S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale) | Atlantic Brewing Company / Mainely Meat BBQ

95 Ratings
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S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale)S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale)

Brewed by:
Atlantic Brewing Company / Mainely Meat BBQ
Maine, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This strongly hopped, crisp ale, is the clear choice for the hop enthusiast.

We use pale, crystal, black and Munich malts, and a veritable boatload of Northdown bittering hops for this ale.

Like the Island Ginger, it is quite popular in the warm weather, as hops yield a clean, crisp bitter that is rather refreshing.

Added by Bierman9 on 11-17-2001

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Ratings: 95 |  Reviews: 69
Photo of PatronWizard
2.89/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The pour spout looked like an IPA, but once in the glass it was a lot darker. Dark bronze seems appropriate. Head looked good for a second but didn't last long.

Scent is like no other beer I've ever smelled. Seriously. Can't decide what it is. Kinda vinegary. Maybe not.

Taste follows suit. I get some hop flavor, not enough. Some other bitterness. I wanna associate the smell and taste with a particular malt, but am too dumb.

Guess I'm just OK with this beer. I think something with bitter in the title should really make you pucker. This bomber won't go to waste though.

Overall: not my thing

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Photo of kevinglin
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber (not dated) into a pint glass. Nice, thick, off-white head formed of tightly-knit bubbles on top of a very clear reddish-copper colored body; a very pretty beer. Pleasant hop bouquet - spicy, minty with floral hints. Flavor has a solid malt presence - not necessarily expected given the hop-dominance in the nose. The taste is well balanced - sweet, caramel malts with a clean hop bitterness. Not overly aggressive in the bitterness, but assertive. Mouthfeel is well-carbonated and makes the brew light on the tongue. Overall, I like the beer. Nicely balanced, not overly powering in the hop or malt department so I can see having a couple of these, but definitely enough character to let you know you've picked up a nice, flavorful beer.

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

Straight from the brewery in Bar Harbor, Maine. My first taste from the bottle. Interestingly, the bottle refers to the beer as an IPA rather than an English bitter.

APPEARANCE: Pours a clear amber copper into an English-style pub glass. A small head forms but immediately shrinks to a small collar and patchy foam that retains well.

SMELL: The aroma is actually much more malt forward than one would expect. Pale and toasted malts shine through more than anything and form a base for a mild estery English yeast profile. The hops you say? They're subtle at best and non-existent at worst. Just underwhelming.

TASTE: The taste is also quite malt forward but features more hop flavor and bitterness to balance the beer out. Toasted, bready malts create an assertive flavor. It's accompanied by a spicy hop bitterness that doesn't quite come up to match. There's also a light fruitiness and maybe some diacetyl.

MOUTHFEEL: Rather light bodied but still feels robust because of the darker kilned malts used. Carbonation is at average levels, but one would expect lower given the style.

DRINKABILITY: Quite good. The beer makes a nice attempt at achieving balance and manages to keep a very light body despite a higher level of alcohol than the style would dictate.

Kind of a weird beer. I rated it as an English bitter because that's what the beer seemed more like. But it really had some English IPA qualities too. Regardless, a decent beer, but I'll likely stop at just this one.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark amber, like an older penny. Three level fingers of beige micro bubbles. Excellent lace.

Inital assertive bakery aroma flees the bottle, less noticeable in the glass.

Solid semi-sweet malt base. Earthy hops. Very New England-English.

Good medium mouthfeel. Okay drinkability - a bomber is enough at a time.

Fun to try though probably not habit forming.

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Photo of RixBeer
2.03/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a light amber brown with a thick tan head.

Smells like barnyard funk with a huge smack of funky old stale hops mashed with a sewer.

Hops are boring. It's kind of nasty actually. Something in this beer is very stale. Smells like a pile of wet hay.

Thin and thin. Flows smoothly and easily down the throat.

Drinkable? No way, I can't even finish the one glass I got.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The old S.O.B.! This beer's gone through an identity change recently but as far as I know its the same old recipe. According to Atlantic Brewing Company, their Special Old Bitter is "the clear choice for the hop enthusiast". Count me in.

Pours a rich, dark malty brown color. The hat on this pint is thin, white and full of close knit bubbles. Holding this one up to the light reveals suspended yeast. Smells like toast and lemons at first and then some sweet caramel.

Taste is bitter, like bitter from hops. Lots of bittering hops. Its an interesting blend of flavors. The maltiness isn't too strong but the hops aren't too overpowering either. It seems to work well together. Its a unique beer, I haven't had too many like this one.

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Photo of Gavage
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: clear amber in color with a 2" fluffy head that lingers a while.

Smell: caramel and bits of butter come through.

Taste: caramel, ripe fruits, some hearty floral bitterness, and hints of butter are most noticeable. The bitterness lingers a bit too.

Mouthfeel: lightly crisp at the start, smoother towards the finish. Medium bodied. Aftertaste is short lived.

Drinkability: decent beer but this one won't overly excite you. Worth a try.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.6/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a brilliantly clear, cherry-amber with a 2 finger foamy, macro-bubbly head that had good retention settling to a light creamy layering for the remainder of the drink. Visible carbonation was medium and steady.

S: fresh pine and sweet spruce scents, very citrusy in the tail end. Very nice, aromatic, and sharp.

T: spicy, with caramel and a citrusy bite. There was light lemony hints and fresh pine. The spicy citrusy hopping was very smooth in nature and finished with a zesty, spritzy carbonation bite. Overall a good smooth bitterness yet the nose was slightly more promising then the flavored delivered. Finished with dry malt and dried grapefruit.

M: light, very slick, and a tad watery with some alcohol and lemony acidity.

D: Drinkability was ok, a tad watery but otherwise decent with a smooth lemony/grapefruit bitterness that was saving grace.

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Photo of Bierman9
3.95/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from a 22oz bomber, with a crusty ol' SOB on the label. No freshness info found, though.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, it is a clear, deep mahogany color. Didn't see much, if any, carbo within. Head is fine and thin, a miniscule layer of light beige bubbles, mostly edge-clingers. Aroma has some nice caramel notes, along with a hint butter. Some florality gets in there, too. Body is a bit less than medium, with a the bier being quite bubbly/foamy on the tongue.

Flavor has some caramel/toffee action going on, some toast and nuttiness, and has a touch of buttery diacetyl sneaking in there as well. Hopping is pretty pronounced, as befits the style, with strong floral and earthy qualities. Easy on the ABV at 5.5%, this could be a decent session bier. Thnx to Mr. Maine, JohnnyP, for setting me up with this.


look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4


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Photo of brentk56
2.85/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Cloudy amber color topped by an overly frothy, rocky head; lots of foam sticks to the pint glass

Smell: Overripe nectarine stone fruit with a woody bitterness underneath; a touch of soap

Taste: After a fairly non-descript stone fruit opening, the beer becomes increasingly bitter in an earthy, hazelnut skin direction; after the swallow, the nut skin flavor dominates in an unpleasant, astringent direction; band aid aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, slightly acqueous; with moderate carbonation; intensely dry on the finish

Drinkability: This is a really tough one to drink and, when I compare my review to others, I wonder whether I purchased a bad or aged bottle a month ago when I was in Boston

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Photo of Billolick
3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber, new graphics then what is shown on the site. Pours a warm shade of dark honey amber, fairly clear, luscious darker tan head, long lasting and leaving plenty of ringed and then dense scattered lacing. Bready nose, balance is the word here. Nice malty undertones, moderate bitterness in the midsection and then quite drying and resiny in the finish. With all the super hopped up beers being brewed by everyone, this is a welcome step back to a different era and a classic style. Balance, subtlety, drinkability. This one went great with some peppery pork and a salad.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours copper with a decent head.

Would expect the smell to be more hoppy but turns out to be more malty. That doesn't bother me though as the taste was what comes through and the hops become more apparent. The bitter aftertaste lasts long after each drink which makes the beer quite effective.

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Photo of Rainintheface
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into SA glass

A: dark copper with red hue, huge foamy white head that lingers

S: floral hops, faint citrus, toasted malts

T: hoppy with hints of green apple, malty sweetness

M: crisp, light bodied with a somewhat dry finish and lingering bitterness

D: very drinkable. I'd like to see it in sixers.

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Photo of smcolw
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beige color rocky head with excellent lace. Ruby-ish dark amber color and slightly cloudy

Mild aroma of chocolatey malts and yeast; nearly no hop.

Tastes very much like a hoppy homebrew brown ale. The body is surprisingly thin with moderate carbonation. Some strong yeast flavors.

This is a flavorful beer. If a friend made this as a homebrew, I'd be very excited. As a store bought beer, I find it to be slightly flawed but tasty.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.05/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Acquired from purplehops courtesy of the Birthday Club 2, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz. bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a medium reddish brown color with a short off-white head that fades at a decent rate and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malts, nuts, a little fruit and a good amount of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a bitter burst of pale hops but then gets pretty well-balanced, with flavors of caramel, nuts and a touch of citrus, while maintaining the consistent hops bitterness. There’s a hearty malt character. The after-taste is bitter and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and very dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is a good beer to pound down for a while, particularly if you’re in a salty mood like the guy on the label.

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Photo of number1bum
4.01/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brought this one back from a vacation in Bar Harbor where I visited Atlantic.

22oz bomber pours a darkish copper, some orange and ruby hues and a big foamy off-white head. Recedes pretty slowly and keeps a nice thin lace on top while leaving lots of patchy stick on the sides. Good clarity.

Smell is more malty than hoppy. Good amount of toasted malt and some nuttiness, too. Not a whole lot of hops, but they are floral and fruity when I get a sniff of them.

Taste starts off with that same toasted malt, very nice, but then the hops come to life a lot more than in the nose. There are some definite floral and herbal qualities to them, but then their muscles start to flex and a lot of bitterness hits the palate. Finishes dry with lots of lingering hop bitterness. It's medium-bodied and the carbonation is appropriate.

Overall this is a really tasty bitter and an easy bomber to put down. I wish I had some more. Good stuff.

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Photo of WanderingFool
3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Special Old Bitter Ale pours a dark copper color with a frothy off white head on top. The foam dissolves slowly to a thick ring around the surface leaving behind a lot of thick clumps of netted lace on the glass. The aroma was rather faint, but had notes of toasted malt and some crisp floral hops.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is smooth, slightly chewy and has a nice carbonated tingle on the tip of the tongue. The flavor is mainly malt with notes of nuts and caramel and a hint of biscuit. Towards the middle the hops begin to move in offering a bit of spicyness that helps balance out all the malt. It finishes dry with a hint of citrus fruit. Once gone some bitter hop flavors of citrus and grass linger on the palate.

This is a well balanced tasty beer. Would like to see a bit more aroma and lighter color, otherwise I look forward to my next pint of SOB.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.01/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Weathered bronze with a significant infusion of orange and a lesser infusion of coral. The cap is strangely light in color for such a rich looking beer. It's palest ecru in hue and has a wonderfully firm creaminess about it. Just the sort of head to deposit a lovely array of lace. Little did I know how much would end up on the glass in the end. This is an outstanding looking bitter.

There's more earthy, toasted nutty, Munich maltiness in the nose than there should be for the style. If I had been the brewer, I would have kept the pale and crystal malts and jettisoned the Munich and black. Hops need to be able to shine in an English bitter. I still like it though.

Once I get past the same complaint that I had in the previous paragraph, I'm finding a lot to like. If you prefer your bitters well-toasted and more dark malty than pale malty, then belly up to the bomber. If there was a style known as dark bitter, this beer would be its poster child.

The thing that makes S.O.B. good is that it's actually bitter. The first few seconds of each mouthful aren't so much, but then the fun starts. The Northdown hops (relatives of Target and Challenger) start gettin' their schwerve on and increase in intensity as the mouthful progresses. By the swallow, they're beginning to dig in with enthusiasm.

The flavor profile consists of extremely well-toasted barley (that, despite the black malt, never tastes roasted), black tea, bruised apples and wood. For some reason, the beer is growing on me with each passing sip. Every one of my taste buds, the ones that detect bitterness especially, are fully awake now.

While the mouthfeel is medium at best, it fits the rest of the beer's attributes very well. The lack of malty sweetness and the exceptionally clean, bitter finish makes drinking quickly (if one so desires) as easy as pie. Even the laid back carbonation helps in that regard.

In addition to Special Old Bitter, S.O.B. could also stand for Simply Outstanding Beer. This is my favorite of the handful of Atlantic offerings that I've been able to acquire so far and is an easy recommendation for those who consider themselves to be hopheads.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.96/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper body with a fluffy, off-white head.

Smell: Pale malt aroma along with plenty of flowery hop notes.

Taste: Light caramel flavor, maybe a little dry, unsweetened cocoa upfront. Hops are floral, perhaps even minty, and with a sudden jolt, the sharp hop bitterness begins to really dominate, asserting itself in a repelent sort of way.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Too one-sided with the hops; it could stand to benefit from some additional sweetness.

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Photo of AndoBrew
2.98/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

*did not like would not buy*

app: not bad not good, brown copper hue. nice cute lil eggy head.. small.

smell: lavender soap clean smell with a hint of brown sweet malts behinde it.. odd.

taste: pepper like hops standard pale ale type flavor with a bit of clean flowers and sweet thick malts.. odd indeed.. nothing at all wrong with it, it does have a good hop character going on, just not a lot to it.

mf: seems fine nothing wrong

drinkable?: not a big D factor here.. just a decent plain bigger than macro beer.,,

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.1/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Quite a nice session beer. Pours a hazy orange dark amber with a fairly light head but pretty good lacing. Smell is subtle an complex- nice soft hops with a balanced malt. Tate is nice classic English style with little extra hit of bitterness from both hops and roasted grain, but without the sourness sometimes found with the roastiness. All of this is very restrained and balanced. Very nice indeed. Great mouthfeel and very drinkable- perfect for sessioning.

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Photo of rajendra82
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stored and served at a temperature between cellar and room, the beer pored out clear amber in color, and had a three finger tall foamy head in the mug that left gobs of lacing. Aroma was crisp and spicy, and had a backing of floral hops. The taste was mild and complex, as it was balanced between sweet and caramelized malts, and earthy bitter hops. A touch of sourness and dry oak flavors finished things off. I think this was Burtonized as well, because the mineral hardness of the water kept the taste buds refreshed. It was very easy to drink down the entire bomber in a sitting. This was not exactly a classic English Bitter, but where it deviated from the mold, it improved on the original style IMO.

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Photo of dgallina
3.62/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1 pint, 6 fluid ounce brown bottle without dating.

Pours clear copper-brown with tiny head and light foam. The nose is a nice blend of nutty caramel malts and leafy hops. Flavor lacks the balance promised by the nose. Lots of bitter green leafy hops in the foreground with weak malt notes in the background. The medium body is slick and chewy with slow carbonation. Not bad, but not one of the better bitters IMHO.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.1/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Marlboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" tan head over the clear burnished copper brew. Aroma is biscuits and lightly flowery hops. Taste is relatively balanced, tilting easily towards bitter by mid-experience, and then leaving an aftertaste of same. Mouthfeel is roundedly smooth, just slides over the tongue, and very nicely drinkable. Oh, session, anyone?

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Photo of ybnorml
4.03/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A clean dark amber/brown beer Has a medium foamy off white head with good lace. The aroma starts with a sweet malty character with nutlike and toffee notes wandering around in the background.The flavor is dominated by the bittering character in the hops. But there is also some nice sweet toffee note in the background. The finish has a bittersweet chocolate note with a hint of coffee and a dry hoppy ending.

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S.O.B. (Special Old Bitter Ale) from Atlantic Brewing Company / Mainely Meat BBQ
3.61 out of 5 based on 95 ratings.
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