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Best Bitter - Picaroons Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Best BitterBest Bitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

41 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 41
Hads: 77
Avg: 3.69
pDev: 11.38%
Wants: 1
Gots: 8 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Picaroons Brewing Co. visit their website
New Brunswick, Canada

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: PiratePete on 11-10-2003

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (23) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 41 | Hads: 77
Photo of Sammy
4.3/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

New Brunswick? What a surprise, and what a winner best bitter. Very good ingredients: the malt, the yeast, the hops, the creamy mouthfeel. And me mates loved it just the same. An initial bite, with nuts and fruit. Amber-mahagoney dark. Fresh as if on tap. Must try.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Okbeer: Poured a cloudy dirty brown color ale with a nice foamy head with some good retention. Aroma of malt with a light floral aroma. Taste is lightly sweet with some subtle floral hops. Body is fuller then expected with some adequate carbonation. Well done session ale that stays within the style parameter.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

500ml sturdy squat bottle. Nice to see another proper 'best bitter' available in Alberta.

This beer pours a clear, bright medium red-brick amber hue, with three fat fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and rather bubbly off-white head, which leaves some pleasant cobwebbed lace around the glass as it slowly seeps away.

It smells of semi-sweet, almost pastry-like pale and caramel malt, simple syrup, fruity yeast, and earthy, leafy, and otherwise green hops. The taste is bready, faintly biscuity caramel malt, a further toffee sweetness, more earthy yeast, a bit of sour drupe fruitiness, oily nuts, and weedy, sort of floral, leafy hops.

The carbonation is present and accounted for, but does little to make you remember it, the body an adequate medium weight, and generically smooth, as those hops drop a metallic bomb right about now for some reason. It finishes off-dry, the bready caramel malt persisting mostly intact, amongst some increasingly peppy floral, leafy hops.

Picaroons' Best Bitter holds true to its God Save the Queen, or whatever British allegiances, right up until the veritably bitter end of this affair, when the hops exhibit a (relatively) heady dash of New World elan. Fairly crisp, sweet enough, and with that so-called elevated ABV for the style, I could envision downing a few of these should I ever find myself in a Maritimes public house.

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Photo of smcolw
3.69/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Rocky, slightly off white head; slow to dissipate. Plenty of lace on the glass as it settles. Surprisingly clear (given the yeasty smell) with dirty copper amber color.

Earthy aroma with a solid dollop of brewers' yeast. Not my style, but it is like a good homebrew.

Caramel and crystal malts start the taste off. Good hop bite in the swallow that creates a decent aftertaste. Rich, almost oily, body. Low carbonation. Much better on the tongue than on a nose.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.43/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from the Brewery shop in Fredericton.
Pours a fairly clear deep amber color with a decent sized bubbly frothy off white head that persists for a while. Aromas of toffee and caramel with hints of earthy hop and a touch of mineral water, fruit, and butterscotch. The flavor follows the aroma quite well. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. Decent bitter, again heavy on the diacetyl.

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Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picaroons Best Bitter has a kind of tan that's hard to get in New Brunswick, but it does looks like a drink they'd like on the East Coast (rum). Its orange-brown body is clear but toasty, hosting a select few bubbles that manage to amass a thin and spotty (but unexpectedly durable) set of lining and lacing. It makes a good first impression!

The brewery promotes the fact that they brew their ales in "traditional British style" but - the tonic water-like minerals and toffee sweetness aside - this bouquet has more than a little bit of New World hoppiness to it. While it's tame by American standards, it might be enough to ruffle some feathers among the older regulars at the pub.

The biggest planet in this flavour constellation is definitely one of caramelly malt, but it has moons of bitter herbals and floral resins that rotate it round and round. The bitterness is earthy and highly noticeable, even with the distraction of a fruity ester-spewing yeast and slicing sharp water minerals. Those resiny bitters ooze like sap from a maple tree.

The beer may be of average strength, but it's density is far from moderate. This chewy, thick maltiness sure tips out the scale at an impressive weight. Despite being tremendously drinkable, it is a deceitfully filling beer. It's easy to want more, mind you, given all the pecan nuttiness and toffee sweetness that seeps into the gums.

Best Bitter is a straightforward-enough style, but it's simplicity is deceptive. True, this is both nutty-sweet and approachable, but it's also a considerably heavy ale with a very appreciable bitterness. To brew this style with any degree of success requires not only negotiating the balance between hops and malt, but also treating your water and employing the right yeast. Picaroons puts all the right steps into this and it pays off.

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Photo of Viggo
4.18/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Says Best Bitter on the label so its being rated as an ESB. Thanks to NASH for sending this my way.

Pours a clear copper, very thick white head forms, some massive lacing, very thick ring around the glass. Smell is nice, sweet and bready, spicy floral hops, strawberries, roasted graininess, bit of citrus, earthy, quite nice. Taste is roast and grains, caramel, oats, very nice malts, fruits, spicy floral hops, chocolate, very interesting, very balanced, nice solid bitterness. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with low carbonation, very smooth. I love this beer, very interesting and very drinkable. Thanks Greg!

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Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle - thanks to frenchy for this one

Appearance - Clear reddish-copper colour with a large size fizzy beige coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for 5 minutes.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel, toffee, reminded me a bit of a creme brule

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel/toffee, light hops, and malts. There is also a bit of a roasted nut flavour and a woodiness. It ends with a malty and light bitter hopped aftertaste.

Overall - A solid ESB that might benefit from a touch less carbonation. The taste is pleasant and it's quite drinkable. Don't go out of your way to track down, but if you see it pick one up.

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Photo of tbeckett
3.41/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

My boss brought this back from Halifax.

A - Pours a hazy dark orange with good carbonation and a three finger, fluffy off white head. Great lacing with a coating along the inside of the glasa and a full finger of thick head remaining.

S - Fair amount of smoke and tobacco, dropping off to some citrus and earth with breadiness and a little caramel. The smokey and tobacco notes were odd but gone when the beer was able to open up more. A little soapy.

T - Caramel and breainess with lot's of smoke which is gone when the beer opens up. Earthy hops and a little fruitiness.

M - Good carbonation with a body just barely making it to medium. Slight tobacco type finish.

O/D - Tasted OK and went down smooth. But I don't think I could drink alot of this. I just isn't all that interesting and lacks the great flavours of better ESBs.

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Photo of Brenden
3.57/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm not sure where this came from, but it's fresh.

It's a medium brown with good clarity to it, transparent but for the color itself. The pale head shows some density as it settles on top to 3/4 finger. Retention is good, and lacing is thin but drops in a really nice sheeting effect to about the middle of the glass. It shows some rigidity to it overall, staying together well.
This beer showcases the strengths of the style; my main criticism would be that the yeast is a bit heavy and forward. Otherwise, the nicely complex blend of earthy, toasty, nutty and floral notes as well as its balance of each moderately strong malts and hops in the aroma and flavor make for a nice beer.
It's got a good medium body to it without going thin or, on the other side, heavier than it should. It's creamy with a bit of dryness and flows very nicely.
Is this Bitter the best? No. Is it good? Across the board.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.73/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to FishGetter for bringing this brew back from Canada. Served this chilled, in an Imperial pint glass, from a 500ml brown bottle.My first beer from Picaroons Brewing Co.

Appearance: Best Bitter pours out a somewhat deep copper color that has some reddish highlights. Great clarity with some noticeable lively carbonation bubbles. A bit of a vigorous pour resulted in about a finger of thick, cream colored head. Decent retention. Each sip left a thick ring of white lace on the glass.

Smell: Quite a thick, sweet, malty nose. Touches of fruit and a slight hoppiness. Faint suggestions of wood buried in the background. Bready and grainy. Almost a hint of toffee.

Taste: A quick hop bite out front followed by a rush of sweet caramel malt. Pretty well balanced. Grain, lemon zest, and maybe some cherry. Alcohol shows itself a bit in the dry , bitter finish. Tastes very fresh.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium body. Smooth with a moderate amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Great drinkability! Very sessionable. The 5.2 percent ABV is just right. I could definitely drink more of this.

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Photo of papat444
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to cjbmcdon for this one. Shared with my wife last night with our supper, fish sticks & fries.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle, batch 1107, packaged 01/03/10.

Appearance: Pours a little too much foam for my liking. It gradually recedes to leave a amber reddish body. Head is fluffy and sticks a little to the glass.

Smell: Bitter hops with some fruit, orange maybe?

Taste: Reserved bitterness with the hard to pin down fruit which i think it might be melon. Has a touch of dryness to it. Would have liked a bit more flavor.

Mouthfeel: Reminds me a little of cask ale. Low carbonation with a smooth feel. Not quite full-bodied but i still like it.

Drinkability: Goes down easy especially with the warm weather.

Overall: I'd have this again probably. A well done bitter that doesn't wow you but is a faithful beer.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.77/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Another east coast treat...

A - Pours a nice dark amber colour, finger of head with some retention, and some sporadic lacing.

S - Dominated by toasted bread, musty caramel and toffee, some earthy greens and a nutty finish.

T - Much like the nose with the nutty notes coming through nicely alongside a bitter earthy hop flavour, the toffee and caramel lingers with a hint of sour citrus.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and dry.

O - The finish is a tad chalky and dry, but the flavors are nice for the style and the nuttiness adds a uniqueness that stands out. Glad I was able to try this one and certainly recommended to any fan of the style.

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Photo of Deuane
3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Dark, brownish tinged, copper with a medium tan head that held up well and left decent lace.

S-Biscuity sweet malt with herbal hops.

T-Rich caramel with lighter roasted malt character. Good hit of herbal and mild citrus hops. Earthy feel i the aftertaste.

M-Medium bodied, creamy and quite smooth. Lingering toffee flavours and hop bitterness.

D-Quite good and true to style. As good as any ESB I have had in England. This was a smooth, tasty treat. Glad to have made the side trip to The Lunar Rogue to try some Picaroons!

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Photo of bobsy
2.29/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Brian for kindly sending this my way from Halifax. The bottle arrived in great shape, but sadly the contents seems to have fallen foul of Picaroons sketchy quality control.

Decent pour with an aggressive off-white head that betrays the usual over-carbonation that I've found with these guys. Nice lacing as it gently drops to a steady cap atop the rusty copper body. Nose is too skewed toward soapy notes for me to like it too much, but it does have a decent biscuit and caramel base. However, there's something that just doesn't jive with me. Taste is passable, but by no means exciting, and again I feel something is amiss here. There's a good dose of biscuit and some caramel sweetness, but also a slight acidic edge and a soapiness that detracts more as the beer is consumed. Herbal notes are good, but the floral is dead, and tastes it. Body is thin and viciously carbonated.

Another mediocre Picaroons. Drinkable, but why the hell would you bother. I'm now prepared to right this brewery off - despite a few good reviews they're pretty much crap and not worth the time or effort. If they fixed their quality control issues they'd be better, but even then their beers are pretty bland and boring.

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Photo of grub
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Viggo was nice enough to share this one. thanks eric!

500ml bottle. sampled feb 15/08.

pours crystal clear reddish amber with a big dense cream coloured head. the head drops slowly and leaves tons of lace behind.

aroma is good. light alcohol. big biscuit and bready malt. slightly earthy. just a hint of grapefruit hiding in the background. just a touch of tangerine too. bit of floral hops.

taste is good. light alcohol up front, then the big solid biscuit and bready malt takes over. medium-low bitterness level. touch of grapefruit. very faint tangerine. earthy hops. nice light sweetness. slightly floral.

mouthfeel is good. medium carbonation level that is fairly smooth. medium body, a little fuller than i'd expect from an APA (or a bitter as the label claims).

drinkability is quite good. the alcohol is more obvious than i'd expect, but it's still balanced pretty well.

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.92/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle poured into a nonic pint glass. A dark red-brown amber with three fingers of densely packed small beige bubbles, frothy and creamy when poured skillfully (a hit and miss endeavor for me today). Aroma is bready, slightly spicy, and fruity: Molasses cookies, golden raisins, a hint of peach, orange marmalade ... Authentic on the nose to be sure. Reminds one of this brewery's IPA albeit less overtly spicy. Palate is a well-integrated spread of walnut, gingerbread, sourish raisins or currants, toffee pudding, earthy hops. Again, recalls Picaroon's IPA but dialed down, perhaps more fruity esters, nutty and sweet rather than pungently hoppy although the latter are certainly asserting themselves. A faint spectre of chocolate brownie. On the heavy side of medium bodied, fairly fizzy and finishing quite dry, more toasted nuts, black tea tannins and woody hop notes. Putting me in a decidedly English mood (despite not having a drop of such ancestry that I am aware of), fortunately more Rolling Stones than high tea.

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Photo of mmmbeer
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Half-liter brown bottle, packaged 27/04/11. Pours auburn, with good carbonation and an inch of light tan head. The Ringwood yeast leads off in the nose with earthy and nutty notes, followed by a bit of malt and spicy/herbal hops. On the palate, it's the same yeast and hop profile as on the nose, and the malts are lighter than expected, but they do give notes of caramel and toast. Its fullish, moderately-carbonated body is creamy and chewy, with lingering bitterness. I think the Ringwood could turn some people off, but the beer is solid and quite sessionable.

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Photo of ritzkiss
2.19/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

500ml bottle shared by Bobsy - you always bring the best stuff buddy ;)

Pours a murky orangeish brown with 2-3 fingers of foamy, soapy sticky head that leaves some lacing as it recedes. Way too heavy carbonation for a bitter.

Nose reveals the first WTF moment and it's all downhill from there (the head should have tipped us off perhaps). Funky lemon-y dish soap mixes with a decent but overpowered nutty, woody biscuit malt base. A hint of caramel in the body, malt tries to assert itself but is beaten down by this odd soapy funk. Light hop bittering in the finish. Infected? Perhaps. It's hard to tell. Fizzy, brash carb zips through the mouth. Nothing about this beer tells me it's an ESB.

I finished my portion but it wasn't pleasant. Hard to tell if this is what they intended to do or if they just have quality control issues (leaning this way). Either way, this bottle was a disaster.

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Photo of Shadman
3.49/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks and smells awesome. Sadly taste just doesn't match...needs a bit more on the malt end to balance out the bitterness in order to move up into the upper ESB tier

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Photo of ZorPrime
3.56/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Moniker for this beer. Received in a 2009 trade.

A: Amber color beer, cloudy. This beer isn't filtered. I like it. The head is creamy looking with average to big bubbles. The foam sticks quite well to the glass.
S: The aroma is of medium intensity. I get caramel with some sugar.
T: The taste is very caramel with an aftertaste that is all bitterness. I get some maple syrup at the very end...
M: Medium body with enough carbonation to feel it. Sugary...
D: Good session beer.

On the label, it is written that the flavor are nuts and caramel... after thinking about it, yes it reminds me a little of the Honey nut brown ale from Rogue...

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Photo of berley31
3.96/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured with a very large, off-white head that hung around at a good two-finger size for almost the entire consumption of the 500 ml bottle. Head is clumpy, and yields nice lacing on the sides of the glass. Body is hazy, and a nice, dark-amber color.

S: Consistent aroma of some light, roasted malt, and strong bitterness. Maybe some light fruit in there as well, but nothing too distinctive.

T: Very nice taste of sweetness at the beginning, and finishing with a moderately-bitter flavor that is intermediate-lasting. Nothing too overpowering, but far from boring as well. Quite a nice tasting bitter.

M: Medium-to-full bodied and creamy texture. Average carbonation.

D: An excellent bitter, and one of Picaroons better entries. Easy to drink, but more than enough in the flavor and mouthfeel department to be extremely enjoyable... and easily the best-looking Picaroons to date.

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Photo of waughbrew
4.72/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! What a pleasant surprise. The fiancee's parents brought this one back from Nova Scotia for me and damn was it nice!
A medium ambery copper with a medium light beige head that has a little retention but good lacing. The tinge of green in the head might be the lights or my imagination. Smell is buttery vanilla, oak, and honey with a grass-and-herb-covered caramel toffee. Flavor starts with a surge of tingly hop flavor and then calms down to a smooth nutty caramel. Trails off into a wonderfully melded bitterness that is just perfect. Medium-thick body for the style and low carbonation. I could drink a lot of this and I wish I had more.

This is surprisingly spot-on and good condition considering it is from a bottle that has traveled and is filtered and possibly pasteurized. Somehow they tame the beast that is the Ringwood yeast, and, even after filtering, manage to come up with a beauty. Amazing.

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Photo of eat
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Picked up from the brewery store in downtown Fredericton. Clear dark copper body with ruby highlights and a good cover of cream-white head. Some lacing left as the head dissipates.

The nose is of slightly-burnt caramel, light earthy hops and minerals, graham cracker and a touch of diacetyl, though it's nothing extreme. I seem to be catching a whiff of cigarette ash now and then, but not when I go looking for it. Strange.

Quite well-balanced, with lightly-smoky caramel and moderately-bitter earthy hops meeting equally. Minerals, toasted nuts and a subtle chocolate note round it out. A touch of grapefruit pith lingers on the palate.

Acceptable feel: medium-light body with moderate carbonation. This is probably the lesser aspect of this brew; the body could be a little fuller and the carbonation toned down.

Based on this brewery's reviews here I can't say I was expecting much but this one far exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations. Reviews seem to be all over the place, looks like I got a lucky good bottle. I'm picky when it comes to bitters as it's not one of my favourite styles but I think I'd honestly drink this one pretty often if I lived in Fredericton. I sampled three of their other offerings at the store and this one easily ends up as the highlight of the four Picaroons I've tried. I'm now wishing I picked up a few more of these...

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Photo of Bunman3
3.81/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I quite like the complicated things that unfurl in this beer. The sweet, syrupy, spicy smell and flavour help set this apart from many beers I have consumed recently. Tea, caramel, toffee and fruitcake flavours all blend together in a very happy way. My first Picaroons, but it won't be my last.

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Best Bitter from Picaroons Brewing Co.
83 out of 100 based on 41 ratings.