Thames Welsh ESB | Felinfoel Brewery Co.

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Thames Welsh ESBThames Welsh ESB
121 Ratings
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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Ratings: 121 |  Reviews: 107
Photo of plaztikjezuz
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thames welsh esb, this is a very fine brew, it has some very familuar flavors.
pours a deep amber with some brighter coppery hues from the light filtering through the glass. the head was about a 1/4 thick and off white but quickly dropped into a few sray bubbles. the aroma is malty and thick, it kinda reminds me of john courage, pruney. the flavor is ver malt and smoth, little spicy, hint of grass, prune, fruity, carmelized malt.

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Photo of kernalklink
4.35/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not having much luck with ESB's, I was surprised by the complexity and craft of this brew. It poured a murky amber with minimal head and a very strong hard apple cider aroma with some malt on the end. Sweet friuts, champagne like alcohol presence dominated the taste, followed by a sweet malt and amaretto-toffee finish. Very interesting, very refreshing. The slight bittereness was perfectly balanced and contributed to this highly drinkable brew. A top of the line ESB in my book.

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Photo of goschool
3.53/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part one of my ESB tasting tonight. Full Sail Equinox is up next.

Appearance: The pour is darkish copper topped by a 2.5" white head that fades, but never disappears.

Smell: The nose has dark fruits, toffee, and an oaky aroma.

Taste: Darks fruits- mainly cherry- come in up front, followed by damp wood flavor that reminds me of those spoons you use to eat malts at Dodger Stadium. The toffee and toasted malt finish is very dry.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, but on the thinner side.

Drinkability: The wood was the only turn-off in this beer, but it's enough to keep me from buying more of this when Fuller's is readily available.

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Photo of daliandragon
3.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I like the bottle and roaring red dragon on the label, I've always thought Wales has one of the world's most underrated flags. Pours a dark ruby with a thick creamy head that unfortunately didn't last. Nose is sweet malt, almost reminiscent of wine, with slightly sour fruit notes. Alcohol also present.

Very dry, bitter flavor thaat almost makes me pucker. Wood and dark fruit notes, almost like a port or sherry. Finish is again dry and a roasted, nutty aftertaste that turns grittty as it completes. Lacing is impressive and the taste does grow on me although it still isn't ideal. Mouthfeel is heavy and could stand some balance.

Interesting and different. I'll try it again but I might wait to see it on cask in its homeland, not sure if the bottle could offer much more. Not quite sessionable but if you like English style ale it is worth a go..

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Photo of goochpunch
2.45/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours out a dark caramel with a thin off white head consisting of uniform tiny bubbles. No lace. Big apple aromas followed by caramel, nuts, and a hint of diacetyl. Again, lots of caramel, nuts and apple in the flavor profile, but, along with the herbal hop finish, I get this strong yeast presence. It isn't a smooth fruity yeast flavor that I pick up, rather it tastes like the yeasty finish of a shitty homebrew. Would be real tasty without it. Gross. Moderate body, but a bit too fizzy. Very gritty on the tongue. The yeast is making this one a bit hard to finish.

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Photo of EvilKeith
4.09/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ESB poured in to the glass a solid brown color with faint ruby highlights. The head was creamy and tan in color. The lace was spotty, but sticky.
The smell was sweet caramel malts, rich buttery toffee and freshly sliced apples. A caramel apple, if you will.
The taste was moderately bitter with tart apples, dark roasted and sweet malts.
Moderate carbonation and a medium body combined to give this a crisp, yet slick mouthfeel.
Interesting and quite drinkable.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
3.62/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep brown with tinges of cherry red. Frothy ivory head. Persistent lacing. Smells quite malty. Toffe and caramel, hints of plum. No hop aroma to speak of, which is odd.

Taste is very rich in toffe and dark fruit flavors. Raisin and spiced black currant. Quite fruity and quite sweet. Hops are impossible to pick out. Very sticky and rich. Not sure this is an ESB (not alot of bitter in this Extra Special Bitter) A decent enough ale though and a pretty good drinker.

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Photo of PCaravan
2.4/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I'm a big ESB fan and was quite pleased to come accross this one. However, I was dissapointed with this one.

It has a nice deep brown color but unusually hazy and no head whatsoever.

Strong yeasty smell in aroma masks any other smell to the point that they are not dissernable. Not necessarily a bad smell but not quite right either.

Tasting continues with the strong yeasty notes but also an intense nuttiness that is so strong it's to the point of astringency. Finishes with a lingering earthy hop bitterness that seems a bit out of balance.

Low (just barely noticable) carbonation leaves this beer seeming a bit thin but there is enough body to give it a bit of a chewy character.

Can't see myself drinking a lot of this beer. In fact, I wont by it again.

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Photo of veech
3.1/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I'm not sure if it was the overly yeasted flavors, or what but this one was pretty rough. I enjoy ESBs and several other English ales, but this one was not to my liking. Everthing in the taste was simply overwrought with bready yeast. I'm sure fans of bigger beers are more partial to this style, but it just wasn't my favorite. Not a terrible beer, just not a great one.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.4/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours an eyebrow raising russet auburn which seems a bit dim for the style, but so be it, topped with a settled thin layer of beige bubbled cap.

Mild easy scents of airy balanced sweet hops and malty backing of delicate pie crust grain.

First swigs: Initially crisp red apple fruit start and dry finish. Middle hangs in there with a brisk hop dryness, a pear and cherry fruity center, and a sizzle of caramel & ginger ale finish.

Feel is sharp and crisp, certainly with a strong bitterness that rounds off the toffee aftertaste.

Last swigs: Red apple ginger ale ESB. Thanks Ken! ESB style is delicate. Few hit the mark perfetly, most have a flaw to one side or amother. This one just fell short on the true biscuit backing and instead pushed too much caramel into the fray. An enjoyable ESB, for sure that really demonstrates a dry finish.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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

An ESB like no other to my palette.
Pours a dark cherry-amber with a gorgeous 2 finger thick tan head that melted very slowly to glass sticking lacing.
Aroma was slightly fruity (dark fruits) and a little earthy like loam.
Taste is almost a chewy wine-like fruit taste that melds to lightly sweet malt and then a light dry earthy hop finish.
The wine-like fruit taste carries through to the aftertaste drying your mouth like wine would and leaving the same sort of aftertaste.
This was very unusual for any beer to carry off the wine impersonation this way, but I think Welsh does it very well.
Upon trying two more of these beers at a later date, I felt compelled to lower both the taste and drinkability ratings I had previously put up. The red wine-like fruit taste comes across more like vinegar in these two bottles than I had noticed before and it's not pleasant at all.

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Photo of HoustonTX
3.58/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Welsh ESB - Nice looking 16.9oz bottle, love the dragon graphic.

A - Poured a dark brown, with a creamy white large head. Excellent carbonation streams, and good retention.

S - Smells of faint chocolate, dried fruit, and toffee. Alcohol is definitely there as well.

T - Taste is quite unique, and it has a lot going on. Taste upfront has a lot of fruit notes going on. Dark fruit especially, grapes, and plums. With a hint of fig as well. Toffee and chocolate are there as well. Hop bitterness is mild, but balances nicely. Ends with a strong figgy bitter aftertaste. Strange, but unique. Mouthfeel is coating, and semi-dry. Drinkability is middle of the road.

A unique beer, and one of the most unique I have tasted to date. It's really a strange blend of flavors, but it's actually pleasent. This is not a session beer, but definitely one to be sipped and enjoyed. I recommend you try this one at least once.

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Photo of sacfly
3.63/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly hazy brownish red. Low carbonation yields a thin head that quickly disappears. Aroma is fruity, malty. Just a hint of hops. Malty sweet caramel taste offset slightly by a mild bitterness. Sweetness sticks to the tongue and coats the mouth. Mild bitterness comes out well into the aftertaste.
Decent, but not quite what I am looking for in an ESB. A bit too syrupy and lacking enough balance of hops.

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Photo of granger10
3.8/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Graydon's Crossing tonight. Looks purple reddish with a bit of mohagany in the middle. When it came there was not any head and the carbanation looked on the weak side, which isn't that bad of a thing really for the style.

Aroma is weaker to me but fruity with tea notes and a toasty toffeeish base.

Dark red apple skins come to the forefront. A bit of a lighter white grape character is there as well. More of a toffee, earthy base. Finish is hoppier or atleast less sweet, drier. This came out stronger as the beer warmed.

Really transformed from being apple cider fruity, caramelly sweet when cold to plum fruity, tea-like dryness as it warmed. Both flavors were intriguing and both solid. Either way it was quite nice.

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Photo of hammer09
3.62/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I tried this on the recommendation of a friend. I expected something similar to Fuller's ESB, but was quite surprised by this beer's characteristics.

It poured a dark brown with a substantial head of almost 2 inches, diminishing to 1/8 inch within 5 minutes. Lacing was substantial with thick clumps of head clinging to the inside of my pint glass. The aroma was malty with a hint of spice. Taste was extremely sweet and malty with a mild bitterness, similar to a brown ale. Definite toffee flavor throughout. The beer did exhibit a few sour notes as I continued to drink it. Mouthfeel was very sticky with mild carbonation. This beer's sweet and sticky qualities limit its drinkability. Overall, a surprising brew considering it's style.

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Photo of Phocion
3.65/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle. Incredibly dark for an ESB, deep brown with a hint of red poking through. A little over one finger of a rich head filling the nonic glass, quickly fading away into creamy lacing around the glass.

Aroma is very pleasant. Some coffee, roasted malt, and a little fruity, but what stands out is the buttery scent.

Definite bitter taste with hints of malt and citrus peaking through, but overpowered by the hops. Now I have nothing against hops, but for an ESB this isn't too well-balanced. Flavor is a little light as well. Still, not a bad beer, but there's much better ESBs out there.

Medium-light body, with moderate carbonation.

It's light enough to manage to throw down a few, and as I mentioned before, it's not a horrible tasting beer, just nothing special.

Overall, this beer is worth a try if you haven't had it before or you are a fan of the style, like myself. But next time I see it sitting on the shelf next to a Fuller's, I'll grab the latter.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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 Brian700
3.88/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a nice brown with a slight reddish hue. It has a pancake batter-like head. Good lacing.

The aroma smells like malt mostly. I think there must have been Marris Otter malt used in this beer, that is the aroma I am getting.

The flavor is malty with a nice balance of mild hops. Again I am getting the feeling that this beer was made with a good amount of Maris Otter.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation.

This is a very drinkable beer. I wouldn't mind picking up another bottle of this one.

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Photo of gdogalishus
4.11/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Mildly carbonated. Poured a dark copper color. Hints of red appear when held up to the light. Mild head, but good head retention as the trails stuck to the sides of the glass all the way to the finish.

A subdued, balanced aroma. Malty sweetness at first and then a bit of soft hop bitterness. Neither aroma overp[owered the other and they stayed balanced as the beer warmed in the glass.

Flavors of tofee, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Very balanced with a mild hop finish... the first thing that came to mind is "what a great winter to spring transition beer" for gently waning yourself from the dark alcoholic winter brews.

Definately recommended. I did rate the appearance low only because I think it is too dark for an ESB and had a slight chill haze. Most people don't care what it looks like as long as it tastes good... well the category is there so I have to consider it. Other than this minor flaw, a really good beer.

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Photo of Drew966
3.65/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a hazy dark brown, with minimal head from a vigorous pour. Much darker than I expected. Malt is present in the nose. Interesting taste, a bit vinous, malt but not much hops. Not what I expected at all from an ESB. That being said it isn't a bad beer, definitely worth a try.

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Photo of surfadelic23
3/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

After I poured it, I had to look at the bottle again to see if it was an ESB as it was a hell of a lot darker than I expected.
The head was an interesting dark color that did not last very long at all. Smell was malty/sweet and I didn't catch much in the way of hoppiness... which also fooled me... is this an ESB er whot?
Taste was initially dominated by malt sweetnesss with a very little bit of hops to cut it.
That being said, it did have a nice mouthfeel that made it much more drinable thatn the 6.5 abv would bely.
Would I try it again? On bottle probably not but on cask? Yeah, if such a beast exists.
Bonus points for the killer welsh flag on the bottle!

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Photo of yelterdow
2.69/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Served in an imperial pint glass at just over fridge temperature. Purchased at Ramsey Liquors. 16.9 oz. bottle, no freshness date.

Appearance- Looks like Fuller's ESB's brother... rich amber hue with a great, four-finger bone white crown that hisses and pops for minutes. No lacing, but the head is nice even when the ride is over.

Smell- Caramel malt and a sweet, alcohol-tinged toffiness come out of the beer first. A dark fruit bready character emanates soon after, and remains for the duration.

Taste- First, the caramel malt notes make their presence known... then the bready yeastiness, then a mild and short hop finish that leaves the mouth dry. Not as balanced and well crafted as Fuller's (the benchmark, IMO) but the elements are there. Unfortunately, I swirled and emptied the bottle into my glass which imparted a sour-ish, very detracting smell and flavor. If you try this, take my word for it and leave the last 2 oz. for the sink.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Very light and, frankly, boring. For an ESB, I want super-sessionable drinkability with active and rolling mouthfeel. This falls flat big time in the mouth and because of the harsh, sour notes in the taste, I couldn't do this again. Pass this one up in favor of some local bitters, if you're from the States of course.

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Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.56/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a redish, amber color with a small, medium bubbled head.

Smell: There are a lot of apples notes peaking out in this nose, particularly apple peel. Hidden beneath is a yeasty presence that is really warming to the senses.

Taste: Here, a stronger caramel presence really comes through, unsuggested by the nose. Mixed with the overall apple and bitter body of this beer, it makes for a classic combination: caramel apple beer.

Mouthfeel: There overall body character is flat - not much in the way in the carbonation. Despite this, the flavor really seems to target the back of the throat for a long time.

Drinkability: This is a pretty drinkable beer - too sweet for a session, though. I'm not sure what food I'd pair it with. I wish there was just a bit more bitter happening.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.85/5  rDev +3.2%
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 whynot44
3.93/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Medium/full bodied, deep mahogany color with a decent tan head that lingers a while before subsiding to a persistent layer of lace.

The aroma is sweet caramel malt and spice.

The taste is sweet malt, caramel, white grapes and apples up front. Spicy hops kick in midway with a gently dry finish and a spicy fruit aftertaste.

Nice balance, smooth and easy to drink.

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Thames Welsh ESB from Felinfoel Brewery Co.
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 121 ratings
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