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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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

87 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 87
Reviews: 68
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 14.36%
Wants: 2
Gots: 2 | 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:
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.

(Beer added by: Bierman9 on 11-17-2001)
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Ratings: 87 | Reviews: 68 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

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

Enjoyed from a 22oz bomber, with a crusty ol' SOB on the label. No freshness info found, though.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, it is a clear, deep mahogany color. Didn't see much, if any, carbo within. Head is fine and thin, a miniscule layer of light beige bubbles, mostly edge-clingers. Aroma has some nice caramel notes, along with a hint butter. Some florality gets in there, too. Body is a bit less than medium, with a the bier being quite bubbly/foamy on the tongue.

Flavor has some caramel/toffee action going on, some toast and nuttiness, and has a touch of buttery diacetyl sneaking in there as well. Hopping is pretty pronounced, as befits the style, with strong floral and earthy qualities. Easy on the ABV at 5.5%, this could be a decent session bier. Thnx to Mr. Maine, JohnnyP, for setting me up with this.


look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4


Serving type: bottle

05-04-2008 19:20:38 | More by Bierman9
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

2.8/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Cloudy amber color topped by an overly frothy, rocky head; lots of foam sticks to the pint glass

Smell: Overripe nectarine stone fruit with a woody bitterness underneath; a touch of soap

Taste: After a fairly non-descript stone fruit opening, the beer becomes increasingly bitter in an earthy, hazelnut skin direction; after the swallow, the nut skin flavor dominates in an unpleasant, astringent direction; band aid aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, slightly acqueous; with moderate carbonation; intensely dry on the finish

Drinkability: This is a really tough one to drink and, when I compare my review to others, I wonder whether I purchased a bad or aged bottle a month ago when I was in Boston

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2008 01:10:45 | More by brentk56
Photo of Billolick

New York

3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2008 02:17:17 | More by Billolick
Photo of deltatauhobbit


3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2007 19:46:41 | More by deltatauhobbit
Photo of Rainintheface


3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into SA glass

A: dark copper with red hue, huge foamy white head that lingers

S: floral hops, faint citrus, toasted malts

T: hoppy with hints of green apple, malty sweetness

M: crisp, light bodied with a somewhat dry finish and lingering bitterness

D: very drinkable. I'd like to see it in sixers.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2007 18:45:20 | More by Rainintheface
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2007 01:50:00 | More by smcolw
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

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.

Serving type: bottle

10-18-2007 00:41:13 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of number1bum


4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought this one back from a vacation in Bar Harbor where I visited Atlantic.

22oz bomber pours a darkish copper, some orange and ruby hues and a big foamy off-white head. Recedes pretty slowly and keeps a nice thin lace on top while leaving lots of patchy stick on the sides. Good clarity.

Smell is more malty than hoppy. Good amount of toasted malt and some nuttiness, too. Not a whole lot of hops, but they are floral and fruity when I get a sniff of them.

Taste starts off with that same toasted malt, very nice, but then the hops come to life a lot more than in the nose. There are some definite floral and herbal qualities to them, but then their muscles start to flex and a lot of bitterness hits the palate. Finishes dry with lots of lingering hop bitterness. It's medium-bodied and the carbonation is appropriate.

Overall this is a really tasty bitter and an easy bomber to put down. I wish I had some more. Good stuff.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2007 19:31:40 | More by number1bum
Photo of WanderingFool


3.78/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2007 23:32:37 | More by WanderingFool
Photo of BuckeyeNation


4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Weathered bronze with a significant infusion of orange and a lesser infusion of coral. The cap is strangely light in color for such a rich looking beer. It's palest ecru in hue and has a wonderfully firm creaminess about it. Just the sort of head to deposit a lovely array of lace. Little did I know how much would end up on the glass in the end. This is an outstanding looking bitter.

There's more earthy, toasted nutty, Munich maltiness in the nose than there should be for the style. If I had been the brewer, I would have kept the pale and crystal malts and jettisoned the Munich and black. Hops need to be able to shine in an English bitter. I still like it though.

Once I get past the same complaint that I had in the previous paragraph, I'm finding a lot to like. If you prefer your bitters well-toasted and more dark malty than pale malty, then belly up to the bomber. If there was a style known as dark bitter, this beer would be its poster child.

The thing that makes S.O.B. good is that it's actually bitter. The first few seconds of each mouthful aren't so much, but then the fun starts. The Northdown hops (relatives of Target and Challenger) start gettin' their schwerve on and increase in intensity as the mouthful progresses. By the swallow, they're beginning to dig in with enthusiasm.

The flavor profile consists of extremely well-toasted barley (that, despite the black malt, never tastes roasted), black tea, bruised apples and wood. For some reason, the beer is growing on me with each passing sip. Every one of my taste buds, the ones that detect bitterness especially, are fully awake now.

While the mouthfeel is medium at best, it fits the rest of the beer's attributes very well. The lack of malty sweetness and the exceptionally clean, bitter finish makes drinking quickly (if one so desires) as easy as pie. Even the laid back carbonation helps in that regard.

In addition to Special Old Bitter, S.O.B. could also stand for Simply Outstanding Beer. This is my favorite of the handful of Atlantic offerings that I've been able to acquire so far and is an easy recommendation for those who consider themselves to be hopheads.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2007 16:32:29 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of ChainGangGuy


2.93/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper body with a fluffy, off-white head.

Smell: Pale malt aroma along with plenty of flowery hop notes.

Taste: Light caramel flavor, maybe a little dry, unsweetened cocoa upfront. Hops are floral, perhaps even minty, and with a sudden jolt, the sharp hop bitterness begins to really dominate, asserting itself in a repelent sort of way.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Too one-sided with the hops; it could stand to benefit from some additional sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

01-19-2007 23:33:29 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of AndoBrew


3.03/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

*did not like would not buy*

app: not bad not good, brown copper hue. nice cute lil eggy head.. small.

smell: lavender soap clean smell with a hint of brown sweet malts behinde it.. odd.

taste: pepper like hops standard pale ale type flavor with a bit of clean flowers and sweet thick malts.. odd indeed.. nothing at all wrong with it, it does have a good hop character going on, just not a lot to it.

mf: seems fine nothing wrong

drinkable?: not a big D factor here.. just a decent plain bigger than macro beer.,,

Serving type: bottle

01-18-2007 07:36:15 | More by AndoBrew
Photo of Georgiabeer


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

Quite a nice session beer. Pours a hazy orange dark amber with a fairly light head but pretty good lacing. Smell is subtle an complex- nice soft hops with a balanced malt. Tate is nice classic English style with little extra hit of bitterness from both hops and roasted grain, but without the sourness sometimes found with the roastiness. All of this is very restrained and balanced. Very nice indeed. Great mouthfeel and very drinkable- perfect for sessioning.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2007 01:34:44 | More by Georgiabeer
Photo of rajendra82


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

Stored and served at a temperature between cellar and room, the beer pored out clear amber in color, and had a three finger tall foamy head in the mug that left gobs of lacing. Aroma was crisp and spicy, and had a backing of floral hops. The taste was mild and complex, as it was balanced between sweet and caramelized malts, and earthy bitter hops. A touch of sourness and dry oak flavors finished things off. I think this was Burtonized as well, because the mineral hardness of the water kept the taste buds refreshed. It was very easy to drink down the entire bomber in a sitting. This was not exactly a classic English Bitter, but where it deviated from the mold, it improved on the original style IMO.

Serving type: bottle

12-26-2006 04:14:48 | More by rajendra82
Photo of dgallina


3.6/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2006 23:18:18 | More by dgallina
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?

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2006 22:23:30 | More by ppoitras
Photo of ybnorml

Rhode Island

4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clean dark amber/brown beer Has a medium foamy off white head with good lace. The aroma starts with a sweet malty character with nutlike and toffee notes wandering around in the background.The flavor is dominated by the bittering character in the hops. But there is also some nice sweet toffee note in the background. The finish has a bittersweet chocolate note with a hint of coffee and a dry hoppy ending.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2006 22:40:09 | More by ybnorml
Photo of dherling

New Jersey

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

Pours a dark coffee brown, with a lovely creamy lacey off white head that keeps going and going and going. Hops are in the forefront of the nose. There's also some bread, yeast, and graefruit citrus. The taste in really nice, going back and forth from hops to malt, with hops steadily pulling ahead inthe race the more you go along. It goes down crips and clean, and for a bitter beer is extremely drinkable. Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2006 23:03:28 | More by dherling
Photo of briman


3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served from bottle into standard pint glass.

Pours a mostly clear medium amber color, maybe a slight haze in there. Quarter-inch off white head....decent retention. Moderate lacing.

Aroma is caramel malt, mild hops...some fruit notes, maybe some oranges.

Taste is very hoppy. Some caramel malt flavor peeks through, but a strong hop presence dominates the palate. Pine & citrus hops towards the front give way to a strong grapefruit bitterness in the finish. Relatively strong bitterness lingers in the aftertaste for quite a while.

Medium body, moderate carbonation. Just as a Special Bitter should be, the balance is decidely leaning towards the bitterness, but the malt flavor isn't completely pushed aside. It's crisp, and very a very drinkable beer....but more than say two in a sitting might be pushing it.

Serving type: bottle

08-14-2006 01:33:12 | More by briman
Photo of lordofthewiens


3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2006 11:43:49 | More by lordofthewiens
Photo of ElGordo


3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-11-2005 19:18:59 | More by ElGordo
Photo of BillyBrew


3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought the last case of last summer's run at the brewery and finished them last month. However, this one is fresh from a recent trip. Obviously, this brew is better on tap, especially at the brewery. Anyway, 22oz bomber:

A excellent rocky , off-white head that slowly fades to a solid, thin cap. Also very sticky and never leaves the beer uncovered.

Pleasantly strong, a little wild, hoppy nose. A slight malt sneaks in now and again.

Strong bitter, raw hopped bite. Solid enough malt profile to support its tastiness. ?Oily and bushy? I dunno, but that came to mind.

Light-medium body that finishes pretty dry and crisp. The tastey hops linger, but in an unoffensive way.

It is a special bitter alright. Much more a raw, lively hop bitterness than I have tried in 'bitters' before. I was very excited when this first came out last year as it is the only hoppy offering from Atlantic Brewing's already awesome lineup.


Serving type: bottle

10-02-2005 20:13:24 | More by BillyBrew
Photo of Viggo

Ontario (Canada)

3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber brown, big off white head forms, some nice lacing. Smell is sweet, but with some chocolate and grassy hops, a bit of a hay smell as well. Taste is coffee and chocolate, some grass, big kick of bitterness at the end and a shot of alcohol, but real subtle hop tones. Body is pretty light but the carbonation is a little too high, kind of harsh. But pretty tasty ale.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2005 02:26:29 | More by Viggo
Photo of Truh

New Hampshire

3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Discovered that I was messing with a summa’ with this one on 7/30/2005. 1 pt. 6 fl.oz bomber poured twice in a shaker glass.

Faint shadow of head at start with light stick that trailed down, though I would categorize them as blue circle variety in nature. Kind of a mahogany red hue and pretty clear, but also very quiet overall. Nice hop presence on the nose, with a touch of caramel and butterscotch, and just a hint of smokiness. Comes off the mouth with a bit of brown ale character – some nice malt and a buttery front – but this is quickly replaced and given a tongue-lashing by the smarting bittering units derived from the kind of sooty hops. Fairly low level alcohol creeps out a bit more in the heat of the deck I found myself anjoying this on, appropriately enough, in the fine state of Maine.

This is a bit of an enigma for me; tough to say what it is I am really drinking, but liking it nevertheless.

Serving type: bottle

08-02-2005 02:38:20 | More by Truh
Photo of ViveLaChouffe


4.08/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep clear amber with a 1/4 inch tan head. Some sparse lacing. Smells strongly of herbal hops and fruity yeast with hints of tea leaves in there too.

Taste is bitingly bitter herbal hops. Hoppy as hell really. Some fruitiness from the yeast and malt but mostly that herbal tea-like hoppiness. Medium bodied, the alpha acids stick to your teeth and roof of your mouth and linger a bit. Really good stuff. The closest thing to a British style bitter made in America I've tasted. I usually don't like British-style bitters much anyway but this one is a standout.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2005 22:55:29 | More by ViveLaChouffe
S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale) from Atlantic Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 87 ratings.