Manchester Star Ale
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

Manchester Star AleManchester Star Ale
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Style:
Strong Ale - English
Ranked #4
ABV:
7.3%
Score:
88
Ranked #8,427
Avg:
4.01 | pDev: 9.48%
Reviews:
115
Ratings:
179
From:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  18
Gots
  7
SCORE
88
Very Good
Manchester Star AleManchester Star Ale
Notes:
View: Beers
Reviews: 115 | Ratings: 179 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by TheLongBeachBum:
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TheLongBeachBum from California

3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 16.9 fluid ounce, Half Litre bottle. Wide body with a tall thin neck sealed with a simple black crown cap. Label looks like that shown in the BA Database. Listed at 7.3% and first brewed in 1884, the recipe was resurrected after the Head Brewer visited Brooklyn Brewery in 2001. It was brewed again in 2004 to celebrate the Head Brewer being awarded the title of ‘Brewer of the Year’ from a bunch of drunken overpaid out of touch windbag old farts….oh I’m sorry, I really meant to say the Parliamentary Beer Club. Here, here…here…. Order…Order…….

Appearance: Very dark ebonyous mahogany body looks sultry and moody. Light colored tan head rises and falls quickly but never disappears completely. Large bubbles form the head and plaster the glass walls with some smattered lacing. The broken head on the surface has a Lunar appearance.

Nose: Lots of molasses in the aromas, slightly sweet at the back of the nostrils. Dark fruits, figs, prunes and hints of Camp® coffee. Gentle Rauch like finish.

Taste: Bovril dissolves the coffee covered malts. Molasses remain from the nose and they fight with a dark chewy bonfire toffee in the middle. Soil laden malts lend a very rustic feel, which balances with the powdery sweetness, bitter coffee and Bourneville dark chocolate. Strange, I can’t help getting a “farmyard feel” from this one…though I’m sure it’s psychological as I think of the English Countryside whilst drinking this one.

Mouthfeel: Low key conditioning, almost cask-like. Soft sweetness with a mild bitterness. Gentle chewy toffee texture. Attractive.

Drinkability: The sweetness is right on the edge of what I can tolerate, even so, I still find this offering to be a rather enjoyable brew. As easy going as a game of Crown Green Bowls on a quiet sunny Sunday afternoon.

Overall: Interesting one this, a rather unique offering, the sweetness is higher than expected. As I have never seen this one before I just had to give it a whirl when I did. So glad that I took the risk, but at $5.99 for the bottle, it is not one I would stock the fridge with. However, if you fancy treating yourself or want to sample something different for a special occasion then go ahead and do so, you will not be disappointed.

Raising this Old School English Porter high tonight to the England Cricket Team and their magnificent series win to regain the Ashes, fantastic stuff!

Sep 13, 2005
More User Reviews:
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drperm from Virginia

5/5  rDev +24.7%

A: dark dark brown, nearly black save for the caramel-russet hue that's evident when you hold it up to the light. Dissipating brown head that lingers as a thin layer.
Sm: Toffee, madeira, warm spices, caramel, Christmas pudding
T: Complex, smoky, toffee (again), raisins, with a nice English-hop backbone that keeps it from being sweeet. Excellent complex, bitter finish.
P:Lingers pleasantly on the palate, encouraging you to take another sip. At over 7%, it's a tiger lurking in the shadows, but a friendly, cuddly tiger.
O: The best beer I've had IN A WHILE. Original and classic at the same time. I'd put this up against a robust steak or venison dinner OR a dessert such as creme brulee.
There will be more of these in my future. It's f%^&ing righteous.

Dec 09, 2014
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jkblr from Indiana

3.99/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500mL bottle stamped L10305 11:53 (9 years old, I'm guessing) poured into a snifter at fridge temp 7.3% ABV. The beer pours dense very dark brown with light brown head and nearly no light penetration. The head is modest on a hard pour and recedes to a fat ring around the glass. No residual head or lacing. The aroma is molasses, raisin, plum and caramel. The taste is semisweet molasses, pipe tobacco, leather, prune and cherry (all rather oxidized) that finishes with little bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with very low carbonation and a wet finish. Not cloying, but rather balanced by the deeply toasted caramel more than any hop bitterness. Overall, good. I guess I didn’t think this was 9 years old when I picked it up room temperature a couple months ago. I would love to try it fresh or properly stored.

Nov 07, 2019
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BeerAdvocate from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #44 (Sep 2010):

A beer of resurrection. Big, brown, heady start ... such a dark, inviting brew. Tart plums to spiced molasses cake to caramel make for a showy aroma. Hefty body and a deep smoothness. A little burnt, with more of a burnt sugar flavor in the end. Maltiness is all over the place with bread, caramel, brown bread and unsweetened dark choco- late flavors to sort out. Some modest hopping is helped along by the fruity alcohol, keeping it on an even keel. Caramelized pineapple. Fading burnt grain finish with a long lingering of ripe fruit. Super tasty, this one is--a keeper, a sipper and an absolute delight.

Jan 11, 2011
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Brent from Kentucky

3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer reminded me of what was available several years ago when old-style porters really started coming back onto the scene, before brewers started pumping them up with lots of chocolate and coffee notes. The beer has a pretty substantial malt backbone, with vague coffee and unsweetened cocoa notes in teh background. Finish is firm, with a good balance of malt sweetness and bittering.

Aug 23, 2008
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jdhilt from New Hampshire

4.35/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a two-finger light tan head that fades quickly leaving no lace. Black - totally opaque. Light carbonation, medium-heavy bodied. Nose is molasses/raisin. Starts sweet, didn't really notice the hops, smooth molasses finish, excellent porter. Pricey, $6.99 for a 500ml bottle from Julio's Liquors, Ma.

Dec 11, 2005
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oberon from North Carolina

4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown nearly black with some ruby tint when held up to the light a thinner mocha colored head atop.Deeply roasted malt,molasses and bitter chocolate aromas dominate,somewhat drier porter here starts out very roasty with some raisin quality along with a touch of brown sugar but finishing very earthy with notes of unsweetened chocolate.Just a solid beer thru out nice balance of sweet to earthiness.

Mar 21, 2006
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cokes from Wisconsin

3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Somewhere between cola and mud, this pitches forth a barely translucent brown. The head is beige and fast to fade.
The nose is subtle, or perhaps just weak, but lurking around with bark, carob, and liquorice. It gathers toffee as it warms, and dankens with more mossy wood.
The first draught befuddles, then the same with each additional sip. Strewn with watery molasses, tobacco, and carob flavor, but seemingly willy-nilly, and not adhered together. It's malty, but loose. Whiskey-drenched maplewood appears late, traced with vanilla. Any sort of elevated ABV is masked. Booze flavors are by suggestion only. In simple summary, it tastes good, but it doesn't taste enough.
The mouthfeel is obtuse, with a suggestion of heft undercut with a general sparcity of everything: flavor, carbonation, depth. This need to be broadened. It needs acuity. It's not awful by any stretch, but there are vastly superior English porters, both from there and statestate. See Sam Smith and Arcadia for two real lessons.
Hmmm....I'm deeply disappointed here. The near 6-pack price for the single bottle lead me astray, expectation wise.

I let it stand for a good long while, and all that developed was carob flavored maple water.

I'm more or less indifferent of the actual brew. It is drinkable, and a fair example, but my wallet holds a grudge like a motherfucker and it won't let me buy this again.

Apr 30, 2005
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Suds from Missouri

4.07/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is a deep, brownish-ruby color with a frothy light-chocolate head. The aroma is enticing: molasses and malt (almost a malt-syrup smell) with dark chocolate, alcohol, and a mix of fruity esters. At times it has the faint aroma of booze soaked fruit. It’s a far more pleasing smell than I expected. The taste is semi-sweet with a focus on the malt. There’s a little toasted bread flavors, chocolate, and roasted grain as well. Wonderful, complex, and satisfying. The carbonation is quite restrained, giving the brew a smooth body with medium heft. It’s very drinkable, despite the sweetness. I was very impressed with this one.

Nov 12, 2006
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.67/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

J.W. Lees's Manchester Star Ale pours an almost completely opaque, dark mahogany body that borders on black but doesn't quite make it there. The glowing ruby-crimson highlights along the sides and base of the pint are slightly muddled (bottle-conditioned?); and it's short head of creamy ivory foam rests lazily atop.

The nose is intriguing with notes of molasses, toffee, sweet dark chocolate, and some mild dark fruit.

It's medium-full body and gentle carbonation leave it dextrinous and smooth in the mouth.

The flavor is richer than the nose indicates, and it's clear that there's Maris Otter malts being used here. The dark caramel, molasses, demerara sugar, toffee malt appears upfront and dominates throughout. It's sugary sweet but balanced by a solid, underlying bitterness and some leafy and grassy hop flavors.

There's an earthy/mineralistic character to it, as well as some leathery, almost barnyard-like character; and I wonder if they've perhaps added some Brettanomyces in the secondary to give it some "antique", or "authentic" quality. Additionally, perhaps there's a small amount of smoked malt added to give it a touch of something extra... although that might be coming from just a touch of roasted barley or even very dark kilned chocolate malt such as Paul's.

It's dark fruitiness arises towards the swallow, and it's juicy like a plum or prune, but there's also a kind of bitter-skin quality to it as well. It fades rather easily in the finish, however, with alternating residual flavors that include the molasses, leafy hops, minerals, leather, dark fruit skin, toffee, and even a hint of coffee.

Overall, this is a really intriguing, complex, satisfying, and enjoyable pint that would make a great finish to a night; or perhaps an after-dinner drink, or even cigar-beer. Very nice!

May 29, 2005
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yen157 from New Jersey

4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Based on an 1884 recipe, revived in 2001 at the Brooklyn brewery and brought back into regular production by JW Lees.

Impressively dark brown with only the faintest cola-colored highlights shining through. Foamy beige head quickly melts back into the pint. Rich, sweet, treacle-y nose with notes of buttery toffee and artificial coffee (you know, like a coffee scented candle or somerthing). Decently sweet up front with the flavors reminiscent of chocolate. Finish is very coffee-n-cream with bitterness coming from the dark malts.

Pretty nimble mouthfeel considering the depth of the malt contributions and the 7.3% alcohol. I would love to come across this on tap or even cask conditioned. Great beer!

Mar 17, 2005
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BeerResearcher from Massachusetts

3.43/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

16.9 oz brown bottle. No freshness date.
It pours an impenetrable roofing tar color with a beige/tannish head of various sized bubbles.
The aroma is hard to detect. Just a weak hint of roasted malt and perhaps brown bread.
The malt has an unmistakable taste of dark roasted coffee with cream and 2 sugars. A light taste of toffee and hint of vanilla follow.
The hop profile is pretty much buried in the sweet malt body.
A little bit fruity with a taste of dark tea vies for attention, but falls a bit shy.
The alcohol is well hidden.
After having somewhat high expectations for this brew, I’m left a little disappointed.

Apr 29, 2005
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Gusler from Arizona

4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the 500ml bottle, the beer pours an opaque brown, the head modest and creamy tan, as it evaporates, the lacing provides a concealing curtain to drape the glass. Nose has a sweet malt aroma, molasses, caramel, and a touch of earthiness, with the roasted grain present. Start is rich in sweet malt, a bit of bitterness at the back; touch of bitterness, top is rich and full in feel to the palate. Finish has a benignant acidity, the hops understated but noticeable, quite dry and sweet until the end.

Nov 14, 2007
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francisweizen from Alaska

4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle.

Cola brown with not much of a head to speak of. The aromas remind me of an interesting melange of things. Tire rubber, biscuity malts, cocoa, weak coffee, a bit of smoke, and more. The taste is more coffee and chocolate than the aroma leads on to belive. But the malts are there in full force, and the interesting rubber flavor comes back on the back side as well. Well integrated and nice, but a bit thin in the mouth. Drinkability remains good though. Truly an interesting brew, that I hope to sample again. I wonder if they will produce casks of this for the UK market? One can only hope!

Mar 29, 2005
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clvand0 from Kentucky

4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark color with a small head that falls fast and doesn't leave much lacing on the glass. The aroma has some some marshmallow/diacetyl going on. Also some dark malts. The flavor doesn't have as much dark malt character as I expected, but it had some of the diacetyl and marshmallow. Reminds me of a nice sweet stout. The mouthfeel is just short of thick and the drinkability is good.

Jul 11, 2005
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WesWes from New York

3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a 1/4" tan head that fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a rich malty scent that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It has a some sweet chocolate malt scents as well. The taste is good. It has a very sweet and malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes a bit earthy and warm. It has some residual sweetness from the use of many crystal malts. It has a roaste malt feel as well as some chocolate hints. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a tastey beer. It has an excellent malt bill that adds complexity and great flavor to this English Porter. It's sweet with a warm finish; a good drinker.

Sep 12, 2005
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

3.72/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Hogtownharry: Poured a light black color ale with a big foamy head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of black chocolate is very enticing with some nice English malt also noticeable. Taste of lightly sweet chocolate malt is very good and dominated the taste spectrum. Body was slightly watery with some medium carbonation. This was a very good beer but it is lacking a little something to be truly great.

Jan 05, 2007
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HappyHourHero from Indiana

4.27/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 Pint .9 oz bottle with a short little story on the back that says the recipe was reintroduced after J.W. Lees visited Brooklyn Brewery in 2001. This is the second batch since then.

Pours a small dense light brown colored head that fades quickly to a film. Roasted malt aroma mixed with some vinuous tobaco notes. Deep black colored beer with a ruby hue when held to the light. Roasted malts, some cocoa and marshmallow, and some vinuous tobacco mix and mingle up front. Soft light body. Tons of flavor that reminds me a bit of Storm King, only a bit sweeter.

May 30, 2005
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RoyalT from Ohio

3.5/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This one is medium-brown in color with a modest dissipating head, which according to the BJCP is typical of the style.

Smell – The light roasty notes are brightened up with some broken down sugars. They are very sweet and smell like regular table sugar. The malts themselves are very easy on the olfactory bulb and exceptionally smooth.

Taste – This Porter is very easy at the taste as well. The sugars are really big and dominate this brew. The light malt that survives the nose makes a decent backbone.

Mouthfeel – This ale is well below medium-bodied but I wouldn’t call it light. It has a noticeable bitterness in the middle and finishes smoothly.

Drinkability – I liked the last sip a lot better than the first. This one kind of grew on me in the hour or so it took me to drink it. If you love Porter and want something to session, this is your baby.

Jun 25, 2005
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akorsak from Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a 500 mL bottle, poured into an Ommegang Hennepin glass. The porter is close to room temperature.

Appearance: The ale is a deep black color with deep ruby highlights, especially when held to light. There is a nice ring of head around the glass.

Smell: The ale has an unusual aroma, a cross between the roasted porter that I am used to and an older, almost Rodenbach-esque aged ale. Very interesting...

Taste: The ale tastes as intriguing as the smell, a mixture of old and new. The old provides a nice quasi-stale taste, while the new gives a sweet character.

Mouthfeel: The ale's unusual provenance allows it to sit quite well on the palate.

Drinkability: I intend to grab another bottle or two at my next stop at Wells.

Apr 17, 2006
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Crosling from Colorado

3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears black in the glass, with a small, poorly developed light tan cream. Very light malt aroma, with a hint of espresso (with cream), roast and chocolate along with a touch of charred raisins and a hint of leather. Flavor is really rich and malty, quite unique in its composition. Hints of chocolate covered plums, salty cashews and a light hint of coffee. Light in body, but with a fitting texture and a moderate hop finish. Very tasty porter, but lacking aromatically. Still though, to be drinking this in 1884...

Apr 25, 2006
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gueuzeonhigh from Maine

4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer has the look of a Porter.
It pours Bible black.
Produces a frothy head that lasts a long time and laced the glass.
The nose is slight with hints of toasted malt and a bit alcohol.
Blindfolded and tasting this beer I declare it a porter or perhaps some sort of an ale-- although the signature of a porter is dominant over that of a strong ale.
While the bitterness of hops is unmistakeable the toasted malt shows through with a hair of sweetness as an undercurrent. I might venture to say I tasted some caramel as well.
The finish is long with a bitter hops note yet tempered by a porter's signature.
Mouthfeel was good but I wish there was more to the flavor body- I suppose that porters are not supposed to be particularly robust or dense.. as a stout should be.
Drinkability was fine-- the alcohol was not overwhelming and the entire presentation was interesting enough to motivate me to look for another bottle of this porter.
Next time I'm at my fave packie-- I'll very likely buy a bottle or two-- unfortunately the price of this import dampens my enthusiasm for stocking my stash with too much of the same brew.

Oct 10, 2008
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GCBrewingCo from North Carolina

3.85/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass a translucent blackish brown with a white and low head which retreated quickly to the edges of the surface but tried to lace the glass without any luck.

The aroma was lightly fruity with a slightly vinous character. Some slight caramel maltiness exisited in the aroma along with a very very slight roastiness and very slight chocolate.

The flavor was wowee, much more interesting than the aroma. The flavor was nicely malty with an interesting vinous charcter like that of an old ale. The flavor contained a sweet cherry fruit complement and a light chocolate flavor that added to that complexity. The hop flavor and bittering was just high enough to balance and keep the beer from becoming overly sweet.

The finish was just dry with lasting cherry fruit flavors and maltiness long into the aftertaste and becoming very dry in the finality of the flavor. The body was medium and the carbonation level was low. Almost a Baltic Porter with nice flavor complexity and a sleeper aromatic.

16.9 ounce bottle. Original recipe from 1884.

May 22, 2005
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merlin48 from Kentucky

4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Replicated from an 1884 recipe, in association with Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver, according to the label.
Pours a dark and opaque ebony body with a small beige head that quickly falls into a collar. No lacing.
Aroma is interesting, with notes of dark chocolate, molasses, Concord grapes, and creamed coffee. A few roasty notes appear as it warms.
Mouthfeel is thick and coating, somewhat chewy. Medium full bodied with low carbonation.
Taste is excellent. Medium milk chocolate sweetness, dark fruity figs and dates, soft grassy hops, Concord grapes, and a note of molasses. No hint of the higher abv. A few roasty dark malt notes finally emerge near the finish.
Very tasty and dangerously drinkable. Taste is superlative, but slightly on the sweet side with the dark fruits, Concord grapes, and milk chocolate. Wish this one was not so expensive.

Sep 18, 2005
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opaque mahogany with dark gold highlights at the edges. I love to see light-rejecting porters because it usually means that the malt load is on the high side. The light caramel colored head is several fingers in height with a heap of glassine bubbles on its upper surface. I hope the lace display is ultimately more impressive than it is right now, since nothing is sticking so far (and nothing sticks in the end).

While the nose isn't as thunderously malty as I had hoped, it's still a good one and fits the style well. There's much more underripe dark fruit than there is chocolate or coffee. I'm reminded, to some extent, of a Baltic porter lite. English hops add olfactory interest.

Okay, so maybe my 'opacity equals malty' theory is all wet. Even though it isn't anywhere near stout-like, Manchester Star contains a decent amount of barley given the style. There's a great deal of flavor to be had and the beer probably hasn't even topped 55 degrees yet. I'm suprised by the fruity sourness. I'm also enjoying the flavor more as I become acclimated to it.

This one distinctive porter; I don't know that I've ever tasted another one quite like it. The flavor profile consists of treacle, raisins, plums, cocoa and a hint of anise. It's something of a mishmash, but an interesting mishmash that works well. Hard to describe, easy to enjoy. There's quite a bit more depth here than in most versions of the style.

The body/mouthfeel firms up as the beer sits, achieving 'medium' status by the bottom half of the bottle. A light stickiness on the back end and a subdued amount of carbonation help the mouthfeel quite a bit and cause the beer to seem more viscous than it actually is.

Manchester Star is interesting beer. Thankfully, it's also good beer. Along with Samuel Smith's Famous Taddy, Fuller's London and Original Flag, it's an English porter to be reckoned with. If you're looking for a quintessential, across the pond version that is nothing like its American counterparts, give this one a go. Tasty stuff.

Sep 26, 2006
Manchester Star Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 179 ratings