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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 thespaceman


3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass

Appearance: Cloudy golden in color, this one poured a nice white head with clumps of lacing. Decent retention spotted as well.

Smell: Nose comes off of some citrus elements, paired with a slightly oiled hop spice, and a tinge of some sweet esters. This ones got a bit of a malty third sense that wants to pop through but is subsided by some stronger hop prescence.

Taste: More of the malt comes into play when it comes to the taste, a light maltiness paired with some hoppy elements is well balanced. Some alcohol is present on the tail end of the finish, slightly grain/grass notes emerge through the malt as well.

Mouthfeel: Fairly carbo'd, a light bodied mouthfeel doesn't make the alcohol stand out too much, but just enough. The maltiness adds a bit of firmness on the tongue as well.

Drinkability: I found this a refreshing ESB that combines a good malt and hop element without going too overboard with one another. It's got a smoothness and a warmness from the esters that is inviting. A must have if you see it on the shelves.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2009 01:40:18 | More by thespaceman
Photo of Jyubei

New Mexico

3.88/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Amber body and a 2 in white head.

S. Bitter hops, malt and a hint of fruits mainly apple and slight citrus notes.

T. Bitter hops and a refreshing orange/apple taste with a bitter malt aftertaste.

M. Very slight stickiness and good carbonation.

D. Good brew with a nice taste, smell and head.

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2008 20:05:48 | More by Jyubei
Photo of WHROO


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

A: Orange, gold, little cloudy. nice head with good lacing.
S: Found it florally, with some citrus hops - grapefruit, & some sweetness notes like caramel
T: Didn't get the pronounced hop bitterness I expected, moreso tasted the floral hops...a little musk sweetness, & not too much bitterness to finish.
M: A little heavy & sticky on the palate, but does leave nice fruity flavours.
D: Cannot see a problem drinking a couple of these in a session. Considering its a 6.4% this beer felt lighter.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2008 07:38:21 | More by WHROO
Photo of sgoodship


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

I didn't drink any Young's when I lived in the UK (shame on me), so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised.

A: Carbonation fired up a nice clean finger width head to begin with but it was short lived and settled down into a nice lacing as expected. It is semi-translucent (hazy) with a little carbonation visible.

S: A quietly lively smell. It came across fruity to me. Some malt and hoppiness but generally understated.

T: It came across fruity to me but not too dominant because as I registered that, I started to get that lovely sugary malted biscuity flavor. It finishes off with a really nice hoppy bitterness but retains some of the earlier flavor and is certainly not a forceful aftertaste.

M: Really creamy and round. Carbonation provides some fresh liveliness to the palette. Medium body - just really smooth.

D: I have to admit, I found myself finding it hard to concentrate on reviewing this beer because I just wanted to drink it and not think about it. It was really delicious and so easy to drink. Even the short half-life of the aftertaste made me want to drink more. I guess there is a complexity to this beer but it is so well balanced - they have taken all the work out of it for the drinker - just enjoy it! I think you could find yourself drinking it down and forgetting the strength - dangerous! It is my new go-to ESB.

Serving type: bottle

10-05-2008 15:14:28 | More by sgoodship
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly

New York

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

16.9 oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - hazy orange/gold color with a beige head that left big patches of sticky lacing.

S - sweet malt, yeast and slight earthiness.

T - not quite the hop bomb I have come to expect from American ESB's. Sweet and fruity flavors most of the way through with a very light bitterness after the swallow.

F - medium bodied with a rich and creamy feel.

D - a nice treat but in no way is this a session beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2008 00:18:49 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of pleasewearpants


4.2/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy butterscotch color with a delicious looking frothy head. Like eggwhites! The nose gives slight hints at the mild sourness to come but a sweet buttery caramel flavor dominates. Slight hints of fruit too!

Nice carbonation - light body with a slightly sour yet pleasant start and finish. Small vanilla flavors vie for attention. This bottle has a bit of creaminess to it whereas in the past I've noticed more sour notes. Maybe I'm getting tired (or drunk!).

Alcohol is concealed splendidly and at 6.4% this is an extremely pleasant beer to drink. One of my favorites. Also works great as a marinade for pork loin!

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2008 05:13:39 | More by pleasewearpants
Photo of rjimlad


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

Beautiful deep amber colour with creamy head that stayed for most of the glass. There was a fruity aroma that was quite nice but spoiled a bit by some disturbing detergent character. On tasting I got into the awesome balance of malt and hop, fruity and yeast but there was that soapy thing in the taste as well. I know my glass was clean and rinsed and this sample was within the date stamp so I can't explain this. No other reviewer picked it so think it was this sample only. My wife picked it straight away. Other that that it was perfectly balanced and a classic ESB with all that Fuggly goodness. Carbonation was a bit higher than a normal bitter but perfect for this. Very drinkable. I'll review it again for sure.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2008 09:20:05 | More by rjimlad
Photo of goatherder


3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep golden in colour, great clarity and a tall white persistent head. Huge hop profile, earthy and fruity english hops. Strong hop presence in the flavour with some slight oxidised and metallic notes - perhaps this sample hasn't journeyed as well as it could have. Sweet malt profile is complemented by the fruity aspects of the hops. Big full mouthfeel lingers on with enough bitterness to keep it in check. Great balance. ABV is well hidden. Top shelf beer, everything an ESB should be.

Best before date 30/11/2008

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2008 10:48:49 | More by goatherder
Photo of ajmoody76


3.93/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

blah, blah. bought this at the usual spot. poured into an imperial pint. clear light amber. not much head (white). looks like beer.

some fruitiness. sweet malt aroma. earthy. no off odors.

good amount of hops. caramel sweet. kinda sweet aftertaste. good balance.

low carbonation. mid body. tastes good. i was a bit nervous because the best before date was a few months ago. gotta love the turnover at the beer store. would like to drink a fresher one to compare.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2008 02:28:01 | More by ajmoody76
Photo of Pencible


4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured a clear amber with thick light tan head. It smelled like salt and cultured yeast (almost like play-doh) with citrus hops and a light nutty malt. It tasted quite different, like copper hops with hazel nut and apple cider malts, with a bit of citrus hops. It was fairly thick with slight carbonation, and had a moderate bittersweet (nutty) aftertaste. Overall this was a very clean ale with a great classic flavor. Very nice.

Serving type: bottle

08-16-2008 17:47:42 | More by Pencible
Photo of atis


4.22/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh floral and hoppy aroma, maybe some maltiness in the background, but it was not very pronounced. Flavour is spicy bitter upfront followed by malty fruitiness (mostly citrus). Creamy mouthfeel.

I really enjoyed the excellent bittery aftertaste.

Great beer, classic ESB.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2008 21:48:04 | More by atis
Photo of WillClark


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

Poured out of 16.9oz bottle into an imperial pint glass a murky goldish amber with a nice head and notes of honey, grass and citrus. Mouthfeel is, how shall I say, velvety- quite smooth and nicely hidden alcohol. Finish is a clean bitter with a little bit of sweetness to compliment. I

This is a beer that I've always loved but never really got a chance to review until now. It's a fantastic beer at any time of year. I've heard some scuttlebutt about it no longer being available in the US in a short while due to Young's and Wells trying to cut cost, but it would be a shame if this gem came off the market.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2008 01:39:13 | More by WillClark
Photo of nasty15108

New York

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

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass.

A - Poured a slightly cloudy orange/amber color. The pour produced a bubbly head of slightly off-white foam.

S - Malty and slightly floral with definite hints of caramel and citrus.

T - Malty with a slight caramel sweetness. Definite flavor of ripe fruit also detected. Finishes slightly dry with a piney/citric hop bitterness.

MF&D - Medium bodied and slightly sticky. Definitely worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

07-03-2008 11:21:17 | More by nasty15108
Photo of erosier


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

L: Pours an orangy-amber color with a tall and thick tan colored head that takes some time to settle down the glass. It laces decently.
S: The smell is of deep roasted malts and some nice hoppy bitterness.
T: The taste is pretty good. Tastes of nice roasted malts layered with a nice hoppy taste to round out the beer. It is not overly bitter but it is very nicely layered.
M: Very smooth, crisp, and clean tasting with the right amount of carbonation.
D: Very drinkable as it is not overpowering in any department and has a fair amount of alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

06-29-2008 14:03:54 | More by erosier
Photo of joeboe2001


4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served way too cold; Ramshead needs to keep their decent beers separate from the Bud Light.

Impressive, pleasantly sized pint + bottle.

Appearance--poured into 12 oz. glass, got about half an inch of thin foam which disappeared quickly...deep golden brown color, nearly opaque.

Smell--light, slightly sour, hoppy smell--maybe a little yeasty.

Taste--a bit thin, a bit fruity--strong hoppy finish, but not as bitter as most IPAs.

Mouthfeel--smooth, thinner and drier as it warmed up.

Drinkability--I would go back for more.

Serving type: bottle

06-27-2008 16:04:33 | More by joeboe2001
Photo of champ103


4.4/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy orange/reddish color. A two finger head forms and recedes to a ring with a bit of sticky lace.
S: Toasty malt aroma up front. A nice fruity characteristic as the aroma lingers. Some hop bitterness/spiciness as well.
T: Loaded with malt. Toasted caramel and toffee flavors. Oily and spicy hops that are exceptionally balanced with the malt.
M/D: Slick and oily. Well carbonated with a medium mouth feel. The ABV seems a bit high for an ESB, but it is not noticeable. So smooth and easy to drink.

Ranks right up there with Fuller's ESB, maybe even better. There is a distinct fruity flavor and aroma that I don't really remember from Fuller's offering. A great beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2008 23:56:39 | More by champ103
Photo of ChainGangGuy


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

Appearance: Pours a clear, light copper body with a small, fizzy, white head.

Smell: Light aroma of toffee-scented maltiness, spice-minded hops, and a fine, delicate yeastiness.

Taste: Sweetish toffee malt flavor tempered by a spicy, earthy hoppiness. Splash of mineral water. Still manages to finish a bit on the sweet side.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Not a bad lil' English ale that's certainly quite easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

06-06-2008 14:05:10 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of atigerlife


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

Pours a clear copper color with almost no head. Minimal carbonation seen rising.

ARoma of honey and light hops.

Taste has got some bitterness, light hops, malts, sweet and some fruitiness.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied, cleansing and smooth.

Overall, quite drinkable and sessionable.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2008 23:32:49 | More by atigerlife
Photo of PBBC

New York

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

Pours a semi-hazy orange-yellow... apricot like color

Nice fresh aroma, tinges of hops above a nice sweet smell of malt... the floral hops balance perfectly

Taste- Light, rolls over the tongue, feels slightly thick, but finishes clean with a lingering malt flavor leaving you wanting the next sip... very little bitterness... honeyed malt and oily-flowery hops balance well....

VERY drinkable... great flavor... low fill factor.... I feel like I could drink 6 of these no problem right now.

Serving type: bottle

05-02-2008 02:42:49 | More by PBBC
Photo of Offa


5/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my all-time favourites and for me it is essentially perfect beer.

Th colour is deep bronze colour with reddish hints. It has a beautiful thick, creamy, head that lasts forever and leaves beautiful lacing.

In taste it has amazing, deep complexity with a perfect bitter-sweet balance, and plenty of malt and hops in great balance. It has lots of light, zesty fruit with citrus, plus lightly caramelly malt, toasty bread, pine, a light earthiness, and consistent flavour from start to finish. It's flavour is strong and complex yet clean, very crisp, lively, and extremely satisfying and drinkable at the same time. It has an incredibly "fresh" quality to it. I shall add though, that I have gotten a couple bum bottles (however, that's out of many).

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2008 22:46:20 | More by Offa
Photo of slvrmon82


3.95/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is very smooth and very hoppy at the same time.

The appearance is an orange gold. IT pours a little head that dissapates immediately.

The smell is very floral and has a lot of hops upfront.

The taste is very smooth and still very hoppy. Very nice crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Has an almost cream ale style to it.

The drinkability is great. It is smooth and floral and has a decent abv. I would definitely drink this one again and again.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2008 02:00:08 | More by slvrmon82
Photo of tai4ji2x


4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a friend from the UK managed to bring back a couple bottles of this for me to try here in beijing, china

garrett oliver, in brewmaster's table, says this an IPA, even though the brewery doesn't market it as such... well, *i'm* going to review it as such... ;-)

500ml, bottle conditioned

amber with orangey brown hues, nice head that fades very slowly to a thin layer. great fluffy lacing. clear on first pour, can be slightly hazy if you swirl the yeast in.

almost fruity aroma, english hops for sure - less of the of bold citrusy and piney notes you find in american strains. toasted malts and toffee. hint of yeasty bread.

for an english beer, this is hoppy, and certainly why i'm inclined to agree with oliver that perhaps this is supposed to be an IPA. with that in mind, it's great. an aggressively herbal, grassy hop flavor and bitterness is complimented by the sweet, buttery, carmelized malts. the bitterness peaks in the middle for a bite, but starts to give way to the sweet biscuity malt into the finish.

not thin at all, almost chewy. nice, moderate carbonation.

as an "ESB", it actually might be too hoppy, and color-wise a bit light. but as an english IPA, this is a winner, particularly if you can get a hold of it fresh.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2008 09:27:01 | More by tai4ji2x
Photo of Brad007


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

Color: Pale amber color with a one-finger head. Ligher than I expected for an ESB.

Aroma: Hoppiness is very pronounced here. Malt doesn't show through much, which indicates a lack of balance perhaps?

Taste: Strong and bitter upfront. Malt backbone is present underneath. Smooth. The bitterness is nice here.

Mouthfeel: Dry and bitter. Smooth. A bit chewy and bready.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. Slightly more bitter and that's not a bad thing.

Verdict: Definitely holds up in the bitterness department. Drinkable. Low in alcohol. Smooth. I like it.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2008 03:14:36 | More by Brad007
Photo of Biscuit033


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

A: Clear golden orange with dense two finger head that leaves great lace.

S: Fresh english hops, floral, and light earth.

T: Toffee, light bitterness, some green apple skin, some mild coffee notes, and just a hint of alcohol.

M: Good Carbination and clean finish with a nice drying alcohol.

D: Easy to drink but the alcohol shows itself just enough to keep your pace steady. Good beer to start or finish the night or dinner.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2008 23:59:12 | More by Biscuit033
Photo of cswhitehorse


3.85/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Young's Special Ale of yore poured a dark amber color with a finger foam head that looked pillowy. There wasn't a lot of head retention but there was sporadic lacing that stayed close to the source. It had a drink by date.

The aroma was caramel malty and spice filled.

The taste was a creamy malt flavor that had a Belgian finish. In the mouth it finished a soft peppery hop bite. It is a comforting ale and I would drink it all the time if I lived in Jolly ole England.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2008 22:46:23 | More by cswhitehorse
Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 391 ratings.