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 hammer09
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
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 -2.4%
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%
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 +3.7%
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 +9.9%
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 -2.4%
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 -19.8%
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 -28.1%
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 -4.8%
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 +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 whynot44
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
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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Photo of ghostwalker
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy dark reddish-brown body with a thick white head. Very dark for an ESB. Quite a striking appearance for the style.

Nose is biscuity malt with a nutty component.

Flavor is refreshing and tasty! Biscuity malt with some butteriness and nuttiness. Caramel and mild fruitiness in the finish. Also a slight hoppy metallic-ness that I find in some ESBs. Overall, this is one fine tasting ESB.

Mouthfeel is medium with moderate to high carbonation.

Drinkability is high. Great stuff, I'm sorry that I only bought the one.

I love ESBs as a style, and this one is no exception. I bought it partially for the cool dragon label, with no idea of the quality. It's a very pleasant surprise. Recommended.

Note: The listing here says 6.5% ABV, the bottle I have says 6%.

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

Appearance: Depp reddish-amber with a thick and creamy half-inch head, which retains superbly, there is also slight carbonation. The lacing is patchy, but quite attractive.

Aroma: Deep roasted malt flavors dominate the aroma, with lesser herbal hop notes as well.

Taste: Opens with toasted malt and caramel flavors, quite dark, tending amost toward burnt toast. Later in the taste, herbal hop notes appear. Toasted malt lingers well past the end of the taste, there is also a slight metallic bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth and very pleasant, feels a bit lighter than expected, but pleasaing, nonetheless.

Drinkability/notes: A rather unusual ESB, but pleasing, nonetheless. A session of several pints would be quite pleasing.

Presentation: Packaged in a custom brown glass pint bottle with a pop-off crown, served in a standard pint tap glass.

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Photo of Gaisgeil
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very interesting and malty ESB, is all Welsh beer this good?

Pours a deep and hazy brown in color with a respectable off-white colored head. Nose is quite malty, wafts of chocolate and brown sugar abound. Taste is very smooth and rich, reminds me very much of cordial cherries, very nice indeed. Not much in the way of bitterness, but it isn't so sweet as to become cloying. Very tasty.


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Photo of bighoppymonster
4.28/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep amber, an absolute gorgeous colour. Thick offwhite head quickly settles. Sweet aromas, caramel most noticable. Medium body with a very slight metallic taste, a very malty bitter IMO. Hops not very noticeable, although it is well balanced. Rather drinkable. Overall a very pleasent and smooth ESB, and I am disappointed that I only purchased a single pint at the store.

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

This is the strongest and darkest ESB that I've had to date. The carmel flavor is apparent but, not dominating. The head is thick and creamy, it laces the glass but never completely dissipates. The color is a dark amber, almost non-transparent. A mild taste, light buttery and a little metallic note. Malt is the backbone and is in the slick mouthfeel.

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Photo of carln26
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured from the bottle into a pint glass a deep amber color, mildly hazy with a thick tan head. The head showed a good retention. The aroma consists of dates, toffee, a little citrus grapefruit and apple. The dates and toffee come across strongly in the flavor along with the citrus hop. This beer is both sweeter, and more bitter than the nose led me to believe. It had a slick slightly thin mouth feel, but a nice drinkability.

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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 abcsofbeer
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle with the plastic label? When poured, it is a dark brownish red or dark copper in color. It has pretty good clarity with varying hues around the edges of the glass. The head is nice and creamy, about 11/2 fingers tall that leaves an abundance of sticky lace.

The aroma is fruity like a red wine, but, other than that it is hard to pinpoint. I mostly detect different fruits, maybe a little apple smell.

The taste is very good imo. It is chewy caramel and fruity like a very mild wine. There is a very small hint of alcohol in the flavor, but not one that overtakes the taste of the beer. A hint of malt and mild hops in the aftertaste. I like this one alot.

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Photo of dungaree
3.59/5  rDev -4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Has a copper color with a thin head. Smells of caramel, light alcohol, fruity sweetness, and toffee.

Tastes of caramel candy (yum), slight coriander, fruity (not sure which fruit), and toffee. Finishes caramelly with some gentle hops. Mouthfeel is thick, candy-like and slick.

Interesting brew. Looks unimpressive but delivers a good taste.

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Photo of SupaCelt
3.4/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

16.9 oz

ESB revealed itself to me. Displaying a deep amber colour with a moderately cloudy look. The head was not all that monstrous, but it was evident. Tan, dense headage that left some lace. No sheeting, but some hangers on to remind me. Carbonation seemed to be absent.

The smell was not extemely pronounced. A touch of the fruits, the yeast, the malt. Sweetness prevails. Certainly not overpowering.

Taste left me a sour fruit impression. I was expecting something way more bitter. If I gulped this stuff blindly, I would have never tagged an ESB label upon it. Slightly caramel. The label claims up to some toffee, but I just am not feeling the toffee aspect. Maybe through the power of suggestion. Maybe.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied. Again, the label says full bodied. Maybe this is a full bodied ESB. This is my first try at the style. So altogether, I taste no bitters and medium body. I guess I am skewed.


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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 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 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 SeanChouffe
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber/mahogany color, hazy, with no strong presence of co2. The head is tan with fair retention – the lace is kinda sticky. Aroma is spicy (sassafrasish), malty and hoppy. Flavor is lightly sweet with a light bitter finish. Palate is light-bodied, low effervescence with a light but acrid hop bite.

IMHO: not as much B as expected, but a pleasant ale.

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