S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale) - Atlantic Brewing Company

Not Rated.
S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale)S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

93 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 93
Reviews: 68
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 13.81%
Wants: 2
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Atlantic Brewing Company visit their website
Maine, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 11-17-2001

This strongly hopped, crisp ale, is the clear choice for the hop enthusiast.

We use pale, crystal, black and Munich malts, and a veritable boatload of Northdown bittering hops for this ale.

Like the Island Ginger, it is quite popular in the warm weather, as hops yield a clean, crisp bitter that is rather refreshing.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 93 | Reviews: 68
Reviews by goatgoat:
Photo of goatgoat
3.41/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks GrittyMug345 for the opportunity.

Pours a perfect copper. Finger's worth of tan head with decent retention. Nice sheets of lace.

Sweet toasted character with an oddly clean earthy hop character.

Nice start. Sturdy, assertive bitterness comes midway and sticks around far after. There's something throughout the taste that throws me off. I can't put my finger on it, but I'm not sure about it. The finish is more reminiscent of an IPA (as the bottle is labeled) than a bitter which knocks it down a notch.

Overall a tasty brew.

More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.67/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beer review from BA Mag Nov 2007.

In a beer world dominated by India Pale Ales and wannabe-IPA Pale Ales--at least in the US--it's refreshing to see a Bitter, which are known for their moderate hopping, complementary malts, and balance.

Clear ruby copper with a massive off-white foam head--good retention and stick. Nice hop aroma, with a hint of orchard floral, and notes of soap. Fairly light on the palate, a bit crisp up-front, with an even feel. Nice smack of prickly raw hops--leafy, coarse, oily, herbal, citric, and pith--followed by nutty tannins and an intense dryness. Malts are a bit toasty, with a thin carob back-note and mild sweetness. Mineral towards the center. Nutty, dry, tannic, astringent and slightly yeasty finish.

Aside from the harsh end, this is nice bitter for hopheads that's put together well, easy to drink, very flavorful and refreshing, and very sessionable as a result--making it oh-so-easy to polish off the bomber.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 22oz bottle with a cool label. The beer was a daark amber with a medium head and some lacing. It had a malty, floral aroma. I liked the taste: sweet, with a nice hoppy bite. Decent mouthfeel. Very drinkable, but I don't think I'd want a lot of this in one sitting.

Photo of sponberg
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big ol' bomber with a picture of a guy that looks like an older version of my buddy Bob on the label, undoubtedly grousing about the cod that got away. Malty toasty slightly burnt-husk aroma atop a coppery brew with a slight but lasting cream colored head.

Nice rendition - dryish, with toasty maltiness in fine balance with a firm English style earthy bitterness. Leans toward the dry side of bitter, with little in the way of malt sweetness or stickiness after the swallow. Whiffs of fusel alcohol and maybe a bit of astringency in the finish, but a dry tealike maltiness carries the day. I can see sitting down in front of the fire during a coastal storm with three or four of these and reading a good book while the winds blow the rain sideways out the window and having a very enjoyable afternoon while doing so.

Many thanks to the esteemed bennybrew for the bottle.

Photo of Billolick
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber, new graphics then what is shown on the site. Pours a warm shade of dark honey amber, fairly clear, luscious darker tan head, long lasting and leaving plenty of ringed and then dense scattered lacing. Bready nose, balance is the word here. Nice malty undertones, moderate bitterness in the midsection and then quite drying and resiny in the finish. With all the super hopped up beers being brewed by everyone, this is a welcome step back to a different era and a classic style. Balance, subtlety, drinkability. This one went great with some peppery pork and a salad.

Photo of ElGordo
3.7/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a draft pint at the brewery last month while vacationing on MDI. Pours a deep copper/brown color with a creamy tan head. Nice lacing. Nice hoppy nose - spicy, with a touch of pine and some caramel malt. Palate is dry, with a slightly sweet malt presence up front followed by a little bite from the English hops. Notes of pine and brown sugar. Well-balanced. Medium body is a bit creamy. Not bad, but not the all-day sipper I like in an ESB.

Photo of bewareOFpenguin
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Everyone has to have a "hoppy" beer now. Why should Atlantic Brewing be any different? Nice dark auburn color with a good head if poured right. The hops are bold, but not overpowering. They don't have that "west coast" vigor, but they still hold their own. What I really liked about this beer is it didn't try to subdue your mouth with overpowering bitterness, but rather put the hops there, and made you want more. A good offering.

Photo of jackndan
3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

SOB, special old bitter ale, from the ever-popular Bar Harbor, Maine. Served, to myself, from a bomber. Pours deep amber, with a bit of haze. Nice rich, off white head, with thick lacing down the sides. The aroma is mild, clean. The taste is, well, hard to pin down. The initial few sips, at a slightly colder temperature, were in fact very hoppy and bitter, lacking the floral/citrus notes that I’d been looking for. But as it warmed up, very strong (although not at all unpleasant) roasted malt flavors really asserted themselves. Nice malt tastes help to balance out what I had feared was going to be an over the top hop bomb. Once it settles down, very enjoyable.

Photo of dgallina
3.62/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1 pint, 6 fluid ounce brown bottle without dating.

Pours clear copper-brown with tiny head and light foam. The nose is a nice blend of nutty caramel malts and leafy hops. Flavor lacks the balance promised by the nose. Lots of bitter green leafy hops in the foreground with weak malt notes in the background. The medium body is slick and chewy with slow carbonation. Not bad, but not one of the better bitters IMHO.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a brilliantly clear, cherry-amber with a 2 finger foamy, macro-bubbly head that had good retention settling to a light creamy layering for the remainder of the drink. Visible carbonation was medium and steady.

S: fresh pine and sweet spruce scents, very citrusy in the tail end. Very nice, aromatic, and sharp.

T: spicy, with caramel and a citrusy bite. There was light lemony hints and fresh pine. The spicy citrusy hopping was very smooth in nature and finished with a zesty, spritzy carbonation bite. Overall a good smooth bitterness yet the nose was slightly more promising then the flavored delivered. Finished with dry malt and dried grapefruit.

M: light, very slick, and a tad watery with some alcohol and lemony acidity.

D: Drinkability was ok, a tad watery but otherwise decent with a smooth lemony/grapefruit bitterness that was saving grace.

Photo of ZorPrime
3.87/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted in Wells,ME on August 1st, 2009.

This beer pours as amber color with a nice foamy head. The aroma is malts with some hints of hops. As for the taste, I get malts and then some bitterness. Very subtle however.Mouthfeel is medium body and this is an easy drinker.

Nice bitter for the everyday people. Not a very aggressive beer.

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

Straight from the brewery in Bar Harbor, Maine. My first taste from the bottle. Interestingly, the bottle refers to the beer as an IPA rather than an English bitter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a clear amber copper into an English-style pub glass. A small head forms but immediately shrinks to a small collar and patchy foam that retains well.

SMELL: The aroma is actually much more malt forward than one would expect. Pale and toasted malts shine through more than anything and form a base for a mild estery English yeast profile. The hops you say? They're subtle at best and non-existent at worst. Just underwhelming.

TASTE: The taste is also quite malt forward but features more hop flavor and bitterness to balance the beer out. Toasted, bready malts create an assertive flavor. It's accompanied by a spicy hop bitterness that doesn't quite come up to match. There's also a light fruitiness and maybe some diacetyl.

MOUTHFEEL: Rather light bodied but still feels robust because of the darker kilned malts used. Carbonation is at average levels, but one would expect lower given the style.

DRINKABILITY: Quite good. The beer makes a nice attempt at achieving balance and manages to keep a very light body despite a higher level of alcohol than the style would dictate.

Kind of a weird beer. I rated it as an English bitter because that's what the beer seemed more like. But it really had some English IPA qualities too. Regardless, a decent beer, but I'll likely stop at just this one.

Photo of Gusler
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer dispenses from the 22 ounce brown bottle a luminous and transparent deep mahogany with a modest light tan and spumescent head, the lace a fine sheet to conceal the glass. Sweet malt dominates the nose on this beer, crisp, clean and fresh, slight hint of the hops also present with the start mildly sweet and nicely malted while the top is middling in its feel to the palate. Finish has a prickly bite from the hops, the acidity mild and the aftertaste quite dry. A fine drinking beer and I thank “Master Bennybrew” for this bottle.

Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours copper with a decent head.

Would expect the smell to be more hoppy but turns out to be more malty. That doesn't bother me though as the taste was what comes through and the hops become more apparent. The bitter aftertaste lasts long after each drink which makes the beer quite effective.

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
2.83/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz. bomber purchased after the brewery tour

Poured a clear copper color with a minimal head receding into the classc bitter ring around the glass. Smell was a tad bit medicinal with a slight piney hops aroma and some fruity malts lingering about. Taste was a little too metallic in the malts with the hops feeling forced and somewhat fake if that is possible. Definitely bitter but not the bitterness I was looking for. The astringency bordered on undrinkable.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.05/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from purplehops courtesy of the Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a medium reddish brown color with a short off-white head that fades at a decent rate and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, nuts, a little fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a bitter burst of pale hops but then gets pretty well-balanced, with flavors of caramel, nuts and a touch of citrus, while maintaining the consistent hops bitterness. There’s a hearty malt character. The after-taste is bitter and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and very dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is a good beer to pound down for a while, particularly if you’re in a salty mood like the guy on the label.

Photo of ppoitras
4.1/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head over the clear burnished copper brew. Aroma is biscuits and lightly flowery hops. Taste is relatively balanced, tilting easily towards bitter by mid-experience, and then leaving an aftertaste of same. Mouthfeel is roundedly smooth, just slides over the tongue, and very nicely drinkable. Oh, session, anyone?

Photo of potownbill
2.2/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer poured a cloudy copper brown color with a thin tan head. The first impression was the smell, which was musty, similar to a dirty dishtowel. The taste was not much better. I was looking forward to this beer, but could not get past the second sip. There was a metallic taste in the middle, and the finish was somewhat dry and a little too bitter. Never made it past the second sip.

Photo of lou50rp
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It is a nice dark red color with an off white head that lasts a while.
It has a strong dark coffee smell with a bit of sweetness.
Definite malty taste with a touch of bitterness at the end.
Medium to light mouth feel. feels good.
Very tasty, with mouth feel an easy brew to drink. With low ABV you can have more than one. Good session beer.

Photo of RixBeer
2.03/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a light amber brown with a thick tan head.

Smells like barnyard funk with a huge smack of funky old stale hops mashed with a sewer.

Hops are boring. It's kind of nasty actually. Something in this beer is very stale. Smells like a pile of wet hay.

Thin and thin. Flows smoothly and easily down the throat.

Drinkable? No way, I can't even finish the one glass I got.

Photo of jdhilt
2.8/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a one-fingered cream head that fades quickly leaving some lace. Clear amber color. Spicey/hoppy nose. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Starts hoppy with some sweetness, smooth, hoppy finish, the aftertaste is not too bitter. $4.39 for a 22oz bottle from Tulley's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

Photo of smcolw
3.48/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beige color rocky head with excellent lace. Ruby-ish dark amber color and slightly cloudy

Mild aroma of chocolatey malts and yeast; nearly no hop.

Tastes very much like a hoppy homebrew brown ale. The body is surprisingly thin with moderate carbonation. Some strong yeast flavors.

This is a flavorful beer. If a friend made this as a homebrew, I'd be very excited. As a store bought beer, I find it to be slightly flawed but tasty.

Photo of WanderingFool
3.73/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Special Old Bitter Ale pours a dark copper color with a frothy off white head on top. The foam dissolves slowly to a thick ring around the surface leaving behind a lot of thick clumps of netted lace on the glass. The aroma was rather faint, but had notes of toasted malt and some crisp floral hops.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is smooth, slightly chewy and has a nice carbonated tingle on the tip of the tongue. The flavor is mainly malt with notes of nuts and caramel and a hint of biscuit. Towards the middle the hops begin to move in offering a bit of spicyness that helps balance out all the malt. It finishes dry with a hint of citrus fruit. Once gone some bitter hop flavors of citrus and grass linger on the palate.

This is a well balanced tasty beer. Would like to see a bit more aroma and lighter color, otherwise I look forward to my next pint of SOB.

Photo of Gavage
3.65/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear amber in color with a 2" fluffy head that lingers a while.

Smell: caramel and bits of butter come through.

Taste: caramel, ripe fruits, some hearty floral bitterness, and hints of butter are most noticeable. The bitterness lingers a bit too.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start, smoother towards the finish. Medium bodied. Aftertaste is short lived.

Drinkability: decent beer but this one won't overly excite you. Worth a try.

Photo of jreitman
3.3/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not my kind of beer, but I still appreciated it for what it was. Had this at the brewery on vacation. Very bitter and fairly hoppy. A decent beer in the style.

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S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale) from Atlantic Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 93 ratings.