Theakston XB | T & R Theakston Ltd.

very good
61 Reviews
Theakston XBTheakston XB

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

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Reviews: 61 | Ratings: 118
Photo of pkalix
4.67/5  rDev +24.5%
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.

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Photo of fx20736
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
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.

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Photo of Offa
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
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.

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Photo of jwc215
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
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!

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Photo of nickfl
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
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!

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.04/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

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Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of sommersb
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 11-29-2011
Freshness: Not indicated
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle
Glassware: Tulip pint
Purchased: Single from Midtown, Nashville

Pours a bright, clear copper color, with a small off-white head. Lacing is very good; head retention is OK. A fair amount of bubbles can be seen in the glass.

Aroma is very nice - rich and malty, with some fruit notes and sweetness.

The taste features spices, although I can't put my finger on which ones. Big malt presence here with caramel flavors. Fruity, with a light bitterness as well.

Feel is smooth and easy drinking. Body is medium with carbonation in the medium to high range. Balanced well, as it is neither too sweet or bitter. After taste is of toffee and caramel malts.

Overall a great, refreshing beer I'd look forward to having again.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dinner is ready, and so is a 500 ml bottle waiting for me. On to the beer:

Lovely amber orange color with reddish hues and a thick sopay head on top. Retention is good, and its aroma is a mix of esters, buttery tones, and toasted malts. A light pinch of bittering hops gets noticed underneath.

Classic England all the way. Its toasty and estery flavor with a hint of strawberry and diacetyl are never overpowering. There seems to be a lot more flavor intensity than one may expect from a 4.7% brewed in the US. The mouthfeel isn't shabby at all, medium bodied and somewhat buttery.

I was glad to see Theakston back in the US market, and even more glad to try another of their products with my ribeye steak. Very pleasant ale.

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Photo of Luigi
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber color with a one finger head that is off white. The retention nice cause it stays around throughout the life of the beer.

Leafy very English hops. Something I am not used because of my love of American style hop. Yet I had to take a step back and enjoy the spicy hops and malty back bone. Caramel malts, slightly sweet mixed with bitter spicy hop and a mild smokiness. Nothing is over done. Just very English, and to be honest a nice change from the (don't get me wrong I love them) over hopped American Ales.

medium bodied and smooth of the palate. Light carbonation

This ESB could make a good session beer and it is a great ale to use as an alternative from the sometimes very hoppy American Ales. Cheers!

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Photo of tzieser
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

porued from a bottle into a standard pint glass.

a: pours a light brown color with a slight haze. fairly small white head that leaves a very small lacing around the sides of the glass for a a while. probably should not have served this as cold as i did, but it still looks good.

s: malt-forward aroma with notes of caramel and toffee-like nuttiness. nothing groundbreaking here scent wise, but it's solid.

t: starts out with lots of sweet malt flavor quickly followed by subtle earthy hop flavor. perfectly balanced.

m: smooth mouthfeel.

fantastic bitter; definitely one of the better ones i've had. i'd love to try this on cask sometime. too bad i'm too far from the UK

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Photo of WissBrauSean
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer poured a clear light brown to amber colour with a nice foamy one finger head that lasts as a full ring around the glass and leaves an nice woman's bottom pattern on the glass. I made sure that I poured this at about 55 degrees F from the bottle into the standard pint glass.

The aroma comes off to me as straightforward caramel malt sweetness with some hints of fruts (diacetyl) and not much else. My nose is stuffed so that is a hindrance. Dang sinusitis.

The taste is of caramel malt when it hits the tongue and as it rolls across towards the back the carbonation brings a nice hop taste to the top. I think that may be the bramling cross hops and they are kind of earthy and nice. The hop flavour then becomes a little bitter on the back of the tongue and leaves you very lightly dry. This is well balanced for sure.

Mouthfeel is well balanced between sweet and hop dry and a light to moderate body. The carbonation is also light to moderate and the finish is slightly dry with a hint of black pepper.

Overall, I would have to say that this is an excellent ESB! Without looking at the ratings I would have to say that it is approaching world class. I was a little disappointed in the thinness of the body, just a little more would have set me off! But it is definitely a beer to recommend and drink again! 4 out of 5 would be the very least that I would score this beer as!

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Photo of Daredevil
3.96/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Theakston is famous for it's 'Old Peculier' but this is a worthwile 'bittter' alternative ... ruby colored, smoky, leathery however very pleasant tastes followed by a finish of fine hoppy bitterness ... another exceptional brew from Yorkshire ...

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Photo of jlindros
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice creamy 1 finger head that fades semi slowly with some lacing, clear dark amber color.

Nose is a bit surprising, nice and malty with soft complex almost decoction like, hint of creamy malts. Then light grassy hops, hint herbal, and just a bit of a lager like fruit and crispness.

Taste starts with creamy malts, again soft almost decoction complexity but not quite, hint of caramel and grainy almost toffee malts. Then fruits, hint of apple and almost apricot like, kinda like lager fruits. Finally hops, light fruity and some herbal grassy hops. Finishes a bit bitter, dry, more grassy touch herbal hops, a bit crisp. I could almost swear this was a lager.

Mouth is a bit lighter bodied, decent carb, creamy.

Overall nice, drinkable, nice soft creamy malts, light grassy herbal hops, drinkable and crisp, light lager like fruit. Tasty and unexpected.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.94/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two-finger cream head that fades very slowly leaving a very good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Malty nose and flavor is a smooth caramel, expecting a lot more hops. $2.85 for a 12oz bottle from Julio's Liquors Westborough, Ma.

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Photo of Brad007
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice shade of copper with a thick, frothy head into my glass. Been a while since I've had a proper bitter.

Sweet and flowery (?) in a manner that suggests something other than the style.

Sweet, bready malt followed by just the right amount of hops. Lots of flavor but nothing too special.

Buttery malt lingers with a touch of hops. Very solid. Carbonation is very good too.

A decent bitter from an actual British brewery? Are you nuts? This is decent regardless.

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Photo of pleasewearpants
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Makes me want to go on a fox hunt.
Smells, looks, and tastes British.

Deep copper color with extreme clarity. Nice tan-tinted head. Aroma is very rustic, with caramel, oiled boot, and hearty bread notes. Good carbonation accentuates the caramel and wood flavors. Finishes clean with a slight malt aftertaste.

Very pleased by this one. Would like to check it out on cask some time.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is slightly hazy rusty copper in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger-high light beige head that quickly died down, leaving lots of lacing down the sides of the glass and a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are aromas of fruity yeast and nuts and toffee from the malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and is quite malty with notes of apples and sweetness. Only hints of bitterness are noticeable towards the finish, although there are enough hops are enough to help balance out the malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is easy to drink, well balanced and very sessionable. It doesn’t seem to be to filling or heavy on the palate.

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Photo of jkrich
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was a new item at a Louisville, KY liquor outlet. Undated brown bottle: poured a clear amber-brown color with a quickly fading off-white head.

The aroma was quite pungent with a dark fruity aroma much like a wine with some solid malty sweet coming through.

The flavor begins with a mild, fruity and dry taste with subtle hop bitters following through on a solid malty backbone. There is the faintest hint of butter in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is soft and rounded but a little too thin. Carbonation is subtle, much like most English ales.

Another solid offering from England. After all the ubiquitous American pale ales I have enjoyed, it is nice to try the original. This is good, but certainly not my first choice when seeking out a bitter.

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Photo of seanyfo
3.91/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Half pint served by the handpump at the Paisley Beer Festival

A- Nut brown copper body with a 1 finger head reducing to a crown. Poor lace

S- Butterscotch, toffee, rum

T- Butterscotch and a toffee sweet maltiness, hint of coconut - Wurthers Originals comes to mind! Faint hop bite underneath in the finish.

M- Low carbonation, medium body

D- Pleasant interesting flavour profile making this a drinkable brew.

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Photo of fullsweep
3.91/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 mL brown bottle poured into a pint glass.

Nice, reddish color with a bit of brown. 1.5-finger, very foamy head emerges, with lots of carbonation bubbling up underneath. Almost looks like a nitro pour, but it's not. Those active bubbles are very appetizing for me personally.

Has a nice, rustic (earthy?) smell to it.

Very nice full-flavored ale with syrupy undertones, brown sugar, and a nice hoppy/citrus balance to it.

Awesome mouthfeel, just the right amount of carbonated bite.

Would definitely drink again.

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Photo of Axnjxn
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

500ml into a tulip.

pours a dark orange/brown with a nice head with great lacing. the smell is big on toffee and malts...nice actually! taste is slightly bitter...toffee not very apparent. kind of "plain" but expected for the style. easy drinking and tastes like a higher ABV than it is. toffee comes through slightly on the finish. medium bodied with mild carbonation.

overall enjoyable. obviously not a world beater here but good.

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Theakston XB from T & R Theakston Ltd.
3.75 out of 5 based on 118 ratings.
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