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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)
View: Beers (38) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 391 | Reviews: 322 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Sunnanek


3.43/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours clear copper with a large off-white head. Only some lace.

S: Caramell malt, semi-sweet and slightly roasted. Fruity and buttery. Some bitter hops.

T: Follows the nose. The floral hops holds both lemons and apples, and some faint pears. Bitter and buttery.

M: Aftertaste lingers with nice bitter notes. Body is medium and carbonation quite strong and a bit offensive.

O: Not a bad beer, but it is a bit too "basic" for my taste.

Serving type: on-tap

05-17-2012 14:04:54 | More by Sunnanek
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.33/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, amber-toned appearance, nice slice of creamy froth atop.

Hoppy aroma, floral and honey-sweet, with a snap of bitter.

Caramel malt pleases the palate, bitter hops gleam the tongue. Ease of drinking is high. Fruit and citrus tastes bounce into the flavor profile, melon and mango, lemon and apricot. Refreshing, and flavorful.

Leaves the mouth lightly, but not forgotten. Medium to light in body, with a pleasant lingering finish of hops. A juicy ESB, quite sessionable, never flagging in flavor.

Oddly, this has never been available in bottles in the Twin Cities market, only draft. But they couldn't sell the kegs, because no-one had had it, and didn't want to tap something without having sampled it first. I enjoy it tonight on tap at the Blue Nile in Minneapolis.

Serving type: on-tap

10-23-2006 05:24:30 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of instrumentality


4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is my first beer review on this site, so you may wish to take it with a grain of salt.

I decided to do an ESB face-off between this and Fuller's ESB, both of which were new to me. This one was a clear winner.

The color was an attractive reddish caramel. As for the odor, maybe my sense of smell wasn't at its best, but I didn't detect much of a scent.

The taste was very smooth, not nearly as bitter as one would expect from an ESB, with a hint of caramel. Fuller's was a bit sweeter, and I'm not a big fan of sweetness in beer unless it's derived from chocolate.

The aftertaste was also unobtrustive. I'm used to beers of this type sitting on the tongue and leaving a somewhat skunky flavor behind. This one went down smoothly and didn't linger.

This is unlike any ESB I've had, and preferable to those that I've tried. I'll definitely revisit this one.

Serving type: on-tap

04-16-2006 06:45:46 | More by instrumentality
Photo of ScarletLady


3.1/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Although I tried this from the tap, it had been poured in to a pitcher then passed around - so i won't comment about the head or lacing as it really wouldn't be fair. Nice color, a light to medium copper. The nose was my favorite part with apricot and a sour hoppiness. Mouthful was 'medium' and the taste a little sour but good. Overall nicely carbonated with a light finish. I would try it again I think that it could really grow on me . I'm interested to try it from a bottle

Serving type: on-tap

02-13-2006 16:24:27 | More by ScarletLady
Photo of nickss


3.8/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Amber hue... no noticeable sustained head.... fairly boring in appearance.

Floral aroma, matched with a nice malt backbone.... quite well balanced in the nose.... certain wine-y qualities to this one.

Wine, bourbon and alcohol in the taste... some dark fruit... cherries.... solid and well balanced taste.

The mouthfeel is a bit thin, and the carbonation a bit much... not quite what I was looking for.

Very drinkable... quite inoffensive.

Serving type: on-tap

02-09-2006 14:28:16 | More by nickss
Photo of Litterbean

New York

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

This was effin' delicious on tap.

Pours a deep amber color with a nice head with a thick amount of lace.

Smells sweet and fruity. Hints of walnuts and some earty aromas as well.

Taste starts off sweet and warm. Phenolic somewhat, with a good amount of balancing hops adding a nice bitterness. Definite hints of nuts and some sweet toffee. Delicious.

A great beer, and what I think of when I hear "English Ale."

Serving type: on-tap

05-04-2005 01:20:37 | More by Litterbean
Photo of Truh

New Hampshire

3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got to sit at the head of the class with this one on 4/14/2005. 16-oz. pint at Cornwall’s, near the heart of Red Sox Nation.

Light cream of starting head is tightly wound in spots and eventually settles down a bit and does not leave much in the way of stick, really, just some unmixed white paint. Light mahogany hue, crystal clear with a medium amount of action. Kind of a nutty presence on the nose with a slight tinniness and a roasted character as well. Very buttery on the mouth with a real toffee sweet/smoke mix; also, mixed nut crunchiness pulls through at the tail end.

Good stuff, and something I enjoyed many pints of on a Hawksmoor tour of London, Greenwich, and the pubs and churches in between.

Serving type: on-tap

04-15-2005 14:49:30 | More by Truh
Photo of bark


2.93/5  rDev -26%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The colour is cloudy copper red; the thin lid of foam is pale beige.

The smell is sweet with notes of yeast, nuts and fruits (apricots? Peaches?).

The carbonation is fresh with lots of large bubbles.

The taste is fruity, sweet with some bitter almonds, diacetyl and yeast. The aftertaste is medium bitter, short and rather anonymous.

An average bitter, nothing special at all.

Serving type: on-tap

01-22-2005 23:43:55 | More by bark
Photo of Stimack

New York

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

Had this brew on tap last evening at Mahar’s, fresh keg was just put up. Brew was poured to a real nice somewhat dark amber color with a solid creamy white head that had very good retention leaving solid lacing through out the pint. The aroma is yeasty with a sour/tart aroma that seems to mix very well with light but prevalent caramel maltyness. The taste is good, definitely have the malt like tastes but can also notice a slight fruitiness, toffee and butter like characteristics. Has a little hop to it but is not pronounced. Could be due to the previous brew I had which was much more hoppy. Over all this is a fine brew, at 6.4% I guess it is not a session like brew but it is smooth and easy drinking. Over all this is a very solid offering!

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2005 13:57:46 | More by Stimack
Photo of PatandDavid


3.4/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Redbones. Pour when served was a brown amber color, no head. Clean aroma. I thought the initial taste sensation was of a tingly mouthfeel that goes into malt. Medium bodied, there was some hop astringency towards the end that made your mouth water. I also thought the finish had a slight alcoholic note, and looking at the abv, I think I know why.

Serving type: on-tap

08-15-2004 15:19:04 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of tavernjef


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

On tap at the Muddy Pig: Rusty orange-brown, a bit tarnished, thin creamy off-white cap, light lacing capabilities. Aroma is all malts, a large display of toffee tang and subdued dark caramel with some richer honey and butterscotch candy notes. Taste is a wholey large malt base. Smooth and rich display of toffee and darker caramel, darker and bolder tang found here then with some. Subdued and rounded malts, eager though with a barely there hop of wet grass. Ensued chewy aspects in its body and feel, smooth and creamy with a large malt proflie. Somewhat bready as well and a great full and malt laden rich body feel. Not as bitter as one would think an ESB would be, but as it stands, its a very interestingly nice beer on-tap. Glad to have tried it and will probably again.

Serving type: on-tap

07-29-2004 02:45:14 | More by tavernjef
Photo of ADR


4.35/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Muddy Pig, St. Paul, MN...

Slightly hazy darker yellow color, lighter than Fuller's by a fair shot. Practically no head in this serving, very little lace on the glass. Slightly buterscotchy aroma. Flavor follows the smell, diacetyl with molasses tones and plenty of spicy cinnamon notes. Speckly texture, granulated mouthfeel. Hopping is quite pronounced and dry and there is great balance in this one with a rush toward heat at the end. A very enjoyable ESB in my book.

Serving type: on-tap

07-25-2004 19:22:09 | More by ADR
Photo of gentlebubbles


3.6/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the Horseshoe

A golden ale with a layer of white foam on top. I don't smell much, just a faintly sour scent of cut hay. A sharp bitterness cuts through a mild appley malt. Served too fizzy and cold, but it was gone before it could warm up properly.

Serving type: on-tap

06-20-2004 23:57:22 | More by gentlebubbles
Photo of Billolick

New York

4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the Beer Bar/Cafe centro NYC. Nice warm amber, w/ off white, puffy, creamy head. Leaves a ton of lace. Bready nose. First flavors are of a very smooth malty backbone. Understated hop character. As it warms smooth malt continues, grainy, velvet hops gain in strength, to balance things out perfectly. Very British character. Mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth. Classy and well balanced ale. Try it on tap if it comes to a bar nearby.

Serving type: on-tap

03-11-2004 04:58:41 | More by Billolick
Photo of ManekiNeko


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

Served in a pint glass at Dr. Dremo's

Appearance: Clear yellowish amber topped by a thick and creamy white head. After a few hearty sips, the head shrank to a small layer of foam that remained throughout the rest of the glass's comsumption. Thick sheets and rings of lacing were left on the sides.

Smell: Healthy, but not overwhelming, aromas of hops (Fuggles, East Kent Goldings? Certainly British hops) with undercurrents of biscuity and toasty malts.

Taste: Sweet, bready, and caramelized malts. Gently bitter hops on the finish. The hops are quite lingering, too. A few minutes drag time.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth, rather light in body. Very refreshing.

Drinkability: Great English-style ESB. Nice, pleasant, and a great session beer were it not for the price.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2004 00:52:03 | More by ManekiNeko
Photo of longpondbeerman


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

This ale I had at a delightful pub called Mahar's in Albany, New York on a cold winter evening. It poured a rich, golden amber with a sight reddish tint. The off-white, creamy head, subsided into lacy symmetrical rings around my pint glass. The smell was of green raisens and hops coupled with light malts, and the taste was bitterly juicy with a tinge of grapefruit. The taste held through all the way to a tart finish, and the mouthfeel was, like the head, creamy and bubbly. A good brew.

Serving type: on-tap

12-29-2003 23:43:03 | More by longpondbeerman
Photo of nomad


4.38/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An orange color, on-tap this beer's great thin foamy head stays, and shows off some sloppy lace and almost stain. Draught makes this fairly carbonated. Smelled of strong, sweet fruity esters (Ringwood?) but also grapefruit and rough bitter scents, on top of a biscuity malt background. Solid, and definitely more expressive than the bottle version. Taste is very fruity, juicy, and judiciously bitter in a thirst-quenching and inducing way - citric. Bitterness is bountiful and delectable with the balancing juiciness. Has a nutty presence too, and a great body, though it is a little carbonated but easy enough to drink. Calms down to a smooth drink, tasty and wonderful, a great session beer and proof again that British beers are better on-tap.

Serving type: on-tap

11-23-2003 16:36:07 | More by nomad
Photo of NeroFiddled


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

Clear, deep amber with a bright-white creamy head that quickly settles into a thin but solid foam which leaves Belgian- lace throughout the pint. The aroma is cleanly malty with some light caramel, and displays the classic house yeast character as a faintly tart and lightly fruity (berries, apple). There's a fairly distinct aroma of earthy Fuggle and Goldings hops. Very inviting. The medium body and fine, moderate carbonation leave it smooth and creamy in the mouth. The flavor is of a semi-sweet, lightly honeyish, bready, and mildly nutty malt (Marris Otter), balanced by an aggressive bitterness and earthy hoppiness. The finish is not as hoppy as might be expected, but long lasting with a gentle maltiness coating the tongue. The alcohol is well hidden within the flavor but tends to make itself known towards the end of the pint. A classic!

Serving type: on-tap

07-29-2002 09:41:30 | More by NeroFiddled
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
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Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 391 ratings.