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Young's Special London Ale - Wells & Young's Ltd

Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

391 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 391
Reviews: 322
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: 11.11%

Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.40% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-14-2001)
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Ratings: 391 | Reviews: 322 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of janubio


3.81/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml. bottle. It pours a deep golden to amber colour, with a medium head that leaves both good crown and lace. Smell is fruity, apples, bananas?) Smoky, caramel, citrus. Great body, full and creamy palate. Taste of fruits, resine, caramel. Really good.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 19:40:40 | More by janubio
Photo of EmperorBevis

United Kingdom (England)

3.91/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Clear amber body big frothy white head

Aromas of golden syrup with slight citrus fruit

That syrup element is there like a sponge pud but not sickly that goes full on malt and ends on swift bitter kick

Easy drinking deceptive for the strength

good straight up tasty ale

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2013 00:43:52 | More by EmperorBevis
Photo of heygeebee


2.53/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

No BB.

A - Pale amber, one finger coarse head.

S - Malts, bready, almost yeast.

T - English malts and caramels, tainted by sharp astringent aftertaste

M - Over carbonated as seems standard for many bottles of English styles.

O - Overall, sad example of style, tainted.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2013 08:12:59 | More by heygeebee
Photo of Jetulio


4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

500 ml bottle poured into a Pint glass
Appearance... amber/copper beer with head colour white of 1 finger
Aroma... malt, esters, hops. Fresh and not too strong smell with a little touch of malty aroma
Taste... fruits and herbal in a light style, bitterness appears soon lasting all the time,
Mouthfeel... medium body and medium/soft carbonation
Overall... a very nice ale, bitterness is present in a classical English style, refreshing beer too.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2013 17:54:29 | More by Jetulio
Photo of soju6


3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a golden honey color with a nice head that fades to lacing.

S: Aroma of sweet fruits, some malt sweetness with a bit of hops and spice in the background.

T: Taste of some caramel sweetness with some fruit and bit of spice. Nice bitterness and a dry finish.

F: Moderate body, smooth texture and well balanced.

O: Enjoyable beer, very nice for the style.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2013 03:22:15 | More by soju6
Photo of Derek

British Columbia (Canada)

3.96/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coppery-bronze with an off-white head, good retention, leaves some lace.

Subtle aroma of fruity esters, British hops and some underlying malt sweetness.

I expected a little more bitterness for balance, but the sweetness from the malt is still pleasant. Some modest fruity esters, with only a hint of hops in the flavour.

Moderate body has a very slight residual sweetness.

Overall it's a nice British brew. Though for something this strong today, I'd expect a little more hops & bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2013 03:39:27 | More by Derek
Photo of eduardolinhalis


4.1/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle served in an English pint glass.

A: Pours a dark orange to amber color. Clear. Forms a medium bubbled and aired white to yellow color. Many lacing are formed and left in the glass

S: Sweet grains. Toffee and caramel malts. Flowery citrus hops. Bready and fruity Ale yeasts

T: Slightly sweet malts. A bit fruity too. Toffee, caramel malts, grapes, brown bread. A little bit metallic. End is hoppy and bitter. Not extremely, just as a good ESB should be :)

M: Light body. Medium carbonation. Grainy and bitter aftertaste. Great balance

O: Excellent drinkability. Great British ale. Recommended

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2012 19:50:18 | More by eduardolinhalis
Photo of FLima


4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Little foam but good carbonation. Dark brown colour. Herbal hops are predominant in its aroma. As expected, a bitter taste, but also quite refreshing at the same time. Sweetness from malt with some fudge twist. Some citric notes can also be identified.
All in all, a very balanced beer with high drinkability but with lots of taste. Excelent beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2012 18:50:37 | More by FLima
Photo of MrKennedy


4.13/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle from Vintage Cellars, Wynyard, into a Brooklyn tulip.

Pours an orange light amber colour with a white head of foam that sits at a level just above film on top. Sporadic lacing.

Smells of toasted malt, marmalade, light citrus with some orange. Unmistakeably English.

Tastes on the sweeter side with toffee, light caramel as well as some citrus with light orange. Vibrant.

Sessionable, yet there is a substantial body to it. Quite impressive. I think the citric flavour helps keeps it very drinkable and the solid malt base makes it feel very full bodied.

A classic. Impressed with this and how well it has held up especially given the journey. Was saving this for an English tasting night that didn't get off the ground. Been a good 5 years or more since i've had a glass of this and even better than i remember it to be. Super impressed.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2012 12:49:00 | More by MrKennedy
Photo of doktorhops


4.18/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Well, well, Wells & Young's, after being averagely impressed with their Banana Bread Beer it was a long wait between rounds (so to speak) and finally I succumbed to buying the Special London Ale with (topically) an Olympics being held in London right now ("Aussie, Aussie, Osterreich! Oy, Oy, Ja!", or something along those lines).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint (Imperial, of course rebel scum).

A: Looks the part; white head, cloudy amber body.

S: Heavy toasted malt base with a smattering of the classic English hops (Fuggles & Goldings) which give it a fruity and earthy aroma, and a hint of musty yeast. Smells like a classic English pub ale.

T: First of all - read the best served at temperature on the back of the bottle; 10 to 12 degrees Celsius - this makes a difference. English pub ales are best drunk lukewarm, not ice cold, this really brings out the flavours: toasted toffee malt base with a slight grassy hop front note leading to a pine/resinous hop back palate. It's a smooth blend too, which really adds to the drinking experience, I'm almost done yet I really want another.

M: Mid to heavy body with a light carbonation. Heavier than most English pub ales but it is explained by 6.5% ABV.

D: Sold! It's a great old style English pub ale that we have here. Perfect example of the style and very enjoyable. I'll 'ave another.

Food match: The national dish of the United Kingdom; fish & chips... no wait, curry.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2012 09:38:19 | More by doktorhops
Photo of SmashPants


4.08/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: cool, chunky embossed 500mL brown bottle, decent old-school label. A stylish package that has me expecting a nice brew.

Appearance: amber in colour with a thick, frothy off-white head that drops to a lower, creamy head with fantastic retention and lacing.

Aroma: The aroma carries light caramel malts, with yeast character as a faintly tart and lightly fruity (berries, apple). Inviting.

Taste: Touch of caramel malts, bitter hops carry throughout. Fruit and citrus tastes, melon and mango, lemon and apricot.

Aftertaste: Strong bitterness carries through. Not sure about the aftertaste, as I am still getting used to this style. Certainly well made.

Mouthfeel: like most English ales, fairly low in carbonation. Slightly creamy body helps it go down pretty easy.

Overall: a nicely made higher profile English bitter ale. Reasonably expensive, but also reasonably brilliantly made :)

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2012 07:33:56 | More by SmashPants
Photo of dansmcd


3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Dark orange amber and murky, frothy bubbly head with no retention, small streaks of sticky lace.

S - Biscuit, grain, apricot, honey and herbs, quite sweet with some citrus peel bitterness.

T - Lightly bitter, caramelised orange and tangy apricot. Biscuity malt. Really nice balance.

M - High carbonation, light bodied - could be beefed up a bit.

O - I passed by this one so many times before sampling it. It deserved better.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2012 07:04:37 | More by dansmcd
Photo of metter98

New York

4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is relatively clear dark copper in color and has a very slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin off white head that quickly died down, leaving lacing covering the surface and a thick ring of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are strong aromas of fruity yeast in the nose.
T: The taste has fruity flavors from the yeast along with notes of apples and toffee along with hints of butter and caramel.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit chewy on the palate with a low amount of carbonation (almost like it was served on cask).
O: This beer is very easy to drink and quite sessionable. I wouldn’t mind drinking a few of these in one sitting because it’s very flavorful compared to other beers in the style.

Serving type: bottle

03-30-2012 00:54:47 | More by metter98
Photo of cervezango


3.65/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

look, honey amber gold thick resiliant head and lacey,

looks like i wanna drink it,
towards the end of the bottle gets darker with the yeast on the bottom

smell , smell hoppy sweet corn syrup, smells like stella

taste, tastes like hops nice hops. grassy, naturey feel, lots ofcarbination for an ale a bit of sweetness after witha yeasty finish.

thick and dry

would reccomend.

Serving type: bottle

03-24-2012 19:41:42 | More by cervezango


4.05/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle.Pint glass.Enjoyed on may´11.Amber copper.Foggy.Large bubbled white froth crown. Head is dense,good retention & copious lacing on sides.Slightly resiny hop aromas.Caramel malt flavors,hints of orange zest.Fresh & crispy spiced notes.Pleasant & refreshing bitterness showing an smooth & clean acidity in mouth. Medium body, soft carbonation.Dry bitter aftertaste,light smoked salt sensation.Very good dinkability.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2012 00:45:34 | More by GONZALOYANNA
Photo of Raven3464


3.48/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a beautiful copper color with plenty of carbonation.

Smell: Spicy hops and yeast are apparent but nothing really stands out, at least for an ale.

Taste: It's not as good as I expected. There's no fruit flavor and the hop kick is greatly subdued. It taste like freshly baked bread with a slight hint of hops at the end. In other words, a stereotypical beer.

Mouth feel: It feels creamy and full bodied. There are no complaints here.

Overall: I realize balance is important for the style but this beer really does not take any risks. There's nothing offensive about the taste like many macro brews but nothing really stands out enough to make the beer special either. It's a good beer but not worth what I paid for it. In a perfect beer world, this is what the worst macro beers should taste like.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2011 12:27:52 | More by Raven3464
Photo of mrfrancis


4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, this beer displays a rich golden amber hue beneath a creamy white head. Honestly, I was expecting this beer to be darker, but whatever.

S: Aromas of toffee, lemon jelly, orange marmalade, and earthy English ale hops fill the nose. It smells like most English ales. Far from bad, but nothing out of the ordinary.

T: The entry is smooth and rich, giving way to pronounced notes of leather, oranges, lemon, heather, almonds, toffee, heavy cream, pepper, and herbs. The finish is complex and hoppy with a prolonged swirl of cream, toffee, and peppery, herbal hop flavors.

M: Full-bodied and substantial in the mouth. Upon entry, the beer is silky, smooth, and not all that dry, but dries out nicely on the fade.

O: I love this beer, and it gets even better after it has been in the bottle for about a year. I'm not sure I'd call it an ESB though. I've always thought of it as more of an English strong ale

Serving type: bottle

10-05-2011 13:24:11 | More by mrfrancis
Photo of Eramen


3.9/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear, light golden brown, with a one finger head that has nice staying power.

S - Fresh fruit/citrus/apple, malts, breads.

T - Much the same as the smell but the fruits are far more pronounced. Also there is a dry spiciness and a touch of alcohol adding much depth to the flavours.

MF - Medium-light foamy body with a fairly intense carbonation.

O - Quite a nice beer, and one of the better ones from this brewery.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2011 21:46:39 | More by Eramen
Photo of woodychandler


4.03/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Millenium Edition bottle on the Fourth of July 2011! Wow! Let the fireworks begin! The CANQuest (TM) is on hiatus, bottle be returning to it shortly.

From the bottle: "If you crave a real beer to celebrate the Millenium, look no further. From the heart of London comes one of the world's greatest beers, Young's Special London Ale, a wonderfully balanced, deep-golden, full-bodied bottled beer, brewed from pure malt and a phenomenal amount of hops. Special London Ale continues to mature in the bottle to create a unique taste experience - the definitive real ale in a bottle. Serve cool and pour slowly to leave the sediment in the bottle."

I poured as gently as possible, resulting in only wisps for head. Color was a slightly hazy orangish-amber. Nose smelled of honey and caramel. Mouthfeel was fairly thick and the hops were long gone, but it had a very pleasant caramel/honey flavor on the tongue. Finish was relatively sweet with the caramel flavor really standing up. It had aged well and I enjoyed meeting up with it after all these years.

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2011 05:26:59 | More by woodychandler
Photo of tbeckett

Ontario (Canada)

3.13/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from a grocery store in Warsaw. From notes.

A - Poured a hazy dark gold with a thin white cap of head. Lot's of visible carbonation and good retention but no lacing.

S - Good juicy hop with some spicy hops too. Bready malt. Fairly standard.

T - Malts with a nice hop kick. Otherwise fairly plain and bland.

M - Medium tingly carbonation and a medium body.

O/D - Meh. Fairly run of the mill. Didn't jump out at me and I was happy to move onto something else.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 02:09:05 | More by tbeckett
Photo of snogglethorpe


3.18/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

An oddly disappointing beer from a famous brewery; maybe the bottle I had wasn't fresh enough.

Nice looking enough, a copper color with a small head. Smell is nice, a little fruity, but indistinct.

Taste is a big let-down ... it's just ... bland. There's very little obvious malt or hop presence, it's a tiny bit fruity, but very much less so than typical English ales, there's a hint of mineral taste and maybe a little hop bitterness. There's a strong taste of yeast.

But mainly it's just sort of blah, nothing stands out, it's not particularly refreshing, although it's not actively bad. The alcohol is evident, and makes it somewhat less drinkable than it might be otherwise. I drank the whole bottle, but I can't see much reason to ever order another one; hopefully it's better on cask or tap...

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2011 04:22:00 | More by snogglethorpe
Photo of thierrynantes


4/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer bottle (50 cl.), tasted in 2010.

Appearance : a light brown color, with white lovely creamy head.
Smell : sweet fruity aromas (orange zest)
Taste and mouthfeel : spicy hop with bitter finish moderated by fruity flavors.
Drinkability : a good beer in the style Extra Strong Bitter (ESB).

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2010 17:11:34 | More by thierrynantes
Photo of CrazyDavros


3.58/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber with a creamy white head and nice lacing.
Nose shows lots of juicy, fruity, floral and spicy hops along with some sweet caramel malt. Almost an APA.
Same story with the flavours: aggressive hops, some sweet crystal malt and some alcohol that makes me think of brandied kumquats and marmalade.
Carbonation is higher than I would have chosen but not by much.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2010 04:45:11 | More by CrazyDavros
Photo of brendan13


4.43/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured into a Youngs pint glass a pretty clear dark orange with a small 2cm white head that slowly falls.
S - A Fruity, almost marmalade like hop character with some floral perfume touches. Some biscuity malt notes also come through.
T - The fruity hop character also comes through quite strongly in the taste along with a biscuity and nutty malt character.
M - Lighter side of medium bodied with moderate carbonation.
D - A very tasty Ale. I was very suprised that it took me so long to review it.

Serving type: bottle

07-19-2010 09:48:08 | More by brendan13
Photo of JohnnyP3


3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. Bottle has a date stamp of 23/10/10.

This ESB pours a dark gold/copper color with a creamy white head that is about 2 fingers in width. This head ain't going nowhere. Minutes after the pour, it has not budged. Leaves a lovely coating on the glass as the beer is consumed. The top 2/3 or so of the beer are somewhat hazy, with the bottom 1/3 being clear. Inhaling this delicious looking beer reveals hints of candied fruits, some classic hop bitterness, notes of diacetyl, and perhaps a trace of malted sweetness--caramel of toffee-like.

Tasting this beer reveals that it is much as the nose suggests. Very smooth and well-rounded, there are candied notes and bitterness up front, rounded off with some smooth malt flavors. Or maybe the other way around. Either way, the transition is there. A sweeter/rich malt taste nicely contrasted with a more bitter and fruity flavor. Not an extreme hop flavor by any means...rather, this ESB strikes a solid balance. Almost a little bit of a mineral taste in there as well, perhaps from the water.

[note: the bottle says the malt is up front and that the finish features a "powerful spicy hop" conclusion--I had not thought about describing it as spicy, but as I drink more, that's not a bad adjective.]

Mouthfeel--this bottle-conditioned ESB has much more carbonation, probably from the bottle conditioning process. I imagine that would help its pairing with certain fatty foods, like cheeses. Drinkability is good. I find this beer to be a nuanced offering from Young's that is a fine way to enjoy a quiet evening. Even at 6.40%, you barely notice the alcohol in the taste.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2010 20:01:56 | More by JohnnyP3
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Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 391 ratings.