, with some reddish highlights around the edges of the glass. Just under two fingers of off-white foam crown the beer, displaying a little bit of head retention and some solid lacing. The nose has some biscuit and nutty aromas, along with a touch of earthy hop character. The maltiness of the beer is a little more intense in the flavor profile. Along with the nutty and biscuit flavors, there's a slight coffee-like roasty edge to the proceedings. Bitterness is very restrained, and the earthy hops meld in well with the malt profile in the finish. The body, while still light, is surprisingly sturdy for a <3% beer, and is aided by a somewhat restrained carbonation. I really enjoyed this Once Upon A Time beer, proof that a good, flavorful beer can be brewed at such a low ABV.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love the idea of this series of beers – thank you, Pretty Things. Let’s see what was brewing in London over sixty years ago…

Brewed five months before the date of this tasting (“This batch brewed February 14th, 2012”).

A: Pours very light and foamy, dirty orange-brown and extremely bubbly. Smooth-as-silk foam, light tan and incredibly creamy in texture, is at an inch or so before it drifts delicately down to a remarkable pillowy retention. Lacing doesn’t stop – it IS the interior of the glass; superb.

S: Creamy, biscuity malt aromas are the center of this nose: rich caramel, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and a little maple. It’s unapologetically toasted caramel-forward, and I like it; straightforward British goodness, with complexity that I’d never expect from something so light.

T: Wow, that’s light. Huge mineral tones come out – the biggest I’ve ever had in a single beer – in droves of distinct, semi-metallic dryness. Hops are quite strong for such a low-alcohol beer (or they stick out because it’s such a low-alcohol beer), with bright flavors of herbal, flowery bitters. Think sparkling water with lemon – sweet and tart, zesty and light. Malts are mild and grainy, with a dark mix of nutty and buttery tastes, as well as a tannic profile that’s strong enough to match the hops. Chewy yeast presence on the palate’s end – mildly estery, and even better when you displace the yeast in the bottom of the bottle and pour it in. Aftertaste is a light, almost powdery dryness.

M: Slight seltzer texture on top of a thicker foundation of yeast. It comes out as a layered drink, which is at least interesting, if not enjoyable.

O: Once again, thank you Ron Pattinson and Pretty Things for such a cool experience in beer history. I’d never think something so light could be so flavorful – certainly an eye-opening experience.

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Photo of Gobzilla
3.3/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: poured a brown in color with light brown highlights and a thin bubbly head but did leave a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: there was some mild roastiness, slight caramel sweetness, a bit of graininess and plenty of malty character.

T: the tase actually had some bitter hoppy flavor alongside caramel, hints of toffee, grainy notes, and sweet malty accents.

M: the brew was light to medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet malty, slight roasty, grainy, and mild bitter hoppy finish.

O: haven't really had a whole lot of beers of this style but was pretty good and had an interesting combination of flavors going on.

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

A: Poured a cloudy cider brown with 2 fingers of frothy off-white/beige head.

S: Roasted toffee and nuts. Perhaps even a hint of butteryness as it warms.

T: Toasty caramel moves into a dry, lightly roasted nut flavor. Finish is a bit bitter with some earthy, rootlike notes.

M: Light, clean and crisp with a very dry finish. Not as watery as some higher ABV brews and light beers, which was a pleasant surprise.

O: I wasn't sure what to expect on picking this up. Much more flavorful than I'd thought it'd be, and definitely worth a try as this might be the only time you get the chance. Nice and refreshing after a day at work.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.38/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle,

A: Pours lighter than I expected. Deep cooper with a firm white head, leaving some nice lace.

S: Bready malt, toast, surprisingly fragrant.

T: Toast, some light caramel flavours. Hop character is noticable especially in the finish. Bit of seltzer water as well.

M: Light-bodied, but not really thin. Rather long aftertaste. Creamy. Carbonation is too high for the style, it shows why milds really need to be on cask to shine.

O: A pleasant mild, I like the experiment, just wish it wasn't so pricey.

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Photo of hreb
3.63/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Cool 22oz bottle dated Feb 22, 1945 and Feb 14, 2012. Beer pours deep red amber with a medium thick tan head. Subtle aroma is dominated by malt, with a hint of smoke.

Ooh, way too much carbonation for the style in my book. The flavors here are so gentle they're nearly wiped out by fizz. But moving past that, the flavor is very, very smooth. Letting the fizz out of the beer a bit, the flavors of the grain really come through. This is barley juice, perfectly balanced with alpha hop bitterness. I wish I had the vocabulary to describe the individual malts used here, because there are at least 3 clearly distinct and identifiable malts here. Totally classic English.

Mild is not the most fun to drink, and the only thing I can ding this for is the over carbonation. Otherwise, another fantastic execution by Pretty Things.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours an almost clear copper-orange with a finger of frothy off-white head atop. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some light lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of some toasted caramel malts, some nuttiness, dark brewing sugars, a bit of bread, and a light fruitiness.

T - Starts off with a mix of some sweet caramelized malts, dark brewing sugar, and a touch of nuttiness. Through the middle, a touch of pine and reiny hop comes through with a touch of light fruity yeast esters. The finish is a mix of sweet bready malts with some brown sugar and a bit of yeast esters.

M - Medium-light bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and estery finish.

D - Very drinkable. Very smooth and sessionable, but there is still a good amount of balanced flavors. Nice malt character.

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Photo of MatthewWilde
3.63/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Sample: 1 bottle 2012

A: Burnt orange in color, moderate internal carbonation, translucent, pours nice foamy lacing

S: Not much fragrance, definitely heavy in the yeast/wheat category, quite clean, not much else to report

T: Just like the nose, not very flavorful, yeast and wheat throughout, rather bland, but given the style it's not much of a surprise

M: Amazingly smooth, of course, almost water-like, no aftertaste, not overpowering or drying, very refreshing

O: Great story, but weak in the nose and flavor, understandable given the style, but needless to say I'm not a huge fan, quite drinkable though

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Photo of jujigatame
3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pretty Things X Ale 2/22/1945

Bomber into nonic pint.

Muted copper color, reddish brown. One finger of white head that’s frothy and pillowy. Looks pretty nice. There is splotchy lacing left all down the glass as consumed.

Smells of roasty malts, grass, a bit of lemon sharpness. Similar to a brown ale.

The taste comes with a lot of earth and grain at first with not as much malt compared to the smell. Initially it seems to taste less refined than what I’m used to on most beers. This is not a bad thing by any means but it’s different and noticeable. Some herby flavors linger in the aftertaste. A slight bit of caramel too? It’s not sweet though. It’s hard to pick out hops in this one but I guess that’s to be expected to a degree given the description of the ingredients. I also get a couple hints of dark fruit that shows a subtle sweetness.

I had the first half of the bomber by itself. The second half I had with dinner (salad and homemade mac & cheese). The one distinct difference I found was some chocolate coming out in the taste in the beer that I didn’t get when drinking it solo. The malt was deeper and more pronounced. Not that it made any big leap but a few times the flavor flashed with what you’d expect to find in a normal porter.

Mouthfeel is light and a bit watery but it didn’t stick out to me as such. I’d say it was pleasant to drink.

This is an interesting beer. ABV is quite low and the flavors are much milder than what I usually drink but I liked it. It made for a nice change of pace from strong IPAs that I seem to have been stuck on lately. I’m happy Pretty Things made this and provided some history behind it. Sometimes it is worth trying things that aren’t the latest and greatest just for the knowledge and experience. Hopefully I can try the 1838 version soon.

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Photo of popery
3.95/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a rosy shade somewhere between mahogany and amber. It's fairly cloudy, though that could be my fault from the pour or just not letting the beer settle for long enough (I cracked the bottle within hours of liberating it from my local beer shop). Small, sudsy head, off-white. Just a bit of lacing.

The aroma is stronger than you might expect from a <3% abv beer. It's full of biscuity malt with a dash of mineral, herbaceous hops and a hint of smoke. There's a light medicinal note, some caramel and fresh bread. A healthy amount of layered malt sweetness is apparent. It's surprisingly complex, and the varied malt bill comes through very nicely. This is a beer that could hold its own with stronger brews.

The taste starts with some light, bready sweetness with a touch of herbal hops. The hop presence builds to a pleasant balance, as the malt picks up darker tones of caramel and light roast. There's a mild acidity. It's almost tangy with citrus and wisps of smokes.

The beer has relatively low carbonation. There's nothing really wrong with that, but the beer would be better out of a cask. Otherwise, it has a nice round mouthfeel, even as it manages to sit rather lightly on the palate. The beer is very easy to drink.

To be honest, I was very excited to see these beers get distributed to my area. I had read about them on Shut Up About Barclay Perkins and am a longtime fan of Ron Pattinson. Plus, any beer backed up by proper historiography with lovely primary sources and such is going to make me a bit weak in the knees. Tacking on a recent read of Amber, Gold & Black and a love of good English-style ales, it would be fair to say that I'm somewhat primed for this review. Happily, I don't think you'll need that perspective to enjoy this beer, as it's a tasty treat for anyone with an appreciation with low abv beers with an English profile. I fervently wish that more American brewers would take on authentic British recipes, particularly the lower abv stuff that is simply missing from the American beer world, outside of the occasional brewpub or limited keg release.

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Photo of clearlydiluted
3.3/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into duvel tulip glass

a - dark amber bordering on a tan brown. head pours a off white tan head.

s - toasty bread, suggests roastiness, and brief flashes of caramel

t - an appearance by some toffee caramel flavor, the beer is mostly bitter with dry herbal notes. some toasty/roasty notes (amber or brown malt?). lingering bitterness.

m - thin, dried out tannic.

o - oh yes, a beer only a war could make taste good. great effort nevertheless, but it never had a chance against a world war.

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Photo of kmo1030
3.63/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours brown with a just shy of white head.
the aroma is of crusty, well done bread with some earthiness that seems to be connected to the grassy hoppiness.
the taste is also of slightly over-baked bread crust. i find some husky graininess as well. additionally the there is a slight brown sugar flavor, though i find this beer to be quite dry. burnt bitterness mingles with some hop bitterness in the finish.
the mouthfeel is is a touch on the thin side, with soft carbonation.
overall, full flavored and very pleasant for being 2.8 abv. good enough that it makes one wish that brewers these days might lean a little more in this direction (low abv, not low flavor).

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X Ale, 22nd February 1945 from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
82 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.