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

very good
301 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: 301 | Ratings: 458
Photo of Sammy
4.2/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very satisfying and elegant brew, that sizzles after you pour and retains a barleywine appearance. Tasty and a plus that its alcohol is dilluted. Interesting sour oak winey and malts and spice. Nicely hopped, understated. Had another bottle 15 months later and enjoyed its oaky and fruity characteristics (1999 edition).

Had the recent edition in early 2007, 2.3 years later and it was really noticeable woody, and well hopped. Do a side by side with oak aged AB. Still very nice. Review based on the first aged edition.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear caramel brown with a tan head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, and toffee aromas. Taste is very much the same along with some dark fruit flavors. There is a mild bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with some very rich aromas and flavors.

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Photo of metter98
4.02/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is hazy brownish amber in color and poured with a finger high beige head that quickly faded away, leaving lacing in the center of the glass and a thick ring of bubbles around the edge. A light amount of carbonation is visible.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of prunes and raisins in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is rather fruity but also has some flavors nuts and toffee as well as notes oak from the barrel aging.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation.
D: Given the low alcohol content, the beer is quite drinkable and goes down smoothly.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.92/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Probably a little better than I expected. Pours a heavy dark brown color with a fair head that fell to a trace, though laced well. Rich malt aroma with light roasted, toasted character. Tastes as malty as the aroma suggests. Big sweetness with a faint, sweet alcohol flavor. The periphreals are decorated with coffee, cocoa, stout-like flavor and bitterness. Moderately full and heavy to the mouth respective to style. Sweet with a mild relief with the roasted bitterness. Finishes full and savory, but without the syrupy, thickness, and aged characteristics normally found in Old Ales.

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Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear but dark amber color with a nice, rocky tan head that leaves some shards of lace

Smell: Tamarind, oak, burnt sugar and an earthy aspect

Taste: Starts out with a rich fruity flavor that is filled with tamarind and other dark fruit elements; by mid-palate, the burnt sugar starts to weave into the taste along with some diacetyl; after the swallow, their is a tartness that builds along with some earthy flavors to provide a deep and complex finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with very smooth carbonation

Drinkability: A complex and satsifying brew that works the diacetyl in to its advantage

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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 zeff80
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a brown hue with hints of ruby. It had a huge, bubbly, tan head that left sticky patches of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of light malt and had a earthy quality. There were also notes of raisin or plum.

T - It tasted sweet and slightly fruity (raisin?). It had a smooth maltiness and an oak-like flavor.

M - It was smooth and somewhat soft. An easy drinking, medium-bodied beer.

D - Overall, I was quite impressed. A very good old ale.

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Photo of oberon
4.12/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poures a deep brown with some ruby-like tint to it with almost no head to it,very nice aroma of oak and caramel with some brown sugar.A real sipping brew here to savor the different flavors some big oaky notes along with some brown sugar and caramel with this,an almost cola-like flavor as well, as it warms the oak comes thru even more.A real nice old, ale here one to savor.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramel, honey, malts and some hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of honey and caramel followed by some breadiness from a hearty malt character. The hops presence is decent for the style and provides a good balance. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this is a aged beer to for a while but a bit over-priced when there are better less-expensive choices out there.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A truly lovely shade of crimson-bronze, like dark raspberry sun tea. The interior looks to be devoid of carbonation, but the two finger cap puts the lie to that notion. The head is the color of a barely toasted marshmallow and appears about as firm. Specks and splotches of lace are the extent of the glass coverage.

I caught a whiff of what smelled like woody bourbon when I popped the cap... that seems to have disappeared now that I'm focusing on the nose for real. Olde Suffolk smells spicy, somewhat caramel-like, not at all whiskey-like and still woody. It's unlike anything that I've smelled before, but I'm at a loss to explain exactly what makes it so.

This is a wonderful old ale. The focal point is heavily toasted caramel malt with accents of subtle spice and fragrant wood. I love 'wood' in my whiskey, wine and beer, as long as it isn't overdone. Olde Suffolk is tangy, spicy and gently sweet at once; a cavalcade of flavors and flavor sensations. It tastes like a more strongly flavored English mild; which is what it's meant to be I guess.

While the hop content is on the low side, their flavor contribution (but not so much their bitterness) is definitely noted. What a wonderful use of the herbal, fruity English varieties. The body is well within bounds for the style and the gentle carbonation is a boon to drinkability.

Olde Suffolk English Ale is different and is very good. The two years that (part of) it spent in oak were years well spent. That woodiness gives it that *certain something* that makes it distinctive. Since the flavor is becoming richer and more intense with warming, I'll take my leave in order to concentrate on the second half of the bottle. The most amazing thing of all is that this fine ale is available at my local grocery, right alongside the Bud Select and the Coors Light.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Couldn't resist tryin' this one. It pours a very dark ruby-brown topped by a short finger of ashen foam. The nose comprises flaky biscuit, light toffee, light honey, light vague dark fruits, and a touch of toasted wood. The taste holds notes of dark greens, graham crackers, light cardboard, light tobacco, tea, sweetgrass, and a vague sense of cedar. The body is a stolid medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a creamy feel. Overall, a nice brew, one that's clearly benefited from the oak-aging.

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Photo of jwc215
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to deepsouth for this!

Pours caramelish ruby with a nice tan head. Some lacing sticks.

The smell is of wood/oak with herbal spicing. Tart cherry and a tough-to-describe fruitiness mixes in. Pleasant.

The taste is of tart cherry, herbal spicing and roasted toffee (with some caramel). Tartness present, but mixes in with an herbal bitterness, a mild sweetness that grows and some roast. Chocolate becomes more apparent as it progresses. Wood/oak shows in the dry finish.

It is medium-bodied to full bodied with mild to medium carbonation.

A nice brew - well balanced. Very smooth. It has an oaky character that doesn't overpower. It began at higher end of cellar temperature, yet subtle complexities (such as chocolate) arose as it progressed. Very drinkable. A nice "treat" from across the Pond.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Pours out a deep, dark brown color, under a full, lush cocoa-colored head. Generously aromatic, issuing hints of nuts, coffee, cream, toffee, butter. Malt is very prominent, hops take the backseat. Taste is smooth and delicious, with a slightly oily palate. Body is thick, rich, texture is very nice, and the finish continues the sweet, candyish flavors found initially in the nose,and they rest leisurely on the tastebuds. Puts me in mind of a brown ale, but done right, with flavor. Perfectly balanced, perfectly enjoyable, a tasty treat. A good ale with dinner, or in lieu of dessert.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.63/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle named "Greene King Strong Suffolk Dark Ale" with a picture of a bull on the label. The beer is a dark, crystal clear, ruby coloring with no head. Pretty vibrant in the glass. Nose of very sweet, rich toffee, tangy caramel, sugary sweetness, fig, date, and hints of roast. Very sweet throughout. Flavors of plum, date, dark cherry, and roasted toffee, all on a bready and sugary backbone. Very slick, oily, robust bodied, with an old world fruit rich and sweet aftertaste. Rich, dark sweet linger on a slick, smooth finish. Big beer.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.83/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Oooh...and English old ale. yes please.

Pours a light brown. Nice 2 finger head. Looks rich.

Aroma is sweet. Caramel, malt, some vanilla and wet grass.

Flavor is good, albeit a bit one sided. It seem the oak vat aging renders most of the flavors. The malt is thin, and with the low carbonation it just about disappears. Some smoke. Caramel and vanilla are the main culprits. It is very smooth.

I like this one. Something keeps me from loving it. I think it's the aging--just wonder what the original brew is like.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color, nice carbonation, tiny little fizzy head, basically no sticky lacing at all. The nose is malty, slight touch of pears, and caramel/toffee. The taste pretty much follows the nose malty, and lots of caramel/toffee. Light/Medium body. Drinkable, not a bad brew at that, recommended.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500 ml clear bottle. Darn, and I thought that it was a brown bottle. On to the beer:

Dark ruby brown color. There are hues of red mixed in with the dark brown colored body. The head on top levels out to a creamy thin lace on top, leaving spotty lacing. There's a touch of fruitiness in the nose. The oak is there is moderate-sized bits, and a little toffee (thanks yeast!).

Soft, yet flavorful. The soft nutty yeast pay a big part in this beer. Nuts and toffee all the way. There's perhaps a faint note of wood I am able to taste, but my mind could also be playing tricks with me. A very nice flavor, but the aftertaste is too bitter....like straightforward "bad" hop bitterenss.

Hmmm, fix that very bitter aftertaste. Either the hops were used incorrectly, or the clear bottle has something to do with it. Otherwise, it is delightful ale.

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Photo of biegaman
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Rubies within an ensemble of fall foliage. Olde Suffolk's dimming tones resemble the final embers of a dying fire or the final days of suffocation for exhausted leaves on an autumn branch. A beautiful patch of ecru stained head would unfold but unfortunately couldn't stay the course. Outer lining and a solitary patch of bubbles have since taken its place.

Fans of brandy or fortified wines would be right at home smelling this. It is a ripe, mellow bouquet redolent of dried fruits, spiced bread and wild rice. If I were to try and replicate it I would fill a well-worn oak barrel to the brim with raisins and plums, top it off with a bold Burgundy and a shot of brandy, and let it sit for a good few years.

Because that's simply what a true British Old Ale should offer - the same complexity and compelling character as a vintage port or Vieille Réserve cognac. Indeed, this not only shares some of the character but also some of the flavours. Distilled wine grapes, candied cherries, brandy, sugary dark fruits, and dark toffee are all well pronounced.

It is full of dark fruit but also hints of spice as well as a strong breadiness. At 6%, you could expect the alcohol to not be any kind of impediment and indeed it isn't. That said, this gives the air of a much stronger beer, not via its strength, but from its complexity. We've all heard the expression "food for thought", well Green King introduces "drink for thought".

This beer is astonishingly reserved. It makes no bid for your attention and yet you're all too happy to give it. It acts coy and indifferent yet everything about it - its scent, its colours - are magnetizing and entrancing. It is spellbinding. You become so fully immersed in its complexities that all deliberations become focused on this all too modest but deserving ale. ...only to have the bottle finish before you really feel you ever got to know it.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.58/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle marking L06123 14:03, Sampled June 2007
Pours with a fairly dense, almost creamy, amber-tinged, full tan colored head that sits atop an absolutely brilliantly clear, ruby hued beer when held up to the light. The aroma is a mix of toffee, light butterscotch like diacetyl and caramel. Actually the butterscotch note is the most pronounced aroma to me, though I am particularly sensitive to diacetyl, yet it somehow manages to not ruin the aroma. Butterscotch I can deal with, if there was overpowering notes of rancid butter that would be another thing; luckily there is not though. Part of the butterscotch might be from the oak vats, but it is light enough that I can't be sure.

Lightly sweet, with caramel notes and toffee being noticeable up front. As a sip nears the finish notes of butterscotch starts to become noticeable. The beer has a medium heft to it that coats the mouth just a touch. The sweetness accentuates some fruit notes of raisins and perhaps some prune. Hints of burnt caramel are noticeable as is a nuttiness that almost adds a touch of astringency (think of peanut skins, or walnut shell), but that also could be the oak character. The oak, if actually noticeable, and I am pretty sure it does contribute here, is just subtle enough that the flavors could be contributed from something else; part of the butterscotch, and probably some of the tannic astringency must actually be from the oak character. Hints of aged malt sugars accentuate soft, subtle notes of sherry and even the raisin character.

An interesting beer, it is much better than I was expecting, but it is still a touch more simplistic than I could wish for. I wonder if this beer was heavily filtered before being bottled, it seems a little stripped of flavor and complexity. Somehow, despite all my gut-feeling hesitations about this beer, I am really enjoying it. I think that this is because there is still quite a breadth of flavor here (despite the guessed at filtration). Sure I think this could be a lot better and more complex, but there is something about it that make it work despite that the individual components don't quite cut it on their own.

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Photo of Zorro
4.45/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a great looking clear burgundy red brew.

Smell is BIG and fruity and nutty smell and some mild spice and malt. A great smelling brew with a great apple/plum scent. The oak is noticeable in this.

Taste is a bit sweet but not too much, closer to dry than sweet.
Lots of fruit, walnut, oak and subdued malt in the flavor. The bitterness is there but is in proportion to the mild flavor of this brew.

Mouthfeel is good.

Super drinkable brew, one of those beers than can pull off the difficult trick of being complex and mild at the same time.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.71/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml brown bottle, unable to find a best before date, drank on 11th march 2007.

Poured into a straight sleeve pint glass. Dark, very dark ruby red colour with a good foam light brown head. it looks healthy and heavy, a fine, clear sparkling liquid.

Spices like corriander and some cloves in the aroma, mixed with hops and dark almost burnt malts. Nothing to strong though.

I like the taste, woody with tones of caramel and toffee combine to give it a Christmas like flavour, very pleasant. The label claims some of the beer (which is a blend) has been aged for two years in oak. Which is where the woody flavour obviously comes from.

Full bodied is too strong to use, but it is a well rounded beer and the aftertase and mouthfeel are impressive, the flavours stay, with a burnt feeling becoming more prominent.

Green King get a lot of stick from some of British real ale drinkers, but this is a fine beer and they should be applauded for producing it.

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

A: Dark ruby-black; tan head; only a little retention; initially leaves some lace.

S: Bread; toffee; caramalized brown-sugar; nuts; dark fruit & a little spice (pepper?).

T: Burnt toffee (just like it says on the label!); fresh wood; jaggery; dark fruit; spice; moderate bitterness. This is a really well-rounded blend.

M: Slightly acidic & dry (well-attenuated); moderate body and carbonation.

D: Blending the old ale with some fresh brew has made this quite drinkable. I could session this... but I'd be in trouble!

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Photo of jdhilt
4.03/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a one-finger light brown head that fades to a ring and leaves hardly any lace. Light carbonation, light to medium bodied. Color is a nice clear amber. Starts wth coffee overtones and has some hoppiness. A good ale too bad it is "brewed in limited quantities". $3.90 for a 16oz bottle at Colonial Spirits, Acton, MA.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.74/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'd say "pours" a deep reddish brown colour, but the clear glass bottle gives a pretty good indication of the beer's hue before it's even uncapped. Head is frothy and large-bubbled, the result of some alarmingly exuberant carbonation. Minimal lacing as well as the head crackles down to nothing. Colour is brilliant, head is not.

Nose is sweet and lightly roasted, but with esters of banana skin and lilting organic notes that remind me of root beer. Some caramel swirls around as well, giving a bit of depth. Not bad, it has some nice characters to it.

Taste is also pleasant, if very much expected. Smooth caramel with a light roasty buffer to it that stops it from getting too heavy. Prickle of bitterness on the back, light organics and a nice old-ale astringency. Feel is relatively smooth, but again, I can feel the carbonation in a way that really doesn't seem to sit right with the style.

Not a bad beer, but I've certainly had better examples. The carbonation is off, there's not much nuance or complexity, and overall it tastes like a weak knock-off old ale.

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Photo of wl0307
4.17/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This ale, is allegedly a blend of Green King’s old oak-aged stale ale Old 5X (12%abv.) and a lighter beer, called the Best Pale Ale (5%abv.). A few years back when I first tried this beer, it was bottle-conditioned, but this version now is filtered, and possibly pasteurised as well. BB FEB 2007, served cool in a large Burgundy bulb wine glass.

Appearance: deep dark ruby hue coming with a beige frothy beer head slowly dissipating and leaving uneven sheets of lacing along the way; very gentle and constant carbonation.
Smell: enticing sour-sweet aroma of ripe plums and dried berry-fruits, on top of a mildly lactic-sour aroma from old oak barrels (like a more creamy version of Rodenbach's oaky-sourness), creamy/buttery diacetyl notes and toffee-ish dark malts, coconut milk, fruit cake, perfumy and a little winey touch... Overall, the nose is deeply fruity and complex, while the freshness and liveliness are also retained.
Taste: surprisingly light in contrast to the rich aroma, the foretaste is almost… tea-ish, where a bitter-sweet taste of dark malts is supported by a flow of dried dark fruits with its sour-sweet edge, slightly bitter, burnt maltiness, then turning fast to a dry-ish bitter palate full of dry herbs, bitter licorice, and slightly tannic tea-leaves; surprisingly clean finish in the end with a subtle, lingering echo of bitterness (from hops?) and old sherry like palate.
Mouthfeel: the texture sustains well, with refreshingly mild fizz sitting underneath a rather clean and light body – this is an ultra-light old ale, and there's a lovely contrast b/w the rich aroma and feather-light palate, while complexity reveals in the most subtle manner.
Overall: I remember my last bottle (bottle-conditioned, as I remember it) being much richer on the palate, but that was four years ago. I'm not sure if the recipe has been changed, but the beer as it is now is quite drinkable and thirst-quenching even. But why has it been changed to the pasteurised+filtered(?) version? Or is my memory a bit too hazy to get this fact right?

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Olde Suffolk English (Strong Suffolk Vintage) Ale from Greene King / Morland Brewery
4 out of 5 based on 458 ratings.
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