HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)
George Gale & Company Ltd

HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)
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Style:
Bitter - English
Ranked #5
ABV:
4.8%
Score:
88
Ranked #12,863
Avg:
3.99 | pDev: 12.78%
Reviews:
45
Ratings:
66
From:
George Gale & Company Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  22
Gots
  2
SCORE
88
Very Good
HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)
Notes:
View: Beers
Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 66 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of stevoj
stevoj from Idaho

2.5/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Cask at the Prince Harry. Unfortunately, this is a victim of some ill-,maintained lines, and it presented itself with slight vinegar notes. Sensed a standard bitter under it all, malty, bready and mildly sweet. Would like to sample again.

Jan 06, 2020
Photo of JonnoWillsteed
JonnoWillsteed from England

2.93/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

L- Very feint malts.
S- Chestnut, clear, 5mm fine white head.
T- Some toast into dry hops, underwhelming - there seems a lack of character or distinction, ie nothing I'll remember about this one later.
M- This was bought on hand-pull pump, the CO2/head in the glass was fine looking, it seems pretty low in the mouth.
O- Adds up to a rather disappointing beer, with nothing particularly notable about it, though pleasant enough with lunch while passing through Oxford.
Bought with lunch at the Bear Inn, 6 Alfred Street, Oxford.

May 30, 2019
Photo of vinicole
vinicole from England

3.84/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Cask, Clear dark amber. Thin head.
Not much aroma. English hops with slight caramel biscuit malt.
The taste was an enhanced version of it's smell with the addition of dried fruit and some earthiness. Bitter finish.
Great cask conditioning.
A good traditional English bitter.

Feb 18, 2019
Photo of Malts_over_hops
Malts_over_hops from New Jersey

4.43/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The English bitter is a wonderful style of beer. I am enjoying this HSB at The Parcel Yard in King's Cross. Fresh out of the tap, it pours an outstanding ruby red/copper brown color with an off white, 1 finger head. Smells like toffe and biscuits. The taste is outstanding due to its bitter finish. There are tons of malty beers out there, but to make a truly malty beer finish with a refreshing bitter end is something only English Bitters are capable of achieving. Very delicious, creamy mouthfeel. Excellent. At 4.8%, it is extremely sessionable. I will probably end up drinking many more of these in one session. Fantastic.

Aug 27, 2017
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Irishnutjob from Florida

5/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my all time favorites although I've not been back to Hampshire for many years and since Gales was bought by Fullers. But I miss the many pints I've consumed both in Horndean, Winchester, Southsea, etc.

Jul 06, 2017
Photo of kitschiguy
kitschiguy from Hong Kong

4.86/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank 3 pints of cask at the Good Intent, Petersfield, Hampshire, England.

Poured a lovely medium-dark reddish brown with a nice head that stuck around for a while.

Nose: Beautiful complex aromas of malt, biscuit, toast, baked cookies and a little dried fruit.

Palate: Complex sweet malt flavours. Biscuity with enough light hoppy bitterness to make it extremely refreshing. Very well rounded, hitting the entire mouth.

Mouth: Nice medium bodied mouthfeel, with low, tight carbonation making it quite creamy.

Overall an exceptional English bitter. A delicious and wonderfully complex beer and one that's close to my heart.

edit* I just drank another one of these and it made me want to edit my original score. Improved score for taste - this beer is truly exceptional.

Jul 15, 2015
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Fdough1 from Maryland

4.65/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is one this is one of my favorite beers. Spent a lot of time in uk and could get it everyday. Back home in the states I am deprived of it. Sitting in pub today enjoying this old favorite. Taste, mouth feel and color are outstanding. Best right off the tap. Please import this beer!!!

Apr 18, 2015
Photo of Hoppsbabo
Hoppsbabo from England

3.8/5  rDev -4.8%

A: Vivid mahogony, almost ruby coloured. A fine but clingy off-white head which glazes the surface of the beer.
S: Peppy and fudge-like.
T: Dry with a pleasant woody rum quality. Initially just nice and taut with no caramel or warming syrup, but it comes through slightly as your tongue gets more saturated in it. No aftertaste at first. Fairly acidic. A touch of white bread in there, and just a hint of citrus. Gets progressively better towards the end of the pint. Nice fluffy mouthfeel.
O: A very sound beer but not particularly inspired. Would complement a Ploughman's beautifully.

Nov 09, 2014
Photo of EmperorBevis
EmperorBevis from England

3.66/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled and possibly bottle conditioned
Pours a copper hued amber body with big foaming white head that pretty much disappears altogether
Spritely citrus aroma
Nice bitterness on the way out

Nov 01, 2013
Photo of FLima
FLima from Brazil

3.22/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark Amber color. It made just one finger head.
Faint malty aroma.
Taste is quite malty with earthy hops, with a dry finish. I could not get much more than that.
Light body with light carbonation and small bubbles.
It is a straight forward bitter ale, no thrills.

Dec 23, 2012
Photo of CwrwAmByth
CwrwAmByth from England

3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on cask hand pump at the Mad Bishop and Bear in Paddington Station, London.

Pours a dark, rich brown colour. Quite a nice looking head on it.

Didn't make any note on the smell so I assume it was average.

Tastes extremely malty, very earthy and wholesome. Never had anything taste like this without going into the realms of dark, burnt malt flavours like a stout or porter. Extremely moreish though it eventually gets a bit heavy, plus it's a bit too boozy for a session beer. Slight hops in the background provide a bit of fruitiness to balance, though they are very faint in comparison.

Overall a really nice offering from the now owned by Fullers brewery. Should be noted that this pub has always served beer at a perfect (for me) temperature.

Nov 17, 2012
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DrinkSlurm from New York

3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a nonic pint glass at a pub in Salisbury, England. Pours a deep red with a good head retention. Sweet malt aromas, some slight fuggle style hop aromas as well.
Taste is really nice, great sweet malty flavors and maybe some toffe, but is well balanced with a good amount of hops. Easy drinker but heavy. Im usually not a fan of bitters, but this is one of the best bitters ive had to date.

Aug 07, 2012
Photo of ADZA
ADZA from Australia

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

Pours a clear ruby hue which leaves a two finger head and sporadic lacing,the smell is sweet caramelized malts,herbal hops,a touch of dried fruits and also some sweet dark port,the mouthfeel is just over light bodied and has tastes of dark ripe fruits,sweet caramel,marzipan,sticky toffee and finished with a earthy hop bittersweetness and overall its alright and different but not my favourite example of the style.

Sep 12, 2011
Photo of woosterbill
woosterbill from Kentucky

3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Handpump half-pint at the Thornbury Castle. The bartender insisted on pouring me a sample first, in case the beer was too strong for me to handle. Oooh, 4.8%, I'm scared!

A: Clear deep amber body; thin tan head with ok retention and nice lace. Solid, but not memorable.

S: Fairly assertive aroma of earthy hops + caramel malt. Not much complexity, but it smells nice enough.

T: Follows the nose - earthy + floral hops up front, with solidly sweet caramel malt following close behind. Long, bittersweet finish. Enjoyable, but nothing special.

M: Fairly hefty bitter, with good body and moderate, fine carbonation. Very nice.

O: This one was above average, but far from great. I was surprised to see it's A- overall rating on here, as it struck me as being a fairly pedestrian bitter: there was nothing wrong with it, but it didn't have any real subtlety or individuality.

Cheers!

Jun 17, 2011
Photo of CanuckRover
CanuckRover from Canada (ON)

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

Very dark red, bordering on brown. Eggshell head, settles to a nice film. Well marked lacings to the finish.

Mostly caramel on the nose.

Nice English malts give a real red ale character to this one. Loads of caramel to start with touches of nice red fruit in the middle. Bittering hops clean up nicely in the finish, making it a very sessionable ale.

Cask was in good condition, no complaints.

Apr 14, 2011
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cask conditioned at The Hogshead pub, Ipswich. Deep amber to brown colour, low head. Moderate aroma of English malt vinegar and plums. The flavour is "dusty" malty with notes of malt vinegar and sour fruits. "Dusty" hops in the finish. OKish.

Feb 14, 2011
Photo of rarbring
rarbring from Sweden

3.68/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer is clear brown with hints of read, an off-white lively head that leaves lacing.

The smell is rather light, some bread and lemon marmalade.

Upfront tasting sweet and malty, a fresh loaf of bread, citric, lemon and orange, nice bitterness, fresh grass and nettles.

Small carbonation, soft and smooth, a medium body and dry finish.

Well balanced and well done.

Dec 05, 2010
Photo of dolzan
dolzan from Slovenia

3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very solid, substantial head, and a nice red colour.

Very balanced overall, but I was a bit surprised with this being a bitter, since there is precious little hop that can be felt in this brew. A very drinkable beer, but maybe, just maybe a little bland, especially compared to Fuller's ESB for example.

Jul 20, 2010
Photo of jpmclaug
jpmclaug from South Carolina

3.64/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic

A - copper with a reddish tint, a bit light tan head rests on the top

S - raisins, prunes, plums, dates with a sweet smell at the end, maybe a hint of alcohol in there. This smells real delicious.

T - balanced malt hop mix up front with a hint of the fruity taste the smell indicated. A bit of a buttery finish.

M - I really hate to do this because this beer in the bottle isn't anywhere near what I remember this beer being like on cask but the mouthfeel on this is terrible, especially terrible for the style. This is way too carbonated and that really takes away from the flavor.

D - Smells great but the taste really isn't the greatest and the mouthfeel really hurts this one. I remember this being a million times better when I had it out of a cask and hopefully I will be able to try it again that way to post another review for this beer. I wouldn't pick up another bottle of this but would love to try it out of the cask!

Apr 15, 2010
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ThirstyBird from England

4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at NERAX
Appears Deep reddish brown with a light tan head that sustains.
The aroma is watery fruitiness, some caramel and bitter hops. The taste though pokes your tongue awake! Wow, lot's of flavor! Rich malt, fruit, The bitterness has a slight sourness which adds a lot of interest. The body is light/medium. The brew is super silky smooth. Very nice and very, very drinkable. I would love to have this beer available in my market.

Mar 26, 2010
Photo of fullsweep
fullsweep from England

3.7/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: clear brown beer with copper tones; 1-finger head with nice lacing (seafoam style)

S: sharp and grainy with some earthy notes

T: bitter, with mild fruitiness, but the bitterness overpowers any sweetness. IMO the bitterness is pretty bold, but not unpleasant

M: crisp and refreshing

D: not bad

Dec 14, 2009
Photo of bark
bark from Sweden

4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The liquid is clear; the colour is red-copper. The finger thick head is pale beige and very compact and smooth.

The light smell is a bit bitter with flavours of fresh bread, wort and ripe grain.

The taste is fresh with a fine hoppy first flavour. Lots of malt and delicate flowery (buttercups) notes. Some sweet wort in the aftertaste, that also brings notes of tree sap and rowanberries. A delicate bitterness in the finish.

The carbonation is medium strong, the small bubbles are soft. The liquid is smooth.

A solid best bitter.

Nov 23, 2009
Photo of JohnnyBarman
JohnnyBarman from Canada (ON)

4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask draught at Kickoffs in Waterloo. Always a solid English bitter here, so I'm game.

A - mahogany-brown, leaves a 2cm white head encircling the glass.

S - bread and biscuits, citrus and malts.

T - A fine English bitter (somewhat similar to Fuller's ESB). Toffee, bread, malts that finishes with a crisp bitterness.

M - A bit thin, low carbonation as cask-draught tends to be. Goes down smooth.

D - Terrific on cask - privileged to have tried it in this form. Bitters and I get along just swimmingly, so this will be a sessional for me in the future. Good offering.

Oct 23, 2009
Photo of jwc215
jwc215 from Arizona

4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours deep copper with ruby hue and a nice ivory head. Lacing sticks.

The smell is of toffee/caramel - complex maltiness with lemony citrus, apricot and a bit of wood.

The taste is of nice caramelish/toffeeish maltiness with a leafy, citric hop bitterness in the finish.

It has a creamy smooth body that is full-bodied for the style. Coating. Mild carbonation. Silky.

Incredible how they replicated the cask-feel so well in a bottle, adding to the drinkability factor. Very well-balanced and delicious. Complex in a soft and subtle way. This is an exceptional bitter!

Apr 30, 2009
Photo of blamoe
blamoe from England

4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gales HSB now brewed at Fullers is an excellent example of an dark ale that is highly drinkible and not to heavy, but also not watery. The taste is quite strong with a slight fruit taste and also quite fruit cakey witha malty base and a slight hop kick. This is my favorite Gales beer and can be drunk all night long.

Jun 17, 2008
HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from George Gale & Company Ltd
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 66 ratings