Young's Special London Ale | Wells & Young's Ltd

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Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale
Very Good
448 Ratings
Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale

Brewed by:
Wells & Young's Ltd
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.40%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

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Ratings: 448 |  Reviews: 333
Reviews by avylover:
Photo of avylover
3.74/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This a lighter golden color with a few bubbles rising up and a foamy off-whitish head with some larger bubbles in there. The head did'nt last too long.. This brew actually reminds me a bit of a very low octane barleywine, which is nice, since it's only 6.4%. Smell has the typical english hop aroma.Very nice caramel scent and nice alcohol warmth. Some biscuity malt aroma in there too. Taste is fairly sweet & malty, hence the barleywine refences. Lots of caramel maltiness, and buttery finish. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky but not syrupy. Good beer, but not all that drinkable. A bit too thick for quaffing.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of MrKennedy
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle from Vintage Cellars, Wynyard, into a Brooklyn tulip.

Pours an orange light amber colour with a white head of foam that sits at a level just above film on top. Sporadic lacing.

Smells of toasted malt, marmalade, light citrus with some orange. Unmistakeably English.

Tastes on the sweeter side with toffee, light caramel as well as some citrus with light orange. Vibrant.

Sessionable, yet there is a substantial body to it. Quite impressive. I think the citric flavour helps keeps it very drinkable and the solid malt base makes it feel very full bodied.

A classic. Impressed with this and how well it has held up especially given the journey. Was saving this for an English tasting night that didn't get off the ground. Been a good 5 years or more since i've had a glass of this and even better than i remember it to be. Super impressed.

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Photo of kitschiguy
4.57/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured a 500ml bottle into an English pint glass.

Poured a nice reddish light brown/deep amber colour with a huge frothy white head. The head was very creamy on top with tight to medium bubbles at the sides. lasted all the way to the end with lots of lacing. Great looking beer.

The nose was complex with huge bready, toasted malts, dried fruit, fruitcake and some spice. Very nice.

Palate was complex also - very malty with lots of fruit flavours all over the mouth. Well-rounded. Medium to full-bodied. Some hoppy bitterness at the back of the tongue and sides of the mouth. Finish was fairly long, drying with some biterness.

Mouth was wonderfully smooth and full despite the fairly high level of carbonation. Very well-rounded.

Overall this is a really lovely beer. Huge flavours, complex, well-balanced and easy to drink despite being strong. It looks wonderful with a massive creamy, long-lasting head.

Despite being so easy to drink I wouldn't say this is a session beer - I felt a wonderfully warming, light-headed buzz after I'd finished it....

Truly outstanding. Highly recommended.

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Photo of doktorhops
4.14/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Well, well, Wells & Young's, after being averagely impressed with their Banana Bread Beer it was a long wait between rounds (so to speak) and finally I succumbed to buying the Special London Ale with (topically) an Olympics being held in London right now ("Aussie, Aussie, Osterreich! Oy, Oy, Ja!", or something along those lines).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a nonic pint (Imperial, of course rebel scum).

A: Looks the part; white head, cloudy amber body.

S: Heavy toasted malt base with a smattering of the classic English hops (Fuggles & Goldings) which give it a fruity and earthy aroma, and a hint of musty yeast. Smells like a classic English pub ale.

T: First of all - read the best served at temperature on the back of the bottle; 10 to 12 degrees Celsius - this makes a difference. English pub ales are best drunk lukewarm, not ice cold, this really brings out the flavours: toasted toffee malt base with a slight grassy hop front note leading to a pine/resinous hop back palate. It's a smooth blend too, which really adds to the drinking experience, I'm almost done yet I really want another.

M: Mid to heavy body with a light carbonation. Heavier than most English pub ales but it is explained by 6.5% ABV.

D: Sold! It's a great old style English pub ale that we have here. Perfect example of the style and very enjoyable. I'll 'ave another.

Food match: The national dish of the United Kingdom; fish & chips... no wait, curry.

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Photo of mrfrancis
4.18/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from the bottle into a pint glass, this beer displays a rich golden amber hue beneath a creamy white head. Honestly, I was expecting this beer to be darker, but whatever.

S: Aromas of toffee, lemon jelly, orange marmalade, and earthy English ale hops fill the nose. It smells like most English ales. Far from bad, but nothing out of the ordinary.

T: The entry is smooth and rich, giving way to pronounced notes of leather, oranges, lemon, heather, almonds, toffee, heavy cream, pepper, and herbs. The finish is complex and hoppy with a prolonged swirl of cream, toffee, and peppery, herbal hop flavors.

M: Full-bodied and substantial in the mouth. Upon entry, the beer is silky, smooth, and not all that dry, but dries out nicely on the fade.

O: I love this beer, and it gets even better after it has been in the bottle for about a year. I'm not sure I'd call it an ESB though. I've always thought of it as more of an English strong ale.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Along with Fullers ESB my favorite English ale.Great amber color wirh nice thick head,has a yeasty orange-like smell.Nothing bitter about this ale,mellow easy drinking for the alcohol content.Has a slight bitter ending wich compliments this beer greatly.Always savor this when get a chance to get one.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – Light, almost perfectly orange in color with a good, white head off a hard pour.

Smell – The casky wood dominated this nose. The classic bitter British notes abound.

Taste – This is a big, bitter ale made with traditional English character. They did a really good job of replicating the flavor of a classic English bitter. The leafy bitterness and nice woody notes came out especially well.

Mouthfeel – This one is light to medium-bodied and a little clumsy in the mouth. I enjoyed the bitter feel but would have liked to have seen a little bit better blending of the flavors.

Drinkability – I enjoyed this offering from Young’s. It is much better than their Ram Rod.

Update – I re-reviewed this a year almost to the day that I had my first bottle. It really is a classic example of the style. I got a much better head on my 2005 pour so upped the Appearance by half a point.

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Photo of sgoodship
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I didn't drink any Young's when I lived in the UK (shame on me), so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised.

A: Carbonation fired up a nice clean finger width head to begin with but it was short lived and settled down into a nice lacing as expected. It is semi-translucent (hazy) with a little carbonation visible.

S: A quietly lively smell. It came across fruity to me. Some malt and hoppiness but generally understated.

T: It came across fruity to me but not too dominant because as I registered that, I started to get that lovely sugary malted biscuity flavor. It finishes off with a really nice hoppy bitterness but retains some of the earlier flavor and is certainly not a forceful aftertaste.

M: Really creamy and round. Carbonation provides some fresh liveliness to the palette. Medium body - just really smooth.

D: I have to admit, I found myself finding it hard to concentrate on reviewing this beer because I just wanted to drink it and not think about it. It was really delicious and so easy to drink. Even the short half-life of the aftertaste made me want to drink more. I guess there is a complexity to this beer but it is so well balanced - they have taken all the work out of it for the drinker - just enjoy it! I think you could find yourself drinking it down and forgetting the strength - dangerous! It is my new go-to ESB.

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Photo of supermedved
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of Todd
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Custom 500ml brown bottle. This is Young's Millennium Edition of the style, previously known as their Export Bitter. Best before 4/2001. Bottled conditioned.

Appearance: Pours with some highly active carbonation which induces a great big foamy, off-white, rocky head with great staying power and stick -- probably one of the best heads on a beer. Colour is a bright amber. There's a thin layer of sediment at the bottom, from its being conditioned in the bottle.

Smell: Has a really soft bouquet with notes of fruit, fresh hops and toasty malts with a slight earthy aroma. Lovely perfumy vapors.

Taste: Smooth on the palate, a bit slick. Medium bodied brew with some chewiness to it. Upfront there's a rather tasty malt character of caramel/toffee and toasted malts that mingles with a unique raw hop presence (leafy and oily). Fruit flavours and some citrus adds a lovely twang of bitterness, especially as it gets a boost from a tingly carbonation that refreshes the palate. It's all artfully balanced with the malt. Finishes sweet with some bready flavours (yeast).

Notes: Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable beers that I have ever had. All the makings of a world-class brew. It's balance is perfection, it's taste is liquid bliss. I got this one on sale at Bread & Circus for $2.99. I have to buy some more!

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Photo of Beaver13
1.97/5  rDev -50.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

500ml bottle, best by 10/4/06. The bottle gushes some when opened. It pours a golden copper with a huge frothy off white head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is grainy and corny with a little spicy alcohol and some DMS.

The flavor is grainy and metallic with some grassy hop bitterness at the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with loads of sharp carbonation that mellows into wateriness towards the end of the bottle.

Overall, this was not very good and was very much like a macro beer with a little extra zing. It's not offensive, just pretty bland with a few OK aspects and a few off-aspects.

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Photo of Jason
3.7/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Semi-aggressive carbonation that foams quickly when first pouring. Tawny bronze hue with a very faint haze from the yeast, light tan head drops down to a thin lace. Woody aroma with hints of hops and a musty grain showing some faded sugary sweetness. Thick and slick mouth feel, smoothness has to force its way through the viscous body. Juicy fruity and a tad buttery with a thick maltiness which brings a heavy hand of sweetness. Hops are bitter enough to counter the sweetness as well as a spicy alcohol. Ripe fruity flavours throughout. Drying husk toasted grain in the end. An eclectic strong ale that would be better paired with a rich meal than to drink it alone.

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Photo of merlin48
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This bitter pours a clear amber body with a two finger, offwhite head that that retains for several minutes before fading into copious patch lacing.
Aroma is English hops, with spicy pepper, and a mineral note that suggests the character of the water used in the brewing process. Faint notes of biscuity malt.
Mouthfeel is smooth, evenly carbonated, and light bodied.
Taste is bitter, in that special English style. Hops dominate with a spicy pepper and herbal presence that bitters the ale in ideal harmony with the bready malt. Mineral flavors from the water are noted in the background, and add a unique quality.
Very refreshing and enjoyable. An excellent ESB.

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Photo of Billolick
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the Beer Bar/Cafe centro NYC. Nice warm amber, w/ off white, puffy, creamy head. Leaves a ton of lace. Bready nose. First flavors are of a very smooth malty backbone. Understated hop character. As it warms smooth malt continues, grainy, velvet hops gain in strength, to balance things out perfectly. Very British character. Mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth. Classy and well balanced ale. Try it on tap if it comes to a bar nearby.

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Photo of vinivini
3.79/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of innominat
4/5  rDev +1.3%

Photo of fionn13
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%

Photo of stephenlee
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ivanwatling
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Apprearance: Rich amber colour, clear, but little head
Smell: Little aroma
Taste: Balanced hops and malt, with the biterness slightly more prominent
Mouthfeel: Pleasant aftertaste
Drinkability: Wonderfully tastly and refreshing

Carefully poured from a bottle to ensure the sediment was not distureded (this is a bottle conditioned beer). Beautiful amber colour, but since it's from a bottle there's no head. First taste reveals rich malt and ditinct bitterness. Futher mouthfulls enhance the experience, and leave a pleasant taste in the mouth, retaining the malt/bitter balance.

Served at 55 degrees farenheight.

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Photo of ADR
4.34/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Muddy Pig, St. Paul, MN...

Slightly hazy darker yellow color, lighter than Fuller's by a fair shot. Practically no head in this serving, very little lace on the glass. Slightly buterscotchy aroma. Flavor follows the smell, diacetyl with molasses tones and plenty of spicy cinnamon notes. Speckly texture, granulated mouthfeel. Hopping is quite pronounced and dry and there is great balance in this one with a rush toward heat at the end. A very enjoyable ESB in my book.

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Photo of Shovelbum
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Snazzy 500 ml bottle with a ram’s head in relief on the glass. Bottle conditioned for “a fresher taste.”

Big thick creamy white head over a translucent golden brown body. Decent head retention with thick oatmeal like lace at the start that continues to cling but thins toward the end. Smells of roasted malt a touch of hops and a little diacetyl fruitiness. Tastes of sweet maltiness with a background of hop bitterness and some hints of apple-juice-like fruit. Medium to light body. Flavors are well balanced. Smooth in the mouth with carbonation that is light, but still strong enough to carry the flavors and aromas.

A malt lover’s delight! A well crafted brew that balances the big malt presence with a lighter body and subtle flavors.

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Photo of rastaman
3.1/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

i don't know what it is about youngs beers, but they all tend to have a sticky (akmost sweet) characteristic, but they all have decent hop character, but this was to sticky to be good, but its drinkable.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

(Served in an imperial pint glass)

A-This beer pours a warm golden orangeish brown slightly hazy body with a thick creamy light tan head. It has a good carbonation of tiny bubbles.

S- Even during the pour the smell of fresh green grassy hops was wonderful. The smell has a faint lightly toasted and pale malt note.

T- This beer has a nice hop bitterness at the beginning with some grassy and faint orange characteristics. The malt notes are soft but lightly toasted malts. The finishing hop bitterness taste a bit chemical or slightly off flavor.

M- Medium full mouthfeel with but some of that is due to the fizz. No alcohol warmth or astringency.

D- This beer started off with a strong smell of hop complexity and then the taste didn't really follow through with the hops. This is a good ESB but it would be nice to have more depth to the hops or more malt complexity to support the hops. I imagine served in cask would add a whole layer of complexity to it.

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Photo of anders36
3.91/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lovely deep amber colour. With a cream colour long lasting head. This is a bottle coditioned beer. So it can be abit cloudy from the yeast. It has a fruity smell wiht some hints of hops and citrus. The taste is also fruity and malty with some hints of citrus. It has some nice bitterness that i like. I like this beer and i'm glad i don't have to go to London every time i want to drink it.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A dark orange-tea color in the glass with a slightly off-white head that does leave some sticky residue as it melts.

Aromas are very typically British with sweet amber malts and bread yeast.

The tongue is treated to a combination of an English Brown Ale and a Bitter...lots of sweet amber malts with bready yeasts as a brown would have, but then a nice biting finish from the hops like an ESB.

Mouthfeel becomes almost chewing as you finish it from the complexity of the malts in it.


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Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
Beer rating: 3.95 out of 5 with 448 ratings