Gem | Bath Ales Ltd

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Very Good
84 Ratings

Brewed by:
Bath Ales Ltd
England, United Kingdom

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
It's 4.1% in cask and 4.8% in bottle

Added by Shiredave on 06-25-2003

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 84 |  Reviews: 42
Reviews by Zimbo:
Photo of Zimbo
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The nice clear medium reddish rich brown sparkle makes a lovely introduction to that nutty nose. The head doesn't really last and despite a slight slight fizz it is mostly silky on the palate but it is neither too lean or too fat. Smooth and deep with a satisfying deep nutty end. Not at all severe but rather civilised actually. Definitely need to try again.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.64/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber almost no head at all to speak of,aromas are of ripe apples and spiced cake pretty appetizing.Taste starts out nicely fruity with hints of brown sugar but seems to flatten out and get pretty watery a pretty abrupt ending.This ale had really good stuff going on but the mouthfeel made it fall a little flat (no pun intended)but did add to its drinkability.

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Photo of Billolick
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16.9 ounce bottle, with best before dating. Hazel nut in color, cloudy. Soft minimal head, tiny bubble film duly noted, clinging lace. Fine looking product! Fresh hop nose, sweet malty center, nutty and breadyness evident. Soft mouthfeel, "cask like" feel. Long, bitter/sweet finish. Soft and smooth, seek out this well crafted Brit. Fine and satisfying sessioner.

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Photo of stephenlee
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Feb 2018. Purchased recently from Waitrose. Bath ales describe this as their premium amber ale - brewed with Marris Otter and Goldings.

A: Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep coppery-brownish hue with good clarity and plentiful carbonation. Yields a decent head of frothy off-white foam that lasts for a minute or so before subsiding and virtually disappearing.

S: Aroma of caramel malt, ale yeast esters, subtle grain, mild barley sugar and delicate leafy hops. Decent but quite subdued.

T: Tastes of caramel malt with notes of ale yeast, mild barley sugar, leafy hops and faint grain. Traditional in character and nicely balanced. An understated bitterness upon swallowing.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and dry, with pleasant carbonation and good body. Aftertaste of caramel malt, leafy bitterness and ale yeast.

O: Decidedly traditional but pretty good. Looks OK, while the aroma and flavour are a well-judged blend of caramel malt, leafy hops and yeast. Nice body. What it lacks in charisma it makes up for with above-average balance and depth of flavour. Goes down easily and is probably even better on cask. Worth sampling if you have the chance.

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Photo of InfernoBoss
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.07/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A rough pour delivers a hazy, orangeish-copper body with a thin head of off-white froth. The carbonation is limited (maybe 1.8 volumes CO2/liter) as it would be in a cask-conditioned ale. A smoother pour may deliver a clearer beer, leaving some of the lees behind, but the yeast that's carried over is far from assertive and probably adds to the flavor a bit. The nose is toffee-ish with a subtle touch of buttery diacetyl underneath and some fruit (apricots, tangerine) in the background. The body is medium-light and its restrained and very fine, natural carbonation (it's bottle conditioned) leaves it exquisitely smooth across the palate. The flavor reveals more fruitiness than the nose suggests, intertwined within honeyish, toffee-ish, and biscuity malt and a tea-like, leafy hoppiness. A firm bitterness acts as ballast, and it finishes dry with a subtle note of biscuity malt lingering. Quite well done, and an excellent session ale!

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Photo of fr0wn3r
3.69/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ananii
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 3 pack of this beer at the Salamander (owned by Bath Ales) in Bath, England in September, 2005.

Pours a light root-beer colored amber in a proper Bath Ales pint glass, this baby has a monsterous off white head that looks like an Root Beer-Ice Cream float! And this was from a very slow pour. As the head slowly drops, there is a large amount that remains stuck the side of the glass. Holy cow!

The first sniff was a sweetbread aroma, but a few seconds later it was grassy, weedy, hoppy bitter nose. Overall, not as balanced as it could be. But it lives up the the bitter part of the name. The sweet must have been in the top layer of bubbles only!!!

Flavor is much better balanced. A good solid bitter profile to live up to the style, but the roasty malts lend a very nice contrast. I am enjoying this and it takes me back to the trip. Very nice.

The low ABV allows this to be a session beer (if I was able to get it in the states). I really like it.

EDIT (11/28/05): As I am known to do, I put the bottle aside to save the label, so I did my hot water treatment, and guess what I found? Another label underneath! This beer used to be "The City Ale- Bath City Football Club Premiere Amber Ale", "A rich aroma of hops and malt with a long, deep, and bitter-sweet finish" and "Best By 25.11.05". Very interesting. Didn't sell during the football season, so re-label it and sell it to the tourists. Hmmmm...

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Photo of Stevensal
4.8/5  rDev +27%

Photo of Squelch
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pulled from a cask at the Hop Pole in Bath.

Appearance: crystal clear. Brunette colored. Nice lacing

Smell: malts malts malts. Very nice

Taste: wonderful toasted malt flavors. No harshness. Smooth.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. No astringency

Drinkability: one I could drink all day

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Photo of BrazilianAussie
4.5/5  rDev +19%

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I think Bath Ales produce fantastic beers, so when I came across this 500ml brown bottle, locally, I had to get it. I wasn't dissappointed.

Looked fine in a Gordon's thistle glass, amber, with a good head.

I was not expecting the bannana, vanilla, sweet caramel aroma. You do not get it with the cask version.

No taste of the above aroma, thank God, although it is fairly sweet for a Brit bitter.

Mouthfeel is fine, the flavour stays and a bitterness does arrive, but you have to wait for it.

I prefer the cask, but this is still a good beer.

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Photo of DypsoBubble
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Colour of black tea with a moderate head which persists after pouring. Aroma is of malt but little hops.

Tastes very malty with some fruity esters and a back bitter hop. Up front hops, hard to detect. Quite a nice mouth feel for a low alcohol session beer. Pretty bog-standard British fare and not at all exciting. Tastes of mass produced bitter back in the 1970s which helped introduce lagers to the British palate.

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Photo of vinicole
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Light amber colour. Very little head. Gently rising effervescence.
Sweet honey and malt aroma. Hops present.
Lion bar - toffee, nut and biscuit flavour.
Moderate feel.
Bottle - I would very much like to taste this on cask.

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Photo of Foley67
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of gentlebubbles
3.92/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


My usual careless pour produces essentially no head, only drifts of white over the surface of a slightly hazy orange amber.

Sweet and sharp scent, like apple juice. Good fruity malt, lots of apple character with a light bitter tang. Only the barest hint of a fizz on the tongue.

As it warms, it keeps changing; hints of caramel emerge, and even
orange juice. Even so, I keep suspecting this is only a shadow of what it should be. I'd like to try it on cask.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A light nutbrown or amber beer with no head. The aroma is weird with notes of hops, anise and pretty fresh. The flavor is carbonated, flat and pretty sweet of an OK maltblend containing münchner and caramel malt - the aftertaste is somewhat dry with a good bitterness. A pretty light beer

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Photo of gnikola
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of aracauna
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A hazy dark amber or copper body with a VERY small head. I even poured this one rougher than usual. Very low carbonation. A good hazlenut nuttiness. A good breadiness with a very light bit of toast (not even brown toast, just slightly crunchy toast). There’s very little hops, but a little wood backing up the bready malt. A slight bit of apple or melon fruitiness. Very drinkable, but not exciting.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.3/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle bought from Sainsburys..

Poured a lovely crystal clear light orange copper colour. Light creamy head poured thick and meringue like then faded slowly to nice firm layer... very sparse carbonation drifts very slowly to surface... very little lacing...

Aroma - Strong biscuity malts, lightly toasted oats and bread, light honey sweetness, some caramel, good juicy fruitiness (apples, apricots and some pears), lots of grassy notes, peppery hops, strong nuttiness, sea salt traces, some leathery traces...

Taste - Spicy / grassy hops to the fore, very light toffee sweetness, juicy fruits (oranges, apples, light figs), biscuity maltiness, definite toasty bread, can't really make out any oats, faint metallic notes, light floral / perfume traces, salty...

Feel - Quite sharp and dry... medium bodied... So so quaffable - a supremely sessionable beer..

Overall - An excellent example of an ESB... one of the most quaffable beers i've had in a while.... definitely recommended..

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Photo of KeyWestGator
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Realale
4.54/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pretty tan with some copper highlights. Slightly hazy, and only the faintest attempt at any head whatsoever.

Nose is classic English best bitter - Tons of crackery malt, with rich bready undertones. Well-supported by earthy hops and a touch of caramel. Bit of sulphur to boot.

Medium full and very well-balanced in the mouth. Some fruitiness from the yeast add complexity to the malty goodness. Almost too rich for the amount of hop, but comes into even better balance as it warms. Sulphur pokes out just a touch on the finish.

Could use a touch more carbonation to help cut through the malt, but this is as close to "real ale in a bottle" as I've ever come. Incredibly drinkable. Very similar to London Pride, except maltier and bottle-conditioned! Lives up to its name and then some.

500 ml. bottle. Best before date of February 20, 2004.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.21/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a one-finger head that goes quickly but still leaves a good lace. Light bodied. Light carbonation - bottle date is Feb 20, 2004. Hazy amber color doesn't really look like a pale. Nose is not distinquishable. Starts on the sweet side, finishes with hints of hops. $2.65 for a 500ml bottle.

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Gem from Bath Ales Ltd
Beer rating: 3.78 out of 5 with 84 ratings