XB Bluebird Bitter | Coniston Brewing Co. Ltd

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
XB Bluebird BitterXB Bluebird Bitter
79 Ratings
XB Bluebird BitterXB Bluebird Bitter

Brewed by:
Coniston Brewing Co. Ltd
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by brewdlyhooked13 on 03-03-2005

Bros Score:
View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 79 |  Reviews: 53
Photo of jsh420
2.76/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

pours a color similar to apple cider with a big 3+ finger head (so pour it slow) also lots of yeast poured in the glass

smell is fruity apples and grassy hops

taste well not as good as the smell - the beer was too sour - sour apples and earthy hops

mouthfeel stings the mouth - lots of carbonation and the sour beer does not mix

drinkability - love the smell but not the taste - i will stick to the regular bluebird bitter

 426 characters

Photo of Nickls
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A - Lighter yellow gold color; nice half-finger of a frothy white head. Decent retention

S - Close to ripe apples and some malt sweetness. Bit bready

T - Earthy; lighter fruit flavors; bit of hop bitterness toward the end. Well-balanced overall

M - Thinner with subtle carbonation; nice enough

D - Session beer here. Well-balanced, no off-flavors, decent overall=pretty darn drinkable

Overall, not the best example I've had in the style, but certainly a more than respectable one. Check it out if in need of an English session fix.

 550 characters

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Imperial pint glass a clear medium apricot color with about two fingers of dense off white head. No lacing to mention. Smells and tastes of bready grains, a hit of caramel malts and floral, citrusy hops (lemon and orange). Barely medium bodied with ample carbonation and a pleasant bitterness that lasts through the finish. Overall a tasty bitter, but for the price, I'll stick with the regular Bluebird.

 419 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.53/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear amber with a thin creme head. Nose is mild apple tones and bitter edges. Flavor is high on the grain tones. Highly bitter. Feel has a pretty high carbonation. Liquid is well bodied for the most part. This is a fairly easy drinker, though it is slightly intense.

 273 characters

Photo of BrewBoone
4.63/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Light tan in color with low carbonation. low, white head with little retention.

smell= citrusy hops. low malty sweetness. slight paper/cardboardness

taste= good balance of hops and malt. both light but refreshing. a session beer at its best in my mind. slight paper/cardboardness

mouthfeel= light with low carbonation to match.

drinkability= a good one to drink while playing shuffle board or darts at a bar.

 413 characters

Photo of gfreed
3.75/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Somewhat dark yellow in color, with a loose and fizzy head and a good wad of citrus provided by the fruity hops; somewhat pungent with grapefruit. Nice and light in the mouth and with a lightly bitter tang. The addition of the American hops is interesting, but one of the things I like most about British beer of this type is that it's *not* overloaded with hops like so many American brews. I'd say try XB as a curiosity, but for a better example of this style AND an excellent example of what Coniston does best, try Bluebird Bitter. You won't be sorry. And if you still have an urge for hoppy, overly-spiced pale ales, buy something American.

 645 characters

Photo of wl0307
3.31/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Using American Mount Hood aromatic hops, is this supposedly the classic Bluebird with an American twist? But the original bluebird is made with 100% English Challenger hops, so this has to be a totally different ale then? BB 17/12/08, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: pours a slightly translucent dark amber colour with reddish hues, coming with a well-lasting tight frothy off-white head and rather mild carbonation - looking quite healthy for a RAIB.
S: sweet tangerine-ish citrus hops come with rather intensely sweet pale malts and syrup, added with a hint of butterscotch-like yeasty influence. As it warms the yeastiness comes at the expense of the other elements on nose.
T: yeastiness in the form of lactose-drink accompanies the main entry of lightly burned pale malts (with an edge of fig paste, slightly like a thinly-sweet edge of a pasteurised ale to be honest...), sweet citric taste (a bit like the undertone of tangerine syrup), thin-bodied bitter-sweet tea, leading towards a lightly dry/tannic and bitter finish that doesn't go without a subtly sour edge of more yeastiness.
M&D: overall this is a lightly-carbonated, smooth-enough, medium-bodied pale ale that suffers a little from the intervention of the yeast sediments, clouding the overall balance b/w malts and hops a bit more than what does to the traditional/ordinary Bluebird Bitter.

 1,379 characters

Photo of shirfan
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The bottle claims this to be an English session ale with some American hops thrown in.

Pale gold with a slight haze, good head retention.

Aroma of sweet, almost lemony citrus and restrained malt.

Flavor is a lightly dry lemon zest, very mild cereal grains, and a touch of biscuit. Highly drinkable. The American hops don't do a whole lot for this beer, and the brewer's notes on the bottle say that they were aiming to miss an APA on purpose. That's where their dart landed; this is a very sessionable, hoppy (for the style) bitter. I'd love to have a pint or four on cask -- good stuff.

 590 characters

Photo of russpowell
3.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an effervescent amber with 2 fingers of rapidly falling eggshell white head. Above average lacing & average head retention

S: Slight breadyness & great fruittyness once warm

T: Leafy & citric hops, plus biscuitty malt up front with bit of toffee. Fruittynes (apricot, apples & dates) & citric & leafy hops follows as this warms. Finishes with a little bit of mineral dryness, some fruit & nice orangey hops

MF: Light/medium bodied with restrained
carbonation & good balance

Great drinkabilty, this one I could easily session on, although I'd prefer to move on after a few, because I'd think the flavor would bore me after a while. If less pricey or on cask, this one would work for me!

 695 characters

Photo of dedrinker
3.47/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is basically the same beer as the bluebird bitter (see reviews) but they tried to Americanize it with some late cascade additions. As with most European beers that flirt with more hops to create a more American inspired offering, this one just doesn't deliver that true hop character we Yanks have learned to love (at least the hop heads). This is fair play I suppose for all the American brewers who claim they have made a true British/ Belgian/ German/ Czech style, and also fall short.

 493 characters

Photo of jwc215
2.95/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours hazy light amber with a thick, foamy head that settles to a lasting thin cover. Not much lacing sticks to glass.

The smell is floral with some citrusy notes and a bready undertone.

The aroma doesn't really match the taste, mainly because the hops are muted under sweet malt. Odd mix of earthy, leafy hops and some citrus - lemon and orange blanketed under a sweet honeyish malt. It almost works to a degree, but doesn't. The hops are nearly lost to the malt, which itself doesn't lend much flavor to it. The carbonation that is not too noticeable in the appearance interferes and give it something of a seltzer-water aftertaste. It has a sweetish, fleeting finish.

The body thins even when warm, though there is something of a creaminess to it, but not enough to quite make up for the thin body and late carbonation feel.

It not undrinkable despite odd blend that is ironically helped by its mildness. But, it's nothing worthwile, IMO. It's a nice idea in theaory to blend British (Challenger?) and American (Mt. Hood?) hops with English malt, but it doesn't come through well in this case.

 1,108 characters

Photo of kmo1030
3.41/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

slightly hazed orange amber with a thin white head.
floral with a touch of lemon and honey, and this sort of weird sanitizer type aroma.
the taste has got light caramel and honey with a little tin. it's got some very light citrusy flavors as well as the floral aspects from the aroma. very little bitterness.
a little thin in the mouthwith moderate, but delicate carbonation.
good drinkability, but needs to commit to being a pale ale a little more to be good. it's got some potential though, a little tweaking would do this good.

 534 characters

Photo of mattpetti
3.26/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden color with a large white head, which maintains retention throughout my entire drinking of this beer. "ENGLISH PALE ALE with AMERICAN AROMA HOPS" is what is stated on the bottle. Since I do not agree with calling this an english bitter i'm going to rate it according to the english pale ale style. It smells of light citrus hops(lemon zest as it warms a little), slightly fruity, and maybe some spice. Smells almost of a hefeweizen. Taste is not too different from the smell with the yeasty hefen flavors comming through and the american hops making a fight to balance. The malt flavor is nonexistant with no fruit showing. All in all the taste of the beer isn't bad though. It's dry and not cloying at all with biting active carbonation, citrus and low abv, making it very refreshing. Though it is not what i woiuld have in mind tryign to pull a EPA off the shelf it is ultimately decent and interesting.

 924 characters

Photo of jclzony
2.97/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light fruit-like sweetness on the tongue but did not find it resembling a washed out mass-produced light beer. Has malty characteristics with a mouthfeel that is light and spritzy without coating the mouth. I thought this selection good for an early afternoon quaff.

 266 characters

Photo of gentlebubbles
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

NERAX 2006 (Fri)

Contract brewed by Ridgeway

Beautiful toasty amber with a fluffy white crown that shortly falls, leaving specks on the sides.

Sulfur in the nose.

Bready malt and more sulfur, like egg yolk. Juicy lemon and sticky resin around the edges, with a touch of salt in the finish.

Lightly biting fizz.

This is ... interesting. It changes a lot all down the glass, which I could admir despite not exactly liking it. Doesn't bear any resemblance to the regular Bluebird, as far as I can tell.

 517 characters

Photo of plaid75
2.75/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a hazy copper hue, with a three finger foamy head. Pretty good retention and nice lacing.

The smell was clean, dry and lightly aromatic. Hints of citrus and cannibus.

The taste was rather thin. Minor malt presence up front, but the beer finished very seltzery. Whatever hop character was present, did not translate to the taste.

Mouthfeel was thin as well.

Drinkable, but so is seltzer.

The idea behind this beer is good - to add some American aroma hops to an English Pale Ale.

 500 characters

Photo of Naes
2.74/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This bitter pours out a pale copper color with a tall white head that laces and retains well. It also has a lot of visible carbonation.
The aroma is nothing special. It just has trace amounts of British style hops.
The flavor is not quite what I was expecting. It is citrusy and yeasty more than it is hopy. The yeast seems to be the dominant flavor.
Mouth feel is light to medium in body and generously carbonated.

This bitter just seems to be artificially sweet. Stick with the regular bluebird bitter.

 511 characters

Photo of oberon
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass a dull lightly hazed gold with a nice well retained white head that inches down very slowly leaving a creamy top.The addition of Mt. Hoods for aroma really show thru giving it a "light" citrusy character not robust like the bottle says but quite nice I also picked up a touch of mineral and biscuit.Sadly the citrusy character doesnt carry over into the flavor much somewhat dry with a mineral-like quality with that English herbal,"green" finish.Now this is a nice bitter the aromas were very nice and its very sessionable but I was hoping for a little more oomph in the end.

 611 characters

Photo of RedwoodGeorge
2.54/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

The pour is absolutely fantastic - the bottle conditioning gives this beer lots and lots of carbonation resulting in a huge sticky white head. Even with a gentle pour I had to give the beer time to settle down before filling the glass. The beer itself is a cloudy deep yellow - almost hefe like in appearance.

The nose is rather tangy and tart with strong hints of lemon masking most of the hop notes. There is a light floral note suggesting some interesting hopping.

While I'm all for experimenting and the thought of an English Pale Ale hopped with an "American" hop sounds intriguing, the result is far from satisfying. Primarily because the yeast hasn't produced much of an English PA flavoring - no fruit and no caramel notes at all. Instead the yeast has taken over and you've got a flavor much closer to a hefe or Belgian blonde with obvious banana, clove and lemon flavors dominating. There is some hopping in the background but the yeast completely dominates and takes this completely out of either EPA or APA style ranges.

The mouthfeel is good with the bottle conditioning adding plenty of carbonation and a smooth feel. No bittering from the hops because the sourness overwhelms.

Would I drink this again? Only if someone told me this was a bottling mistake at the brewery. From the coloration (no reds or ambers to be found) to the nose (no caramels) to the taste (no fruity esters) this is not in the least an English Pale Ale. The brewer doesn't seem to make anything hefeweizen like so it's probably not a bottling error - this just doesn't measure up to other English Pale Ales.

 1,607 characters

Photo of Drew966
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a light copper color with a thick white head from a brown bottle. The smell is all citrusy hops. The taste is predominated by the American hops, there is an English beer lurking in the background however. I think its a real interesting idea to blend the English and American styles as they try to here. I'm not sure its exactly a fair match as the American hops tend to overwhelm. That said, I think this is actually a very good, very drinkable beer that is lighter than many heavily hopped American beers, making for a nice relatively light style. Recommended.

 577 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.27/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well-bubbled amberish orange with an expansive head that occupies more of the glass than the beer does immediately after a gentle pour. The foam is yellowish ivory, is airily stiff and sports hundreds of large, gem-like bubbles on its upper surface. This is not the type of cap that will deposit much lasting lace, although a few skinny fingers are arrayed haphazardly along the nonic bulge.

I like the nose. The beer smells exactly like what it is, namely a pale ale brewed with English (Challenger) and American (Mt. Hood) hops. Hard to say which one is the most aromatic, it's a virtual dead heat. Slightly floral, moderately spicy and nicely citric fruity. There's also a suprising amount of diacetyl that leads to an enjoyable (in this case at least) buttered breadiness.

Not the flavor that I was expecting. There's something amiss here, though I'm not sure that I'll be able to identify what it is. The beer is insufficiently malted and lacks any sort of softness or creaminess whatsoever. In fact, it's borderline harsh in the mouth. The sweetness that builds throughout each mouthful and leaves a tacky residue on the finish tastes like added sugar, akin to lemonade, rather than malt.

Speaking of lemonade, the flavor is more citric sour than hoppy bitter. Looking at the listed ingredients for Bluebird Bitter versus this XB version, one realizes that they really aren't that dissimilar. The main differences are that the original uses Maris Otter malt and this beer uses Mt. Hood hops in addition to Challenger. Why then do the beers taste so different? I love BB for its subtle, drinkable charm. XB lacks those very qualities.

The mouthfeel is too thin to be enjoyable, even with the mildly sticky, mouthcoating finish. Some of the harshness fades as the boisterous bubbles begin to die, but the mouthfeel is still no great shakes.

Fans of Bluebird Bitter are hereby warned to avoid this beer. It isn't very good and it certainly isn't as advertised. Coniston's hope of a more highly hopped, American-style pale ale with English roots (a fantastic idea by the way) fails in the execution. Bluebird soars while Bluebird XB never gets off the ground.

 2,176 characters

Photo of WesWes
3.27/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a hazy golden color with a towering white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a mild malt scent that boasts of pale, light crystal, and bisquit malts along with a nice hoppy aroma that balances well. The taste is average. It has a very bitter flavor that dominates the taste. It's very citrousy. The malt content is way off balance and hardly enjoyable. It has a fruity yeast element that seems almost sour to the taste. The mouthfeel is average also. It is a medium bodied beer with a little too much carbonation. This seemed like a good beer at the first smell, but it quickly dropped in my opinion with the first taste. It's one and done for me.

 687 characters

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was surprised when I got this because it was golden orange and cloudy. I thought is was a hefe at first, but upon tasting, I was corrected. Smells of a crisp hop dryness and mandarin orange. The hops carry over in to the taste but it is backed by an odd Cheerios like grain. Not bad, but different. Mouth feel was heavy, but flat with smooth little bubbles.

 359 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
3.83/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours to a clear pale straw color with plenty of carbonation, resulting in a massive fluffy white head that refuses to go away.

The smell is interesting. A bit citric on top of the typical english bitter aroma of light spicy herbal hops and caramelized malt.

The taste is sweet and malty with an up front citric. Little to no taste in the finish. Very light and quaffable. Not as impressed by this as I was with the regular Bluebird. The American hops didn't mix well with the English style, and may have even been a bit skunked. Still a decent brew.

 566 characters

Photo of RonfromJersey
3.17/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A soft, clear, golden-orange body, with light carbonation streams, topped by a fist full of tightly whipped foam which gently rose above the rim, and dented well in the pour.

The US hop experiment works here, as the nose is a surprising but pleasant burst of citrus, with a heap of orange leading the way. A very fresh, clean aroma.

Soft, sweet, malty start, which is quickly balanced off, too quickly. Could use a bit more of fine stiff upper lip British malt character. The US hops come around and push aside the base, and leave a slight off putting perfume texture along side the orange and other citruses in the finish. Really does not come together well.

Nice soft "session beer" mouthfeel, but might be just a tad too watery. Goes down ok, at least some of the sips.

A noble try at an international merger, but the sum doesn't equal the parts. Stick with the tradtional and classic Bluebird Bitter.

 916 characters

XB Bluebird Bitter from Coniston Brewing Co. Ltd
Beer rating: 3.65 out of 5 with 79 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.