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Adnams Southwold Bitter - Adnams plc, Sole Bay Brewery

Not Rated.
Adnams Southwold BitterAdnams Southwold Bitter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

70 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 70
Hads: 154
Avg: 3.67
pDev: 22.89%
Wants: 2
Gots: 10 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Adnams plc, Sole Bay Brewery visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.10% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: rastaman on 08-12-2002

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (55) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 70 | Hads: 154
Photo of damndirtyape
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1pt, 0.9oz bottle poured into a tulip stout glass. Date stamp says 1346 21:12 - whatever that may mean.

Appearance: Clear dark coppery orange. Tiny bubbles coming up through the beer slowly when held up to the light. Thin skin of white foam across the top with some occasional strands of lacing noted. Very nice color with this beer.

Smell: Herbal and mild buttery note with just a bit of skunk in there. Skunkiness goes away as beer warms up.

Taste: Malt with a hint of diacetyl butter and hop bitterness mixed together at the beginning, and finishing with a sharp bitterness. Definite English style hop bitterness here. A tasty example of an English bitter.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation but a little watery underneath, although it does remind me of just about every English bitter I've ever had out of the bottle, so really spot on for style. I suspect it would be better on cask. So in other beers I might feel the mouthfeel was average, but in this case, it works well with everything else going on and is just right.

Overall / Drinkability: Quite drinkable and I think a good example of an English bitter. I could easily see myself having another one. Like all English ales needs to warm up for a bit after coming out of the fridge before you get all the flavors and the real character of the beer.

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Photo of rarbring
3.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The ale is clear honey amber, a warm off-white head that settles slowly leaving very good lacing. Very small curtains.

The smell is sweet fresh bread with a dash of honey, ripe apples and pears. An orange, almost metallic finish.

Starts sweet, brown bread, brown sugar, a dash of oranges, then a straight bitter finish.

Medium carbonation, small foamy bubbles, soft and refreshing, a rather long dry finish.

Very session-able, a nice relaxing ale. The can bought in Sweden says 4.1% ABV.

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Photo of Boto
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this in the "Sherlock Holmes Pub" just off Tralfager Square. They have renamed it for their establishment as "Sherlock Holmes Fine Ale". It pours a slightly amber color. The aroma is somewhat faint, but you get both malts and hops in it. The taste is slightly bitter at first, followed by a good maltiness. Very smooth.

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Photo of govtmule
3.85/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was my first cask-conditioned beer. So, this could be skewed, but here is my impression...
I ordered this at Eli Cannon's on 3-12-04 while waiting for a table. It was served at slightly below room temp. It was kind of dark in EC's but it appeared to be more of a yellow or light tan than amber like the other reviewers said. There was a nice foamy white head. The taste was nice with some hints of fruit and a creamy feel on the tongue. Good balance. I could drink it all night without feeling too dense.

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Photo of claspada
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a fairly dark amber color with a thick eggshell head of froth that recedes to leave solid lacing.

Aromas begin with earthy, floral hops with some emerging fruity green fruit esters with some more herbal hops in the background. As it warms you get some of the malt base composed of heavily toasted bread, light minerally aspects with some emerging caramel maltiness.

The tastes begin slightly biscuity and toasted maltiness with some minerally aspects in the finish. Hops are lightly bitter but balance the malt sweetness, mainly earthy and herbal. Some fruity English yeast esters also emerge as it warms.

Mouthfeel is medium to light bodied with medium carbonation. Finish is slightly bitter with a slightly balanced malt sweetness.

Overall this was an enjoyable beer that I enjoyed while eating my Malaysian dinner the other night. It is extremely drinkable, never boring and just a quality example of an English Bitter, one of the top ones I've had in the US for sure. It lacks the spoiled, old, oxidized flavors many English imports have which was very pleasing.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just had this on cask at Eli Canon's.
The brew came to me at room temp and displayed a clear orange/amber color with about a 1cm soft creamy white head. The head stayed around throughout most of the sampling.
Aroma is mild but I get some caramel malt and also a nice mix of earthy and grassy hop.
First sip reveals soft creamy texture and very faint carbonation. I get a sweet malty start which rolls over to a grassy hop finish that lingers on the roof of my mouth rather nicely. Overall the brew is mild on flavor and aroma but isnt that part of what a bitter should be? I could drink tons of these in a sitting I think. Good example of the style!

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Photo of scotorum
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the 16.9 oz. bottle into an English nonick

a: Clear deep amber with an inch and a half thick offwhite head which receded to even surface foam and dense lacing.

s: Caramel malt with light fruit notes.

t: Follows the nose with more caramel and less fruit, although the latter reemerge a bit later. Sweet to dry finish.

m: Light to medium, slight watery notes but good carbonation tingle.

o: A good English Bitter, better than some we can get packaged in the US, although at $4.50 a pint a bit too pricey for my regular consumption.

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

Usually not my fav style, English bitter, but I'm trying to get a liking for it, so hopefully this helps my cause.

Pours a nice looking creamy bubbly 1 finger head that seems to just sit there like it has no place to go, and leaves nice lacing on the sides as it dances around them, over semi clear auburn honey brown color.

Nose has a typical earthy bitterness, just slightly herbal and grassy, a light coppery like aroma the good kind, a light sweet caramel and toffee malt aroma, hint of honey malt as well. The hops get a bit more grassy and quite aromatic the more I nose.

Taste gets more bitter, a definite English style bitter. Earthy hops, bittering hops, fairly grassy and herbal but bright, chewy even. malts bring more caramel and toffee like, but light soft and almost juicy like. bitterness grows to a decent mark as it goes, with more of that grassy herbal taste, and a slight nutty like flavor with just a touch of bready dough malt. Slight mint and tobacco like hop character, with a bit more sticky sweetness. Finish is drier but still slightly sweet and sticky, more herbal grassy hops and little malt flavor lingering.

Mouth is med bodied, soft though, with decent carb.

Overall better than I though. The herbal earthy grassy hops don't really turn me off, and in fact bring some interesting characters that I'm actually enjoying this beer. A nice malty balance that adds an interesting softness to it which could be the water.

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

I had this on cask at TJ's Restaurant and Drinkery's Shelton Brothers tap takeover event.
Served cask temp in a nonic.

The color is a deep golden amber with very light haze and thick cream that settles gradually with fine bead and lace stickage is good. the smell is very herbal and has a nice fruitiness from the ale yeast ester which is slightly pear/apple tinged with a light spice in the nose almost comes forward as piney with a mineral element in the mix. The feel is good with light body mild carbonation as expected with moderate bitterness and fruitiness from the yeast which is tangy on the palate with a mild astringent tinge in the mostly dry finish.

The taste has a more piney flavor than the aroma lets on with some gentle bitterness which has a more herbal taste w/ gentle pepper tinge and accent with more yeast which brings a light alcohol flavor and subtle mineral tinge w/ a dry finish. The overall is a highly drinkable bitter -very quaffable. I would order this again as it is pretty full of flavor for a 3.7% beer.

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

500ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

Pours a dark brown with a slight chill haze. Just a small half finger head than doesn't last for long with a few streaks of lacing on the glass.

Aroma has dark fruits typical of English bitters along with toffee/caramel and some burnt toast. Pretty average.

The flavor continues the English fig, prune, toffee characteristics but I like that there is an additional bready/grain flavor. Everything is just a tad bit muted but no off-flavors are detectable. Bitterness is light with great grassy hop flavors. Mouthfeel is slick and silky but a little sticky which is slightly distracting.

Overall, a good English bitter but not quite up to the Fullers level. Still, I love this style and would really like to sample this out of a cask.

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Photo of T100Mark
3.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A 16.9 ounce Euro-bomber poured into Nonic/Imperial pint glass.

Appearance - A murky copper/brown color. Minimal head. Minimal stick age. Not the prettiest beer ever.

Smell - Sweet malt combined with a whiff of burnt toast. Mild flower/hop smell on the back-end.

Taste - Sweet malt. A bit of a Carmel flavor. Toasty. The hops offer a mild bitter finish.

Mouth - Moderate carbonation. A little oily. Nice enough.

Overall - This is an English bitter with a twist. The beer has all of the attributes of a good bitter/pale ale (smooth, balanced) but it also has a bit of a smoky flavor to it. Also, the look and color is a little different than a London Pride or a Old Crafty Hen. Not my favorite English ale but interesting all the same.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed from the bottle in a pint glass. This nice bitter pours a hazel brown with a beautiful off white head of foam that has great lacing, a thick ring, and thick layer of mixed sizes of bubbles. Nose of subtle fruit notes and sweet malts. Very light. Flavors pass the nose with nice sweet caramel notes and subtle fruit flavors of peaches. Light bitterness comes through on the back blending nicely with the sweet malt flavors. A solid bitter.


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Photo of OtherShoe2
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours copper with a big fluffy head and some sticky lace. Nice clarity.

Biscuit and toasted grain, but hard to find.

Nice direct bitter brew. Bitter up front, with toasted malt in the background. A little thin and lean. Looking for some sugar and fruit, and the sweetness is there but limited. Finishes long and bitter.

Medium bodied but a little loose.

Overall, likable for the style. Some flaws, but easy to overlook.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 500mL bottle into a mug.

Appearance: medium orange-brown hue with a light haze and a light effervescence. Head is a thin layer of creamy tan foam. Not bad.

Smell: very sweet and malty with some fruity aroma to it. Not bad, but fruitier than I tend to like my bitters.

Taste: sweet malt with a little bit of toastiness; much of the fruitiness from the aroma is pared back. Hops are earthy in character and the bitterness is quite nice. I like it.

Mouthfeel: medium body with a good carbonation and a very nice creaminess.

Overall: this bitter got off to a slow start for me, but I find it growing on me. A nicely quaffable beverage.

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Photo of bark
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The colour is brass-amber, the liquid is clear. The tree finger head is off-white and compact. It sinks slowly leaving some lacing.

The smell is fresh with bitter and sweet notes. Smooth apricots, grassy-floral hops and distinct bitterness with some minerals. Caramel and butterscotch in the background.

The taste is bitter with semi-sweet notes of apricots and lots of caramel. Hints of yeast, salt and rye bread. Ripe fruits and dried flowers in the background. Medium body. The aftertaste is even more fruity with some dark bread and floral hops. The finish is fresh and bitter with some minerals.

The carbonation is medium strong, the mid-sized bubbles short-lived. The liquid is semi-smooth.

Lots of flavours for a 4.1 % beer, and good balance, too.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

There's nothing like settling into an imperial pint of English bitter. Like an hat that's been broken in and comforts the soul, this beer does the same. Although the beer is new to me, there's something very comfortable about it.

While pouring a deep copper hue and nearly brilliantly bright, the beer's calm carbonation separates into a dense blanket of foam across the glass. With firm retention and lacing rings, the beer mimics the look of cask while poured from a bottle.

Somewhat muted aromas of toffee, biscuit, toasted pecans, and starch carry a pleasant and mild scent while the earthy hop aromas come to life with a leafy, piney note that accents esters of oranges and figs very well.

Flavors are moderate and balanced, propelling the malty-sweet rich taste of toffee and biscit just ahead of the mid palate of hop bitterness that also carry the taste of leaves, stems, and pine needles. The well-melded balance leaves a dry malty sweetness to broaden on the palate while giving a juicy quality to the orange and fig undertones.

Medium bodied, the lighter carbonation allows for fuller appreciation of malt, but also drying somewhat in finish for a smooth and creamy minty cool/dry evaporation to occur.

The ale has an overall very approachable and masculine quality- although it's difficult to celebrate an one attribute, it's the balance that makes it so charming and comfortable.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

500ml poured into a mug, with soup, cheese and crackers for a dreary Sunday lunch. I feel like a true Englishman.

Appearance - Nice dark amber-brownish color with light haze. A sticky and bubbly off-white head is a solid finger for most of the duration, eventually giving way to a partial cap. Leaves bits of lace.

Smell - Straight up lighter-end pale malts mostly. Light caramel/brown sugar sweetness, some light+dark fruits, black tea, bread. Just hints of herbal and grassy hops. Quite tame but pleasant with no off-flavors.

Taste - Toffee, vague light fruitiness, some raisin, biscuit, herbal and grassy hops. It's subtle by nature, that is a good thing here. Light pleasant flavors, nice malts for 4.1%, low sweetness+hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Very smooth, drinkable, and an impressive body for the ABV. Carbonation is on the lower end but right where it should be.

Overall - Certainly not the most exciting beer/style by today's standards, but it's something that I always appreciate and can really hit the spot given the occasion - like a half-liter with lunch for example.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Strong, malty aroma has a fruity overtone, mainly pear and grape. It pours a clear, dark coppery amber bordering on mahogany with a nice light tan head that leaves some generous lacing. Malty flavor is rather bitter, but not fiercely so, with subtle notes of fruit, wood and caramel and a touch of smoke. Smooth texture has average body and a fair amount of fizz.

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Photo of FLima
3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice copper color with a thick beige head with decent retention and leaving laces and a constant plate.
Aroma with notes of plums, English earthy hops, apple juice and caramels.
Likewise, bitter flavor with notes of English earthy and floral hops, herbal tea, unsweetened apple juice, some lemon, toffee, honey and plums. Just a bit tangy. Consistent dry aftertaste with a medium bitterness.
Light to medium body with appropriate carbonation. Quite smooth.
Balanced and pleasant English Bitter with high drinkability. The warmer the better! After drinking the style often they grow on you. I hope I could get decent local offerings for the style for the right price.

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Photo of popery
3.64/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours clear and amber, the color of freshly oiled mahogany. The head is a thick lip of fine, khaki bubbles. The beer doesn't quite achieve the look of a hand-pumped pint, and the head quickly thins to a stubborn few millimeters. The aroma is freshly baked pastries laced with hop nectar. The caramel malt backbone is quite rich for the strength of the beer and holds up the hops well. The hops are rather fruity - peaches, nectarines, meyer lemons and a hint of pineapple - with touches of mineral notes. The taste is a bit sweet, and there isn't quite enough to the hops to pull it together. The caramel malt verges on sickly, medicinal sweetness, though it's certainly not a fatal flaw in my estimation. Carbonation is low, and the mouthfeel is fairly smooth, but it's a pale imitation of a cask. It's hardly the fault of Adnams. I'd just love to try more English ales fresh out of a cask. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and, once again, am amazed at how much flavor English brewers can pack into <5% abv beers. Of course, not having sampled the casks of England, I really have no idea how it compares to the style. Perhaps, if I was surrounded by bitters, I wouldn't praise it so highly, but that's an issue for another day.

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Photo of metter98
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is relatively dark and clear reddish amber in color with a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high beige head that died down, leaving lacing on the surface and down the sides of the glass and a ring of bubbles around the edge.
S: There are light but unique aromas of buttery malts and fruity yeast in the nose; these become a lot stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste has a light amount of bitterness along with hints of butter and toffee.
M: It feels a bit higher than light-bodied on the palate with some hints of chewiness and has a light amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite flavorful given its low alcohol content, which makes it rather sessionable.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16.9 ounce bottle - $3.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours out a clear, deep amber-hued body with a foaming, short-lived, white head. A few spider web streaks of lace on the descent.

Smell: Toasted barley husks in the nose with an ill-defined sweet-scented trace to it, discarded fruit skins, and some earthy, woodsy English hops.

Taste: A taste of wet toast with a little, light caramel sweetness that quickly recedes away. A bit of apple skin, a bit of red grape skin. Earthy, woodsy, faintly herbal hop character with medium-light bitterness. Faint toastiness remaining in the predominately hoppy (though, even that’s still quite restrained)

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Falls a little shy of a medium level of carbonation for an overall soft mouthfeel.

Overall: Enjoyably subtle.

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Photo of oberon
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial nonic a clear deep copper color with a nice looking 1/2 finger white head atop that held well.Bready and toffee malt aromas,light fruity ester and hard water roud it out,there is a light whiff of leafy hops.A little light in the mouth but probably right on for the style and abv.,subtle flavors of sweetish toffee and biscuit,fruity tones,that hard water,and a little more pronounced leafy hops in the finish.It's not bad it is what it is,I could drink alot of these over a long period of time in a session.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of April 2013. Picked up some time back from a supermarket. The figure depicted on the label is 'Southwold Jack', a local icon and an emblem of the brewery.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep orange-amber colour with medium carbonation. Forms a decent head of frothy off-white foam that lasts for a minute or two before collapsing to a patchy surface layer. Aroma of caramel malt with fruity yeast esters, stewed hops, faint grass/hay and a hint of sweetness.

Tastes of caramel malt with a dry finish. Notes of caramel, fruity yeast esters, stewed hops, mild grass/hay and a dry earthiness. A subtle bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with light carbonation and good body. Slightly astringent, with an aftertaste of dry stewed hops and fruitiness.

A decent bitter, if a tad unexciting. Would be nice if the hop aroma was more prominent, but overall this is balanced and well-crafted. A easy-going ale that would be perfect for sessioning. Worth sampling if you see it.

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Photo of rastaman
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Considering the 3.8%ABV, this was very tasty, very nice hoppy flavour, and on the drier side of the scale, very nice citric hops and satisfying bitter finish, great session ale.

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Adnams Southwold Bitter from Adnams plc, Sole Bay Brewery
83 out of 100 based on 70 ratings.