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 ToppyBeerMaster
2.6/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear brown hue, dark fruit nose, sweet sultanas, dates, slightly rough upfront, caramel, toffee in the middle, strong tasting, slight bitter aftertaste, full bodied dark beer.

Typical english ale, similar style and feel to other Shepard Neame beers. Would be best enjoyed on a cold pommy day served slightly chilled to bring out the flavour of the beer.

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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 flyingpig
3.12/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Brown mahogany coloured with with a bubbly, slightly off-white head that is about a thumb width tall and has excellent retention, staying for several minutes. The beer is still and has great clarity.

A nut aroma with some lighter malts and even fainter caramel. It is sort of earthly smelling and to be honest it's not the strongest smelling beer in the world.

A bread and malt flavour with an earthy, nutty flavour to it and a little caramel. It isn't great but it's a drinkable, sadly not one that stands out against the crowd.

Medium with a smooth, mildly carbonated feel to it. The mouthfeel is pretty good on this beer, shame the taste couldn't quite match it.

Easy to drink and good on the palate but not the greatest tasting or smelling beer in the world. To be honest I was expecting a lot more from this beer than it actually delivered.

1001 Beers Blog:

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Photo of paulozanello
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cristal clear copper amber color with a tan one finger head that persists for a short while. Retention is good and above average. Lots of carbonation coming from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma is bready, toasty malts, caramel and toffee. Not overly complex but still good.

Taste begins malty with toasted grain, caramel and toffee. A slight roasted character contributes a little to add bitterness but towards the end the earthy hops really kick in bringing way more bitterness and good balance to the toffee-like malt notes.

Body is medium leaning towards low. Carbonation is high, maybe a bit too high. Finishes dry due to hop bitterness/astringency with a boost from the carbonation.

Overall a nice ESB with a fairly simple but well done malt bill balanced by the right amount of hops. It does lack more depth in the malt department and the carbonation could be lower to enhance the other flavors.

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Photo of seanyfo
3.18/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

50cl bottle poured into standard uk pint sleeve

BBE May 2012

A- chestnut brown body with excellent clarity. Tan head is a rocky 2 finger that reduces to a sustained thin layer over time with good lacing/legs.

S- chestnuts, some toasted malts with a hint of toffee sweetness

T- toasted malts up front, slightly astringent with a very subtle sweeter malt hint. Hop bitterness comes through eventually in the finish.

M- carbonation is a bit too high, medium body.

D- definitely doesnt have enough sweeter richer malts on the palate to balance the toastier malts and hop bitterness and therefore be a top ESB. Carbonation also just a bit too high and that takes away from the smooth feel you want from the style.

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Photo of LeathChuinn
3.8/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 50ml bottle and served at room temperature in a half pint glass.

A: A reddish amber colour with a 1 and a half finger off-white, fluffy head. Decent amount of lacing to the glass.

S: Aroma is mild, malty and with a hint of caramel and damp grass.

T: Definite tastes of caramelised malts and chocolate malts with a taste of chocolate resins, nuts and a fruity finish.

MF: Smooth and light carbonated. Lingering bitter finish.

O: Very drinkable.

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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 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 Sigmund
3.98/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rerate: 500 ml clear bottle, courtesy of Cardinal Pub & Bar, Stavanger. ABV is 5.4%. Golden brown colour, big to moderate off-white head. The aroma has loads of toffee and caramel, also notes of malts, fruits and bakery. The flavour is nutty with plenty of caramel, some fruity sweetness, and a distinct hoppy bitterness in the finish. Alcohol is noticeable. Original rating: (500 ml bottle). Kentish strong ale of golden brown colour, good head, malty aroma with caramel and oak. Nutty flavour, well hopped, "raw" in the edges (which I like). Would love to try this one cask conditioned!

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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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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.17/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The drink pours nicely, giving a head which lasts for about a quarter of an hour, which also has a very nice colour: sort of yellow at the bottom getting whiter as you go up.

The smell is good, very good. A rich smell, reminding me somewhat of roasted coffee.

The taste is bitter, and quite harsh, the bitterness remaining for a few moments, dwindling out slowly which can be either good or bad, depending on your tastes. The roasted characteristic remains in the taste, as well as a strong hopp taste.

Overall it is fairly drinkable although somewhat harsh and bitter.

Note also the harshness increases as the beer warms up.

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Photo of NefariousR
4.04/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz. glass bottle into a pint glass at Panteli's in Canterbury, UK.

A - Pours a reddish-orange with a foamy off-white head.

S - Citrus aromas -- particularly grapefruit -- are very evident, rounded out by hops. Malt can be sensed in the distance.

T - Strong hop profile with some sweetness in the background.

M - Medium-bodied and slight sticky, with a moderate level of carbonation.

D - A solid ale that goes well with English food. Try it if you're in the area.

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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 eric5bellies
4.38/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Bobardier Conical Pint Glass.

A - Pours a rich redish copper colour with an off white head that retains well and laces.

S - Aromas are well defined malts, burnt caramel and grains.

T - Some very nis flavours of toffee and carmel malts. The finish is long and flavoursome.

M - So smooth with medium body and minimal carbonation.

D - This is a top ranking English ale of the highest order, it has everything that you could need.

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Photo of FreshHawk
3.57/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Light amber bronze color. Decent off-white foamy head. Decent retention with a little lacing left.

S - Toasted grain and malt, with a good amount of caramel and toffee. Some nuts and earthy hops.

T - Balance between the hops and the malt and grain. Hops are tea-like, earthy, and floral. There is a toasted malt/grain taste. Gives it a slightly bready and sweet taste. The hops are more prominent than the malt.

M - Medium body with a good amount of carbonation. Fizzy and slightly smooth.

D - Good drinkability between the balanced flavors and the good body. The body and flavor are a little too watery for me really to enjoy, but it is good.

Notes: Lots of tea, floral, herbal flavors. Very balanced flavors. Nothing overpowers and it is a little thin for me, but a good all around everyday beer.

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Photo of rarbring
3.76/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clear amber beer, an off-white head that leaves good lacing.

A good bready malt aroma, a bit of sweetness and a god measure of hops. A faint metallic taint at the end.

The hops are predominant in the taste, with nice bitter notes. But some sweet tones from cookie crumbs. Good balance.

Medium carbonation and a smooth feeling.

A good solid typical English brew.

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Photo of PartyBear
3/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours as a deep red colour with a thick creamy white head and good carbonation. There is a quite sharp nose to it, with a hint of sugary sweet toffee beneath, and a noticeable yeast aroma. The flavours are quite fruity upfront, lots of sour berries. There is lots of bitterness in the flavours, a dry hoppiness and a carbonic texture. Nothing special, very average, and slightly underwhelming beer.

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

This pours a dark amber. An off-white head that hangs around. Great lacing. Clear. Good looking beer.

The nose starts with malts but then a nice whack of hops come through as well which give some fruity notes.

Not a lot of the malts on the palate. Knocked over by a lot of hops. Although the malt does fight back at the end. Intense bitterness.

Full bodied.

Loved it in the glass and on the nose but not as convinced when I put it in my mouth. I think it's well made but just not what I like.

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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 TheSarge
4.16/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Makes three finger thick head that is very light tan, and forms into a strong rocky/pillowy formation. Body is copper in color and cleanly filtered.

As for the aroma qualities, metallic hops are upfront, with some prune and tea characteristics.

Taste wise it's a little lemony, tea, chocolate in the middle. Finishes with herbal characteristics.

Prickly carbonation, wetting to the palate. In the middle to the end MF is a little powdery and leaves the palate dry.

A good English ale and mild hops character keeps this beer interesting. Even with the dry finish, it's still refreshing.

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

(From notes)

A - Poured with a generous finger and a half of foamy whitish head. Good retention, and lacing was solid throughout the sample. Clear amber hue.

S - Musty and biscuity maltiness with what I am guessing is a Ringwood yeast aroma. Kinda of woody aroma

T - Tea-like hop bitterness and a solid Ringwood presence, which makes it fairly distinct against the style. Decent maltiness to back it all up.

M - Thinner to Medium MF with very subtle carbonation

D - Fair drinkability for me, and it was tougher at points than others I've sampled in the style. Flavors are just OK, but overall a bit bland. Didn't really pique my interest too much.

Overall, not a bad example of the style and definitely more of a traditional English take. Not bad stuff, and pick it up only if it's easy to find.

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