XB | T & R Theakston Ltd.

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118 Ratings

Brewed by:
T & R Theakston Ltd.
England, United Kingdom

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-29-2003

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 118 |  Reviews: 63
Photo of pkalix
4.67/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

darker orange with very little on top and weak lacing down the sides.
smells very nice, malty. tastes the same- very good malt flavors, but i dont see where the 'bitter' comes in. this is just a really nice tasting brew.
but i suppose it ought to be a nice tasting brew at such a low abv. heck, even coke and pepsi taste good, right? i learned that lesson before and keep forgetting it- if it does not list the abv then it is a very low abv because it doesnt have to list it. i love a refreshing beer and i love the way the brewer can tweak a taste with additions and subtractions. but if i wanted a nice tasting beverage, and i wasnt concerned with abv, then i would be drinking iced tea or pepsi, right? i believe the ability to draw a great tasting beer with the abv sidling in with the flavors is the goal and it is what sets aside the duvels and the doppelbocks from the buttweisers and miller lites, no? so in judging this brew, i did give it good marks for taste, etc because i compared it to big sellers like the buttweiser, but the accomplishment is really in the duvel. because one can only drink so much beer in one night before he either begins making repeated trips to the urinal oe he compliments it with a nice whiskey.

 1,234 characters

Photo of zenithberwyn
4.5/5  rDev +20.6%

Photo of fx20736
4.47/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served cool in a nonic.

Dark copper, thick toffee head.

aroma of grapes, nuts and rich toasted malt.

mouthfeel is thick and soft.

taste is rich, reminds me of eggnog, all the aromas are in the taste.

notes: this really good stuff, drinks like an old ale.

 259 characters

Photo of Offa
4.47/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a wonderful English pale ale, although not quite up to the level of Old Peculier.

Deep bright copper, med-big pale tan head shrinks steadily to frothy ring, some weak frothy lace.

Aroma is rich, juicy caramelized fruit bread (like Kulich), toast, wet wood.

Taste is juicy, leafy jammy dried fruit, caramelized toasted bread crust, tea, hint of pepper. It’s very balanced with nice sweetness and bitterness, firm, lasting hint of mineral, a solid feel that is almost creamy-oil but lively. It has wonderful balance, body and character.

 547 characters

Photo of Geoffq
4.41/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jwc215
4.33/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cask at King's Head, London:

Pours dark copper, near brown, with a tan head. Lacing sticks. It has a beautiful colour!

The smell is of toffee/caramel with an herbal/earthy spicing.

The taste is of toffee/caramel with orange, herbal spicing. Very well-balanced and delicious! It has a woody, tea-like, herbal finish.

It has a creamy, medium body.

This has a nice, subtle complexity. Malty but with a hop bitterness that mixes in well. Very drinkable!

 454 characters

Photo of henryclay_
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of 123321123321
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of Dapperticus
4.25/5  rDev +13.9%

Photo of nickfl
4.12/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one finger of off-white foam on top of a clear, copper-brown body. The foam settles fairly quickly and leaves decent lace.

S - Toasty brown malt, toffee, red apples, and plum.

T - Light, sugary malt up front with bready notes and a hint of toffee. Some light fruit notes in the middle with a touch of caramel. Finishes with more red apple, toffee and light hop bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly sweet finish.

D - Lots of rich malt flavors and a great, fruity yeast profile, but I find the hop character to be too weak for the style. The finish is completely dominated by the malt and lacks any of the bitterness that usually characterizes an English Bitter. Still, it is a flavorful and enjoyable ale and I can't complain that much about it failing to fit a style that it may not even have been intended to be.

 867 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Theakston XB
12 oz. bottle, $2.03 @ State Line Liquors, Elkton MD
Code date illegible

Theakston XB. You can't really get any more English than that, can you? It's one of the old classics.

It's an "extra" bitter, clocking in at 4.6% alcohol by volume. The dark amber colored body appears almost russet brown while sitting atop the bar; and the frothy, almost light tan foam leaves dozens of tiny spots of lace across the glass with each sip you take.

In the nose you find yeasty fruitiness that includes apples, a bit of red grape, a touch of some dried dark fruit, and a suggestion of spice. It's malty as well, with a bit of dark caramel and toffee. Finally, a light whiff of floral and grassy hops rounds it out.

The flavor very much follows the nose, but you'll also find that there's a light touch of mineral character to it; and more hop flavor than you might have expected. It's moderately bitter, leaving it well rounded and very drinkable. Some malt lingers in the mouth in the aftertaste, but the bitterness, mineral character, and leafy, spicy, and herbal hop notes dry it nicely.

With enough character to keep it interesting beyond a pint or two, and just 4.6% abv, it makes a great session ale. Nicely done!

 1,226 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
4.04/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16.9 ounce bottle. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours a reddish/copper color with about a half inch off-white head that didn't stay around for too long. There's a decent amount of lacing. Aroma is sweet and fruity, it smells like dried fruit, nuts, toffee, apples, caramel, and bready malt. The brew tastes mostly like the aroma, it tastes like toffee, red grapes, toffee, caramel, dried fruit and bready malt. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit slick with moderate carbonation. I think this is a solid brew, it's certainly worth trying for $3.49 a bottle. I thought it was a nice surprise, it was better than I expected it to be.

 642 characters

Photo of drtth
4.04/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The clear reddish copper colored beer is served in a nonic pint glass with a 1/4" off-white head that recedes noticeably leaving lots of lacing on the sides of the glass.

The aromas include some malt, some fruit and toffee along with some floral character from the hops.

The flavors are much as expected from the nose so there is lots of malt, some toffee or caramel sweetness, and some nutty character. The hops show a light bitterness that is a bit spicy and floral. Lots of flavors here until the lightly bitter ending.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly smooth with some light but persistent carbonation.

Overall a reasonably good and quite drinkable ESB. Not the best I've had but one I'd be happy to have again.

 732 characters

Photo of leinie13
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of mdillon86
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of LJWalker
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of nebula1999
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of richbrew
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of EdmundBlackadder
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. had a copper color and a clear texture. There was an inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: A very malty aroma, with hints of hops as well.

T: Tasted predominantly of malt and a little bit of malt. Not a particularly dynamic flavor, but it is likable enough. It does what an ESB should do.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry, crisp finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A solid, but not necessarily mind-blowing beer.

 476 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Do any beers balance better than a well crafted ESB? It's a shame that there aren't more available on the market. Though there's several ESBs out there, there are so few that are well made.

The beer pours a handsome and masculine garnet color with bronze low lights. A creamy yet dainty off white head provides an espresso-like creme that laces well on the glass with dispursed islands of foam and froath. Bright clarity puts an exclamation point on the stately appearance.

Malt, fruit, and hops all resinate with the olfactory sense at the same time and with the same intensity for a well integrated scent. Toffee, caramel, apples, dates, grapes, coffee, walnut, and spicy floral character and a backdrop of sweet breads. Very clean and characterful for a most appetizing aroma spread.

The malty, hoppy, and estery balance continues in taste as the deeply rooted malt character reveals deeply caramelized malt flavor, biscuit, brittle, butterscotch, and bread crust. Balanced with floral and earthy hops, the tea-like herbal taste develops into a smooth bitterness that offset malt sweetness effortlessly. Decorated with pitted fruits of figs, dates and then then with apple, grape, and plumb, the yeasty esters come alive to offer variety, complexity, and intrigue. Slightly spicy with alcohol and hops, there's more going on with the flavor profile than you'd think.

Medium throughout, the early malty creaminess receeds as the carbonation subsides and the minty-cool alcohols set in. Fleeting sweetness and growing bitternss assists in a semi-dry finish of malt and hops. An absolute effortless session!

Delicious and spectacular, this ESB sides modestly with the malts and will surely appease those with a sweet tooth. But the beer achieves nearly perfect balance and they make it look easy. Personal preference gives Fuller's ESB the nod, but this is no slouch.

 1,872 characters

Photo of mquinn919
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of micromaniac129
4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A rather nice looking amber ale when poured into a clear glass. Very clear, low carbonation.'

Has a nice size foamy tan head.

Aroma is of sweet malts and hints of toffee.

drinks rich and malty with a sutle underlying sweetness. Some leather notes as well as molasses but very sutle.

Drinks smooth and creamy some buttery notes.

A very good easy drinking beer.
I first had one right from the frig and that was bad move. First let this beer warm up say by half an hour before drinking. It's much better when left out to warm.

 528 characters

Photo of grahamboudreaux
4/5  rDev +7.2%

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XB from T & R Theakston Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 118 ratings