Theakston XB | T & R Theakston Ltd.

Theakston XBTheakston XB
118 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 118 |  Reviews: 62
Photo of mikepcarney
3.25/5  rDev -12.9%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.33/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle - $6.50 at Taco Mac in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Moderately hazed, darkish amber in appearance with a small, brief, white head despite an enthusiastic and engaging pour.

Smell: Toffee flecked biscuit tops with a thin whiff of fruit from a bag of trail mix with a top note of earthy, green herbs.

Taste: Toasted biscuits with curt pop of toffee sweetness. Hint of dried apricot prior to the earthy, staunchly herbaceous English hops, though with a subtle bitterness. A shrewdly dry, herbal finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Medium-low carbonation.

Overall: A sufficient though outstanding English ale.

 629 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.

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Photo of mdillon86
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.54/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours copper with a small head.
Nose shows floral and earthy hops with toffee, caramel and bready malt underneath.
Similar toffee and caramel as flavours along with the floral hops and peach blossom. Unfortunately the finish is slightly metallic.
Body feels a bit too heavy.

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Photo of Scout11
3.5/5  rDev -6.2%

Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev +5.1%
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 LJWalker
4/5  rDev +7.2%

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.

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Photo of richbrew
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of markcycy
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of tzieser
3.98/5  rDev +6.7%
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 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.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, some citrus and honey and a little bit of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty malt character followed by a mild sweetness from flavors of caramel, citrus and honey. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings some balance. The after-taste is slightly bready.

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

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, not too filling, good representation of style, this is a decent beer to drink for a while but there are better beers in the style.

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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 MrKennedy
3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle from Warners at the Bay, poured into a Samuel Smith's nonik style pint glass.

Pours a copper colour, with golden edges. Clear appearance, no haze whatsoever. Off-white head of foam that measured two fingers and rested at a centimetre, lacing sporadically.

Smell is enticing. Bread, malt and a very light coloured honey aroma all stay round for the entire tasting.

Taste has some flat spots, a little watery at times. However, it is based around a nice malty, bread character with some sweetness.

Mouthfeel is decently bodied with a quite dry finish.

A very decent English ale, crazily sessionable. Disappointed i didn't stumble across this in an entire week in Yorkshire.

 690 characters

Photo of sommersb
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

 797 characters

Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +7.2%

Photo of snpub540
3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice clear amber hue with a 1 finger khaki head that was very sticky but slowly faded. Great lacing on the glass.

Caramel bready malts and some fruitiness make up most of the nose but there is some herbal and floral hop notes in the background.

Taste is mostly bready and sweet. Slightly fruity but no alcohol what so ever. Barely balanced hop bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is slightly watery and I'm wishing for a little bit more carbonation from this one. Overall its a flavorful easy drinking beer that could use a touch more hop flavor and bitterness.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.94/5  rDev +5.6%
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 jlindros
3.95/5  rDev +5.9%
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 jkrich
3.92/5  rDev +5.1%
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 BeerLover99
3.58/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: rust orangy/shiny body, trace white head,
patchy/solid lacing

S: big nutty, faint green apples,
caramel/toffee, grassy malt

T: apple, nutty, earthy/grassy malt, light bitter crisp finish

M: light body, dry crisp mouth

O: Lovely English ESB, not the best, but a
fine session brew and grand gateway for
newbie to English Ales.


 366 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.48/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A decent bottled strong bitter.

Autumnal reddish-amber and clean look. Sports a small head on the pour but maintains a sudsy swirl til the last sip.

You have to stick your nose deep in the glass to capture the soft estery, perfumy, flowery-hoppy, and light sweet malt aromas it offers. Pleasant yet restrained.

A nice med-light bitterness shows first, growing as it warms, balanced well with its fairly bland malt flavors, depth lacking. Leaves a rounder, light-toasted malt aftertaste, estery in the very end.

Surprised by its degree of spritz, almost sharp, dry and a little thinnish. But what light, subtly round malt body it had underneath, however, thankfully brought enough balance to it to keep it palatable. Certainly clean.

I hate to suggest that it tastes like it was 'thrown together' or hurried through the process/production, despite some nice balance overall between the bitterness and the malt sweetness/presence. Better as its warms but, nonetheless, it lacked the depth and character i was hoping for.

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Photo of Luigi
4/5  rDev +7.2%
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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Theakston XB from T & R Theakston Ltd.
Beer rating: 3.73 out of 5 with 118 ratings
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