Arkell Best Bitter | Wellington County Brewery

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Arkell Best BitterArkell Best Bitter

Brewed by:
Wellington County Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Originally served as a real ale, Arkell Best Bitter has a loyal following. This delicate and well-balanced bitter is Wellington’s session beer.

Added by the42ndtourist on 11-25-2002

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Reviews: 67 | Ratings: 113
Photo of kevinlater
3.66/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

473ml can into nonic pint. "BEST BEFORE 2015 Jan 06", consumed on november 11, 2014

a: a clear light copper, burnt orange, iced tea-esque hue. under a finger of bone-coloured head that faded away quickly

s: sweet biscuity malty caramel, toasted bread, tea leafy/herbal/earthy notes, smelling some figs in here too. slight buttery presence. not a strong aroma but has lots of great scents

t: caramel, bread, biscuit, butter, tea, fig, grass. picking up on some mild raisin and floral notes. faint hop bitterness

m: feels light but is not completely watery, which is nice at 4% abv. this beer has an understated creamy/sticky quality on the finish. very pleasant. light-to-medium carbonation

o: a light, sessionable, and tasty ale

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Photo of DaveBar
3.08/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased at the LCBO for just under $3.00 for a 473ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a small head that is gone in 1min. Dark golden color

S- Pretty good. Lots of malt.

T- Bit of a let down. Watery bitter beer. Sorry

M- Not much here.

O- Not so good. Will not buy again. Just a watered down bitter beer that reminds me of a decent English bitter

Food Pairing

Sorry but this beer is not worth a match.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.84/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Copper, filtered, medium low carbonation, little foam with a beige tint.

S: Caramel, red tea, iron, malt.

T: Reminds me of an English brown ale, taste of hard water, dark malted toasty notes, little actual bitterness, some sweet some sour, but these are subdued by the toasty malt. Some orangey citrus when you suck air through it, but this too is subdued.

M: Medium body, somewhat chewy, little to moderate carbonation.

O: Nice to have a craft beer from my University Home town, in an English style. My first English Bitter, but really reminds me of English Browns.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

473 ml can purchased as part of wellington's 4 pack from the LCBO. Served cold into a pint glass.

Appearance - rich copper color that is crystal clear Nd topped by a finger of white head. The wispy froth on top doesn't stick around too much before it turns into a very thin layer of foam. A tiny bit of sticky lacing is present.

Smell - nice earthy base with some significant malt presence and a nice whiff of dark fruits just hiding in the background.

Taste - very mildly bitter with some dark fruit and grassy flavours mixed in. Full flavor despite the lower ABV.

Mouthfeel - smooth and full yet fairly light bodied and a medium to high level of carbonation.

Overall - a fine English bitter than isn't jaw dropping but is a very solid selection especially with a limited number of other local options.

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Photo of JamesMN
3.52/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A light orange/amber hue with good clarity and a thin cap of off-white foam.

Aroma: Sweet caramel and amber malts with a certain 'grainyness' about it.

Taste: Pleasant and light amber and caramel flavors at first and then lends a nice earthy bitterness in the second half and finish. At 4% ABV it has more flavor than I was expecting. A light metallic off-flavor in the aftertaste but otherwise pretty clean.

Mouthfeel: Between thin and medium in body with slightly above average carbonation and good drinkability. Sessionable if you enjoy the style.

Final Thoughts: A decent beer and a good example of how much flavor can be packed into a low ABV. Would I drink it again? Yes.

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Photo of Kremlock
3.23/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Medium copper in colour. Pours a white frothy 3/4 inch head that has good stability. Beer is very clear.

S: Caramel malt, toasted malt and hints for bread in the background. A hint of grassy hop aroma present.

T: Hints of the aromas in the flavours. But everything is Low to None. Caramel is very low, hops are low. Bitterness is low, malt flavours are low, sweet finish.

M: Carbonation is low but the body is low-medium.

O: This beer starts well on the nose. Makes you look forward to tasting it but then when you do you're disapointed by the lack of flavours, bittereness and dry finish. It's not a bad beer just not on style.

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Photo of JG_brew
3.75/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Very drinkable beer. Good tasting. Nice aroma. Very well balanced, not too bitter but you can taste hopiness. Enjoyed this one. Enjoyed the tall can format. I would drink this beer more often if it was available in Quebec. Seems true to style of English bitter, but I need to try more English Bitter’s to compare.

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

Poured from a tall boy can.

Pours a tawny, dark auburn color with a finger of egg shell colored head. The aroma was toasty, with doughy bread crust, crackers and a subtle herbal hop note. Tast wasn't really bitter, though by English standards, it may be great. Bits of caramel, soft sweet bread notes. Had a nice feel, light, but with a silky sort of feel on the palate. Nothing mind blowing, but a nice little session ale.

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Photo of SebD
3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice clear orange/copper color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately fast and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of toasty and bready malts, biscuits, caramel and grassy/earthy hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some nice bready and toasty malts, light caramel, biscuits, earthy hops and slight citrus.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

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Photo of andrenaline
3.77/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another from the Holiday OCB mixer pack.

A - Pours a nice copper colour, finger of head with some retention and no real lacing.

S - Scent is dominated by musty caramel, bready notes, and toasted biscuit. Hint of leafy greens on the finish.

T - Much like the nose with a solid musty caramel flavour, toasted cracker and biscuit with the leafy greens and a touch of bitter citrus rind.

M - Medium, a tad prickly and a touch of dryness.

O - A tasty rendition of the style, solid flavour profile and an easy drinking brew. Glad this was a part of the mixer pack.

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Photo of MaxwellSchaefer
2.8/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

3rd Review on BA
473mL can to bolleke globlet

Purchased at a downtown Toronto LCBO for $2.60

App-A medium amber color to a pale amber color, no cloudiness, and a nice light carbonation.

Smell- Nothing too exciting here, the label on the can says it best, it's a subtle, well-balanced, sessionable beer and the nose definitely alludes to that. Nothing overwhelms you but the caramel of the malt definitely comes to the forefront of the first whiff.

Taste- very, very, very drinkable. The taste here is very light, subtle, and nothing is off-putting about it. But, at the same time--nothing is exciting about it either. There is a simple yet distinguishable malty character to the beer but despite what the label says I can't really make out the hoppy after-taste. Maybe it's because I enjoy my super-hoppy IPA's but nonetheless I just don't see it.

Mouth-I'd call this mouth taste light, at least as far as the category for bitters goes. The carbonation, like everything else with this beer, is subtle. Overall, in the mouth, the subtlety makes you want to swallow.

Drink- If this was my local microbrew I'd buy it constantly to keep them in business. The beer has an ease of drinkability that makes it so simple to finish a six-pack. Plus, on this trip to the LCBO, out of all the local craft brews I purchased it was buy far the cheapest (even per mL, I nerdily felt the need to work it out.) Despite all of these facts, I live in Toronto and have so many small microbrews on tap from all over Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area that I probably won't pick up Wellington's Arkell Best Bitter again, but I'd tell a friend to pick it up when exploring the craft scene here in Ontario.

Serving type: Can

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Photo of decimator
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

473ml bottle can poured into a pint glass. ABV 4%.
Served with a couple slice of deluxe pizza.

A - Poured a clear copper with a bubbly cream head that quickly vanished. Minimal lacing.

S - Bread, earth, caramel, buttered toast, some floral. Smells like an English bitter.

T - Caramel sweetness, toasted grains, some buttery notes, mild bitter finish.

M - Medium-light carbonation, medium body, slick, watery, bitter aftertaste is subdued and short.

O - Pretty flavorful for a light beer. Indeed sessionable but it could use a bit more bitterness from hops in my opinion. Otherwise it is a well crafted beer.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.12/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours copper with strong carbonation while being bright and having a half finger of white head. Little to no lace, film of retention.

S - Biscuity, earthy, a little buttery and a little caramelly, and fruity. Typical English style Bitter from my memory.

T - Kinda buttery, oddly metallic I think. Fruity, toasty malt. A little odd tasting. Not alot of that pleasant fruitiness comes out in the flavour.

M - Fairly strong carbonation, medium body, no perceived bitterness. Mouthfeel seems off for the style.

O/D - I've had this beer and enjoyed it before but it's not really doing much for me in the can. Off for the style. While drinkable, it's nothing to write home about, especially if judging to style.

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Photo of liamt07
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can from the LCBO, 473ml into a pint glass. Best before April 16, 2012.

Filtered amber brown, with a loose off-white head. Some lacing and moderate retention. Nose has some nice hop notes, earthy, bready and lightly caramelized malts. A touch of diacetyl - simple and pleasant. Taste is a bit restrained, more lightly bready notes, some cracker, fruits but the richer earthier English malt notes on the nose weren't as pronounced on the palate. A bit watery, a bit from some carbonation and a modest hop bitterness. Light and relatively flavourful, I'm sure this is substantially more enjoyable fresh. Good stuff nonetheless.

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Photo of korguy123
3.65/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16oz can.

A- Rich amber pour with a finger width head. Great sticky lacing.

S- Light caramel, brown sugar with dates and figs. There is a nice toasted malt

T- Roasted malt resembling toast. Caramel and slight stone fruit.

M- Light bodied, slightly prickly carbonation.

O- Good bitter, note really familiar with the style but worth looking into more.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.3/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance – Clear light copper colour with an average size fizzy off-white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some decent lacing. The head lasted for only a short while before it disappeared.

Smell – Malts, caramel, dark fruits, light hops

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel, and some very light hops. There is also an earthiness and some dark fruit flavour mixed with red apples. It ends with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall – Not a very exciting beer by any means, but it I guess it work well as a session beer. Only thing is I think it would be quite boring to drink these one after another. Anyways, it's a decent beer but not something I'd buy again.

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Photo of NV9
3.78/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a tall can into a pint glass.

Very nice looking beer. Clear deep amber colour with a good 3/4" of head that stayed around for a few minutes with some lacing.

Hops evident in the smell, somewhat yeasty as well.

Taste is sweet at first, easily drinkable for a bitter, part of that may owe to the lower ABV as well 4%, it does say it's intended as a session beer and it seems to achieve what they set out to do.

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Photo of biegaman
3.63/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This polished, golden-amber tone looks like it belongs on a trophy. First prize! The way it gleams in the light you'd think they'd melted down brass. It is clear, despite some chill haze, and the bubbles are quite active. Its head was initially very puffy but in time the surface came to look like someone laid a tissue overtop, nothing more.

Full, mellow tones of high-quality pale malt resonate in the nose along with some fruity ale yeast esters. A faint hop bitterness lingers but remains largely out of sight (err, smell). While it has nice character it doesn't have a ton of it. A trickle of honey-sweet malt comes through with warmth, however, and boosts things up a little bit.

The flavour, too, is driven by a full, but mellow, high-quality pale malt. Again, just a smidgen of toffee is noted. While some vague earthy bitterness registers, nothing more than a hint of hops is ever tasted. A touch of dry apple flavour provides the only highlight for a beer that is a cleanly brewed and, by and large, neutral.

Water salts bring about some of the characteristic mineral stiffness of English bitters, just enough to avoid the body being 'papery'. Still, it is a little light for my tastes (the fact that it's 4% alcohol notwithstanding). Hops delicately temper sweetness, although they are never noticed. Then again, this biscuity pale malt is hardly what you'd call 'heavy'.

Arkell Best Bitter is perfect for a 21st century beer set in early 20th century England. It is a simple, neutral, malt-forward and clean-brewed ale that lends itself to being knocked back easily, and in large quantities. This is a beer better suited to cask, no doubt, but even in the bottle is worth a try. A good alternative to commercial lagers.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.72/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Friends from Guelph have told me this stuff is pretty good, but this is the first time I've seen it at my LCBO. This can is courtesy of the brewery's pub pack, one of two brews in the pack I've never had before. Haven't had a bitter in months but I tend to like the style.

Pours a brilliant translucent amber, topped with 1.5 fingers of creamy, beige head. Head retention isn't very impressive, but a filmy coat and reasonably thick collar remain behind. The smell is enough to get me interested; some caramel malts, plums, fresh baker's bread, and some earthy hops in the background.

The smell wasn't misleading, I already like this stuff. Bready, lightly roasted malts, gentle caramel sweetness. Some fruity esters, as well as some buttery notes. These flavours all lie on top of a firm backbone of leafy english-style hops. Decent balance between the malts and hops but a bit more of the latter might help. Medium-thin body with moderate carbonation. It seems watery, but honestly for 4.0% ABV the flavour is reasonably rich. Very drinkable, but I've never had a bitter that wasn't.

Wellington's Best Bitter is well-crafted and tasty, certainly one of the better beers I've had from this brewery. For a lower ABV beer, there are plenty of flavours here, and none of them are off (although they are also by no means mind-blowingly awesome). If bitters are your thing, give it a shot. A perfect session ale, and one I will probably pick up again.

[Updated Jan. 8 2014]

Another can, this time compared with a few other bitters (Trafalgar ESB, Fuller's ESB and Wells Bombardier). This one is noticeably lighter than any of those three, but that isn't surprising given the abv. Arkell Best Bitter doesn't impress me as much as it used to, but it's still a passable session bitter that I don't mind returning to once in a while. I still say the English imports are better - not to mention cheaper.

Final Grade: 3.72, a B.

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Photo of ritzkiss
3.51/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pint at The Only. Arrives a clear golden hue with hints of mahogany. Finger of head fed by lots of rising bubbles, maintains a head.

Nose has a slight mineral character, bready malt, caramel, light fruitiness. Flavor is more fruity, pretty sweet for a bitter, honey bread, light grassy bitterness gives a drying finish, light lemon, a bit of butter, caramel. Definitely over carbonated, a little thin in this format, even for a bitter. It's not bad but we do some better bitters than this in Ontario.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a one finger head on tap at the Golden Kiwi - little lacing and head dissipated quickly - nice dark amber colour - S - slightly grassy, a little caramel and light malt - the taste follows the nose - also buttery with a little spice - pleasant and very sessionable but a little understated with only a hint of hops - nice but could be more bitter - O - very decent although compared to other bitters could use a bit more punch IMO.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.83/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Release in cans is very new and offers a pleasant surprise. Lots of flavour in this low alcohol beer.

Pours a clear, orange-hued amber with decent head. Very carbonated, but not unpleasantly bubbly. Both aroma and taste are pure caramelized malts with biscuity tones. Hint of hops in flavour, but overall a very mild drinking bitter.

Would definitely recommend.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
4.35/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours coppery orange with a modest but dense off-white head. Good retention, gradually dissipating to a foamy ring; there's a bit of lacing, too.

S: Toffee malts and fresh floral, fruity, and slightly grassy hops. Undertones of biscuit malt, honey, peppery spices, and butter.

T: Toasty biscuit malts forward with hints of caramel and light rye (much more dominant than in the nose). Faint floral hops come to the fore in the swallow and reveal a grassy, herbal bitterness, joined by roasted malts. Nutty undertones throughout.

M: Body is on the heavy end of light with light but crisp, almost coarse, carbonation. The herbal hop and roasted malt finish provides light, lingering, and nuanced bitterness to balance the malty flavour cleanly and encourage a follow-up sip.

D: An exceptionally flavoural and sessionable bitter; probably the best offering from Wellington's. It took me a while to find it (finally got it on tap at Hometown Eatery, i.e. Yukiko's, in Waterloo), but it is unquestionably worth seeking out.

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Photo of dgilks
3.58/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received in a trade with JohnnyBarman. Thanks Matt.

Clear copper colour with a small, off-white head. Head retention is pretty average.

Mild caramel malt aroma mild earthy hop character. A touch metallic and dull.

Refined malt flavour with mild esters and a touch of creaminess. Light hop character. Good but lacking depth.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. It feels a little gassy.

A well crafted English ale but lacking in the depth of malt character that makes this style rock.

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Photo of bryehn
3.8/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Wow, what a surprisingly good "light" beer.

Pours a lovely amber colour with a moderate, soapy white head that leaves a bit of lacing and a small collar.

Creates a nice, crisp, inviting aroma that seems well-balanced. I get a fairly deep malt tone out front with hints of a dark fruit such as prunes and a nice, citrus and grass end.

Unfortunately, after all that rich aroma, the taste comes off as slightly flat. There really isn't much going on hear. I get a bready, malty taste primarily and though I wouldn't put it high on any bitterness scale, there is enough to balance things nicely.

The mouthfeel is a bit watery, but more substantial than most light beers. It has a decent feeling of carbonation on the tongue and leaves a clean dry aftertaste. I find this extremely drinkable.

This review was based on my second sample out of a six pack, but I've already had enough to know the beer will make it into high rotation for social gatherings or poker games.

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Arkell Best Bitter from Wellington County Brewery
3.69 out of 5 based on 113 ratings.
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