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Theakston XB - T & R Theakston Ltd.

Not Rated.
Theakston XBTheakston XB

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

105 Ratings
THE BROS
87
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 105
Reviews: 56
rAvg: 3.74
pDev: 9.63%
Wants: 3
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Theakston XB Alström Bros
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Ratings: 105 | Reviews: 56 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

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.

UCLABrewN84, Mar 18, 2013
Photo of metter98
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%

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.

metter98, Feb 02, 2012
Photo of brentk56
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%

Appearance: Pours a clear tea color with a proper head that leaves a respectable amount of lacing

Smell: Plummy, with caramel apple and earthy tones

Taste: Fruity, at first, with plum apple tones melting into toffee; earthy bitterness builds in the mid-palate but fades, after the swallow; the finish is grainy and slightly sweet

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Not quite at the ESB level as this is more sessionable, it is,nevertheless, a pretty good beer; I would like to see the bitterness raised a notch but that may be a function of the age of the bottle as the bottling date is in a code I cannot discern

brentk56, Jul 09, 2014
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +7%

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.

BEERchitect, Dec 20, 2011
Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +7%

kylehay2004, May 18, 2013
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%

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.

ChainGangGuy, Apr 02, 2012
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +7%

JAHMUR, Nov 25, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.08/5  rDev +9.1%

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!

NeroFiddled, Dec 13, 2011
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%

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.

TheManiacalOne, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of nickfl
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%

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.

nickfl, Jun 20, 2012
Photo of drabmuh
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%

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.

drabmuh, May 23, 2012
Photo of jlindros
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%

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.

jlindros, Nov 02, 2011
Photo of jwc215
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%

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!

jwc215, Apr 23, 2009
Photo of smcolw
3.48/5  rDev -7%

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.

smcolw, Sep 01, 2012
Photo of Halcyondays
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%

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.

Halcyondays, Sep 27, 2011
Photo of BlackHaddock
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%

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.

BlackHaddock, Aug 11, 2008
Photo of oriolesfan4
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

oriolesfan4, May 23, 2014
Photo of woodychandler
3.69/5  rDev -1.3%

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.

woodychandler, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of wl0307
3.43/5  rDev -8.3%

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.

wl0307, Mar 04, 2006
Photo of DoubleJ
4/5  rDev +7%

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.

DoubleJ, Oct 01, 2011
Photo of Zorro
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%

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.

Zorro, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of jdhilt
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%

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.

jdhilt, Nov 10, 2011
Photo of BillRoth
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

BillRoth, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Mebuzzard, May 25, 2012
Photo of tdm168
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%

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.

tdm168, Sep 12, 2012
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Theakston XB from T & R Theakston Ltd.
84 out of 100 based on 105 ratings.