Royal Oak Pale Ale | Hanlons Brewery

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Royal Oak Pale AleRoyal Oak Pale Ale
Very Good
79 Ratings
Royal Oak Pale AleRoyal Oak Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Hanlons Brewery
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by brewdlyhooked13 on 02-28-2004

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Ratings: 79 |  Reviews: 59
Photo of ADR
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out as a hazy bottle-conditioned copper color with a nice head of about 1/2 an inch in height. Nice laces, loads of comma-like marks on the glass. Aroma of hops, citrusy with some cantelope fruit tones. Somewhat less than medium body with pretty nice carbonation when it gets a chance to sit (initially, its a little too bubbly). Malt is well-composed, a little too much molasses for me, giving a slightly overpowering finish and swallow (almost eggy). Hops are not hidden or subtle on this one, lend a juicy bittering. Finishes a bit thin to my mind in mouthfeel, but with an interesting yeastiness. Pretty good, a good sense of balance but with a definite personality.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice, slightly hazy pale brown with a beautiful off-white head that builds into a large merangue that wouldn't even consider flowing down the side of the glass- now that's a head! And it keeps coming; as I refill the glass with the rest of the bottle, the head builds right back up!

Aroma is a nice, British hop but mellowed nicely by toffee, nuts, and a dark loaf of multi-grain bread. Flavor is, well, all I can say is that this is really nice- quite complex. The more I drink, the more I find. Dry, weed-like vegetation notes (you know, the rabbit food in "greens" salads). Woody. Black pepper. It's hoppier than expected, and the dryness/astringency at the end of the swallow is pronounced.

Mouthfeel is almost perfect- if the hops were a tad less harsh and slightly more creamy, I could drink it all day. Drinkability on this is quite good.

Overall, I like this and want to try it again, because I know that I am just scratching the surface of this complex brew. I think my store has a couple bottles left. Excuse me, I have an errand to run.

EDIT: I just noted, on 10/5/05, that this bottle is Best Before: 2/28/05. Well, I haven't had it when it was at it's best, I guess, but it is still quite good. Maybe I can get some more at a discount then!

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Photo of Higravity
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A cloudy orange-brown white a large chunky off-white head that hangs out and leaves chunkes down the side of the galss as you drink it in. Smells of metallic maltedness and a twinge of cirtus. The taste is of caramel malts from a long boil and a nice splashing of nobel hops on the tongue that leaves a citrus bite along with a metallic finish. Overall it is quite good and I like the secondary fermentation that goes on in any bottle. Nicely done, I would buy this many more times.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.72/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Yikes! This bottle of Royal Oak was very carbonated; even a gentle pour yielded an entire pint glass of foam. As the foam settles, an enormous rocky head forms, which eventually falls apart leaving a sticky layer foam down the sides of my glass. Wow. The aroma is massively sherry-like aroma, accented by a just a hint sulphur. Chunks of yeasty material occasionally float up; most parts sit on the bottom. As the label says, this is a true bottle-conditioned ale. As a homebrewer, I can certainly appreciate that.
The carbonation tingles the tongue. The taste of this beer is first a fizzy fruitiness, followed by a character reminiscent of blanched almonds that then dissolves into bitter hops that provide a long finish full hop bitterness and champagne-like dryness.
The intense carbonation provided for a spectacular appearance, but I didn't like the fizzy character of this beer, hence a low score for mouthfeel.

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Photo of Zorro
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A clear reddish orange colored ale with a tan head.

Smell is sweet and grainy with spicy hop scent and notable fruitiness. Faint citrus scents and some maltiness.

Taste is malty and chewy from the beginning. Nice bitter snap in the finish. Fruity and a bit woody and a little astringent, there are herbal flavors in the hops. Faint flavors of vanilla and burnt sugar in the background

Mouthfeel is good, creamy sensation to this.

Nice drinkable ale here mild and flavorful and well executed.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Significantly murky apricot filled with a furious fusillade of frenetic carbonation. The orangish ivory head is Brobdingnagian in size, initially filling 95% of the glass and causing me to break off my pour almost before it began. This is a lively one, no doubt about it. The foam is as stiff as the Queen's upper lip and as it settles, interesting geologic formations take shape. It's sticky as well since a fair amount of lace ends up on the glass.

The nose is deeper and more complex than the run of the mill English pale ale nose. It lacks a corresponding power, though trying to take its measure through several inches of foam might have something to do with that. I smell herb-dusted orchard fruit that is more sour than it is sweet.

Thankfully, the deep and complex nose translates into a deep and complex flavor profile. It's more toasted than most, with hints of toffee and a definite, firm woodiness. I have no idea if Royal Oak ever spent time in oak--or any other wood for that matter--but it sure tastes like it.

This really is a supremely balanced ale, which would ordinarily cause me to complain about a relative lack of hoppiness. There's enough hop flavor to keep me quiet, although it is a bit lacking in the bitterness department. As in the nose, spicy-herbal-fruity hops are in the front seat, if not in the driver's seat. It's still more sour than sweet until the finish, when a modest sugary sweetness makes an appearance.

The body is medium-firm and fits the flavor well. Despite the appearance and the controlled explosion with each pour, the mouthfeel isn't all that fizzy. Oh it's energetic all right, but Ritalin won't be required.

Royal Oak is a solid English pale ale that is different enough and tasty enough to warrant its reputation. I don't believe that it's the best of this style that I've ever had, but it's among the leaders for damn sure. I'd love to taste it on-tap or on-cask, so that trip to England that my wife has been bugging me about for years may yet be in the offing.

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Photo of Gusler
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer emerges from the 500ml brown bottle a bemused rusty orange color with a mount Everest sized frothy light tan head and a bazillion tons of sediment, well maybe only the size of K-2 and just a ton or two of goodies floating in suspension, with the left over lace a thick blanket to cover the glass. Nose has an unmistakable woody aroma, fresh malts, a bit soapy, fresh and clean, the start is nicely malted and lightly sweet with a light to medium feel at the top. Finish is pesky in its acidity, the hops ever so spicy and pleasant, very dry and long lasting aftertaste, what better treat after a long day of drudgery and the ride home in this 106-degree heat amongst some of the worst drivers on God’s green earth.

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clody orangish-amber hue with a large, frothy white head, a nice looking pale to say the least. The aroma is a light floral hop smell with a sweet candied apple smell in the background, well balanced smell. The taste, begins with a slightly sweet malt profile and the sweetness is similar to caramel apples maybe? Then you get a really light hops bitterness that fades quickly and you get a good taste of those fruity british yeast esters, with tastes of apples, oranges and strawberries. The finish is dries out and leaves little aftertaste. Really a superb english pale, probably one of my favorites, beating out sam smith's easy...quite an excellent brew.

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Photo of merlin48
4.53/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1 pint .9 oz bottle served at cellar temperature. Initially pours a clear copper body with an enormous billowy offwhite head that takes forever to fall. Body clouds up to a dirty tea color with the second pour, with some sediment in suspension. This ale is, obviously, bottle conditioned. Offwhite head is rocky and pitted, so large it could be scooped with a spoon. Large chunks of lace adhere to the glass as the contents are slowly drained.
Aroma is floral and herbal hops, with toffee and caramel malty notes underneath.
Mouthfeel is soft and satiny, with a medium body and a pleasing mineral note that I love in some of the English ales.
Taste is smooth and complex. Biscuity toffee malt, lilac water, soft herbs of rosemary and white pepper. Apple and pear skin sourness jumps into the middle. A bit of a metallic note from the water adds an interesting component, as well. Finish and aftertaste are slightly bitter with herbal hops. Very tasty.
An exquisite and classic English pale ale, one that I could enjoy any day of the year. O'Hanlon's has created an exceptional benchmark for the style with this one. Very sessionable. Extraordinary complexity and balance result in a sublime sipping experience. Very highly recommended if you enjoy this style.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 pint, .9 ounce bottle. This beer is amber colored with a huge off-white head that clumps together and hangs on the sides of the glass. Lots of floating particles, so I guess this is unfiltered.The aroma is malty and yeasty. If I didn't know better, I would think this a Belgian beer from the smell. The flavor is malty with a little bit of an apple cider tartness. Some hop bitterness in the finish. Medium mouthfeel. Alcohol is not very noticable. Nice drinkability. This is a pretty good beer, I just wish it were more hoppy.

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Photo of shapudding
3.54/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

1pt 5oz, bottle conditioned, dated 2/28/05. Cloudy amber with a huge amount of beige head that started to settle fairly quick, leaving only sticky lacing and a thin covering. Nice deep malty aroma, a bit vineous -red wines... bit orangey- zesty maybe, more than juice. Very juicy feel with a nice burst of tight carbination that flows over your mouth a moment after the sip. Medium body. Some white grapefruit juice flavor of hoppiness. Nice strong malts taking dominance and just a bit of sweetness during the sip, and a bit more coming out toward the end -maybe a touch of apricot nectar? Fairly clean and crisp, nicely balanced. Not an intense amount of flavor left lingering. As wet as it feels during the sip, it becomes more astringent as you finish. Nicely drinkable, good session beer, not too filling at all.

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Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poures a deep orange with a big blooming head that sticks like glue to the glass,wow some intermingling of aromas here some herbal/grassy hop shows itself up front with biscuity malt aroma in the background that intertwinds very well with the herbalness.Wow the complexities to this rather "small" beer hop tilted very herbal and minty up front but very firm biscuity malt backbone with a hint of brown suger in the finish.Wow this has to rank as one of the best English ales I have had and this isnt even the original Eldridge Pope stuff man I would love this on cask I see alot more in my future.

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Photo of RoyalT
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – This ale was absolutely gorgeous! The body is crystal clear orange in color with shades of brown. The head was explosive and went down with utter finesse. It left huge clumps of shaving cream-like foam all around the glass.

Smell – The light fruits came out first followed closely by some nice, biscuity malt. A deep breath drew a balanced bouquet of more brownish-type of malts and some good, citrusy fruity hops.

Taste – This is a very balanced ale. The hops are fruity and play well off of the toasted biscuit malt flavor. There’s a touch of yeast to this one as well. It’s that kind of almost sour taste that you get from dough that has risen and is ready to bake.

Mouthfeel – This is a big ‘un. It’s almost full-bodied and is somewhat chewy. There’s a slight yeasty tingle in the mouth like eating raw quick-bake biscuit dough.

Drinkability – Talk about your session beer. I love American Pale Ales and IPAs but if I had to go on a drinking marathon (someone twist my arm) this would be the one.

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Photo of cokes
4.97/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Murky burnt sienna topped with a thick stack of whipped vanilla cream.
Frangrant of roses, vanilla nougat, honeyed pears, and clementines, followed through with a orange rind hoppiness with steely herbal pangs.
Enters with a dry maltiness that whispers sweeter things. Like an English muffin sprinkled with hard toffee. Turns nuttier and more persuasively caramelly as it warms. The yeast here is amazing, and carries a variety of estery phantoms, candied pears, peach muffins, plantains, kiwis, and strawberries. Splashes of mineral-laden well water. The hops are aggressive up front, full of lemon- and orange- rind oily, pithy bombast, but eventually quell towards a floral, rosewater bittersweetness, accented by quinine.
Medium bodied, with a melted textural impression that is about as close to a true cask feel as any bottled brew I've tried.
A session is only limited by one's wallet.
It's so dizzyingly complex, and so compulsively drinkable. Expansive in scope, yet balanced in full.
I feel guilty for not scoring it absolutely perfect.

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Photo of gentlebubbles
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle conditioned. Freshness date 02 28 05. (odd. That's US format for the date!)

Lovely amber with reddish tinge and ruby highlights under dense, creamy layers of foam.

Brisk scent like a pile of fresh peels from tart apples hangs in there all the way down the glass. It keeps smelling better and better.

Nice bite up front over fruity, appley malt with a slight resin finish. Hints of alcohol warmth. I held back the yeast at first, but the dregs were even fruitier, so I tipped them in. The yeast makes it even mellower, but it clouded to to a hazy amber.

Lively carbonation with a sparkling mouthfeel. I want more of these.

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Photo of oxmasterscream
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Haven't been a fan of English ales anytime lately but this beer is something special. Poured a cloudy amber with a one finger, tan head, which left an incredibly thick lacing as I drank. The aroma was outstanding... very floral and spicy with some citrus and apples. A really wonderful balance. I couldn't stop sniffing the glass. Taste was very hoppy up front, big citrus, floral and spice, then some nice fruit and sweet caramel flavors followed by a medium bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and the solid carbonation makes for a smooth drink. This is a really well-balanced, amazing pale ale, which easily rivals the best the U.S. has to offer in the same category. Flavors and aromas are huge like higher alcohol IPAs but the alcohol is low so it's extremely drinkable. This stuff is top-notch.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.48/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this years ago at a frat house in Seattle and it changed the way I thought about beer. This version is not a revelation but I still love this beer.

It pours a hazy orange tan with a monster head that actually had whitcaps on top. The nose is nicely hopped and well, the taste is close to perfect. The hop notes are melded together with a solid backbone of malts and soft fruity notes. This is a classic english pale ale that asserts itself with each sip. Very food friendly, this beer deserves to be put in the same pantheon as Pedigree and Abbot Ale.

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Photo of Suds
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was very excited to find this beer, having read a lot about it's previous incarnation (although I never had it).
Explosive carbonation as you crack the cap. Pours a tawny, amber-brown color. The head is stable, thick, and self-sustaining.
The aroma is a mix of sweet-maltiness and intense fruit. Smells of raspberries, plums, and strawberries. It's a very yeasty and meaty smell. The taste starts sweet, the mouthfeel is full, and it's more carbonated than I expected. Finish is dry and hoppy with moderate bitterness. It's extremely drinkable and worth a try. I'm glad that I picked it up.

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Photo of Realale
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Full copper. Very rocky, sticky head sits at stays at a regal 3/4 of an inch coating the glass with nice, chunky lace on the way down.

Plenty of bready malt on the nose, supported by a touch of Burton-ish sulphur, and a nice woody/piney hop note. Classic.

Well-balanced in the mouth with lots of bitterness to counter all that malt. Much more bitter than the nose would lead one to expect. Touch of diacetyl, but very well in check. Good length and a crisp, minerally finish.

Lovely bottle-conditioned mouthfeel, hampered only by the agressive mineral treatment. Easily drinkable in large quantities. Happy to have this one back, and brewed by a caring brewer.

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Photo of stoutman
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad to see this one back in the states! Loved it back in the 70s-80s. Tastes a little different to me now. The flavor is mild and woody - but it is good and refreshing. Sports a thin head over a dark orange body. Light hop aroma - maybe some heather or herbs. But still way above average! This beer is an interesting example of a bitter, with strong cask characteristics, and more yeasty than I recall. Delicious.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: John O’Hanlon teamed up with Dan Thomasson, the former head brewer at Eldridge Pope, to recreate both Thomas Hardy's Ale and Royal Oak. From what I read they have used the original 1896 recipe for the Royal Oak, so this is no clone-brew or rebadged beer hopefully. The revived version comes to the US in a 1 Pint, 0.9 fl.oz. (500ml) bottle with one main label that runs continually around the body of the bottle. The label is a completely new design, on the front the words Royal Oak are in blue text on a white banner set against a background of acorns and oak leafs. Underneath the Royal Oak banner, the words ‘brewed in Devon’ are noticeable. Listed as ‘Alc. 5% Vol’ and Best Before 02-28-05. The reverse of the label has a detailed history of the beers name as well as a short explanation on the reason why O’Hanlons are now brewing it. This is a Bottle-Conditioned brew though, unlike its predecessor. One curiosity is that it is labeled a ‘Pale Ale’, whereas for me it is more of a Premium Bitter, or maybe even heading into ESB territory.

Appearance: Pours with a dark amber body, hazed due to my impatience to drink this magnificent Ale, the body had a clotted cream Devon toffee appearance. Big frothy tan head, one pour had the whole bottle in my imperial Pint Glass, complete with a small dark brown yeasty patch where the dregs were ejected onto the already formed 1” thick head.

Nose: Warm toasted malts, sun soaked oak, a mixed fruit bowl of Apples and Pears and some yeast and hops in the back end. Smells great.

Taste: Just as it smells, it tastes. Toasted malts with some grain in the start, warming lightly roasted malts in the middle mix with luscious fruits and some leather in the latter third. Apples and Pears mix in and out at times with baked bread and the dry bitter finish, which is stronger than I remember. A solid brew that is quite complex in its own way.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and rich, almost chewy at times. This is a hearty brew that would stand up against most of the stodgy foods that the British can throw at it. It goes particularly well with a Roast Beef Sunday Lunch because it can withstand a fierce Horse-Radish sauce, but it is equally at home with strong Cheeses.

Drinkability: 5% is reasonably high for most UK beers, but I recall the original EP version had a seriously high Drinkability. In this respect this is a perfect recreation. A wonderful brew, it has a rich palate of tastes including some toasted malts, tangy fruits and astringently bitter hops that lend a massive quaffability to this marvelous English Classic.

Overall: Right here and now I have to state that this is a job well done. I had an extremely high expectation of this once I saw it on the shelf. Maybe I am looking at this through Rose-Tinted Glasses perhaps but I do note a few differences from the original. It was always much better from the Cask than the Bottle or Can (yes you could get Royal Oak in Cans!). The original Eldridge Pope Royal Oak was the first premium bitter that I had when I legally entered a Pub in the South of England for the first time with my Dad. It altered my whole perception of premium Ales and remained a firm favorite ever since. I recall that on draft it was listed at 4.8% and had a slight ruddiness to its dark amber body and wasn't as bitter in the finish. It had a very memorable and impressive off-white ceramic Pump Clip that had the words Royal Oak set against a purple background with a picture of the Charles II underneath surrounded by dark green hops. Royal Oak was probably one of the greatest sub 5% Premium Bitter Cask Ales that I have ever had from the South of England. I can taste it now and recall its looks as I examined it closely and berated my father for drinking some processed lager crap. This is the recreation of an old classic that is extremely welcome, I would love to see how it develops with a few months under its belt, and I for one will certainly be interested in having a few more bottles of this, though it is way too expensive to keep more than one or two of these in the fridge.

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Photo of John
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An exciting find for me at Beers of the World. Exciting because of the anticipation I've had waiting for this and the Thomas Hardy re-launch. After holding onto fond memories of the Eldridge Pope Brewery's Royal Oak Pale Ale, I was a bit tentative when I first opened the O'Hanlon's Brewery version. I am pleased to say that when I poured the bottle and tasted this brew, I found it at least as good as I remember the original. This classic ale reborn pours a hazy amber. A meringue-like cap adorns this fine beer. Aroma consists of floral hoppiness and an estery fruitiness. Toasted multi-grain goodness tempts. The flavor is a well calculated balance of toasted, light caramel, fruity esters and evident but reserved hops. Mouthfeel is medium translating to a satisfying brew whether it be two or twelve. A brilliant recreation of a classic. Cheers to O'Hanlon's and Phoenix for bringing this and the Thomas Hardy brews back to life.

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Photo of yeagerbm
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange brown color. I didn't get any head on my pour unlike the other reviewers.
Smell is malty sweet.
Taste starts with a light caramel biscuity flavor with buttery sweetness and is followed by a tangy citrus hop aftertaste.
A very smooth mouthfeel with low carbonation.
Very drinkable at the warmer temperatures. This is a very well made English Pale/Bitter.

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Photo of WesWes
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice golden color with a thick frothy off-white head. The aroma is good. It has a nice pale malt scent with a wonderful array of citrousy aroma hops. The taste is good. It has a solid pale and light crystal malt palate. The citrous hops are present in the flavor and leave a slight aftertaste. It goes down smooth and finishes refreshing. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a fine pale ale. It has good flavor and refreshing mouthfeel; a good drinker.

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Photo of ngandhi
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

There's butter in here, poking out from beneath a huge, fluffy head wafting with gentle British hop and grain.

Royal Oak is classic (what else should I expect from O'Hanlon?). Easy drinking, but still adequately hopped. Kind of a buttery/orange diacetyl/fuggles flavor backed by very light British grain and an exceptional lingering bitterness. A little woody. The hop resins even lend some notes of cocoa, but I might be crazy. Green peppercorn. There's a spicy tea element that I'm identifying as Kent Goldings, but I could be wrong. Some alcohol comes through -- this beer isn't always "together" -- but it never really harms the beer. Good malt backbone.

Royal Oak Pale Ale is a great representative of the style and if someone asked me what a British pale tasted like, I would hand them this beer.

Relax, relax.

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Royal Oak Pale Ale from Hanlons Brewery
Beer rating: 3.98 out of 5 with 79 ratings