Olde Suffolk English (Strong Suffolk Vintage) Ale | Greene King / Morland Brewery

very good
303 Reviews
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Olde Suffolk English (Strong Suffolk Vintage) AleOlde Suffolk English (Strong Suffolk Vintage) Ale

Brewed by:
Greene King / Morland Brewery
England, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-14-2002

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Reviews: 303 | Ratings: 460
Photo of Onslow
2.23/5  rDev -44.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

This is my one odd-one-out beer! I really really tried with this beer but no, I HATE IT! I love Old Ales but this is a complete train wreck of a "beer"...
The smell is god awful, like bad wine, and the taste is horrible...."how does this beer have such good marks, its truly terrible BUT it just shows you how different some people can think... and brew. It first tastes bitter sweet then starts to sharpen as it warms,....its aftertaste tastes like wine when you breath out the nose, but alot of people like that bite to there brew...but not me really. i did a re-rate twice!, this beer is ...well, crap, i hate it , to damn tart and sour and ...geez, tastes like a beer that went bad!!! a wine beer if u will"

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Photo of warmstorage
2.51/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a deep chestnut brown from a 16.9 oz bottle. Significant dense brown head, retains light dense brown head. ~$2.75 from Utah State Wine Store in SLC (which isn't in Beerfly, so I can't Beerspy it.)

Aroma is limited, a little stale, slight notes of cider and sour bread.

Taste is pretty blah. A little sour, nut, caramel, slight hints at roastiness. Minimal, ummm, almost zero hops detectable. Unpleasant astringency. Tastes a little burnt, and a little like white vinegar. Kind of like a sour, basic brown ale (makes me think of a sour Newcastle, which I would normally drink when the only other options are BMC products.)

Edit: after it warmed to complete room temperature (it's about 75 in my house right now) it became slightly more drinkable, and I bumped my "taste" score from 2.0 to 2.5. I'd drank it in the mid cellar range, i.e., mid 50s. All of my taste comments still apply, but the really unpleasant tastes have mellowed a bit, which is a little bit odd, given that cold generally masks bad flavors. Only other real difference is in the aftertaste: hints of fruit (apricots?) and some notable alcohol warmth.

Either it's way past due, or is just plain mediocre beer, and I'm inclined to think it's the latter. Good example of an import in a pretty bottle that isn't worth my time or money.

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Photo of Paul_Hutchinson
2.53/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

So I feel a little unfair at reviewing this ale as it's not really my bag. Pours to a very dark red almost brown colour with a head which quickly disappears making this ale appear flat. Smells like Christmas cake with spices, malt and treacle coming through. Tastes lighter than its appearance would suggest and lingers long after swallowing. There will be people who love this beer but I'm not one of them but that's down to my taste rather than the ale

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Photo of greenbeaner
2.68/5  rDev -33%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark, amber color, more towards the black side of things than amber. 1 finger head dissipates fast into a ring around the glass, slight lacing apparent.

Very sweet on the nose up front, strong caramel and toffee scents, wheat notes on the finish.

Taste is very sweet, probably a little too sweet for my liking...caramel, fruit, slight bitterness, metal, sourness as well. For being aged in oak vats I cannot taste the slightest hint of oak. Just not very well balanced.

Mouthfeel is somewhat full up front but finishes weak. Not much else to say about it.

Not what I was hoping...I probably will not purchase this beer again. It's drinkable, but then again so is water.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
2.85/5  rDev -28.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: pours a mahogany color with hints of garnet and blood red. a two to three finger head with low retention and leaving behind a fairly strong lacing. pretty much opaque due to the darkness. some points with intense brightness around the edges.

Smell: strong dark fruit character, plums and prunes. huge sweetness, vanilla, oak and toffee. some oxidized qualities come through with notes of leather and stewed plums

Taste: opens with toasted grains hinting at a roastiness. opens up with huge amounts of sweetness coming with notes of stewed plums, vanilla, toffee, and prunes. earthiness begins to come through with notes of oak and leather. ends with a slightly buttery note to possible grassiness.

Mouthfeel: velvety to buttery. heavy for the abv. cloyingly sweet.

Overall: I am a huge old ale fan but this one doesn't cut it. hard to tell if its a bad bottle due to the clear bottle, but I made every effort to buy as young and light protected as possible. it shows some great aged qualities but I believe this blend is a bit of a cop out. the young beer just doesn't have what it takes to stand up against the bold, and most likely delicious, older beer.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a dark burgundy color ale with a small foamy head with minimal retention. Aroma of semi-sweet malt with some light oak. Taste is a mix between some sweet caramelized malt with some very subtle notes of oak and fruit. Body is way too light and carbonation is low which is to be expected of. I have to admit that this one was a bit deceiving and definitely lacking in complexity.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
3/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out nicely, with a pillowy head and lacing that falls into almost nothing over time.

The smell is sour and has a litte bit of apple in it. If it was supposed to be fruity at all that's gone.

Taste is slightly sour with molasses and coffee flavors, the nose has an almost metalic cinnamon flavor to it.

Mouthfeel isn't quite watery, but not far off, still enjoyeable.

Drinkability would be good if I was able to get a fresh batch, but I don't think it survived the trip over very well.

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Photo of mjc410
3.04/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I decided to put this old ale in a finer glass than a pint, so I put it in my trusty La Moneuse tulip. The pour from the 16.9 oz bottle raises a head under one finger that drops quickly. It's a tan that matches the label, over a body the color of cola with a ruby-brown translucency. The lacing is minimal.

The nose is a mix of candied apples, caramel, red wine, wood, toffee, bread, and a smell I often get from English ales, a buttery aroma. Impressive.

The taste is a muted mirror of the nose, unfortunately. I pick up the wine character, some acidity, and a little diacetyl, but not much else. As it warms, though, there's some creamy caramel and vanilla barely shows. Alcohol shows too, sadly.

The mouth is actually fairly thin, which I didn't expect for a heavier English ale. The carbonation is a bit high too (for the style), but it's not that far off.

This had a bit of promise, but it's boring, overall. Plus, the acidity is too high. Oh well.

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Photo of GreenWBush
3.04/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A Greene King beer not packaged in a clear bottle! Rejoice!

This ale gave me a wicked rush of crazed carbonation that eventually rested to a 1/4" lightly splattered head / lace. The color is a deep ruddy pond water.

Wine like fruity esters abound; oaky carmelized sugar, slight cider hints. Major bready doughy malt until interrupted by a spattering of noble hop.

Once you get past the rush of liquid cardboard I initially noticed, this is a good English experience. Its rather hard to describe in its astringency, however. Slighly thin mouthfeel, med to low drinkablility.

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Photo of wajacobs
3.06/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I hate clear glass bottles!

Of the Greene King beers I've tried Olde Suffolk is the best. It still has a pesistent thud on the back of the tongue that all the Greene King beers do but there is a bit more complexiety than in the others.
Is pours a brilliant deep red with a small but lasting head that developes a gentle lace down the glass as the volume receedes. The aroma ad flaovor are caramel/ toffee and just a touch of tropical fruits and just enough bitterness to dry the tongue. The mouthfeel is light but with that annoying thud. I'm under the ipression that Greene King doesn't care for their beer very well and by the time it reaches out here on the west coast it's drinkability has greatly suffered.

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Photo of fourstringer
3.16/5  rDev -21%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 1 pt 0.9 oz bottle into a Brewer's Art goblet with a moderately aggressive hand. Clear bottle. Why Great Britain, why? The base of the bottle proclaims "Brewing Perfection". Well ok, then.

A: Very dark amber with scant 1/4 finger of white head. Disappears to a wispy suggestion of a head in 1-2 minutes. Kind of underwhelming.

S: Sweet, dark fruit, cherry. Dates. Spice. Light sourness. Not bad.

T: Sweetness up front with raisins, cherry, dried fruit. Malt. Transitions into some mild tartness/acidity and finishes surprisingly dry. Firm bitterness in the end, which is probably the best part. Some oak. Some bourbon.

M: Low carbonation. Honestly, a fairly watery body with a residual stickiness on the lips and tongue. Unfortunately, I don't think this was a prime bottle...

O: Sad to say, disappointed overall. Has potential, especially with regards to the scent and flavor, but came off a bit weak. I was hoping for some more complexity, depth and assertiveness. I believe I'll pass in the future.

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Photo of katan
3.18/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 500ml into a pint

A - dark red to almost cherry in color - some areas are more opaque which appear black. Almost porterish. Little head retention, but it didn't appear to be from the lack of carbonation. Very filtered.

S - Sweet chocolate and caramel notes on top with a hair of yeast backdrop. Not bitter at all. Does have a sour tinge to it.

T - Starts off relatively light in flavor - just a hair of malts and the exact counterbalance of bitterness. Mid-stream is just a bit flat. Finishes with that very sour acidic flavor mixed with some yeast spiciness. Aftertaste is muted, but overall a bitter astringent residue.

M - Thinner than I would have expected from the appearance - the body is light. Watery. Small amount of leftover filming.

D - Very easy to drink - flavors are mild and so is the abv. Carbonation is not very filling.

I shouldn't look at previous reviews as it may bias me, but I have to say I'm going to run against the grain on this one. It just didn't do it for me.

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Photo of MarkoNm
3.21/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color covered with a nice tan head and a decent retention.
The malty aroma is complemented by some sweet fruits and spices.
The taste is nicely bittery, you can also taste some nice spices, although can't say which.
Easily drinkable and smooth.

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Photo of Denali
3.23/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Opaque brown. Very thick tan head that, although dissipated slightly, still remained for the entire beer. Bubbles attached to the glass.

Aroma: Strong burgundy and alcohol smell. Initially there was a musty-bready smell that I did not like at all. The aroma improved a little as the beer warmed and was replaced a little bit by a molasses smell. The musty smell did not go away completely though.

Taste: Roasted caramel and molasses taste up front. Finishes with sweet malt taste and a very slight bitter aftertaste. I enjoyed the taste of this beer.

Mouthfeel: Very little carbonation. A little chewy with a dry and tingly finish.

Drinkability: A sipping beer. A little alcohol warmth.

Comments: Unfortunately the aroma ruined the enjoyment of this beer for me.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.27/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Didn't quite know what to make of this one. Its colour, smell, and taste were all totally different from what I was expecting. It poured a crystal clear dark reddish brown colour. The head was khaki in colour and approximately 4mm thick. It subsided to nothing in less than 45 seconds. The smell was very interesting, and also unexpected. Very wine-like. It actually had a fruity / grape smell. There was a substantial amount of roasted malt in the background, clearly identifiable, but the wine - grape - alcohol smell was easily noticeable and right up front. Peculiar. The taste was reminiscent of wine, as well. Malty for but a moment when you take a sip, then turning tart and very wine like. Odd indeed as I have never had an ale with these characteristics, though I have read of them. Mouthfeel seemed light and was much more carbonated than I was expecting. I didn't think this was awful, but I certainly wasn't impressed. Very peculiar brew.

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Photo of Pagzzz
3.28/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle from Bevmo

Aroma: Some dark malt character with a few fig and raisin notes. Very slight sour aroma, probably from long oak aged portion of the blend. definitely improved as the beer warmed.

Appearance: Dark brown, clear with very little head that dissipated to nothing in a few minutes.

Taste: Rich and caramelly, but a little too artificial. Not sure if its from the "caramel color" added but it lacked the complexity of the aroma. Some dark fruit character and medium low hop bitterness. Overall, a little flacid for what I expect from a strong british ale.

Mouthfeel: Medium where I would have expected a fuller body. Alcohol warming was subdued, but present. Slight astringency.

Overall, not quite what I was looking for. Thomas Hardy's is far superior for a strong english ale.

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Photo of ianjsullivan
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

ST: Pint poured into a wine glass.

A: The beer is a dark brown with a fluffy brown head. It leaves nice lacing. When held to the light, dark ruby red tints take over the beer, and very slowly rising carbonation bubbles can be seen.

S: Roasted malt, toffee, caramel, and fruit.

T: A lot more flavor than the nose suggested, it beings fairly fruity. Mid-way through the flavor switches to light malt and slight toffee. The finish has slight vanilla, nuts, and roasted malts hold center stage along with a bit of oak (a slight burnt taste lingers on the tongue).

M: Surprisingly light, the finish even feels a bit watery.

D: It has some nice flavor, and it is light. The bottle does not list the alcohol percentage, though I would guess it is 5.5 or 6 percent.

Overall: I met someone that went to England and swore up and down about the quality of this beer. With that in mind, I picked it up to try. It has nice flavor and a bit of complexity, and it blends the alcohol very nicely. However, its light and watery mouthfeel distracts true enjoyment. It could use more body. This is not a bad beer, but it is not an excellent beer.

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Photo of Nipitato
3.3/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased a bottle at Downtown Wine & Spirits in Somerville, MA.

A: Very dark reddish brown. Glowing brilliant clarity. Weak head that entirely disappears.

S: Sweet malt aroma very weak. Vinous and fruity esters strong and not particularly pleasant. Smells a little like a Raisinette.

T: Malt flavors are present but not strong. Light chocolate flavor just noticeable. Flavor characteristics lean heavily towards dried fruit and port. these flavors are very strong. A tad bit oaky.

MF: Medium light. Too thin and watery. Low carbonation. Slight alcohol warming.

D: Drinkability is ok. There ares some gaps in this beer. Would have liked a more sweet malty character in both the nose and taste.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.33/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine April 2007.

Olde Suffolk is a blend of two beers; one is a 12 percent Strong Beer that was aged in oak for two years, and the other is a fresh Pale Ale of 5 percent ABV. It says "Caramel Color Added" on the label. Is it necessary to add coloring to beer?

Light and faint spritzy carbonation conjures up a finger of bubbly head that sticks to the glass a bit. The clarity is fine with this garnet-tinged brown brew. Hints of vanilla, toffee, Portuguese sweetbreads and date sugar in the aroma. Creamy, slick mouthfeel with an underlying smoothness in a full body. Lots of malt action going on here; sweetness is kept to a minimum or at least does not stray too far to be cloying. Suggestions of ripe dates; toffee or brittle; mild, roasted, sweetened coffee; and a musty diacetyl in the back. Hop character is modest, with a faded herb flavor, middle to end. Grain husk and some cooked veggies in the finish.

For anyone who likes to explore complex, malty beers, this one will captivate you. But you have to wonder what the 12 percent Strong Beer tasted like on its own. Boursin cheese and basil-stuffed chicken breast over Parmesan risotto is a very appealing pairing.

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Photo of bobes
3.37/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a rich deep amber/ brown with a minimal head that dissapated quickly. Initial nose was very floral but gave way to a rich roasted malt aroma. Taste is dominated by malt but with a minor hop component. A rich roast after taste lingers in the back of the mouth just long enough to let you know its there, but passes in reasonable time. Mouthfeel is moderately velvety based on the rich malt character, but finishes sort of dry.

On the bottle it is claimed that this is a blened beer, using an oak barrel aged beer and cutting it with a younger beer, a BPA. In this beer I think this works. The roast character is not overpowering and seems well placed in the beer. The blend of the fresh beer definately adds a youth to the final beer that makes it enjoyable. A bit more flavoring hops would make this beer stand out, but that might not be to style.

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Photo of cheers2beers
3.39/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured in a 20 oz. Wiezen glass

The appearance is dark with a light mohogany tint in the light.The one finger head disapated quickly with no laceing left behind.
Aromas from this complex brew are smoked whiskey,soured wine, and white grapes.Not much typical hop flavors but definitly a bitterness to this ale.
Over ripe apples and a strong woody oak presence present themselves in a long,smooth,silky,viscous finish.
Over all this is an above average ale.Very complex but i dont know if id seek this beer out again.


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Photo of heygeebee
3.4/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5


Pours a dark brown. Two finger head bubbles and dies - little lace on swirl, slight spots.

Aromas are of dark treacle, burnt toffee, roast malts.

Taste is a bit of a let down after the aromas - a watered down version or aromas, and add in earwaxy bitterness on back plate. The dry finish builds as the bottle goes down.

Mouthfeel also slightly watery and light. Moderate carbonation.

All in all, a solid beer. Not a great one. Interesting - when drunk slowly, no great change from intial serving temp to nearly room temp.

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Photo of blackie
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

apppearance: The pour into my snifter creates a small, dirty white head. The beer is mahogany in color. The marking L04-320 is printed on the back label.

smell: There is a considerable sour/tart characteristic to the aroma. A vinous oakiness is present. Hints of dark fruits and leather. Hops are pretty low.

mouthfeel: Carbonation is just slightly less than medium. The body is a moderate light.

taste: Dark fruits and an underlying sourness. Just a slight hop bitterness. Finish is astringent and bitter with a lingering sour flavor.

drinkability: pretty drinkable

Despite this beer's high ratings, I am not feeling it. Lacks complexity, especially on the tongue.

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Photo of choyhosoi
3.41/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brown color with a white head. The scent is a normal fruity scent not too overwhelming. The taste is a bit like Boddingtons. If you haven't had that then it is like a brown with some sweetness to it. This is a smooth session beer that would be good in a pub. I would recommend this if you have a chance to try it.

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Photo of MagyarPuska
3.43/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Looks like a dark pop/soda. A little lacing with a quickly dissipating head. What head there was had an off white/cream color.

Aroma: Fruit, raisins. Well rounded scent, with other smells in there. Hoping that the raisin is lying, as I am not a big fan of beers that aspire to be raisins.

Taste: Following the aroma in suite, it tastes like fruit. I noticed raisins as well, too bad.

Mouthfeel: Not as heavy as I thought it would be, slightly watery, with little reminder of beer after it goes down.

Drinkability: Ehh, not that great. Kind of fruity for my liking so I couldn't see myself enjoying one of these on a regular basis.

Overall Impressions: Not a great big fan. The raisins really chase me away from this beer. If you like that sort of thing then give it a try. Rating this beer higher than I enjoyed it for the complexity of the taste.

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Olde Suffolk English (Strong Suffolk Vintage) Ale from Greene King / Morland Brewery
4 out of 5 based on 460 ratings.
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