Thames Welsh ESB | Felinfoel Brewery Co.

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Thames Welsh ESBThames Welsh ESB

Brewed by:
Felinfoel Brewery Co.
United Kingdom (Wales)

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 BEERchitect
2.72/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

First try having this one. Looks brown and muddy. Slightly on the purple side. Pours a light tan head that fell to a trace. Smells malty sweet with prunes, toffee, and caramel. A bit sour and bitter smelling. Tastes toasty, bready, prune-ey, and toffee like. Bittered nicely for flavor and balance. Heavier body than I would expect. Almost thick and cloying. A bit metalic in the finish. Finishes sweet and tacky. Could have beer a Wee Heavy rather than an esb.

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Photo of brentk56
3.76/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Ice tea brown cloudy body with a small head; surprising amount of lacing

Smell: Not much on the nose; a little bready if I try hard to sniff it

Taste: Wow is this malty! It tastes like malted milk mixed with beer; very sweet with toffee and caramel elements and an underlying chocolate malt flavor. Not much in the way of balancing hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a bit of carbonation

Drinkability: Although I was surprised at the lack of bitterness, this beer is very drinkable. Just not what I was expecting from an ESB.

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Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice deep amber with a almost creamy-like head,aroma is juicy fruity like apple cider almost with some nice biscuity malt in the background.Taste is on the sweeter sice some caramel malt with a nice cider hint maybe some brown sugar in the finish.Medium bodied with alot of complexity I think a real fine example for the style,although a little high in alcohol for a session beer but I could sit and have a few.

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

Clear, deep amber with ruby highlights and a creamy light tan head that drops shortly but keeps a good collar and leaves some OK lace. The aroma offers a distinct caramel maltiness, some very nice fruitiness (soft ripe berries), and a minor acetone (lacquer-thinner type aroma probably due to high fermentation temperatures). The acetone can be distracting at one point or another, but overall it's not so bold that it ruins the beer. In fact, part way through the pint I hardly noticed it. I don't think that I could ever find it endearing... but it wasn't completely off-putting. The body is light/medium with a fine and gentle carbonation that leaves it nicely creamy in the mouth. Very smooth. The flavor mirrors the aroma with some very nice dark crystal maltiness and an almost wine-like fruitiness . There are some very light hops in the flavor, but it's mainly balanced towards softly sweet maltiness propped by underlying hop bitterness. It finishes dryish with a mild, almost wine-like fruitiness (which may actually be coming from a combination with the light note of acetone) as well as some light grassy hop. Fairly nice overall.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this bottle at The Royal Mile, an authentic British Pub in the heart of Downtown Des Moines, believe it or not. They had plenty to choose from (see my beerfly review), but this bottle caught my eye in the cooler behind the bar.

The color, from what I could tell in the dimly lit bar, was a roughly equal mixture of red, orange and brown. It was also a little hazy. The head was light tan, soft and left a respectable amount of lace in sheets and rings. The aroma wasn't all that impressive, partly because the beer was served a little too cold. I did pick up some caramel malt, but not much else.

I hate to repeat what's printed on the label, but this beer really was fruity and (caramel) malty. The most recognizable fruit was apples; apple cider more specifically. I also appreciated white grapes/raisins. The flavor profile was a wonderful mixture of malt and hops, sweet and bitter. The finish was long, fruity and bitter-dry. A creamysmooth body was a definite bonus.

Thames Welsh ESB is good beer and is one of the best of the style that I've had yet. The bottom of the glass came very quickly and I enjoyed every last drop.

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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 Slatetank
3.72/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation - poured from a brown 16.9 oz bottle lacking freshness date into a snifter at 50 degrees.
A -A deep hazed amber almost nutty brown with a frothy pale head that allows generous amounts of lace to collect.

S - Fruity like cranberry or currant with honey or golden raisins and a subtle spice note with hints of light brown sugar and citrus.

M - Tangy fruity sweet medium bodied, full carbonation with a sweetish finish.

T - A very light hop woodiness is brushed away by a fruity full on English ale taste. Slightly dry at first with subtle caramel notes and a little spice that borders on peppery and a kind of gingery root flavor with a residual sweetness.

D - An easy drinking beer although not the best ESB and perhaps not entirely true to style. A tasty ale, though and has some interesting flavors and very enjoyable when it comes out of it's shell as it warms.

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

A dark red/amber pour into pint glass. Off-white head of about a finger, diminished to a half-finger.
Smell of malt, coffee and hints of peat.
Taste was a bit sweet at first then a slight bite at the end, non-fizzy, smooth and creamy.
A good balance between hops and malt, with some herbal hints. Good for sipping.

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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 Zorro
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy chestnut brown brew with a minimal head.

Smell is very fruity and fairly malty with a bit of herbal hop aroma.

Taste is malty and a bit sweet and more complex than expected. The major flavors here are the malt and the fruit. Each sip is the same sweetness and fruit that the first sip delivered. The bitterness is just enough to clean your palette for the next taste. The aftertaste is herbal hops and a lingering hint of sweetness.

Mouthfeel is good.

Drinkability is quite good, this is a beer that you can sip all night.

This is a brew that is what English beer probably used to taste like before mass production and dumbing the beer down made Bass Ale taste like a 1/2 ale 1/2 Budweiser.

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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 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 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 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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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 drpimento
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very nice beer! Poured with a medium head that faded to a steady light cover. Lovely mahogany color. Aroma is full: roasty, peaty, dark fruits like plums, raisins; molasses, malty. Flavor is same but some tartness from carbonation, bitterness from yeast, and booziness. Full body. Long finish.

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

Being that I’m a “Beer Obsessed Lunatic”, that’s a quote from a former “lady friend”, I keep on hand several cases of beer that I like when I don’t feel like sampling new beers, or if I’m a bit under the weather as it were. Thames Welsh ESB along with “Optimator, Salvator, and many others falls into the category I call “Stable Beers”.
A pulchritudinous deep cherry red with a portly head and a creamy texture that is survived by thick sticking sheets of lace, both a nice light tan color. Nose is dominated by the sweet malt, hints of ripe fruit, light hint of the hops, caramel, fresh and clean to the senses. Start has a nice malt presence and it’s also sweet with the top middling in feel to the taste buds. Hops are dominant in the finish, the carbonation moderate and the aftertaste long lasting and quite dry, and a real treasure that I sample quite often and well worth your effort to find and sample.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.53/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This one had a moderate head that left some lacing on the inside of my glass. The body was a dark brown in color and very pretty.

Smell – This has a sharp, English bitter kind of aroma. There is some light toast in here along with some noticeable citrus.

Taste – The nice toast is really good at the taste. It’s burnt and bitter with a biscuity compliment. The flavors grow as the night goes on and the beer warms.

Mouthfeel – This is almost medium-bodied. The bitterness starts off easy when the beer is cold but ramps up quickly. By the end of the glass it seems almost too much. There’s a slight tingly sensation in the mouth at the finish as well that reminds me of the feeling you get when tasting rising yeast.

Drinkability – This is a “no frills” ESB that will neither impress nor disappoint. It’s not a session beer by any stretch but a good drinker nevertheless.

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

Presentation: 16.9 fluid ounce chubby brown glass bottle with a thin neck. The label has a strong Welsh theme, the fiery red dragon passant on a white above green striped background. Labeled as Thames Welsh ESB (the “Thames” part is confusing I have to say, is that just the Importers stamp on this, and sort of lends an English flavor to the name though). In fact there is no mention at all of the Brewer, Felinfoel, on this bottle. The Importer Thames America Trading seems to get all the credit, unfortunately. Well this is definitely a product from Felinfoel, which I have heard pronounced in a variety of ways, but in Wales, I heard it delivered as “Vel-in-voel” with a soft “v” when locals were ordering one of the brewery’s other products, Double Dragon. Listed at 6% ABV on the bottle label (not sure why this is listed at 6.5% on BA).

Appearance: Deep red, slightly clouded, cherry red rosewood body hue. Cream colored head has a soft tan flicker to it. Mottled lacing covers the glass walls. Finely dissolved carbonation looks impressive with a gentle tip of the glass. Impressive head retention, start to finish.

Nose: Deep caramel malts with a toffee aspect to them. Hints of figs and dates also. Sweet dark fruits with a warming toasted aspect.

Taste: The toasted malts break through early, with the merest hint of a lightly roasted feel. Digestive biscuits and an oaky wet wood tingle in the centre blends well with dark fruits and a lovely toffee chewyness in the latter third. The back end has a ripe bitterness that is shaded by caramel and solvent angle that is hard to explain.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth palate, middling body with a soft carbonation. Nothing outstanding but this one never lets you down. The Mouthfeel runs in parallel with the flavors.

Drinkability: Rather drinkable in a simple way. But in the long run the solvent bend on the caramel toffee aspects detract from the Sessionability of this Welsh ESB.

Overall: I have spied this one a few times on the shelves but never picked it up before now. Felinfoel is not a well known Brewery, yet it was the first in Europe to sell canned beer in the 1930’s , it is still family owned and is now the oldest brewery in Wales, occupying as it does some gorgeous Grade II listed buildings. It is a long time since I tried a brew from Felinfoel, but this was rather enjoyable. Maybe I should have saved this one for a few more days until the start of the 2006 Six Nations Rugby Tournament when England play Wales on February 4th but maybe that would have been a little unpatriotic to have been drinking this whilst listening to the haunting tones of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and rooting for England.

Iechyd da!

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Photo of cokes
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark mahogany. Perfectly clear under a khaki cap.
Nose bursting with raspberries and black cherries all drowned in a butterscotch pudding. Malty as hell. A bit different for an ESB.
Taste follows suit. A right jab from the cherries and a left hook from the berries. Huge! Especially right away. Caramel creeps in, as does buttery diacetyl. Hard toffees in liquid form. The middle is just a fracas of competing yet complimentary hues. Roasty, toasty, nutty, fruity, buttery, bitter. Whoa! Hops gain a footing and ride this out with lemon rinds and bitter herbs. The only thing that keeps this from udder sublimity is the lightly distracting, medicinal, estery alcohol. But don't let that deter you.
Carries a medium-full body that borders on chewy. This is a robust beer.
Akin to an old ale married with an ESB. Highly unique, malt-driven and tasty.

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

Sort of a heavyweight ESB, with aspects of apple showing up throughout. In the glass it could have passed for unfiltered apple cider. The aroma was exactly like a caramel apple. Up front, moderately sweet, with apple cider and caramel predominant, and then darker fruit flavors pop in, prune juice the easiest to identify. Very full bodied, almost barley wine-like. I paired this with some strong herbed feta cheese and melon and was one happy camper.

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Photo of merlin48
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Fuller's pint glass from the 16 oz bottle. Pours a dark cherry mahogany, with an ample beige head. Leaves behind plenty of delicate lacing. Nose is caramel and butternut, with a hint of brandy. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, tart, and moderately carbonated. Taste is where it gets interesting. I got slapped in the palate with red apples and raspberries. As the glass warms, the nuttiness emerges to match the nose, as does some welcome bittering. The high abv becomes distinctly apparent toward the end. Finishes dry and a bit oily.
A very complex ESB here. Just a little too much going on here for the style. I doubt that I could finish a second one at a single sitting because the finish is not nearly as appealing as the start.

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