Bishops Finger | Shepherd Neame Ltd

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Bishops FingerBishops Finger

Brewed by:
Shepherd Neame Ltd
England, United Kingdom

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-25-2001

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Reviews: 108 | Ratings: 268
Photo of Sammy
3.34/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Golding hops, great hoppy aroma. Some barley initially. Pale copper colour with lace and aestheticly pleasant transparent bottle (keep out of sunshine!) Drying, tad metallic. Understated carbonation. Drinkable but a 500 ml. for 3 is more than enough.

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Photo of kojevergas
1.41/5  rDev -61.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Appearance: Poured from a bottle into an pub (nonreal) pint glass in low altitude Galway, Ireland, on October 10th, 2010. Pours a strange cherry-gold and looks overcarbonated. Head of moderate thickness retains two fingers decently. A clear bottle? This brewery should know better.

Smell: A light scent of esters; berries. Not getting the toffee or roast the label describes. Unappealing.

Taste: A note of stale bread with a nasty finish. If I'd brewed this, I'd have thought I'd done something seriously wrong. Truly awful.

Mouthfeel: Far too coarse and a bit too wet. This beer feels stale on all fronts. The beginning is too dry; the head does nothing creamy or worthwhile.

Drinkability: I wouldn't buy this again or have another. I'll be lucky to finish this glass.

Stay away from this one, regardless of what beer style you like. This is best reserved for Altar Boys, because they're known for enjoying Bishops Fingers - if you know what I mean.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a clear red/brown color ale with a huge foamy head with great retention which is quite a surprise since all my previous bitter had no head really. Aroma of floral malt with some nut. Taste is quite enjoyable and refreshing with some robust malt, floral hops and some nice nutty and subtle bitterness at the end. Overall, this is an above average bitter.

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Photo of oberon
3.26/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Englands oldest brewery poured a bownish color with minimal head,kind of a funky smell almost skunked and a little musty.Taste is slightly fruity with some dryness in the finish,pretty drinkable but nothing spectacular.It's still nice to find ales from the island across the pond.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.66/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The nun's delight! Clear, bright amber with a reddish tint and a creamy head. (The aroma is slightly skunky). The body is moderately light with a gentle carbonation. The flavor is assertive with a strong malt presence and an assault of hops. The hops win out in the finish, leaving it dry and long lasting. Though it's not a very complex ale, it is full of bold malt and hop. An excellent beer to pair with English cheeses.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dusky orange-bronze with a healthy rubiginous tint. The interior is on the active side, with swirling fine bits and (temporarily) boisterous carbonation. The cap looks very nice. It's pearlescent golden ecru in color with respectable staying power. A fair amount of sudsy lace completes the eye pleasing appearance. Solid sheets appear in the beer's wake as I drink.

The nose is well-balanced with elements of caramel and heavily toasted bread, as well as more than a handful of darkly earthy, muskily fruity English hops. I think hops have the edge, but it's a near thing. While there isn't a whole lot wrong with the aroma, nothing really pulls me in and engages my olfactory lobe.

The aroma fell between two scores and I chose the lower one. The flavor falls between the same two scores and I've chosen the higher one. The same components that make up the nose are present on the palate, but in a more forceful configuration. The beer is still toasty and caramel-like and the hops have now caught my interest. That wonderful sweet-bitter interplay pulls it all together.

I can't emphasize enough how well-balanced BF is. The hops are a touch more prominent on the finish, which is just how I would have drawn it up. Pleasantly bitter, unsweetened tea-like notes appear on the back end; a nice surprise. The mouthfeel is medium in heft with a firm feel and a low (read: perfect) amount of carbonation.

Bishops Finger is a good ESB. It's plenty flavorful and was a joy to consume. I picked up the only bottle that I've ever seen. I just wish I could remember where that was. I'm sure it's even better fresh and on-cask.

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Photo of jwc215
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had at Hoop & Grapes (London):

Pours copper amber with a bubbly head. Lacing sticks.

The smell is of caramel with a pleasant, herbal spicing.

The taste is of light caramel, a bit herbal (slightly soapy?). It has a tea-like, dry finish.

The body is light - a bit watery. It has a well-covered abv, but it is slightly higher, pushing it into ESB, yet there are bitters with more of a body. Still, some bitterness lingers.

Thin, mild, but pleasant.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my mom for bringing this back from England for me. Served in a pint glass.

A - A few fingers of tan foam that dissipates fairly quickly to a cap with a few spots of lacing. Transparent orange-brown color. Looks like a standard ESB.

S - Biscuity malt, with a touch of floral hops, some caramel, berries, apple, and grain. Odd beer in that the floral hop character was stronger when chilled. Pretty solid.

T - Light sweet biscuit malts with a touch of earthy and floral hops. Pretty simple, but still effective.

M - Thin body, low carbonation - pretty cask-like. Dry finish with a bit of residual sugar.

D - 500ml seems like an appropriate serving. Goes down pretty easy. Low ABV, decent taste, inoffensive texture.

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Photo of stevoj
3.35/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bitter? Indeed! Sharp bitterness lingers on the palate. Aroma is toffee and gingerbread, dried fruit. Taste is more of the same with an abrupt finish. Color is dark amber with lasting creamy head and nice lacing.

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Photo of biegaman
3.65/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearence well intact: nice looking bottle, good colour and proper head. Foam stuck around and would leave good lacing. Shinning ruby-brown colour. Aroma is Kent hops. Could be stronger, especially considering the lovely scent these hops lend. Mouthfeel in the same manner, that is to say, developed and good character but somewhat restrained. Like it's trying to be too well mannered. Flavour is light buttery texture, some nutty notes. High-Medium bodied, some bitterness. The Kent malt makes up the majority of flavour. Tasty with satisfying finish. However, flavours seem to trail off. Taste kinda falls apart and really wears thin near the end. Carbonation is decent, but I think this would be better on tap. This is very much within the British manner, a beer full of character but still mild mannered and more concerned with being quaffable than bold or distinct.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very suprised to find I hadn't reviewed this beer on here, thst oversight is now rectified!

Clear 500ml bottle, poured into vase shaped pint glass (Old Speckled Hen, badged).

Bright and clear body, a lovelly deep amber brown colour (the label says chestnut brown), with cream coloured foaming head. Plenty of bubbles could be observed rising through the body, in short, it looked great! The head produced somegood laceing as the beer was consumed.

The smell was of brown toast, light toffee and some floral hints I couldn't tie down.

The beer has a bitterness from the hops that hit you first off, then those toffee notes I found in the aroma come to the fore, this is not a sweet tasting beer though, far from it, because the bitterness re-appears in the aftertaste.

A good solid beer, wish it was bottled in a brown or coloured glass though, it might help to keep it in good nick longer.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I must have had about a million of this beer over the years, but here goes my review...

A: It pours copper/brown, with a large off-white creamy head that lingers for some time before it dissipates leaving nice lacings.

S: Somewhat roasted caramell malt, some floral notes along with fruit.

T: Light roasted malt together with floral hops, but the bitter hoppy taste is what dominates. There is also dryness and some faint dark fruit.

M: Very bitter and long aftertaste. The body is full and the carbonation is moderate.

D: This is a great beer, this is one of the beers I always have on my nights on the pub...
This is a household beer at my house.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.26/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a reddish copper colour with a good thick creamy head. Good retention, with some fine lacing.

Nose is hoppy and phenolic with a nice yeasty basis.

Quite robust bitter taste, with a rather short palate. Stays toasty for a while but falls off rather quickly. It has a very subdued mouthfeel which detracts from the overall effect of the beer.

It's drinkable, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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Photo of wl0307
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Comes in a short and fat 500ml clear bottle, BB FEB 10, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass. Interesting notes on the back label: "Bishops Finger - At 5.4% it's near the knuckle".

A: dark amber hue with great clarity and moderate/restrained carbonation, while the creamy off-white froth retains the texture very well, leaving tight lacing as it goes.
S: enticingly malty with a pronounced fruity backbone of Goldings hops; given a swirl and a closer sniff, the main aroma gives out a lovely edge of toasted nuts, toffee, as well as an almost raw-ish, gristy pale malts (aromatic!), backed by a mixed fruitiness hinting at raisins/dried berries, sweet citrus fruits, toasted apple-slices and a touch of dried plums.
T: a lightly effervescent swallow of soothingly sour-sweet malts (with a unusual, fast developing flow of herbal bitterness) slowly gives way to juicy, savoury-sweet pale malts laced with an intensifying "dry herbal" touch, before arriving at a mildly chewy and really pleasantly bitter, dry-ish finish that shows everlasting aroma mixed of roast malts, bitter nuts, and a mixed berry-ish fruitiness. Throughout the drink, my taste buds simply fail to pick up any trace of alc.~~
M&D: despite the filtered & pasteurised form presented in a clear bottle (ouch!), the true quality of this famous fruity bitter ale has not been compromised greatly, fortunately. The body is full and the taste is well structured, and it still tastes absolutely light and refreshing. The only thing I don't like about the texture, of course, is the (relatively) high level of fizziness - a "problem" SN seems unable to address for a long long time now... Nevertheless, honestly, I'm biased for Shepherd Neame's ales, particularly this one!

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Photo of bark
3.85/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The colour is dark copper-red. The liquid is clear and the small foam is quite firm.

The smell of this ale is somewhat sour, full of caramel, diacetyl and hops

The body is surprisingly light for the great bitterness. There are clear flavours of diacetyl and caramel, although it is quite low on the sweetness.

The carbon acid is mild, soft and short, probably due to the nitro-tap.

Overall, the taste is simple and straightforward. There is some bitterness and butterscotch but it does its job - no more, no less.

Its aftertaste is quite simple at first, but grows into a large amount of bitterness.

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Photo of DrJay
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear, deep coppery red topped by a generous light tan head that settles into a rocky lace. Good head retention as well. Fruity aroma of apples/plums and floral hops, with caramel maltiness. Aromas carry through into the flavour and play well against the moderate bitterness. Medium-length fruity finish that ends on the bitter side. Moderate carbonation with a medium body and a very slight slickness.

500 mL clear bottle, no best before date that I could spot.

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Photo of StJamesGate
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours deep clear orange-tan with no fizz but a lumpy beige head that leaves some trails. Peanut and spicy hops nose with slight orange oil. Gooseberry and dark toast malts with juicy bitter-sweet black cherry base, and musky, herbal hops, like incense or cinnamon oil plus a tannic hit like tea. A possible whiff of diesel and a metallic tang, too. Light -medium, dry and crisp.

Easy drinking, with lots of earthy-spicy English hops character. Thoroughly decent for a mass market ale. But don't let it get too warm, because that's when the nasty off flavours come out...

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Photo of Suds
4.02/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had a pint of this on cask during a recent trip to London. It's a beautiful rich amber colored brew with a thin dense head. The aroma is great...a nice malt backbone, a little toasted qualities, crackers, bread, and very, very slight herbal hops (if you search for them). The taste is equally satisfying: moderately dry, but with plenty of malt goodness in the flavor. There's a steady bitterness that settles in a quarter of the way through the mid-taste. Very little hop taste. Smooth, very smooth. Wonderfully fresh and drinkable. I could have many of these.

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Photo of dgilks
3.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear, dark amber colour with some red hues. Rocky, light tan head with good head retention.

Dusty, toffee aroma with some pale malt and earthy hop notes.

Light, smooth, toffee-like malt with moderate bitterness and some earthiness. Nicely balanced and crisp.

Medium-light body with moderate carbonation. A touch fizzy but as expected for a bottled ale.

A nice, easy to drink, standard issue British ale. The rich toffee note adds a unique depth.

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Photo of FLima
3.63/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Copper color with three fingers of fluffy head with short retention, but leaving laces.
Light aroma of English noble hops, caramel and malt sweetness.
Flavor of English hops, caramel malt, nuts and currants with hints of pepper and minerals. Bitter than what I expected which is welcome. Dry and bitter aftertaste.
Light to medium body with appropriate carbonation.
Very flavorful beer, balancing malt sweetness with a pleasant bitterness. Not overly complex, but it is assertive.

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Photo of Dogbrick
2.88/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got a bottle at the cafe in the Tower of London. Brown color with a thin beige head. Little lacing to be had. Very sweet aroma of malt, along with a hint of sourness. Medium body with an odd flavoring. It is mostly sweet caramel malt, with an underlying sour fruit and smoke character. The finish is on the thin side. Overall this beer is lacking in many areas but it is not terrible.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.42/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Let me level with you

I'm not a huge fan of Bishops finger, not drank it in years.
Bottle was on offer thought I'd give it another chance.

Very brandy looking shade for the body big brash white frothy head.

Rich aroma heavy on the hops with hints of figs and sweaty dockers.

Quite a bitter peppery taste, starts very dry malt then goes right into a bitter harsh aftertaste too soon, I think on cask it would deliver a little more depth.

Okay mouthfeel and good carbonation makes an easy drinking beer that's easy to find though a little dull but decent.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.79/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a thin head on a clear dark straw body.
The aroma is dark plum and toffee.
The taste is caramel, toffee sweet with a bit of bitter grain to finish.
The texture is crisp and fizzy.
It's well balanced.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark burnished copper color, thin, fading head. Aroma is very lightly hoppy. Flavor is simple but tasty: nice hop bitterness, especially at the finish, light malt, and a pleasant fruitiness. Moderately-low carbonation & body.

Not a bad British ESB, but nothing particularly stands out either.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 500ml clear glass bottle with a BB of Jan 2011. This is ale with a pedigree - the label proclaims Shepherd Neame as Britain's oldest brewer (from 1698).

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A deep ruby-brown colour with good carbonation. A thick, creamy off-white head tops the liquid and remains for 5 minutes or so before dissipating to a surface film. A rich aroma of roasted malt and caramel, with notes of hops and a hint of burning. A whiff of alcohol.

A strong malty flavour with good bitterness. Slightly sweet with caramel notes, but mostly a distinctive roasted flavour tempered by hops as you swallow. A warming hint of alcohol on the palate. Mouthfeel is somewhat carbonated and mildly astringent, leaving a dry sensation. Aftertaste of bitter hops and malt.

Highly drinkable. This is probably my favourite ale from Shepherd Neame, and is the beer that springs to mind when someone mentions strong English ale. A good flavour makes it an drink for all seasons. Worth seeking out.

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Bishops Finger from Shepherd Neame Ltd
3.64 out of 5 based on 268 ratings.
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