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 chiefydawg
4.18/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My sister-in-law was kind enough to grab this for me while in England recently. Thanks Katrina!

Impressively frothy, beautiful rocky head sitting atop a crystal clear amber-colored body. The lace is sticky, webby, and durable. I don't think it would have looked like this coming off a shelf in Ohio. More effervescence than I expected in an actual English ESB.

Caramel, toasted English muffins, toffee on the nose. Clear glass bottle, yet absolutely no skunk. Sweetish smell of warm autumn day in a bottle.

Still getting the caramel, though it is very aptly bittered to a splendid balance. Sweet and malty yet with a perceptible earthy, piney bitterness. There is a lurking taste towards the bottom that hints of barrel aging in a scotch barrel.

Overall this is one of the better ESBs I've had. It is rich yet drinkable, fresh, clean, and perfectly balanced. There is a slight aftertaste well after the bottle I cannot place, but not unpleasant. Would go well with most foods I think... perhaps especially crumpets.

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Photo of fullsweep
3.36/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500 mL poured into a glass.

Pours with a nice, thick head, at least 2 fingers. Top bubbles are nice and foamy. Color is a reddish brown.

Has a decent bitterness, with a medium sweetness. It's good, but not overpowering. Nice mix of mellowness and flavor, but nothing remarkably interesting.

Would drink again, but only after I try everything else . . .

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Photo of Ohiovania
3.54/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

The gf flew one home for me from Woking.

The look of the beer is a very nice medium dark amber. Some nice head formed and lasted a generous amount of time. Decently carbonated with some good lacing. Pretty average but decent aromas, some bitter sweet and just slightly malty. The taste is a very pleasant bitter and a nice balance of malt and somewhat other hard to described flavors (not to steal someone elses description but almost buttery and slight citrus.) Mouth feel is very creamy and feels good going over the tongue.

I wouldn't make this and everyday beer but it was a nice change of pace from what i usually drink.

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Photo of AlexLMS
2.62/5  rDev -28%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: bright and light copper colour. Moderate to low, foamy and off-white head. May not be long lasting but leaves some lacings.
Aroma: sweet malts, earth hops, some biscuit presence and a very slightly toasted aroma.
Taste: sweet malts and very bitter hops. Wood oaks notes.
Mouthfeel: very dry, average carbonation, medium alcoholic presence and a medium to full body.
Finish: lingering bitter aftertaste.

Overall: interesting beer dominated by the bitter flavour. Too focused on the bitter side and not as well balanced as I could expect from earlier reviews.

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Photo of LittleCreature
3.97/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - 4.0
Poured two fingers of frothy beige head that reduced to a thin layer over a clear reddish brown body.

Smell - 4.5
Lovely, rich, sweet malt driven aroma. Smells of baking teacake, burnt sugar, caramel, a little leafy hops with a vague blackcurrant edge.

Taste - 4.0
Alcohol presence is there, especially for an English Ale. After the smell, the highish level of bitterness is a surprise, although there is plenty of malty flavour to balance it. Somewhat buttery, and there is an orange flavour in the dry finish.

Mouthfeel - 3.5
Moderate carbonation is a little rough over the tongue. Feels quite heavy in the mouth.

Drinkability - 3.5
Borderline sessionable, the alcohol is very noticeable but it's bloody tasty and not hard to drink.

I drank this straight from the fridge, and it was only in the second half of the glass I could truly appreciate what a good beer it is. Not cheap, but certainly worth it for the quality.

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Photo of AylwinForbes
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shepherd and Neame a long-time champion of English beer. A pleasant surprise to find it represented in that least likely of venues, Heathrow Airport, amidst the overpriced chique boutiques and fast food. From the cask, a slightly turbid amber, moderate head fairly sudsy. Reasonable malty, fruity aroma. On the palate, mild dry bitterness, with good body - the higher alcohol shows - some malty, fruity flavours provide some complexity and interest.

An excellent parting shot.

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

Beer bottle (50cl), tasted in 2000.
Appearance : deep amber color (dark malt), with white foam head
Smell : rich malty nose,
Taste and mouthfeel : notes of chocolate, hoped, well balancing bitterness, finish of smoky malt.
Drinkability : a good beer in the style ESB

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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 Bierschenker
4.64/5  rDev +27.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Brought this along from Ireland.

This beer was consumed in a Pint glass.
The colour is a beautiful copper brown.
On top a nice creamy head with mediate bubbles.
The scent is very pleasant, hop and malt. Sometimes the most basic elements form the greatest dish. No carbonation present.
The taste is as superb in simplicity as the scent. Malt, hops and slight yeast.
The mouthfeel is watery and creamy at the same time.
The aftertaste gives more hop bitterness and some lemonpeel.

I am convinced!

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Photo of rjimlad
3.96/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

In my haste to get into this I overchilled it and lost the initial impression. The colour, though, is beautiful clear, clean copper with a creamy head that hung around leaving fine lacing. I must be olfactorily challenged because I am weak on aromas so I didn't get what other reviewers said. It's toasty and malty with a hoppy lift but I just can't pick any more detail than that. On the flavour side I found a perfectly balanced malt and hop; toasty again and a bit metallic back of the palate. I love the bitterness. Just right and great length with a lip-smacking finish. I must confess to being an ESB noob so I can't really compare with many others but I like this a lot.

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Photo of MillRat
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is an English bitter with some attitude and unconventional hopping. This clear coppery ale maintains a white head that leaves lace behind. The hops are rather interesting, going beyond the usual Fuggles and Goldings into some more mineral-like notes. The yeast has a decided fruity flavor to it that carries into the aroma as well. The taste is quite heavy with biscuity malt and hop flavors. For only 5+% ABV, it is quite full-bodied. A second or third bottle would be most welcome, but it does not fall into the realm of the truly sessionable.

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Photo of Stephen63
3.32/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Mahogany body with very short lived head.

S - Flowery aroma with malt and hops also very prevalent.

T - Slight fruitiness, but for me the hops then seems to take over. Pleasant enough.

M - Bit weak/thin.

D - Not really my style, so nice to try one but not a beer I'd like to get as a six pack.

A solid if unspectacular beer. Would definitely be interested in trying a cask version.

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Photo of Mark
4.01/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer at my reliable Lord Moon pub in London. bishops Finger is a clear deep amber topped by a dense off white head that leaves excellent patterns of lace. Aroma is very mild but inviting. Very very smooth on the palate with subtle hopping over a solid malt base. touch of fruit typical of the brewer is present. Easy drinking and enjoyable.

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Photo of aussielars
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Coppery amber-coloured and poured with a very nice firm, slowly disappearing, pale cream-coloured head, that leaves lacing on glass. Effervescence is slow and steady. Smells of toast, fruit, malt and maybe a hint of metallic aroma as the beer warms up.

Tastes malty with a very pleasant dry bitter aftertaste. I really enjoyed this nice full-bodied beer. Could definitely have a few more of this, but since I live in Queensland I'll have to wait until winter.

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Photo of sloejams
3.92/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on cask at Heathrow Airport in London. The Wetherspoon Restaurant in Terminal 4 has 4-5 beers on cask and proudly hangs the Cask Marque at the entrance. Pours a turbid amber color topped with a few bubbles. The flavor is textbook English Bitter – toasty malts, low hop presence. I enjoyed.

I wish LAX had places like this to grab a pint.

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

A: Warming dark orange/amber. Clear, good bubbling and a big beige frothy head
S: Good lifted hop aromas on the pour; from the glass a honeycomb/amber malt profile
F: Rich malt and floral, metallic hop flavours. Hints of herbal bitter principles, such as wormwood or gentian, supported by a good actual bitterness.
M: Full palate, medium body and good length. Leaves a rich impression.
O: Good, hearty ale. Big profile. Probably leave it at one I think.

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Photo of Absumaster
3.53/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an brown, dark amber color with a creamy head which sticks to the glass. Very low visible carbonation.

Smell is slightly metallic, fruity like a good english beer, some caramel malt. Quite hoppy actually, but this comes out a little later. A malt smell is in the back.

Taste of caramel and slightly bitter, yet hoppy. A nice yeasty fruitness and perfect maltiness. There is a slight husky taste, but this really adds to the beer. A dry and thin mouthfeel, which match the beer.

For me an average bitter, just decent stuff.

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Photo of gpcollen1
4.08/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoying a few pints at the Clocktower in Cheltenham after a 13 hour day. Travelling this far on business sucks, but I get to have some nice pints that I normally would not be able to enjoy.

Appearance: dark amber in color with a robust white head - It is hard for me to give a nice cask pour anything less than a 4.5.

Smell: actually getting some hops - a bit fruity. I find myself spending a bit of time smelling this one as I am on my own tonight.

Taste: A bit of maltiness and quite pleasant. Thinner than I expected. Actually getting a hint of alcohol - in comparison to the bitters in the 3-4% range.

Drinkability: Quite a nice ale and highly drinkable. Well rounded flavor and suits my tastes wonderfully. I would love to see this around in the US.

Overall - I love the UK. We just don't get to see brews like this unless we go on a weekend cask expedition in the US. I could drink these all day and night. I do love the little bit of extra alcohol in this too!

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Photo of funkengruven
4.2/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up again after a long time ago having this and remembering that I did not particularly enjoy it. But my tastes have grown to become a lot more developed over the years, and I thought I would give this one another try.

This poured a pretty dark red with a thin head sitting over the top of the glass. Smell is extremely hoppy, no skunk evident in this bottle, which is surprising considering the clear bottle. The flavor is of bitter hops and a bold caramel flavor that comes to a clean finish. Carbonation is abundant but not excessive, and surprisingly this time, this is very easy to drink.

That last bottle I had must have been a bad one, but this one was great. I'm sure i'll be greeting my fridge with another one of these sometime soon.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear copper. Head is thick and sticky.

S - Fruity, citrusy aromas. Slight metallic notes as well.

T - Citrusy hops and toasted grain. Fruity and buttery flavours and a dry graininess. Solid bitterness in the finish.

M - Slightly chewy and full bodied.

D - Much better than I remember. A good solid session beer.

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Photo of kmacphail
1.79/5  rDev -50.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

After noticing it on offer in the local Sommerfield and having sampled some English bitters recently I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did not pay much for it. Upon pouring it out of the bottle it poured a nice mahogany colour with an off-white head, which lasted less than 10 seconds before disappearing.

The smell of the beer is that of a typical bitter, nothing to distinguish it from any other bitter, but not unpleasant.

However this was as good as it got.

The pint was very disapointing and seriously lacked any body. It had a very bland taste, with only a hint of fruity aftertaste that gave it any note. This was a very disapointing, watery beer. The fact that it did lack any body may result in this being a decent all night beer, but not for me, I didn't even finish the bottle.

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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 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 granger10
3.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear golden orange color with a larger off white head thats compact but dwindles down after a few minutes. Tons of lacing along the glass. Aroma has an earthy base to it with a floral edge and caramel maltiness. Seems quite balanced and quite nice. Taste follows suit but adds more of a fruity character, apples and bananas. A slight buttery flavor comes with the earthyness from the yeast. There is a slight mineral flavor which rides along the whole time. The hops are always there, floral and fragrant, but they never really come out and shine. Finish is drying, a bit citric, with a slight english toffee sweetness. Well balanced and smooth. The hops and malts and yeast work nicely here. Enjoyable but not the most complex or intriguing beer out there. Still, I definitely recommend trying it.

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Photo of Daredevil
4.57/5  rDev +25.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A wonderful pour gives a firm long lasting head (almost as in a belgian abbey brew) ... smell is exceptional well matured hops with hints of banana ... the taste is matching the expectations of the bouquet, offering some charcoal grilled tomatos paired with mango chutney and rye bread in the palate ... quite exotic ... a very interesting example of a strong ale ...

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