King's Ale
Bass Brewers Limited

King's AleKing's Ale
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Bass Brewers Limited
England, United Kingdom
English Strong Ale
4.01 | pDev: 16.96%
Nov 03, 2023
Mar 24, 2010
Part of the Bass Royal Ales series. Water for the mash started by King Edward VII on February 22, 1902. Re-bottled in 1977.
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Photo of Sigmund
Reviewed by Sigmund from Norway

2.48/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75
Sampled 1902 vintage from lead(!)-sealed and corked bottle, at RBESG 2006 in Göteborg. The smell was simply lovely, very complex and enticing. Unfortunately the flavour had turned into vinegar, and I could not finish my small ration. But I kept the cork, and enjoyed the smell of it for months!
Nov 03, 2023
Photo of Bitterbill
Reviewed by Bitterbill from Wyoming

2.58/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5
Well, here it goes. The cork had a small crack in it and that worries me.

It pours a dark brown with hues of red, no foam, no lacing. As expected.

Smells of caramel malt, leather, tobacco, very fruity of the dark pitted kind, notes of sherry and more than a hint of fruity tartness. Oxidation is obvious.

Yep, the oxidation took a turn to the tart side; damn cork. Still has lots of sherry notes and leather, light sweetness, but really, it resembles a wine more than a beer at this point. Strong too, lots of heat in the swallow.

Full bodied. A chore to drink. 3rd time seeking this brew out wasn't so lucky.
Nov 24, 2019
Photo of KooVee
Reviewed by KooVee from Finland

5/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Two bottles, both 117 years old. Uncorking was something of an ordeal but the sealing had not failed.

Amazing very clear colour that is somewhere between ruby and tawny port. No foam to speak of.

Amazing aroma. Unlike anything else I have ever smelled. One could sit for a while just sniffing the beer. Tobacco, leather, hard to define aromas that are so complex, elegant and strong if such a combination makes sense. Like it is one or two phases past / to the 2nd or 3rd power of the usual dates, figs and raisins of aged beer.

Taste matches the aroma with even more subtlety. Hard to associate with anything else except fine 30+ yo port or a 50 yo famous vintage of wine, out of things I have tasted. Yet, this, much older bottle, felt like it could take on another century, whereas those benchmarks were definitely at the edge of senile. One bottle was not showing any signs of being oxidized, the other had slight signs of acidity and oxidation, but not to any distracting degree. Aftertaste is endless.

Really a sui generis beer one should taste at least once. Does not really obviously resemble anything going by the name of barley wine today. One has to bow to the skill of the original brewers. The balance is amazing after such a long time. As a homebrewer, I am trying really hard to understand how this was possible, but I would bet besides the obvious on the live yeast. The bottles had a very thick layer of a dark mass of dead yeast on the bottom. I still have two more bottles left... could the yeast still be resuscitated....?
Mar 14, 2019
Rated: 3.8 by parris from Massachusetts

Mar 16, 2016
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Reviewed by olradetbalder from Sweden

5/5  rDev +24.7%
Vintage 1869. Fan f-in tastic!
Dark brown, no head at all. Loads of cork in the glass.
Almost no smell, smells a bit like an old garbage can or sours.
Taste is amazing, like japaneese soysauce.

Vintage 1902, bottle one a bit oxidized. Bottle 2 very oxidized and almost undrinkable.

Vintage 1911, bottle one oxidized, but still drinkable. Bottle 2 very drinkable.
Dec 05, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by coreymcafee from Colorado

Jan 10, 2014
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Reviewed by Beer-Zombie from Oregon

4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75
So first and foremost, I can't believe that I got to try a beer that was brewed 111 years ago. Brewed February 22nd, 1902. Thanks to my good buddy Gram for flying to London from Texas and aquiring the crazy old brew. First barleywine ever mass bottled.

Onto the beer: I was a little buzzed when I got to sample a one ounce pour. Going off memory, the beer was dark and consistent like soy sauce. Aroma of teriyaki, leather, earth. Flavor was dust and must, plum, raisins, leather again. Easy sipper. No carbo. Full bodied.

I've had a lot of beers, and I have been brewing for about 4 years. But once you try a beer that is over 100 years old, nothing else even matters. Great experience
Sep 15, 2013
Rated: 4.5 by CypherEnigma from Massachusetts

Aug 16, 2013
Photo of Jwale73
Reviewed by Jwale73 from Rhode Island

3.49/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5
Big thanks to Jedwards for the final pre-move blowout cellar crash. Brewed in 1902 and bottled in 1905. Served in an Oerbier stem. Pours the appearance of soy sauce with no head. Nose expresses sherry, leather, root cellar dirt and raisins. The flavors on this beer are extremely strong and overpowering - leathery, tobacco, and acidity are over the top. Finish reveals rich chocolate. Mouthfeel is medium-light with a still carbonation and quite a bit of acidity. I have to say that this beer has held up incredibly well; however, the flavors are just way too intense. A splash was more than sufficient.
Jun 09, 2013
Rated: 4 by drummermattie02 from Texas

May 05, 2013
Photo of tjmodica
Reviewed by tjmodica from Texas

4.29/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
An aged English strong ale, bottled in 1902, hmmm this is back in the day. Let me say Bass nailed the color for the Kings Ale, for sure. Smell is old old leather suitcase, taste soy sauce and still some sweetness. The appearance and uncorking of this beer is very special indeed, Thanks Graeme, say my name bitch say my name.
May 05, 2013
Photo of gory4d
Reviewed by gory4d from Texas

4.33/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Pours a dark clear amber with a few bubbles - no head or evidence of carbonation. The smell is old leather, peat, tobacco, moss. The taste is heavy on the tobacco and leather, with a rich sweetness to it. It's thick and viscous, but still clean on the palate. A delicious and wonderful old beer. (We also had a Jubilee Strong Ale and a Prince's Ale that night - this was the best of them.)
Mar 19, 2013
Rated: 3 by ILiveOffHops from New Hampshire

Aug 26, 2012
Photo of johnnnniee
Reviewed by johnnnniee from New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
1902 Vintage decanted at Eb's 8/23/2012
Wow a 110 year old bottle of beer I'm stoked fro the opportunity to try this, Thanks a million Chris!
Pours into the glass a murky headless red brown liquor with faint legs when swirled. Wow that nose is rank. Musty cellar fumes mixed with sherry, wet cardboard and band aids. there a hint of caramel sweetness in there as well, but its hard to find under the other aromas. The flavor is more funk and earth with lots of sherry and dark fruit notes. A bit more funk and some plastic phenols round out the flavor. Medium body with a non existent level of carbonation and a harsh acidic sherry mouthfeel. How the hell do I rate this? Its clearly an oxidized mess, but the novelty alone makes me glad I got to try it.
Aug 26, 2012
Rated: 4.4 by Rochefort10nh from New Hampshire

Aug 24, 2012
Rated: 3.75 by chrispoint from Connecticut

Apr 09, 2012
Rated: 4 by HopStoopid120 from Connecticut

Dec 07, 2011
Rated: 4.25 by JAHMUR from Connecticut

Nov 15, 2011
Photo of woosterbill
Reviewed by woosterbill from Kentucky

3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5
Gigantic thanks go to Knifestyles for sharing this 109-year-old beer at his birthday tasting. I certainly never thought I'd get to try a century-old brew - this thing was already old before my grandparents were born...

A: The cork practically disintegrated into the beer upon opening, but a quick pass through a coffee filter yields a clear mahogany body that is totally still, and doesn't show much in the way of legs. It's ok, but not as attractive as the 1929 Prince's Ale that started the tasting.

S: Whoa, that's nuts. Hugely cheesy, musty, woody. Cobwebs, moldy bread, and madeira. It's improving as it warms and opens up, but the profoundly funky cheese not is tough to get past.

T: Big caramel sweetness up front, followed by the woody + musty notes from the aroma. Luckily the cheese doesn't come through. It's actually pretty darn tasty, and especially so for being older than the Model T.

M: Smooth, still, fairly full body. Pretty much like a fine dessert wine.

O: How can I not give this a perfect score for Overall? This damn beer has been through two world wars; when it was brewed, mankind had never flown.

Jul 27, 2011
Photo of Pencible
Reviewed by Pencible from Virginia

4.85/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
Part of the Bass Royal Ales series. Water for the mash started by King Edward VII on February 22, 1902. Re-bottled in 1977.

Tasted on March 13, 2010. Thanks to Traquairlover for sharing!

This poured a clear but very dark cherry mahogany with no head. It smelled like malt vinegar and iodine and port and raisins and prunes and leather and cigars, with some molasses and alcohol and brown sugar. It tasted like tobacco and port and walnuts, with some raisin and date and molasses and alcohol, and a bit of malt vinegar and leather and cigar smoke. It was thick with no carbonation, and had a lasting sweet aftertaste. Overall this beer has survived and thrived! Impossibly delicious after 108 years. It was fantastically complex with deep scents and flavors unlike any other beer. I could sip this for a long time. Every taste brings a new element of character or nuance to the flavors. And they all are balanced against each other in perfect harmony. Simply unforgettable.
Mar 24, 2010
King's Ale from Bass Brewers Limited
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 20 ratings