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HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) | George Gale & Company Ltd

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BA SCORE
89
very good
39 Reviews
HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)HSB (Horndean Special Bitter)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
George Gale & Company Ltd
England, United Kingdom
gales.co.uk

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by pezoids on 03-27-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
39
Ratings:
60
Avg:
4.02
pDev:
11.69%
 
 
Wants:
21
Gots:
1
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 39 | Ratings: 60
Photo of UnionMade
4.95/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer pours an orangey earthy brown, topped with a tight beige head. The foam settles into a thick, even mist after a few minutes, keeping a thick collar all the way through. Somewhat chill hazed, with a deep, rich color that suggests considerable depth. Loads of sticky belgian lace forms rings all the way down the glass.
The aroma is just outstanding. Biscuity maltiness is supported by a soft, yet present goldings hoppiness. Excellent estery fruit, just enough, with a light woodsy nuttiness and a slight earthiness to the hopping. A touch of grassy fuggles. Hints of apple and pear, adding to the brew's complexity. A bit of caramel aroma to the malt, adding a touch of sweetness.
The flavor starts out with strong maltiness. Very biscuity, with a distinct maris otter flavor. Toastiness paves the way for soft floral esters, conveying a distinct pear taste, along with some red apple. The malt takes on some caramel sweetness into the finish, where it meets with a gorgeously balanced goldings hop flavor. Earthy, leafy and floral, with a slight fuggles grassiness, like a newly mown lawn, I'm thanking the fact that this is canned and impenetrable to light. Some nuttiness is present in the finish, reminiscent of walnut and hazelnut. A touch of yeasty breadiness, which carries into the aftertaste along with biscuity caramel malt and goldings goodness. The aftertaste lingers forever, allowing me to languish in the heavenly flavor. Pleasant hop burps. Rather full bodied, the smooth silkiness supported by soft, minute carbonation. I am so glad this beer is available in the US, and I feel pangs of jealousy for those that enjoy this on a regular basis.
Canned or not, this will be a staple in my fridge. A most enjoyable pint, easily one of the best bitters I've had, if not the best. I actually feel a little sad when I take a sip, as I want the glass to last forever. This is exactly what I want in a bitter, and I'm determined to track down a cask. Perhaps this is my holy grail? The only thing keeping this beer from a straight 5 review is the fact that I know it's got to be even more amazing cask conditioned. My only complaints are that I'm having a difficult time allowing it to warm, and the only place i know of that sells it is a small store in north jersey. I can't get enough. A case or two is coming home with me next time I see it.

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Photo of kitschiguy
4.86/5  rDev +20.9%
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.

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Photo of cokes
4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

So often I automatically skip over the "can" section of my local stores. What a mistake that has been. I've seen this one before, but never given it a second glace. Until today.
Thought it was nitrogenated. It's not, but it pours like it is. Huge rocky tan suds on top of a blurry bronze fluid.
Enormously fragrant. Rusty iron, bitter herbs, weathered barn doors, biscuits, apples, buttery dough, toffee, grapes, flowers.
Enters the mouth toasty and nutty. Roasted walnuts. Plenty biscuity too. Buttered English Muffins topped with dry toffee. Apple pie arrives next. Crisp and crusty, glazed with caramel. Migrates to a fuller fruity sensation, but this time of pear. Amazingly enough, there are even traces of vinousness, white and grapey and bright. Dough exists through it all, coupled with wood splinters. Bitterness builds gradually. Begins a bit rusty, turning to florals, then to a grassier sense. UK hopping (Fuggles and EK Goldings?) done exactly right.
Nearly full bodied initially, but it wanes over time. Never weak in stature.
This might be the best thing that's ever happened to a can.

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Photo of Fdough1
4.65/5  rDev +15.7%
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!!!

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Photo of sponberg
4.62/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer sampled: on draught, 45 degrees, in mug 10283.

The color is a deep golden/auburn, with very little head as poured. The smell is typically English malty, with hoppiness in the background.

HSB starts off with a decided hop presence (I noticed it more on tap than I remembered in bottle) and firm bitterness, with a round, almost buttery malt to complement the hops. The hops are present throughout the sip, leaving a pleasant, just shy of unbalanced bitterness on the tongue along with the lingering malt flavors. As the brew warms, the malt comes to the forefront as expected. A very, very drinkable ale.

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Photo of jwc215
4.6/5  rDev +14.4%
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!

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.54/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an excellent bitter. Simply excellent. Good color with little head. Has an excellent malt smell. The taste is very good, incredibly drinkable. Noticeable but not overwhelming hops presence. You want to have this at a nice temperature. A very good balance for a bitter. Carboniation seems perfect for mouthfeel. This has got to be one of the best session brews I have ever had the pleasure to drink. This beer makes me rethink the quality of canned beers.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(ed. note - My mom's maiden name is Gale and I'm directly descended from psst Gale's so my review as the potential for bias)

Pours mahogany/teak color with a thin tan head that still manages to deposit enormous sheets of lace to the Imperial pint glass.

Aroma of roasted malts, some caramel and dark fruits and oats.
Distinctive wheat bread note in the background.

Flavor of sweet, gummy caramel with some chocolate, oats and roasted notes and floral yet heavily spicy and zesty bitterness.

Mouthfeel - Sweetness pervades the front but i cut by a full grain middle and an ever increasing bitterness which is truly scrumptious.

Drinkability is very high. Could sit in the garden all day and drink this beauty. A 2nd prop goes to the cellarman at The Castle in Cambridge for this well-kept beauty.

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Photo of pezoids
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a four pack of this at Monster beverage in Glassboro, NJ. Poured a bright and clean orangey amber brown and was topped off by a rich and creamy head of tan foam. The aroma has some metallic notes and leans more towards the sweet and malty side rather than the bitter and hoppy. Has a candy like caramel malt sweetness. The taste is full of flavor and the sweetness is dead on. The hops are there but barely noticeable. Nicely blended. This leaves a sweet butter toffee tang on the tongue. I really enjoyed this beer, although it should have been a bit warmer.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a glorious, thick head that lasts forever and laces well. Strong nose of chocolate and malt. Lightly carbonated, color is a deep, rich amber. Palate is heavy, rich and strong. Yeasty malt taste, roasty, almost like cola with a strong hop aroma.

Good example of an English bitter. Seems not to suffer from living in an aluminum can.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.36/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A slightly hazy chestnut body with deep reddish-copper highlights is topped by a good-sized head of rocky "vanilla" foam. The head holds quite well, and it leaves some very nice rings of lace throughout the pint. The nose displays an earthy/mineral (but not quite metallic) and leafy character that seems to come from a combination of both malt and hops; over a decidedly caramelish malt. The medium body is accentuated by a very fine and delicate carbonation that leaves it creamy, soft and smooth in the mouth. There's just enough carbonation to give it a little mouthfeel and bring out the flavors without becoming gassy. Very nice, and perfect for a session beer. The flavor reveals basically what the aroma indicates with a maltiness that's just as equally earthy and dusty as it is caramelish with a touch of mineral, some leafy hops, and a mild woodiness. More complexities arise, however, with a bit more investigation. There's an underlying touch of yeasty, berry-like fruitiness; and a toasty, chocolate side to the malt that becomes quite apparent in the finish. It's very well-balanced with a bitterness seems to hide itself in the shadows but continually keeps things dry without ever building on the palate. Again, it's perfectly balanced and makes for an excellent session ale. There's enough character to keep it interesting throughout an evening; a brilliant balance that makes it workable; and a low enough alcohol that you can do it at a session pace. Brilliant!

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Photo of bark
4.35/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of doerickson
4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown coloring with little head. Soft nose with a bit of light malt. Low carbonation. Toasty caramel malt in the forefront with some light hops to balance; short finish. High drinkability. Very nicely made.

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Photo of sawbones420
4.32/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Judging by the locations of the other raters, I don't believe this fine ale is imported in the US. Having had the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in England, I've drank my fare share of real ale. My British friend, Matt, always brings me a handful of various ales when he comes to visit, which temporarily quenches my insatiable thirst for British Beer. I had one can of HSB left from his last visit so I thought I'd throw it up on BA.

Regular 440ml can (no nitro), poured into an imperial pint glass. Deep brown color, with a deliciously thick whitish head.

Smell is fruity and full-bodied.

Sips deliciously smooth and fruity, with only the slightest trace of carbonation. A delicious malt flavor overtakes your tongue. Smooth and mild, but extremely drinkable. I miss having this available on tap. And come to think of it, I'm pretty sad this is my last can! Sip? This is a beer to take gulpfuls of.

It's somewhat understandable why Brits are able to down pint after pint of dark ales after you've had a brew like HSB. It may be dark, but it goes down smooth and keeps you thirsty for more. Easy to quaff, and leaves a satisfying malt aftertaste. I know this to be one of the more popular bitters in England, so I can only hope that it may one day be exported to the US, to satisfy our ever expanding national beer palette.

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Photo of Viking
4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

[cask conditioned and served fairly warm]

Reddish-amber beer, with a full head. Aroma a blend of caramel and floral scent. Nice hop bitterness, but not overpowering. Sweet, almost creamy, malt taste balances the bitterness nicely.

A wonderful beer to drink while kicking back, talking with the cute barmaids, and watching a pivotal playoff-implication hockey game.

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Photo of Todd
4.26/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Sturdy 500ml English style bottle-conditioned ale bottle. Freshness date scored on the back label.

Appearance: A solid dark woody/brown beer with a patchy white large bubbled foam head. It fades into a foamy lace, but is still pleasant. Contains very little dregs in the bottle.

Smell: Clean, light aroma of leaf, earth, faint bubble-gum.

Taste: Smooth, extremely mellow with a water-like mouth-feel/consistency. Malts are very light with hints of earth, bark, toasted malts, faint chocolate and a very tame mild malt sweetness. Just a touch of fruity flavours lingers about, and there's a barely detectable note of medicinal in the back. Hops bring a gentle raw, leafy bitterness to the palate that both balances and intrigues. Dry, leafy and earthy in the finish.

Notes: Naturally bottle-conditioned. I highly recommend that you stand the bottle to let the yeast settle and server at ~55F. With a careful pour, leave the dregs in the bottle.

Quite possibly one of the most drinkable beers on the palate, where nothing overwhelms and all is in harmony. A top-notch session beer, to say the least, and much like a cask ale in the bottle. We need more real English-style bitters in the US. I'll have to write Congress.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.23/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank at a pub based beer festival in Shropshire 14th Sept 2007.

Great dark colour, ruby red and clear, firm biege head that stayed the distance.

Fruity, hoppy and interesting aroma.

The fruitiness within the fullbodied taste gives this beer a wonderful flavour.

The taste clings to your palat, this is a good beer. Glad I re-introduced myself to it, I won't wait so long between visits again.

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Photo of blamoe
4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.07/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of ThirstyBird
4.06/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Photo of CanuckRover
4/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
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.

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Photo of beerguy101
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Medium brown color, large head. Aroma is nutty and malty.Toasted malt flavor, nicely hopped. Good balance. Nice flavor, large body. Mouthfeel is full and round. Smooth taste, somewhat dry. Finish is clean and crisp. Aftertaste is malty and full, very slight bitterness.

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Photo of ADZA
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
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.

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HSB (Horndean Special Bitter) from George Gale & Company Ltd
4.02 out of 5 based on 60 ratings.
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