Thames Welsh ESB | Felinfoel Brewery Co.

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Thames Welsh ESBThames Welsh ESB

Brewed by:
Felinfoel Brewery Co.
Wales, United Kingdom

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by kbub6f on 05-01-2002

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Reviews: 107 | Ratings: 121
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.28/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Light opaque brown pour. There's a weird tea like aroma. Like more than hops, although I'm sure the tea like notes are derivative of the earthy noble Euro hops they likely used in this. Nonetheless, that was my impression.

Biscuits made with dark wheat taste sensation, some bitterness, like a dark sourdough nutty bread. The format leads to excessive pricing per oz, but if you could get these like in a normal 4 or 6 pack, it would be ok. I mentioned toffee and tea in the mouthfeel right?

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Photo of kvnstfrd
3.52/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The pour was a cloudy deep reddish brown with a 1.5-finger off-white head that dissipated quickly. The aroma was toffee with a hint of holiday fruitcake. The flavor was toasty, nutty and a good dose of caramel malts. Slight hints of figs and ripe cherries just before the hops become noticeable. Herbal, resiny hops, but not a lot of bitterness. Overall, fairly well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and carbonation is medium, as well.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.85/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clouded body the color of fine, aged leather. Modest-sized head of large, dissipating suds.

Smell: Cut hardwood planks layered with sweet-scented caramel and toffee and a good whiff of holidaytime fruitcake splashed here and there with bottled bitters.

Taste: Lightly toasty, nutty, even woody maltiness with a big boost of candyish toffee sweetness. Noted fruity esters tasting of figs and tart cherries. Herbaceous, resiny hops with more than enough bitterness to ride out until the dry, mineral-hinted, earthy finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Low carbonation.

Drinkability: A good, decent Welsh ESB and a pleasant early-evening brew, though there are a few others I'd sooner reach out my grubby hands for.

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Photo of thierrynantes
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

Appearance : amber color, with tan foamy head.
Smell : roasted malt and caramel aromas.
Taste and mouthfeel : toffee and caramel flavors with a nice bitter finish.
Drinkability : a good beer in the style English ESB.

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Photo of giblet
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

quite tastey. poured brownish into my tower glass. good carbonation. nice balance of hops and malts and gives a good biscuit bitter dry finish. this was a nice surprise - only because i had not heard of the brand. i have had e.s.b. before and this is a good representation.

good carbonation, good mouthfeel, good lacing.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good representation of the style, darker almost brown pour, tea aroma. Toffee, tea, bitter feel to the beer. Unique hopping. Malt presence ample. Very well balanced.

Mouthfeel reveals more biscuity feel with the astringent bitterness playing off of it. Quite drinkable, reasonably priced, highly recommended if you're into this kind of thing.

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Photo of berserker256
3.38/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I wish all beers came in big fat 16.9 ounce bottles. This one poured nicely into a pint glass (some left in the bottle). Dark carmel brown with sand-colored dense head that remains for a good while. Leaves lacing as the head retreats. Smells like bitter pine and roasted toffee, brown sugar and slightly chemically and grassy. Tastes like burnt carmel, bitter hops, astringent alcohol, and bitter aftertaste. It's just OK. Mouthfeel is nice and creamy and carbonated. 16.9 ounces is enough.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really enjoyed this atypical ESB. Pours a slightly hazy brownish amber with light tan head. Nose has black tea aromas with a suggestion of grape. On the palate the black tea comes through with malty sweetness, some off-grape fruity flavors, and toffee. Finish is sweet. Easy drinking. Wish it was more affordable for regular drinking.

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Photo of drowland
3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big bottle poured into an English pint glass. The pour is cloudy deep reddish brown with a 1.5-finger khaki head floating atop. The aroma is caramel and biscuits with a hint of fruit and a dash of bitterness. The flavor is sweet and fruity like apples with a dark roasty finish from the malt and the hops. This combination really reminds me of fresh apple cider. Medium-high carbonation that burns through the medium body to cleanse.

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Photo of jbone78
2.99/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

This was new at my Beer store, so I got it!

A- Pours dark golden with a nice head.The head is actually very impressive.
S- hoppy smell also caramel. Very european smelling.
T- A little bitterness, the hoppyness is not all that floral. I like floral flavors.
M- This beer has a Newcastle aftertaste to it.
D- I drank it.


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Photo of DoubleJ
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This ESB has been showing up on shelves in SoCal beer stores over the last couple months...or I haven't noticed this beer before. I got the Guinness pint glass ready to carry this, my first beer from Wales. On to the beer:

Clean dark amber in the body, it gets darker as you look more towards the top. The head is fluffy on top, and holding it's ground. Looks classy thus far. My nose doesn't get as much as my eyes do. More subtle to say the least...burnt caramel, burnt bread crust, cappuchino....roasted coffee...what's that doing there? More fruity as it warms. Me wants to drink.

It is what I would expect from the UK. Hard minerals, cappuchino, diacetyl, and a pinch of esters. I would like more maltiness in this beer, though this isn't bad as it stands. Like the aroma, the fruity esters, akin to red grapes, take over the flavor as it warms. Softly carbonated and medium in body.

For those who like fruity esters in beer, this is one to try. For those looking for a great overall ESB, Fuller's ESB and Wells Bombardier are better examples.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark amber, very little carbonation -- almost flat, but that seems somewhat characteristic of ESBs. Little head, little lacing. Smells of toffee and caramel and nuts.

Taste is fairly sweet, slightly watery, toffee and a little banana. A little cherry, strong bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is light and effervescent -- although I can't see the carbonation, it seems like it must be there.

Pretty drinkable -- overall, pretty mellow. Not too sweet, not too bitter, not overwhelming.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick reddish brown. It's obvious there's very little carbonation from the uncapping, but with a bit of vigorous pouring I got a slight head of beige foam forming. It dissipates rather quickly but leaves some reasonable lacing. Decent English Ale type of look to it. It's just not terrible exciting.

Some nice caramel malt and sweet vegetative notes on the nose, almost like kumera, with a very faint hop resin note. The sweetness is predominant though, which is something of a shame, although it's a pleasant enough nose overall.

Light sweet characters on the palate, surprisingly dark, with a lingering umami character on the back palate. Some banana esters come through mid palate. Bitterness is extremely muted, just a light tingling of metallic hop residue at the very back. Mouthfeel is a little thin and flat, but despite that, you can still feel the carbonation, as minimally carbonated as this is.

Quite a disappointing brew. To my mind, it's very much a poor British ale style. Light enough in the flavour department to swill down, but certainly not enough interest for me.

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Photo of mempath
4.57/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a-deep red, like a barrel proof bourbon (i.e., Stagg, cream-colored suds, fluffy, thick, pleasant to look at...nothing watery here. as it goes down, the lacing is nice with little leggy islands among continents. a nice rorschach test if needed...

s-very pleasant. sweet, fresh berries, fresh cut hay field, almost floral

t-incredible balance of sweetness and bitterness...each melds to the other in a way that truly makes the whole greater than the parts. totally enjoyable, almost exceptional except it isn't extra bitter or sweet in either case. not a bad thing at all. there is complexity here that unfolds gently throughout the pint glass. a few sips later, i catch more sweetness...the bitterness evades even more.

m-there is something 'metallic' here, but not unpleasant or anything i consider negative. at least with this pour. it is neither thick nor thin. as the pint goes to below the halfway mark, i am sensing the nose elements initially experienced finally asserting in the finish: floral-berry notes. though not ever 'too' sweet, this is as 'sweet' as i care to get.

d-not really challenging, but more like intriguing which will make an accessible beer for those who stick with the norm...this is a world-class brew that can be thoroughly enjoyed by expert and novice. i prefer more of a challenge, but on those days i don't, this will serve me fine while still giving me much more than any unidimensional beer/ale ever could. highly recommended.

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Photo of Baileyuk
3.15/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Not too much head, pours a murky brown with a hint of redness. Lacing was very good. Head retention (from what was there) was poor.

S - At first I thought it was more of a ciderish apple smell. After a few sniffs it sweetens up a little into more raisiny tones.

T - It did not taste great to me and ESB is one of my favorite styles. Raisins are definately more prominent in the taste, maybe some caramel in there too. Their is a bitterness in the taste that is not that pleasant. Not a total put off but not great.

M/D - Full bodied, fairly heavy on the mouth. It is an okay beer, not one that I would revisit. I am always excited when I crack an ESB and this was a let down.

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Photo of Offa
1.59/5  rDev -57.5%
look: 1 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This was not what I expected and seemed unpleasant and rather odd.

Slightly murky dark brown, it has a thin, pale tan head that dissipates quickly to essentially nothing.

The aroma is mostly baked apples and yeast with a aslight earthiness and a hint of alcohol like old fruit fermenting. It's ok, but not very good.

The taste is similar and mostly just old baked apples with a little yeasty bread, an underlying earthiness and a faint alcoholic quality of old, fruity cheap wine. It has little sweetness and almost no bitterness.

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Photo of Bobo77
3.72/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased in a 16.9 fluid oz. bottle (about a pint?) at Global Market in Kirkwood, MO.

Other reviewers had said that it should have warmed a little to bring out the flavor, therefore, I decided to heed this advice and let it sit out for a little while.

A pour into my beer mug delivered a two finger head that was light brown in color. This soon dissipated into a thin layer of brown tinged foam. The ale's body appeared to have a rich brown color but when held up to the light was very much red.

The aroma was that of a complex, buttery, caramel sweetness. Thoughts of a candy shop come to mind. On repeated sniffs, a hint of alcohol burns through making its presence known. After a light swirl, toffee is apparent.

A sip reveals a thick, warming mouthfeel. Perhaps I let it warm too much, but that may have brought out more flavor (It would be a travesty to serve a beer like this ice cold.) Very sweet, candylike toffee flavor at first. If I swish it around a little there is a distinct medicinal bite of alcohol, not too surprising at 6.5% ABV. Aftertaste of breadcrust and it is here that the hops make themselves known. Lots of lacing is to be found on the mug.

I honestly expected this to be much more bitter than it was. ESB, to me at least, implies bitter but this beer is so rich and sweet that hops are downplayed. Obviously bitter can mean different things to different people. I am sure that the average BMC drinker would find this horrendously bitter, but unfortunately I was looking for something hoppy.

The reason that I was shopping at Global Market was becase I was craving curry. Global Market has a great selection of mostly Eastern European beers, they even carry Okocim Baltic Porter, but they didn't have any IPAs to go with my curry. So I chose the Welsh ESB as an alternate and ended up with something that I would consider more of a desert beer than something to pair up with spicy Indian cuisine. Still not a bad beer though.

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Photo of Haybeerman
3.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Dark cloudy copper color. Had to force a head that poured white, but it didn't hold. Thin lacing slid down the side of the glass and faded.

S: Very sharp. Cherries, plums and other dark fruits, toffee, and soft oak aroma.

T: Consistent with aroma, darks fruits, mostly cherry, with a musty/woody flavor. Distinct (and delicious) toffee and toasted malt finish that is very dry and clean.

M: Smooth, but too thin for what I expected. Maybe had something to do with the lack of carbonation.

D: Admittedly I like ESB's so I found this beer pleasant and warming. In fairness, I want to read other reviews, try it again to make sure the bottle hadn't become flat somehow.

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Photo of froghop
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

purchased at 99 bottles in federal way, washington.

pours a clear brown with a red tint, good lacing.

smell is of caramel, grain, roasted malts.

taste is creamy, malt, toffee, toasted nuts, a touch of grain.

overall very nice. it was very enjoyable.

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Photo of ralree
3.21/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Really dark red, seems to have a bit of sediment, tan head of about a finger, good foam. Decent retention, just a little lacing.

S: Dark fruit and sweet malt with just a hint of banana. Alcohol detectable, some floral hop flavor present.

T: Apples and cherries! Interesting flavor with a nice sweet tangy fruit, a toasty malt backing, and just enough hops to make you happy. There is a bitter bread flavor after swallowing that was a little stale-tasting. Bitterness stays around after swallowing. I would like this more if the fruit flavor stayed around. Alcohol is detectable, but bearable.

M: Half-way astringent, carbonation is good, medium-bodied. Slightly syrupy.

D: Drinks pretty well, but it's a little too rich for me.

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Photo of pinotboy007
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had never seen this before; very cool label so we gave it a shot.

A - nice light mahogany color with a modest head and rather decent lacing.

S - Rye bread, some hops, peat, cinnamon.

T/M - Nice! That rye bread comes forward with some light carbonation in support. A touch of what I would describe as "earth" and a bit o'leather and some toffee.

D - Quite drinkable. Not "knock your socks off" quality, but certainly enjoyable. Give this one a turn.

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Photo of John_M
4.42/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a rich mahogany color with fair head retention and lacing. On the nose this beer just smells great. One gets lots of sweet malt, but with overtones of sherry, cherry and wood. Really, this smells very much like a fine old aged ale. The flavors generally replicate the nose, but with a hint of rootbeer as well. The beer is medium bodied and it finishes with a bit of spicy zip. The abv. is very well disguised and this beer is quite drinkable.

Along with Fuller's, this has to be my favorite ESB from Great Britain. The beer is malty, sweet and spicey, and just very well done. One of the first beers to get me interested in English style ales. Very nice beer...

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Photo of vickersspitfire
4.04/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass and got a thin one finger head thinned out into an off white covering with some mild lacing. It has a very dark amber color and it's a bit hazy with very little carbonation. It has a strong sweet/caramel aroma to it along with hints of roasted chocolates and malts. It's smooth with a light body and a slightly bitter aftertaste with a slight alcohol twang.

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Photo of Vancer
3.82/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a dark oak brew, no head per say, even with an aggressive pour. A semi-sweet aroma of root beer and molasses. The quaff is just as strange - sweet woody malt with plenty of doughy bread. Can't say if I ever remember tasting something like this.

Very different, but pleasant drinking brew. Easy alcohol of 6% could make this a drinker, but it has the damn import price of over $3 a 500ml.

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Photo of avalon07
3.12/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a mug. Had a little head that didn't last particularly long. Deep, dark color was a little too murky.

The smell was sweet and sharp. At first, it was hard to pin down.

You can really taste the sweetness of this beer. The apples give it an overly tart flavor, accompanied by a nuttiness. The main problem here is that it finishes very weak. It's sort of thin in that respect.

The mouthfeel was equally average. It didn't seem as though it had enough carbonation to sustain itself.

Overall, this is a mediocre beer. Not totally without some charm, but not strong enough to bring me back for a second round.

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Thames Welsh ESB from Felinfoel Brewery Co.
3.74 out of 5 based on 121 ratings.
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