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Blue Bell Bitter - Magnolia Pub & Brewery

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Blue Bell Bitter
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BA SCORE
82
good

47 Ratings
THE BROS
80
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 47
Reviews: 27
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 15.7%
Wants: 0
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Magnolia Pub & Brewery visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-23-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 47 | Reviews: 27
Reviews by kdoc8:
Photo of kdoc8
2.68/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I had this on tap at Magnolia in San Francisco, CA. It was a brown/amber transparent color, with a thick long-lasting head and lots of lacing. It didn't have much of an aroma and not much of a taste either, except that it was very dry. I was surprised this was a bitter, because there wasn't too much of a hops taste.

More User Reviews:
Photo of rastaman
2.48/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Tap@Magnolia Pub and Brewery, San Fransisco- pretty English tasting, lemony, tea like hops, but once again, relatively grainy body, slight watery texture aswell. Hard to see why this one rates so highly on BA, but i guess everyone has different tastes right????

Photo of watermelonman
4.35/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This sat with a good classic gold and copper color, without much head. The lace is there but doesn't grab attention. The same goes for the smell; it's good but not the highlight.

Where this beer delivers is in the taste and mouthfeel, and it really does deliver. The malts are traditional and solid, while the bitterness is present but held in check to result an exceedingly balanced beer. The mouthfeel is very good, being medium in every way while pleasing and inviting. It's tough to say anything bad about the drinkability, too.

Photo of WOTO97
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Partook on cask from the good folks at Magnolia's. Generally, a fan of bitters but was pretty disappointed with this effort. Flavors were too muted for my liking. Could definitely use a bit more spice from the hops on the nose and a bit bigger cracker-malt character. If this is meant to be a "strong bitter" then it is pretty weak in the flavor department (a 3.0 might be overshooting it). Definitely some biscuit qualities along with spice flavors from the hops. Body is thin and, without the bite that should follow for style, definitely not that satisfying. Not terrible but not a whole lot here either.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8 oz cask pour into a miniature nonic. 4.7% ABV, 35 IBUs, On hand-pumped cask at Magnolia in San Francisco, CA.

A - Hand-pumped directly in front of me, it comes out a clear amber brown with a sudsy off-white head. Solid retention and thick lace left all over the glass.

S - The aroma smells like a great English beer, complete with toasty biscuits and caramel malts with a smooth mild English hop nose on the back end.

T - The flavor has smooth caramel malts, toasted to perfection upfront with a biscuity finish and a low level of English hops.

M - I love the texture. It comes out at cellar temperature probably around 50° F and it's medium-bodied and ultra smooth with a soft feel and finish.

D - This an awesome English bitter in cask! I love the texture and flavor combo going on this brew. Good job Magnolia!

Photo of Gusler
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cask @ Real Ale Fest
The beer pulls from the cask a clear burnished copper color with a generous head that is spumous in texture and a light tan color, the lace a concealing sheet. Nose was malt sweet, fresh and clean to the olfactory senses; start was malt sweet with the top middling in feel. Finish was medium in carbonation, the hops pleasant and delectable, I thought this the best Bitter of the weekend, dry aftertaste a real pleasant and pleasing surprise, I had a couple of these one a double pour.

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a medium amber hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a toasted caramel
Malt and a grassy hop.

The taste was well balanced with a toasted, earthy malt and grassy malt.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style.

Overall a very well done ESB.

Photo of Reswald
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cask-conditioned at the brewpub in San Francisco.

Appearance is that of a classic British ESB, both in color and in the head formed.

Good hop aroma, very inviting.

Taste unmistakably that of a real, cask conditioned ale. Took me right back to my years of living in London. The proper amount of bitterness with the slight oxidation that says "Real Ale".

Excellent drinkability, just like its British namesake.

Photo of jcalabre
2.5/5  rDev -31.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I originally sampled this beer on 31 May 2003. I am writing this review from my notes.
I sampled this cask conditioned at Pizza POrt's real ale fest 2003: it is hazy brown with a large white head, slightly roasty nose, slightly sour taste; all in all, it's a mediocre session beer

Photo of Mark
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer was lock to try when I got around to trying the Magnolia pub. First it was on cask, gee that was easy. Second it was brewed with Maris Otter malt and English hops. This beer pourd a copper color, head retention was great, I was surprised by the lack of lacing though. Nice earthy malty aroma. Smooth fruity taste profile reminded me of British cask beer. Solid mouthfeel and drinkability is superb. Was I in London? Excellent, and one of the most authentic bitters I have encountered here at home.

Photo of marcpal
3.08/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Imperial pint enjoyed at the fine establishment in San Francisco.

A: Light orange color with lacing that did not quit. Fine looking beer.

S: Bready and awfully sweet for a bitter beer. There are surely hops but not nearly what it needs. Clearly English in style but still needing more.

T: Considerably bready and malty, slightly off style. Toasted grains, too dry in the flavor and the body.

M: Light body, some production of a coating. Again, too dry and bubbly.

D: More than anything, it was just there. I could see it being far superior from the cask.

Unfortunately, my fault, but this was surely overpowered by the blue cheese apple salad and the spicy chicken sausage. The IPA held up much better: blame my planning though, not the beer.

Photo of womencantsail
2.22/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

On-tap at Magnolia

A: The pour is a dark amber color, perhaps copper with a finger or more of off-white head.

S: Oh man, this beer smells like buttered popcorn from the movie theater. A mild toasted bread aroma and perhaps a hint of roast, but mostly butter.

T: Tons and tons of butter with a bit of bread, popcorn, and some mild toasted malt flavor. Pretty simple and pretty, bad, to be quite blunt.

M: The body is medium with a fairly low level of carbonation.

D: Damn this was bad. No beer should have this much butter in it.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.22/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured an amber/orange color, with very little carbonation, a thin white head, poor retention, and spotty lacing. The aroma was fairly standard for the style...caramel, toffee, and maltiness, but a little lacking in the fruitiness department. The taste did reveal some more in the way of pear and nuts, but overall there was a caramel/malt dominance, and a sweet finish. Thin and smooth, a nice session beer, though I would like to detect some more fruitiness in it.

Photo of beagle75
3.38/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hand-pump service into a nonic pint glass at the pub in S.F.

A: Clear, light amber color with no head, just a fine ring of white foam. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Strong husky grain and hay up front, accompanied by floral hops and general fungal earthiness.

T: Begins off-dry, with early floral hops and slight acidic fruitiness that is soon followed by sharp minerals. Toasted malt emerges in the middle as acidity tapers off and slight nuttiness is also detected. The finish is mild and short, bitterness is scant, and flavors are toasty, earthy, and floral.

M: Thin viscosity, wet on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: Described as the "ESB" of the trio of bitters on cask during my visit to Magnolia, its modest abv (listed as 4.5% on the menu) and very passive sensory qualities don't quite seem to measure up to that category. Still, it comes across as effortless to drink and represents a fair try at an English-style pale ale, whatever they may call it.

Photo of chugamugofsud
4.38/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had the blue bell bitter on cask at the Magnolia Brewery in a sampler. The bar (Jupiter's) had actually had it the night before in pints across the bay in Berkeley. This beer was golden like most bitters are and didn't have much alteration in color. It had a very very thin head, which surprised me somewhat; however, the taste delivered. This bitter comes on slowly, giving you subtle bitters first and then delivering the full punch that one would expect from a cask bitter. This offering is one of the top bitters I've had, the smell was not nearly as insulting as many of the Europeans are and yet the taste was every bit as full.

Photo of HopHead84
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8/12/2011

On tap at Magnolia.

A: Bright copper with a mountainous beige head leaving much Brussels lace.

S: Apple and grain with toasted bread. Nicely balanced. Light earth and floral notes.

T: Grainy malt with some biscuit and a little apple. Low earthy bitterness. Finish is smooth and balanced.

M: Silky, smooth, and light  on the palate with medium carbonation.

Overall: Tasty and damn drinkable. I'd love to try this on cask.

Photo of donnebaby
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mostly clear dark gold amber body, minimal white haze rides above. Low spiciness in the nose -- some cloves and cinnamon -- not overpowering but on style for the bitter.

Taste is yummy and addicting. Lots of blueberry, mint, and a floral chamomile, cola and passionfruit as well. Restrained sweetness and muffled toasty maltiness. Unobtrusively mild bittering hops. Soft bubbly feel, medium carbonation. Very sessionable and unique bitter from Magnolia.

Photo of benito
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A pint of this with lunch at the Haight's only brewpub after a big bike ride up San Fran's Twin Peaks.

A: Deep copper with a fluffy, half-inch head.

S: Strong on butter and very doughy, offset by a light fruitiness and a malty (as in grainy, not sweet) touch.

T: This is comfort beer exemplified. There's a good malt body with a crispy dry finish--very similar to Anchor's Small Beer another San Francisco brew. Otherwise, there's not much to it...but I think that's the point.

M: Medium bodied with a good texture and length across the palate.

D: Fine. Not exactly thirst quenching, but an easy enough beer to drink with lunch.

The x-factor here is that this beer is supposed to be straightforward, and it is. It's worth trying, even if you (like I) won't love it.

Photo of mentor
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three finger tan head over a cloudy lightly reddened copper liquid. Smells hoppy of cotton candy oranges, malt of light-colored caramel, and honey. Tastes hop flavor (oranges, tin, iron, wood) with supporting bready malt flavor. Full bright esters step in late to transition from hop, across the malt, and a sweet pleasing finish. Very earthy hops with a grassy edge and a mineral finish. Has a bit of a Brettanomyces crsip and horseblanket in the finish. Light in the mouth and modest carbonation. I liked it. I'm not a fan of brett, but it actually added an interesting character to this.

Photo of Hollenbeck2
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

this to me tasted like a belgium beer, I could have been way off and I tatsed this in a flight with 7 other beers, it was good just not my style or should I say favorite style.

had this on tap at the source, magnolia brewery.

I would however recommend trying this beer, because even though they were not all my style I could taste that they were good.

Photo of bboven
4.06/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Similar characteristics to the regular blue bell, with the exception of the mouhtfeel and drinkability. This version is very lightly carbonated and served at cellar temps to draw out more of the flavors and makes for a highly, highly quaffable beer. I just wish it was lower in alcohol.

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Only loosely an esb this one, more of a brown bitter, with a rich toffee color approaching brown and a whole lot of malt on it without ever being sweet. The color is sexy and the aroma is very light. A coppery malt base and balancing bittering hops only. Not the most complicated beer in the world, not even close, but one of the more sessionable dark beers going, fresh from the tap, and zippy in the finish. Full medium body and an English flare, fun stuff but not the best magnolia has to offer. This place kills it!

Photo of drewbage
3.45/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on San Diego Real Ale Festival:

Beer pours light coppery and hazy from the hops.

Aroma is spicy with a corn edge to the malt.

Flavor is balanced well to the edge of hop razor wire. The hops are intensely grassy with a large presence of tannin that leads the finish to being a lemon grass tea.

Photo of 100floods
3.88/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got me a pint while out to a fancy dinner at SF's Nopa. I had the lamb shank, I must say the pairing was not intentional, but worked out pretty good.

Dark/gold hue, no head to be seen. The first smell that comes to my senses was definitely almost like a slightly burnt/spiced lager smell, kind of like lunatic lager (which they also serve at the restaraunt, but I can tell the difference). What the smell turned out to be was more in the taste. Decent carbonation. Nice subtle blend between hops and malt.Medium/light body, definitely felt a slight buzz, but no way was this a heavy beer. Again, I lucked out with the food pairing, the beer worked great right after a bite of the lamb shank.

Mr. Kim, you were right, Magnolia is good.

Photo of charlatan
3.6/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Conker (horse chestnut) coloured with a big fluffy head, this represents a rare foray into the cask conditioned world for me. It has a subtle floral aroma amidst pine tones and a doughy smell. It is much more malty than I anticipated - the hops are almost an afterthought here. A pleasant earthy, peaty, smoky flavour gives way to slight bitterness. I was rather disappointed that Magnolia didn't have any of their Mild (a speciality of my long lost home area which I haven't come across at all in Portland) available, and judging by this I reckon it ought to be well worth trying.

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Blue Bell Bitter from Magnolia Pub & Brewery
82 out of 100 based on 47 ratings.