Arkell Best Bitter - Wellington County Brewery

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Arkell Best BitterArkell Best Bitter

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108 Ratings
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Ratings: 108
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 13.46%
Wants: 4
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Wellington County Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: the42ndtourist on 11-25-2002

Originally served as a real ale, Arkell Best Bitter has a loyal following. This delicate and well-balanced bitter is Wellington’s session beer.
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Ratings: 108 | Reviews: 67
Reviews by MaxwellSchaefer:
Photo of MaxwellSchaefer
2.8/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

3rd Review on BA
473mL can to bolleke globlet

Purchased at a downtown Toronto LCBO for $2.60

App-A medium amber color to a pale amber color, no cloudiness, and a nice light carbonation.

Smell- Nothing too exciting here, the label on the can says it best, it's a subtle, well-balanced, sessionable beer and the nose definitely alludes to that. Nothing overwhelms you but the caramel of the malt definitely comes to the forefront of the first whiff.

Taste- very, very, very drinkable. The taste here is very light, subtle, and nothing is off-putting about it. But, at the same time--nothing is exciting about it either. There is a simple yet distinguishable malty character to the beer but despite what the label says I can't really make out the hoppy after-taste. Maybe it's because I enjoy my super-hoppy IPA's but nonetheless I just don't see it.

Mouth-I'd call this mouth taste light, at least as far as the category for bitters goes. The carbonation, like everything else with this beer, is subtle. Overall, in the mouth, the subtlety makes you want to swallow.

Drink- If this was my local microbrew I'd buy it constantly to keep them in business. The beer has an ease of drinkability that makes it so simple to finish a six-pack. Plus, on this trip to the LCBO, out of all the local craft brews I purchased it was buy far the cheapest (even per mL, I nerdily felt the need to work it out.) Despite all of these facts, I live in Toronto and have so many small microbrews on tap from all over Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area that I probably won't pick up Wellington's Arkell Best Bitter again, but I'd tell a friend to pick it up when exploring the craft scene here in Ontario.

Serving type: Can

More User Reviews:
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Copper-amber, with a decent foamy head, solid retention. Patches of lacing scatter the glass. Looks pretty damned good for a bitter.

Nose is malt, dark fruit, mild earthy hops.

Not a bad tasting bitter, but certainly not my favorite. Everything tastes washed out - not nearly the flavor profile I was expecting for something styled as a bitter. An English pale, perhaps, but not a bitter. Mild malt character, a touch metallic, earthy hops finish things off.

Despite this, I must say this one is a good session drinker - it's easy to get down, doesn't taste bad or anything, it's just nothing special.

Mouthfeel is watery, feels a bit thin. Okay carb for a bitter.

Decent, easy to drink, but lacks a solid flavor profile to really enjoy. I actually prefer the SPA to Arkell as my Welly sessionable.

Photo of biboergosum
3.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

After trying a few of Wellington's offerings at a recent food and beverage show, I was curious to try more...

This beer pours a slightly hazy medium orange colour, with two fingers of creamy white head, which leaves a ring of lace as it recedes. The aroma is caramel malt, and bitter, spicy hops. The taste is bready, light caramel malt, and earthy, floral hops. The carbonation is moderate, the body medium weight and smooth, and it finishes off-dry, the malt showing up the bittering hops a bit.

A nicely drinkable bitter, light, but with decent amounts of malt and hop - an eminently sessionable beer.

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

I liked it, hop and bitter. Drinkable. my mates thought it was bitterness and water. Some sharp spice. Orange-yellow appearance and cider-spice aroma. Dry bitter aftertaste. You need some food if a meal. You need something more balanced or sweet if part of a session.

Also tried on cask and not as tasty, had on cask again 3 years later and there is a funky taste to it.

Photo of CanuckRover
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this after the waitress at the arrow and loon suggested it instead of SI Dry Hop cask which was out. She said "It's much more bitter". So I was pretty surprised when this wasn't bitter at all... AT ALL.

I get a berry-like aroma (raspberry) off the malt, I think this might be fairly characteristic of Wellington's yeast as I get it from County Ale as well. A little bit of berry in the taste but overall I get alot of grass and a truck load of hay. The wrong sip and it tasted like a barn in my mouth from the hops, but no real bitterness to be seen other than in the subtle finish.

Perfect carbonation for the style... next to none. Mouthfeel was quite thin I found. This contributes to an insane drinkability for a best bitter. I could hammer these back and at 4%, that's a dangerous beer.

Photo of DaveBar
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased at the LCBO for just under $3.00 for a 473ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a small head that is gone in 1min. Dark golden color

S- Pretty good. Lots of malt.

T- Bit of a let down. Watery bitter beer. Sorry

M- Not much here.

O- Not so good. Will not buy again. Just a watered down bitter beer that reminds me of a decent English bitter

Food Pairing

Sorry but this beer is not worth a match.

Photo of Stocean1
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a one finger head on tap at the Golden Kiwi - little lacing and head dissipated quickly - nice dark amber colour - S - slightly grassy, a little caramel and light malt - the taste follows the nose - also buttery with a little spice - pleasant and very sessionable but a little understated with only a hint of hops - nice but could be more bitter - O - very decent although compared to other bitters could use a bit more punch IMO.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cask: Poured a clear brown color ale with a small head that disappeared quite fast. Aroma is quite weak with some malt being distinguishable with some light hops. Taste is refreshing but very light with some sweet malt and light hops. Body is too thin for my own liking and was expecting more bitterness. Not bad but there is some way better bitter out there.

Photo of EgadBananas
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a tall boy can.

Pours a tawny, dark auburn color with a finger of egg shell colored head. The aroma was toasty, with doughy bread crust, crackers and a subtle herbal hop note. Tast wasn't really bitter, though by English standards, it may be great. Bits of caramel, soft sweet bread notes. Had a nice feel, light, but with a silky sort of feel on the palate. Nothing mind blowing, but a nice little session ale.

Photo of ZorPrime
3.32/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Adil for sending me 3 bottles of this beer.

A: Copper looking. The head is made of big bubbles, not bad looking.

S: The intensity is average. Caramel malts with some hops behind. I very well balanced english bitter I would say. I get some earthy notes (from Northern Brewer hops maybe. I'm learning the different hops styles... don't quote me on that hops choice!!)

T: The bitterness is light. I wish it would be bigger. Earthy notes in the taste too. I don't get caramel as I find in the aroma.

M: Thin bodied. Refreshing.

D: A good beer for hot summer day. I'm a little bit disappointed due to the lack of bitterness... Maybe not out of style, but I prefer my bitter to be more bitter.

Photo of PEBKAC
2.95/5  rDev -19%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Sealed six pack smuggled across the border. Snazzy-looking Duke portrait bottle caps to add to the collection.

Pint glass pour. A somewhat dull, filtered amber-colored body. An inch of thin, eggshell head. It looks bored.

Not a whole lot on the smell. Toasted brown bread crust, some caramel, glassy pine. Smells a bit of leather too.

Taste is mild & doughy. A touch muddy/minerally, with a so-so bite of grassy hops. Dry, yeasty, peppery finish.

Lackluster carbonation. Tacky mouthfeel. Dusty going down.

A decent thirst quencher. Not something I'd buy again though.

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

Poured a coppery burnt orange with a white head that dissipated relatively quickly. Smell well rather floral and nutty, with a touch of citrus. Taste was some malts and quite hoppy for an ale, with a smooth mouthfeel and nice dry finish. Bitters are known for there drinkability, and this is no exception. I could drink this all day, and I probably will...

Photo of the42ndtourist
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep golden hue, light and short-lived head that leaves a little lacing. Smell is fairly typical - a little hoppy, a little sweet. Taste is solid, well hopped and with a dryish bitter finish. Feels light, but substantial (kind of an oxymoron, but I'm sure most people know the feeling). Certainly a fine and solid brew that I may come back to when I want a session drinker.

Photo of Antilochus
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Grabbed this in a six pack at the Beer Store. 4.00% abv, 341mL bottle. Fridge temp into a wine glass.

Body is orange, light. Small white head - little to no retention as expected. A handful of streaming bubbles.

Fruity, sweetish grainy nose. Yeast. Very pungent. Leafy hops.

Palate is a bit too carbonated at first, then drops off quickly to something a bit watery. Not sweet at all. Surprisingly hard to pick out flavours here.. a bit of spice, bread, yeast. Simple. Rather dry. More leafy hops.

My first English Bitter. I like this beer quite a bit, it's nice to have a lower abv quaffer to fall back on when desired.

Photo of ritzkiss
3.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pint at The Only. Arrives a clear golden hue with hints of mahogany. Finger of head fed by lots of rising bubbles, maintains a head.

Nose has a slight mineral character, bready malt, caramel, light fruitiness. Flavor is more fruity, pretty sweet for a bitter, honey bread, light grassy bitterness gives a drying finish, light lemon, a bit of butter, caramel. Definitely over carbonated, a little thin in this format, even for a bitter. It's not bad but we do some better bitters than this in Ontario.

Photo of baiser
4.17/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a vibrant amber/orange, with a tan head and impressive lacing. Appearance reminds me of a west coast american style pale ale. Very light and flavourful bitter. Tonnes of hop aroma and flavour. Also a light fruitiness. Pine, nuts, floral. One of my favourites from Wellington. A great session beer.

Photo of patre_tim
3.84/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Copper, filtered, medium low carbonation, little foam with a beige tint.

S: Caramel, red tea, iron, malt.

T: Reminds me of an English brown ale, taste of hard water, dark malted toasty notes, little actual bitterness, some sweet some sour, but these are subdued by the toasty malt. Some orangey citrus when you suck air through it, but this too is subdued.

M: Medium body, somewhat chewy, little to moderate carbonation.

O: Nice to have a craft beer from my University Home town, in an English style. My first English Bitter, but really reminds me of English Browns.

Photo of headlessparrot
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Wellington's Arkell Best Bitter (named for the brewery's water source) is the last of the major Wellington brews that I've sampled. It is the one that I was least interested in, but their other spectacular offerings peaked my curiosity enough to try a six-pack. And while it's not the best of the Welly offerings, it's a respectable and tasty ale that's worth a try.

Wellington Arkell Best Bitter pours from the industry standard bottle into my pint glass a moderate copper tone, with some lively carbonation and a two-finger head that dissapates within a few moments to a series of rings with some decent lacing. A good looking beer, though it doesn't appear quite as nice as some of Welly's darker entries.

Smell is predominantly hops, mostly a citrus (lemon, orange?) hoppiness with a certain fruitiness. Some bready-biscuit notes, toasted grain and a touch of caramel and dark chocolate. A certain grassiness. Quite well-balanced and fairly inviting. Not as spectacular as their Strong Ale or Stout, but a respectable bitter.

Taste is surprisingly well balanced, and showcases a respectable hoppiness. Initially caramel and toasted malt, bready biscuit notes, but offset by the hops. Grassy hops first, followed by the citrus hops that present so much in the nose. Faint dark chocolate throughout; initially a touch sweet, but finishes bitter and dry. A hint of fruitiness that extends beyond the simple citrus hops. This is not my favourite style, but this a respectable brew, especially if you're a bigger hophead than I am. Quite tasty, though.

Mouthfeel is slightly off. Carbonation is a bit too spritzy, but not even nearly to the point of awful macro carbonation; body isn't too watery, but is faintly oily. At 4% ABV, however, most would be willing to forgive these shortcomings, as this is a highly sessionable English bitter. I don't know how many I would drink in a sitting, but I know most BAs might not be able to get enough of the stuff.

It's misleadingly referred to as a light beer, by some, but this is terribly misleading. Welly's Best Bitter - while not the best entry in the brewery's flagship product line - is a very taste brew that's highly sessionable. It's an ale that grows on you; rich in taste and low enough in ABV that you can have a few without feeling guilty. Once again, Wellington demonstrates its position at the fore of craft brewing in Ontario.

Photo of spinrsx
3.3/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance – Clear light copper colour with an average size fizzy off-white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some decent lacing. The head lasted for only a short while before it disappeared.

Smell – Malts, caramel, dark fruits, light hops

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel, and some very light hops. There is also an earthiness and some dark fruit flavour mixed with red apples. It ends with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall – Not a very exciting beer by any means, but it I guess it work well as a session beer. Only thing is I think it would be quite boring to drink these one after another. Anyways, it's a decent beer but not something I'd buy again.

Photo of liamt07
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can from the LCBO, 473ml into a pint glass. Best before April 16, 2012.

Filtered amber brown, with a loose off-white head. Some lacing and moderate retention. Nose has some nice hop notes, earthy, bready and lightly caramelized malts. A touch of diacetyl - simple and pleasant. Taste is a bit restrained, more lightly bready notes, some cracker, fruits but the richer earthier English malt notes on the nose weren't as pronounced on the palate. A bit watery, a bit from some carbonation and a modest hop bitterness. Light and relatively flavourful, I'm sure this is substantially more enjoyable fresh. Good stuff nonetheless.

Photo of Absumaster
3.62/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A light golden orange color with a small head that has bad retention.
Smell is typical English, fruity and slightly hoppy with some resinous notes.
Taste is fruity, like a good English bitter. Rather mild, not sharply hopped. Some caramel or candy sugar notes. The beer is slightly sticky on my lips and has enough (bit too much) carbonation. I expected it too be more bitter, but it is a very drinkable beer.

Photo of Shiloh
4.28/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

For a light ale, this is very impressive, truly a session beer for all you hopheads out there for which I am one.
Pours a deep amber with limited carbonation and minor crown with limited glass cling.
The body is full and the aroma is very lightly of green apples.
The taste is hop heavy to begin and continues to the end.
Sorry, this is not a light beer, someone in authority needs to re-evaluate this product.
ABV at 4% is fine....just means I can consume more of it!
Very nice.

Photo of ludachris
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

My second Wellington's courtesy of TheHammer. You're my boy blue.

Pours a clear tea shade of amber with a little over a finger of off white head that leaves minimal lace.

Big buttery malt, caramel and some fruity esters. The malt profile reminded me a lot of Amsterdam Blonde.

Buttery malts, biscuit, caramel, grassy hops and a touch of spice. Nothing overly special but nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel is thin, and watery, but considering the low ABV, I probably shouldn't expect much more. Easily quaffable, just not a really big fan of the taste.

Overall, this brew seems like an average offering from a great brewery. Hope the others I have from Wellington's will fair better than this.

Photo of GreenWBush
3.38/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dusty bronze. An interestingly Canadian beer in that it expresses flavors of maple so strongly that other malt and hop flavors are simply forgotten. Recurrent themes of stark bitterness that seem sour and out of place, mingling with that ubiquitous maple-leaf flavor. Dusty, almost leathery hints as well. Went down fairly well but seemed ham-handed in use of maple. Relatively fat mouthfeel for such a smallish beer.

Photo of SebD
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice clear orange/copper color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately fast and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of toasty and bready malts, biscuits, caramel and grassy/earthy hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some nice bready and toasty malts, light caramel, biscuits, earthy hops and slight citrus.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

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Arkell Best Bitter from Wellington County Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 108 ratings.