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X Ale, 22nd November 1838 | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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X Ale, 22nd November 1838X Ale, 22nd November 1838

Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Massachusetts, United States

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.40%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
So, these are our new historical beer releases: two beers from the same brewery, brewed under the same brand name, 107 years apart. X Ale, 22nd November 1838, and X Ale, 22nd February 1945. These beers were from Barclay Perkins brewery in London (now long closed). They were brewed & sold as the same beer over these 107 years, but the recipe and process changed dramatically. The beer changed from a golden, 7.4%, extremely hopped ale in 1838 into a 2.8% dark grainy beer in 1945. Probably a lot of factors came into play: wars, hop shortages, grain pricing, rationing, taxation, patriotism, the motorcar, the industrial revolution… I’m guessing these all played a role in the weakening and darkening of this beer. Interestingly, since 1945, Mild ale in Britain hasn’t changed so much: it’s still dark, and one of the weakest beers produced.

Added by UncleJimbo on 03-17-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 83
Photo of rudzud
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared this bottle purchased at Julio's with veotho. Poured into a Chimay chalice.

A - Pours a clear golden hue with a one finger creamy head that fades to leave a light cloud and halo.

S - Malts, corn (in an adjunct sense), grains, and light floral hops. The floral hops is quite nice.

T - Ehh..light booze (infact, a bit too much for my liking), sweet malts, slight grainy notes, light honey like sweetness. All these flavours are quite light.

M - Mouthfeel isnt too bad. The ABV is noticeable but the finish is crisp and drinkable.

O - Overall this is a good and unique beer. Glad I got to try such an old recipe but I personally preferred the 1945 version of the beer (which in itself earned huge unique points).

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Photo of Puttenham
3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a pleasant golden hue, slightly hazy.

After the pour a thin head quickly dissipates into a few stray colonies of miniature bubbledom.

The aroma is of a steady breadiness with the faint but unmistakeable smell of alcohol in the background. Ohhhh yeah, I can tell I'm going to like this one even before i drink it.

The taste is delicious. A nice interplay of bready malt with a somewhat subdued bitterness.

Light carbonated mouthfeel.

The bitterness comes out with more assertion in the aftertaste, but still a nice balance.

7.4% alcohol. It gets the job done!

No bottle conditioning. Doesn't need it. One tasty beer. Surprisingly bitter for an English ale. Love it.

Thank you Dann Paquette and Ron Pattinson. Great job.

ps: I would love to see Dann and Ron find some recipes for "lost" top-fermented German biers Broyhan and Mumme (among others) and resurrect them. Hmmm?

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Photo of morningthief
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy, light orange with no head and not much lacing halfway through the glass. I quite like the color, though admittedly it does resemble fizzy papaya nectar. No points off if historically accurate.

Smells like an English ale. Mild, grassy hop character with malt undertones. Not this beer's best quality, but not at all bad.

Taste is pretty unique. Floral, grassy hops dominate up front, giving way to a funky, lemony malt backbone. Somewhat musty. A strong flavor of honey is noticeable in the finish. Three-quarters of the way through, I am becoming a fan. Medium to high carbonation, light bodied and crisp save for some slickness toward the end; reminds me of black tea with honey.

Overall a solid brew from Pretty Things. Highly doubt I would purchase another bottle, but I would certainly order on tap if given the opportunity.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice. This one pours a clear golden with a finger of fluffy white head

The aroma is mild with bitter hops in the background and some lingering apple aromas. The pallet has a nice bitter hop flavor with some buttery flavors. Mild bready malts are in the background.

The body is heavy leaving a buttery flavor on the pallet. Overall this one is pretty tasty. I've really come to enjoy Pretty Things.

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Photo of timster01801
4.3/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pretty unique tasting beer. I like it. Some agreeable funkiness with a nice hop bite! I'll definitely have this in the fridge alongside bottles of Jack D'or and Fluffy White Rabbits. Great job, Pretty Things.

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Photo of MrOH
3.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Hazy gold with a deep, but quick to recede white head. Spotty lace.

Sweet, biscuity malt, and not much else. Pome fruit esters, canned pears?

Upfront sweetness, syrupy, then a broad and lingering bitterness builds and sticks around long after the swallow.

Palate coating, firm bitterness keeps it from being clowing.

Pretty cool as an educational tool, but not something I'd want to have more than a split bottle of, even though I do enjoy it. I may have to go back and pick up the companion.

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Photo of brureview
3.92/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This must be drunk warm, as it was probably served in 1838. I refridgerated the beer for only 20 minutes, as recommended by the brewer, who was pouring it at a tasting at the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont, MA.

The beer pours a light tea-copper color, with a pleasant lemon-pie smell to the head. The mouth feel is malty, and intially there was a slight bitterness to the finish, which develops into a nice peppery-lemon.

The beer goes down easily at room temperature.
Surprisingly, I thought I wasn't going to like it- at the tasting( albeit in plastic cups) it was just okay.

It's a good beer from a bygone era and worth drinking.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a mildly hazy golden yellow with a short, bubbly white head. White bread, pale malts and fresh hops in the aroma. Very floral with some smooth yeast characters. Big, bright, bitter hops with some smooth pale malt, notes of honey and some kitchen spices. Nice, rich, smooth, floral, medium sized body with moderate carbonation. Dry, hoppy finish.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Spilt a 22 oz bottle poured into a duvel snifter

A: pours a hazy golden with a finger of white head that dissapates nicley and leavs a very nice lacing.

S: yeast, light citrus, bannana, nothing overly complex but a nice aroma just the same.

T: deffinatley yeast, and Breadyness, again, I get a touch of light citrus, almost a touch of bannana in there. Again nothing over the top but a very tasty brew, very drinkable, I enjoyed it very much, almost a little saison like but not really, almost a little like a golden but again not really. Oh yah and hops, add a nice earthy bitterness. Not a ton of hops, but they are noticeable

M: medium bodies with crisp medium carbonation. And a touch of dry bitter on the end.

O: a very interesting brew, especially when you know the story behind this and it's comparative brew the 1945 x ale. I really enjoyed this and everything behind it... Thank you pretty things.

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Photo of Dope
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: A cloudy pale golden-orange pour. Big fizzy white head on top. Head retention is quite good, it lingers for a while. Nice lines of lacing as you drink.

S: Toasted bread/biscuity malt. A bit of pear and grass. Maybe a touch of honey? Quite subtle regardless.

T: Again, biscuity or toasty malt. Flash of grassy and herbal bitterness in the middle. Some honey and pear, perhaps even a little melon? Lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.

M: Pretty medium bodied, smooth.

O: Interesting experiment for sure. I'm drinking this version first. Definitely a unique beer, I'm not sure I've had anything like it to compare to. Tasty enough but nothing earth-shattering.

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Photo of jaasen64
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle

A- Yellowish golden, translucent but slightly hazy especially near top. About a half finger of frothy white head. Layered lacing that clings to glass. Average carbonation.

S- A little bit hoppy, malts, a little bit grainy, some wheat and spices.

T- Lightly sweet and bitter. Hops but not overly hoppy, a little bit of a sweet grainy wheat taste. Very light sweet lemon taste. Light sweet aftertaste.

M- Medium bodied to a little bit on the lighter side, goes down smooth, alcohol well hidden.

O- This was a very interesting beer. Slightly different then most beers I've tried. Nice balance between the light hops, sweetness, and some spices. Alcohol definitely well hidden, could have used a little bit more flavor. Awesome to know this is what people were drinking 174 years ago. Will have to compare to the 1945 next.

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

Pours hazy gold with an inch of dense white head. A partial skim coat for the duration and tattered sheets of lacing.

Aromatics are a blend of earthy hops, honey-drizzeled malt, and pear skins. Cut grass and apples follow through.

Medium bodied with a crisp mouthfeel.

A pressing, almost numbing bitterness starts off the palate. Grapefruit, bitter greens, and pithy fruit stones follow through with light malt running under.

Finishes with a lenghty, assaulting bitterness, biscuity malt, and a trace of warmth.

If this is a solid representation of this recipe from 1838, I would say the IIPA was well on it's way at that time.

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Photo of jlindros
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow, much brighter and lighter colored than the 1945 version, this one pours a light fluffy 1/2 finger head that fades semi slowly with nice lacing, similar to the other, but the color of this is an opaque golden with a hint of a yellow-orange.

Nose is fairly light, much lighter than the 1945 as well, but completely different. This brings some light aromatic fruity hops, bit grassy as well, very light toasty golden malts, mostly missing on the nose.

Taste is bigger, almost golden Belgiany flavored actually... starting with the malts, the malts seem more complex than just 100% pale, and it has an interesting body feel. Some fruity flavors come through, most likely from the yeast, with a light estery flavor. then hops, decent bitterness with some grassy floral hops, and slight earthy flavors. The hops also seem to get slightly fruity, and eventually slightly herbal, but also surprised to see that just Kent hops. The bitterness builds to a big decent bitterness towards the finish, and lingers well past the finish. It dries a bit on the finish as well, with some light lingering malt and fruity yeast flavors, but mostly grassy earthy hop flavors. the booze is there, definitely gives you a warming and slight boozy kick.

Mouth is fuller bodied, almost abrasive gritty like, with a decent warmth of booze that almost starts to tingle, and decent carb.

Overall not bad, a much bigger and completely different beer from the 1945, bolder, hoppier, stronger, etc, but I think I prefer the complexity of the overall beer in the 1945. Interesting how much it changed, almost as if going down by so much in grains, alcohol, hops, etc should have made the beer worse, but at the same time they learned how to do more with less. This being a fairly simple recipe makes it a bit too bland overall IMHO, but still a fairly tasty beer.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.33/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a hazy golden color. Head is quite minimal. Very opaque. Color of the body is vibrant.

S-Nose is quite yeasty. Pale fruits (pear and apple). Hops are quite dull. Malt is bready. Overall, a decently pleasant aroma albeit mild.

T-Taste is strange. Surprisingly grassy. Hard to describe 'chemical' flavor. Quite bitter. Underlying sweetness. Very odd herbal flavor. I cannot tell if I enjoy it slightly or do not care for it. Might have to save judgement until I have finished.

M-Creamy but there is a bunch of carbonation. Dry and bitter. Alcohol comes into play. Body is medium to heavy.

O/D-Very strange brew. I respect the effort to try and recreate and old recipe, but I will say that brewing has taken a big, gigantic, enormous step forward since 1838. At nearly $8 a bomber, this wasn't worth it. I love Pretty Thing, but this one doesn't really do it for me. Definitely won't be shelling out another $6 for the other X Ale.

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Photo of silentjay
3.41/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pouring the two of the series side-by-side, my reviews will compare/contrast the similarities/differences.

the 1838 pours a lot lighter in color (a hazy straw) with a carbonation made up of smaller bubbles that stick around a while and lace pretty well.

very fruity, almost phenolic aroma with lots of crakcery/biscuity malts and some grassy/herbal hops. pretty tame aroma.

hoppy, grassy, herbal, tea-like with plenty of fruity esters. light pale maltiness and a bit of booze. a touch of a toasted nut flavor on the back end.

medium bodied with light carbonation and a sticky feel left on the finish.

I mean, for the ABV, this drinks pretty well. rather tame aroma, but some complexity due to a layering of different flavors.

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Photo of greenengineer
2.63/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle into a plain pint glass. Served slightly chilled. Brewed 2/13/12 according to the bottle
A - clear yellow/amber, decent head fades quickly, buts sticks to the sides of the glass. As the bottle says "paler than you might expect"
S - malty aroma, hops hard to detect
T - bitter, astringent even. Not liking this much. Has a bit of a metallic taste. Doesn't taste like it has really come together. Second and third sips are tasting a bit better, but still not terrific.
M - thin, but good fizz.
O - I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and say that this needs to spend a bit longer in the bottle. I like so much of what Pretty Things does, but this misses the mark for me. Hops bitterness very strong in the taste, but not in the nose. Extra point for local.

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X Ale, 22nd November 1838 from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
3.67 out of 5 based on 83 ratings.
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