1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Blue Bell Bitter - Magnolia Pub & Brewery

Blue Bell Bitter
No picture uploaded.
Have one? Upload it now.
BA SCORE
83
good

38 Ratings
THE BROS
80
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 38
Reviews: 26
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 16.21%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-23-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Blue Bell Bitter Alström Bros
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Ratings: 38 | Reviews: 26 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of womencantsail
womencantsail

California

2.2/5  rDev -39.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

11-27-2010 08:56:40 | More by womencantsail
Photo of plaid75
plaid75

New York

4/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

10-16-2010 19:24:39 | More by plaid75
Photo of Gusler
Gusler

Arizona

3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Serving type: cask

06-15-2004 19:05:06 | More by Gusler
Photo of HopHead84
HopHead84

California

3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-14-2011 18:33:47 | More by HopHead84
Photo of BeerFMAndy
BeerFMAndy

Wisconsin

4.15/5  rDev +14%
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!

Serving type: cask

06-08-2010 01:27:14 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of ffejherb
ffejherb

Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On cask at Magnolia on 7/12/09.

A - Clear amber/copper-tinged body with slim off-white head that receded to a very thin ring and left virtually no lacing at all.

S - Light noble hops, toasted grains and sweet caramel comprise the basis of the aroma. Pretty simple nose.

T - Pretty straight up ESB style ale with a sweet caramely malt character and toasted grains. Light noble hops impart an herbal, grassy character.

M - Light to medium bodied with a syrupy texture and soft mouthfeel, perhaps a bit thin overall. Nice hop bite in the finish with a little more oomph than your typical bitter.

D - Pretty solid example, though not as creamy as I'd expect from a bitter on cask. Still, this one packed a lot of flavor and decent hop character for the style.

Serving type: cask

07-23-2009 19:33:45 | More by ffejherb
Photo of rastaman
rastaman

United Kingdom (England)

2.48/5  rDev -31.9%
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????

Serving type: on-tap

09-17-2004 10:45:17 | More by rastaman
Photo of Offa
Offa

California

4.73/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask, this is an outstanding English-style ESB, and very English. The beer menu says 4.5% alcohol.

Copper-amber, it has a thin off-white head slowly shrinking to a foamy ring, some lace.

Aroma is caramelly toasty barley - rich and slightly fruity, earthy-woody-tea hops - an excellent, full English character.

Taste is similar, nice winy-caramelly-nutty-toasty barley maltiness with nice, firm peppery wood and tea bitterness to nicely balance the sweetness. It stands up well to food and is highly drinkable. It has an engaging, full feel.

Serving type: cask

12-06-2012 04:48:18 | More by Offa
Photo of mentor
mentor

Colorado

3.55/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2013 03:01:27 | More by mentor
Photo of beagle75
beagle75

Iowa

3.43/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

Serving type: cask

01-08-2011 01:18:45 | More by beagle75
Photo of donnebaby
donnebaby

North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

06-11-2005 07:20:46 | More by donnebaby
Photo of watermelonman
watermelonman

California

4.38/5  rDev +20.3%
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.

Serving type: cask

10-08-2004 06:56:56 | More by watermelonman
Photo of donniecuffs
donniecuffs

New Jersey

3.23/5  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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-03-2010 21:15:18 | More by donniecuffs
Photo of Mark
Mark

California

4.45/5  rDev +22.3%
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.

Serving type: cask

01-03-2004 02:23:35 | More by Mark
Photo of jcalabre
jcalabre

California

2.5/5  rDev -31.3%
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

Serving type: cask

08-23-2003 03:47:40 | More by jcalabre
Photo of marcpal
marcpal

New Jersey

3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

12-11-2008 20:34:23 | More by marcpal
Photo of bboven
bboven

Texas

4.1/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

Serving type: cask

09-09-2007 19:41:03 | More by bboven
Photo of drewbage
drewbage

California

3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

Serving type: cask

06-02-2003 23:59:46 | More by drewbage
Photo of charlatan
charlatan

United Kingdom (Scotland)

3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

Serving type: cask

08-29-2005 03:27:29 | More by charlatan
Photo of benito
benito

Oregon

3/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

06-17-2006 01:37:52 | More by benito
Photo of 100floods
100floods

California

3.9/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-08-2009 16:27:18 | More by 100floods
Photo of kdoc8
kdoc8

Oregon

2.68/5  rDev -26.4%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

03-13-2007 21:46:20 | More by kdoc8
Photo of Hollenbeck2
Hollenbeck2

Oregon

3/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2008 02:53:48 | More by Hollenbeck2
Photo of WOTO97
WOTO97

California

3.48/5  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.

Serving type: cask

08-12-2010 00:22:59 | More by WOTO97
Photo of chugamugofsud
chugamugofsud

Oregon

4.4/5  rDev +20.9%
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.

Serving type: cask

05-11-2004 17:18:10 | More by chugamugofsud
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Blue Bell Bitter from Magnolia Pub & Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 38 ratings.