Young's Special London Ale
Eagle Brewery

Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #6
Ranked #9,163
3.98 | pDev: 11.06%
Eagle Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Very Good
Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale
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Reviews: 334 | Ratings: 456 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by gbarron:
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gbarron from Georgia

4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a "1 pt 9 oz" bottle. Bottle states that it is bottle conditioned, and there is indeed a small bit of yeast sediment on the bottom of the bottle.

A - golden orange, slightly hazy. Beautiful, thick pillow-y bright white head forms quickly and stays around the whole way. Nice lacing.

S - light aroma, mainly floral hops (East Kent Goldings?), some fruity/estery aromas. Hint of tangy, caramelly malt in the background. Perfect bitter aroma.

T - tart bitterness, wonderful, full floral hop flavor. Tastes like Goldings or Fuggle hops. Sweet, tangy, toasty malt follows. Dry, minerally flavor in the end. Beautifully balanced.

M - thin to medium thin. Seems like standard carbonation, maybe tilted to the low end. Great balance between malty sweetness and dryness.

D - amazing brew. A close second to Fuller's ESB in my book as the benchmark for extra special bitters.

Feb 19, 2006
More User Reviews:
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MrKennedy from Australia

4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

Sep 17, 2012
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mrfrancis from Kentucky

4.18/5  rDev +5%
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.

Oct 05, 2011
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doktorhops from Australia

4.14/5  rDev +4%
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.

Aug 01, 2012
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kitschiguy from Hong Kong

4.57/5  rDev +14.8%
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.

Jul 30, 2015
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RevDru from New Mexico

2.61/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a light-to-medium bronze with a quarter inch of foam and fairly active carbonation.

S - Toasted malt, flowery.

T - Bready, hints of bitter chocolate, slightly astringent.

M - A touch on the sharp side. Becomes metallic feeling as time goes on.

D - While I don't mind a well-balanced bitterness to my beers, this is a touch overbearing. Not enough to toss, but I probably won't buy this again.

Jan 14, 2007
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clabaugh from Pennsylvania

3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy chestnut color with a smooth, light tan, one-finger head. Lacing is runny and off-white, and fails to cling to the side of the glass for more than a moment or two.

Smell: Sweet malts are detectable immediately. Some caramel aromas, with a faint piney hop presence pulling through.

Taste: Malts evoking a kind of sourdough flavor. Caramel presence is noticeable in taste as well as smell. A hoppy finish with some mild to medium bitterness. The hops instill a faint piney flavor, with some spices intermixed.

Mouthfeel: A bit chewy, with a pleasureable smoothness. The alcohol presence is very pronounced for being only 6.4% abv. Tingly carbonation is also palpable.

Drinkability: A bit filling, but very smooth and satisfying. Not great drinkability for the style, but not to detract too much from the beer.

Notes: Very cool 12oz. bottle. With the Special London Ale, Young's lives up to its fine reputation.

Dec 15, 2005
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Absumaster from Netherlands

3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

amber coloured beer with a nice stable head.
I could not smell a lot, just a slight bitterness and some fruitiness.
The taste however was very good. Bitter, fruity, prickly from carbonation. Somewhere in the back some caramel and a woody taste.
Aftertaste is especially bitter, but well in balance.

A very good beer!

Mar 04, 2006
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IntriqKen from California

3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
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.


Jun 23, 2007
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Phocion from Minnesota

4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Young's pint glass with a dark golden color and a thick head that quickly settles into a thin layer. Very light lacing around the glass.

Initial strong hoppy aroma that weakens along with the dying of the head. Settles into a light but dominate malty smell with sweet hints of caramel and butter. Very pleasant, but a bit light.

Very well balanced, as any good ESB should be. Sweet caramel-like malts and a subtle hint of orange, nicely contrasted by the bitter, but not overpowering hops.

Excellent feel. Light but not watery, and very smooth.

Goes down easy, without much of a bitter aftertaste. Light enough not to be too filling, but full-flavored at the same time. The only drawback is the ABV is a bit too high for a session beer. Nonetheless, this is a great example of an ESB.

Jul 04, 2006
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soulgrowl from England

4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Lightly hazed fiery orange amber. Tall, pearly white head is sturdy and dense despite a dense field of volatile carbonation visible in the body.

Smell: Earthy, herbal, and slightly spicy hops with a big floral perfume edge. Fruity and biscuity/bread-and-buttery, with additional spice from the alcohol. Notes of vanilla and orange. Very nice.

Taste: Butterscotchy and rich yet zesty, this beer really blossoms on the palate. Sweet, bready as hell and earthy at first, the flavor transforms into a storm of hoppy and alcoholic spice, with a nice kick in the finish before fading into a tangy, mouthwatering aftertaste. Balanced but robust, this is a lovely beer.

Mouthfeel: Soft and lush throughout, but the spice is nicely punctuated by lively carbonation.

Drinkability: A very drinkable beer, even if its ABV doesn't make it a session beer in the strictest sense. Possibly a good match for pizza.

Mar 20, 2007
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atigerlife from Hawaii

3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper color with almost no head. Minimal carbonation seen rising.

ARoma of honey and light hops.

Taste has got some bitterness, light hops, malts, sweet and some fruitiness.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied, cleansing and smooth.

Overall, quite drinkable and sessionable.

Jun 06, 2008
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daliandragon from Maryland

4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer and I share a history. I spent a year in London back in the day and the first six months or so were horrific...hell at work, ludicriously awful weather, extreme poverty, a leaky, pint sized flat for an exorbitant price. Through it all I learned to love English ale and this specimen was often on sale at my nearby Sainsbury's, and it helped me get through to the spring and better times. Hello, old friend...
Classic bitter look, with no head and bright red color and totally lacking in carbonation bubbles. Exuberant, hoppy nose.
Taste is mild and very pleasant in the mouth but still delivers a flavorful rush of East Kent hops and a bitter taste and follow through that lingers on the tongue. A great beer for fans of real ales and beer traditionalists. I enjoy London Pride and Wychwood and Shepherd Neame but Young's is still #1 for me.

Feb 08, 2006
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Beerasaurus from Virginia

3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Feb 26, 2020
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beerkeeper from Maryland

4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pulled this out of the cellar best by date was dec 02, it is a milennium edition. poured into the glass and wow this thing still poured a mightty head.poured a glass of current for a comparison, noose is much more complex on the 02, very rich and malty. the color on the 02 version has taken on a much darker shading. the carbonation has held up this beer has gotten very rich over the years as the bitterness from the hops has exited the finish. on the newer vintage you get that initial rich maltyness, but the hops sweep up the finish. this beer needs to be drank quickly because after sitting out for twenty minutes it really began to loose its richness. stiil its amazing how much this beer changed and i would say for the better

Oct 08, 2005
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jkdrummer from Washington

4.68/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark orange and a nice rocky head that does not give up. Yeast aroma is pleasant too. Drank mine ice cold and the taste is sweet with a subtle banana flavor and a little bitterness and tartness from the hops. Mouth-feel is excellent and very easy to drink. Highly recommended.

Dec 22, 2007
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ghostwalker from Massachusetts

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

Mostly clear orange/copper body with a light haze to it. Large off-white head that lasts and lasts and leaves nice lacing.

Light malt and very mild hop nose.

Flavor is actually quite mild for an ESB. Light malt, some floral hops, mild fruitiness in the finish, hints of orange maybe. It's good, I like it, but other similar ales have impressed me more. I think I even prefer the Ram Rod Ale that I tried last night.

Mouthfeel is medium body, crisp and clean finish.

Overall, drinkability is very good. I really like the Bitters/ESB for their sessionability and this is no exception. I will buy this again, along with other Young's products.

Nov 21, 2005
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Shovelbum from Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Nov 03, 2005
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brheuer from New Jersey

3/5  rDev -24.6%

Mar 17, 2013
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crazyspicychef from Pennsylvania

4.48/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Nov 12, 2020
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davidchollar from Washington

3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

my first ESB in ages. along with IPA, it's one of the first styles i ever tried, very popular back home. but hard to get here.

the darker side of copper, big-bubbled smallish head doesnt last long. pleasant, but somewhat faint smell. definite malty presence, some citrusy hoppiness, not much to write about.

this gets much better when it comes to tasting time. very well-rounded, balanced. not exactly complex, but it certainly gets the job done, big bitter kick. 6.4% abv puts this on the strong side. light to medium carbonation and mouthfeel, but so smooth and easy to drink. i really like it.

Mar 05, 2006
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Booza from Australia

3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

Jan 12, 2014
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SteveO1231 from Connecticut

4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright copper color, nice foamy white lacing, lots of carbonation.

Sweet malty aroma with scents of honey, citrus fruit, alcohol, and hops.

Light on the palate. Nice roasted malt character. Fruity hints of orange and floral hop bitterness in the finish. Warms me up halfway through the bottle.


Very balanced and very drinkable. The ABV is felt abo

Jan 15, 2006
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Rochefort10nh from New Hampshire

5/5  rDev +25.6%

Nov 28, 2011
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Daredevil from Switzerland

4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

one of my all time favorites .... I must admit though: there are never two bottles alike of this brew ... at it's best there is a marvelous balance of nuttyness (chestnut, hazelnut) and citric fruitiness (tangerines, pamplemousse ...) ... at it's worst the nut feeling is altered to a buttery bitterness and the citric stays in the mouth for a long lenght ... so the verdict would be (depending on the bottle) anywhere between 2.5 and 4.9 .... if the quality of this brew could become a bit less erratic, it would be a true classic for sure ...

Mar 17, 2007
Young's Special London Ale from Eagle Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 456 ratings