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Theakston XB - T & R Theakston Ltd.

Theakston XBTheakston XB

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

94 Ratings
THE BROS
87
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 94
Reviews: 55
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 9.33%


Brewed by:
T & R Theakston Ltd. visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  4.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 09-29-2003)
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Ratings: 94 | Reviews: 55 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy dark orange with a foamy khaki head that fades to nothing. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, caramel, and dark fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with a wood-like flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is drinkable but quite subdued, especially in the flavor.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2013 01:42:50 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Do any beers balance better than a well crafted ESB? It's a shame that there aren't more available on the market. Though there's several ESBs out there, there are so few that are well made.

The beer pours a handsome and masculine garnet color with bronze low lights. A creamy yet dainty off white head provides an espresso-like creme that laces well on the glass with dispursed islands of foam and froath. Bright clarity puts an exclamation point on the stately appearance.

Malt, fruit, and hops all resinate with the olfactory sense at the same time and with the same intensity for a well integrated scent. Toffee, caramel, apples, dates, grapes, coffee, walnut, and spicy floral character and a backdrop of sweet breads. Very clean and characterful for a most appetizing aroma spread.

The malty, hoppy, and estery balance continues in taste as the deeply rooted malt character reveals deeply caramelized malt flavor, biscuit, brittle, butterscotch, and bread crust. Balanced with floral and earthy hops, the tea-like herbal taste develops into a smooth bitterness that offset malt sweetness effortlessly. Decorated with pitted fruits of figs, dates and then then with apple, grape, and plumb, the yeasty esters come alive to offer variety, complexity, and intrigue. Slightly spicy with alcohol and hops, there's more going on with the flavor profile than you'd think.

Medium throughout, the early malty creaminess receeds as the carbonation subsides and the minty-cool alcohols set in. Fleeting sweetness and growing bitternss assists in a semi-dry finish of malt and hops. An absolute effortless session!

Delicious and spectacular, this ESB sides modestly with the malts and will surely appease those with a sweet tooth. But the beer achieves nearly perfect balance and they make it look easy. Personal preference gives Fuller's ESB the nod, but this is no slouch.

Serving type: bottle

12-20-2011 06:18:01 | More by BEERchitect
Photo of metter98
metter98

New York

3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is slightly hazy rusty copper in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger-high light beige head that quickly died down, leaving lots of lacing down the sides of the glass and a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are aromas of fruity yeast and nuts and toffee from the malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and is quite malty with notes of apples and sweetness. Only hints of bitterness are noticeable towards the finish, although there are enough hops are enough to help balance out the malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink, well balanced and very sessionable. It doesn’t seem to be to filling or heavy on the palate.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2012 03:42:16 | More by metter98
Photo of ChainGangGuy
ChainGangGuy

Georgia

3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle - $6.50 at Taco Mac in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Moderately hazed, darkish amber in appearance with a small, brief, white head despite an enthusiastic and engaging pour.

Smell: Toffee flecked biscuit tops with a thin whiff of fruit from a bag of trail mix with a top note of earthy, green herbs.

Taste: Toasted biscuits with curt pop of toffee sweetness. Hint of dried apricot prior to the earthy, staunchly herbaceous English hops, though with a subtle bitterness. A shrewdly dry, herbal finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium-low carbonation.

Overall: A sufficient though outstanding English ale.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2012 15:53:57 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Theakston XB
12 oz. bottle, $2.03 @ State Line Liquors, Elkton MD
Code date illegible

Theakston XB. You can't really get any more English than that, can you? It's one of the old classics.

It's an "extra" bitter, clocking in at 4.6% alcohol by volume. The dark amber colored body appears almost russet brown while sitting atop the bar; and the frothy, almost light tan foam leaves dozens of tiny spots of lace across the glass with each sip you take.

In the nose you find yeasty fruitiness that includes apples, a bit of red grape, a touch of some dried dark fruit, and a suggestion of spice. It's malty as well, with a bit of dark caramel and toffee. Finally, a light whiff of floral and grassy hops rounds it out.

The flavor very much follows the nose, but you'll also find that there's a light touch of mineral character to it; and more hop flavor than you might have expected. It's moderately bitter, leaving it well rounded and very drinkable. Some malt lingers in the mouth in the aftertaste, but the bitterness, mineral character, and leafy, spicy, and herbal hop notes dry it nicely.

With enough character to keep it interesting beyond a pint or two, and just 4.6% abv, it makes a great session ale. Nicely done!

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2011 22:11:53 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of TheManiacalOne
TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, some citrus and honey and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty malt character followed by a mild sweetness from flavors of caramel, citrus and honey. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, not too filling, good representation of style, this is a decent beer to drink for a while but there are better beers in the style.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2011 06:56:21 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of drabmuh
drabmuh

Maryland

3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter. Beer is amber / light brown and clear with an thin off white head of medium sized bubbles, some lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is mildly malty but a little hoppy.

Beer is medium to light in body, mildly bitter, nice finish, an average to slightly above average ESB. I might have it again but I won't go out of my way.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2012 19:19:08 | More by drabmuh
Photo of jlindros
jlindros

Massachusetts

3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice creamy 1 finger head that fades semi slowly with some lacing, clear dark amber color.

Nose is a bit surprising, nice and malty with soft complex almost decoction like, hint of creamy malts. Then light grassy hops, hint herbal, and just a bit of a lager like fruit and crispness.

Taste starts with creamy malts, again soft almost decoction complexity but not quite, hint of caramel and grainy almost toffee malts. Then fruits, hint of apple and almost apricot like, kinda like lager fruits. Finally hops, light fruity and some herbal grassy hops. Finishes a bit bitter, dry, more grassy touch herbal hops, a bit crisp. I could almost swear this was a lager.

Mouth is a bit lighter bodied, decent carb, creamy.

Overall nice, drinkable, nice soft creamy malts, light grassy herbal hops, drinkable and crisp, light lager like fruit. Tasty and unexpected.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2011 12:55:44 | More by jlindros
Photo of jwc215
jwc215

Wisconsin

4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask at King's Head, London:

Pours dark copper, near brown, with a tan head. Lacing sticks. It has a beautiful colour!

The smell is of toffee/caramel with an herbal/earthy spicing.

The taste is of toffee/caramel with orange, herbal spicing. Very well-balanced and delicious! It has a woody, tea-like, herbal finish.

It has a creamy, medium body.

This has a nice, subtle complexity. Malty but with a hop bitterness that mixes in well. Very drinkable!

Serving type: cask

04-23-2009 01:51:56 | More by jwc215
Photo of BlackHaddock
BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown 500ml bottle, drank two weeks after its Best Before Date. I really must cataloge my beer stash one day.

Poured into a Batemans half pint sleeve and my new La Chouffe tulip glass.

Good looking deep amber colour with an off white head which fell away to a wisp and then to a thin collar around the glasses.

Treacle and toffee aroma, pleasant more than sicky sweet.

Good bitter sweet taste, typical good quality English Bitter. The molasses from the aroma are also in the taste and mouthfeel, they hang around a while.

You must remember that most British Bitters' tend to lack a rich heavy mouthfeel, this is no different. Overall, not bad at all.

Serving type: bottle

08-11-2008 20:41:22 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of smcolw
smcolw

Massachusetts

3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Modest starting head that dies to a single layer of minute bubbles. Little lace. Cloudy, brown color.

Strong sweet caramel aroma. Very candy like.

Leans to the sweeter side. There's a touch of hops that doesn't quite balance this beer. Neutral body with a higher than expected carbonation for a British brew. Strong caramel aftertaste.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2012 18:42:18 | More by smcolw
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark amber, with a medium white head, good lace.

S: Quite complex with mandarin orange, spiced winter cake, almost a light barleywine feel at times.

T: Direct malt flavour, lightly sweet. Hop notes of lemon and grass make an appearance.

M: Light-bodied, crisp and pretty smooth.

O: The nose is inviting, but the overall flavour while good, isn't going to wow anybody. A good beer, but Fuller's ESB is still the class in this style.

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2011 04:38:32 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of jdhilt
jdhilt

New Hampshire

3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two-finger cream head that fades very slowly leaving a very good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Malty nose and flavor is a smooth caramel, expecting a lot more hops. $2.85 for a 12oz bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2011 23:05:06 | More by jdhilt
Photo of Zorro
Zorro

California

3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Deep amber to red colored ale with a good sized tan colored head.

Smell is earthy with medium level of butter aroma. Strange something in this smells like aqua velva aftershave, if you remember that stuff. Scents of chocolate and leather with some Balsa wood thrown in. Slightly smoky with a little ash scent.

Starts out dry and distinctly mineral in flavor. Gets a little sweeter as you drink it but this is one bone-dry beer. Slight flavor of oxidation, spent a lot of time on a ship. Medium bitterness level and hard water flavor that punches up the hops bitterness.

Mouthfeel is Average.

Overall this is OK but nothing real exciting.

Serving type: bottle

07-24-2011 01:32:18 | More by Zorro
Photo of woodychandler
woodychandler

Pennsylvania

3.69/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

How hard is it to put a price tag on a beer? For this one, it was enough to cause me to leave the premises before being 86'd. I will be hard-pressed to return to that venue until after an extended cooling-off period. It was a bottle, to add insult to injury. Bah!

From the bottle: "What's in a name? In our old brewery cellar in Masham, we have, for many years, distinguished the contents of one cask from another by using wooden blocks dipped in whitewash shaped either with a letter B or with an X. As we only had two blocks at the time and with our other beers limiting the options, we were left with either BX or XB. We preferred XB!"; "A classic English ale. The subtle dry undertone is balanced by the fruitiness of the Brambling Cross and Fuggle hops, resulting in a distinctly complex aroma and flavour. Enjoyed by beer connoisseurs all over the world."

I hate the designation "beer connoisseur", but I do like beer, so it was time for a pour. I had a nice two finger, fizzing, tawny head with moderate retention. Color was a deep-copper with NE-quality clarity. Nose was really fruity, like Juicy Fruit chewing gum in terms of sweet fruit. There was also an underlying malt sweetness, somewhat sugary. Mouthfeel was medium but the sweetness of the nose did not transfer onto the tongue. Instead, it retained its fruity flavor, but it was nowhere near as cloying as I girded myself to expect. Finish was semi-dry and I began to wonder how long they age this before bottling. This was very pleasant, but I wish that it could have been purchased under more pleasant circumstances.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2013 23:31:51 | More by woodychandler
Photo of DoubleJ
DoubleJ

California

4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dinner is ready, and so is a 500 ml bottle waiting for me. On to the beer:

Lovely amber orange color with reddish hues and a thick sopay head on top. Retention is good, and its aroma is a mix of esters, buttery tones, and toasted malts. A light pinch of bittering hops gets noticed underneath.

Classic England all the way. Its toasty and estery flavor with a hint of strawberry and diacetyl are never overpowering. There seems to be a lot more flavor intensity than one may expect from a 4.7% brewed in the US. The mouthfeel isn't shabby at all, medium bodied and somewhat buttery.

I was glad to see Theakston back in the US market, and even more glad to try another of their products with my ribeye steak. Very pleasant ale.

Serving type: bottle

10-01-2011 03:44:56 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of wl0307
wl0307

United Kingdom (England)

3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A new offering at the Sainsbury's where I bought the bottle. It's 4.5%abv. in strength, BB 31 OCT 06, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: pours a very clear and beautiful amber colour with some reddish hues; coming with a thick and creamy/frothy off-white beer head with pretty good retention; lively carbonated body.
S: sweet toffeeish malts and a hint of caramel dominate the nose, while a pineapple gum/candy-ish edge closely follows; a deeper cherry-fruity and slightly resinous hoppy note hides at the back. Overall, the creamy, coconut milk, and buttery note from rich maltiness is so profound that it somehow reminds me a lot of Scottish malty ale. Nice~~
T: light-bodied and delicious toffeeish maltiness hits the palate upfront, bringing with it reserved but concrete floral English hops, very light, watery-tea-ish bitterness and a touch of preserved berry-fruits/rasins following the hoppyness at each step. The flat-textured, tea-ish hops make a more assertive presence in the aftertaste, turning slightly dryish until the very end of the palate.
M&D: pretty lively on the mouthfeel, but the overall flavour doesn't match the nose too well, which is common to several other malty bitter I've tried; somehow, a balance is retained here, with a more assertive hoppy body on the palate to underline the floating malty theme, which reverses the usual pattern of English bitter. It could use more body and more flavour, IMO, otherwise it's easily prone to a lack of consistency due to the sharp contrast b/w the nose and palate.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2006 20:36:09 | More by wl0307
Photo of Brad007
Brad007

Vermont

3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice shade of copper with a thick, frothy head into my glass. Been a while since I've had a proper bitter.

Sweet and flowery (?) in a manner that suggests something other than the style.

Sweet, bready malt followed by just the right amount of hops. Lots of flavor but nothing too special.

Buttery malt lingers with a touch of hops. Very solid. Carbonation is very good too.

A decent bitter from an actual British brewery? Are you nuts? This is decent regardless.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2011 01:10:05 | More by Brad007
Photo of avalon07
avalon07

South Carolina

4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. had a copper color and a clear texture. There was an inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A very malty aroma, with hints of hops as well.

T: Tasted predominantly of malt and a little bit of malt. Not a particularly dynamic flavor, but it is likable enough. It does what an ESB should do.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry, crisp finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A solid, but not necessarily mind-blowing beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2011 13:07:02 | More by avalon07
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74

Ohio

4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16.9 ounce bottle. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours a reddish/copper color with about a half inch off-white head that didn't stay around for too long. There's a decent amount of lacing. Aroma is sweet and fruity, it smells like dried fruit, nuts, toffee, apples, caramel, and bready malt. The brew tastes mostly like the aroma, it tastes like toffee, red grapes, toffee, caramel, dried fruit and bready malt. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit slick with moderate carbonation. I think this is a solid brew, it's certainly worth trying for $3.49 a bottle. I thought it was a nice surprise, it was better than I expected it to be.

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2012 23:42:10 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of nickfl
nickfl

Florida

4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one finger of off-white foam on top of a clear, copper-brown body. The foam settles fairly quickly and leaves decent lace.

S - Toasty brown malt, toffee, red apples, and plum.

T - Light, sugary malt up front with bready notes and a hint of toffee. Some light fruit notes in the middle with a touch of caramel. Finishes with more red apple, toffee and light hop bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Lots of rich malt flavors and a great, fruity yeast profile, but I find the hop character to be too weak for the style. The finish is completely dominated by the malt and lacks any of the bitterness that usually characterizes an English Bitter. Still, it is a flavorful and enjoyable ale and I can't complain that much about it failing to fit a style that it may not even have been intended to be.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2012 02:47:08 | More by nickfl
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - dark amber with a thin, soft, white head that has decent retention

S - toffee, caramel, sweet, a bit sugary

T - toffee, bread, caramel, faint sugar, sweet, faint bitter finish

M - a bit crisp, medium bodied, sticky

This isn't a bad beer. It's smooth, flavorful, and highly drinkable. It's a bit malty at times, but a slight bitterness adds some balance. It's worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2012 00:33:45 | More by tdm168
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons

New Hampshire

3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From a 12 fl. oz. bottle stamped: L142-KE--02:42. Sampled on June 27, 2013.

Looks like a British Bitter with its medium amber pour and long lasting off-white head that leaves lacing on the side.

The aroma is bold with caramel malts, butterscotch, and sweetness with a milder hop note.

The body is creamy and in the medium range.

The taste is full of sweet sugary malts, caramel, toffee, and the like with only a modest bitterness at the end. This is something that I would quaff down in a British pub.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2013 01:32:47 | More by puboflyons
Photo of CrazyDavros
CrazyDavros

Australia

3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours copper with a small head.
Nose shows floral and earthy hops with toffee, caramel and bready malt underneath.
Similar toffee and caramel as flavours along with the floral hops and peach blossom. Unfortunately the finish is slightly metallic.
Body feels a bit too heavy.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2012 09:02:27 | More by CrazyDavros
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BeerAdvocate

Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #58 (November 2011):

LOOK: Mildly hazed amber

SMELL: Ripe plums, herbal, woody, grassy, toasted grain, toffee, chalky yeast

TASTE: Smooth, creamy, medium body, semidry, toasty, faint toffee, grainy, overripe fruit, buttery, mild alcoholic esters, dried grassy finish

Saying “session” would be the easy way out, as this ale is much more than that. Complex, as layers peel back each minute it gets warmer. A prime example of the style that sets the benchmark pretty high for brewers. A delight to throw back!

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2012 04:04:06 | More by BeerAdvocate
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Theakston XB from T & R Theakston Ltd.
84 out of 100 based on 94 ratings.