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

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Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale
Very Good
445 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:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-14-2001

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Ratings: 445 |  Reviews: 330
Photo of BKotch
5/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This CAN BE one of the most awesome beers out there. So effervescent that it's hard to pour without letting the mammoth head overflow the glass. Extremely hoppy and yet delicately fruity. BUT I have had some of the skunkiest beers ever come out of an SLA bottle. I don't know if my dealer just doesn't move it fast enough or what . . . When it's fresh, though, it's a real treat. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +26.9%

Photo of Offa
5/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is one of my all-time favourites and for me it is essentially perfect beer.

Th colour is deep bronze colour with reddish hints. It has a beautiful thick, creamy, head that lasts forever and leaves beautiful lacing.

In taste it has amazing, deep complexity with a perfect bitter-sweet balance, and plenty of malt and hops in great balance. It has lots of light, zesty fruit with citrus, plus lightly caramelly malt, toasty bread, pine, a light earthiness, and consistent flavour from start to finish. It's flavour is strong and complex yet clean, very crisp, lively, and extremely satisfying and drinkable at the same time. It has an incredibly "fresh" quality to it. I shall add though, that I have gotten a couple bum bottles (however, that's out of many).

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.87/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: a brilliant reddish orange with plenty of carbonation. The head is big and foamy with decent retention and excellent lace.
Smell: absolutely perfect. lots of earthy and spicey hops with biscuity malts.
Taste: a definite emphasis on the hops, very hoppy. Not the citrusy grapefruity hoppiness youd find in American ales, but a more earthy bitterness, probably from Golding hops. This beer is no hop tea however, there's a solid malt background.
Mouthfeel: Almost silky in its smoothness, highly quaffable. The aclohol is almost unperceptable. Terrific.

Ive finally got the chance to try this beer and it was even better than I thought. It probably replaces Fuller's ESB as my favourite Bitter.

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Photo of joecast
4.85/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle. best before may 06. bottle conditioned.

pours a surprising clear amber color. only poured about 2/3 of the bottle, but not even a haze to it. nicely sized foamy off white head.

nice floral hoppy aroma. a bit spicy, almost piney notes as well. very nice.
just checked out the youngs website (i feel like im cheating) which states fuggles and goldings hops. ive used goldings before and gotten a sweetness that i just didnt like. nothing like that here. also goldings and target added after fermentation. works great for me.

goodness me! this is some smooth stuff. great balance. malts hold up the brew something fierce. and being the hophead i am, i am not disappointed one bit. nice level of bitterness follows this brew right down.

i dont know what else to say. serious drinkability. and one of my new all time favorites. a champion of a beer.

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Photo of Mark
4.8/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I finally had this brew again after a long wait. The wonderful English manager of the Longs that I wrote about in a past journal ordered this on my suggestion. This bottle conditioned ale poured a golden copper, the head shrunk to a thin persistent layer that left nice lace patterns. Taste is a bit more hoppy and bitter than most Young's beers, it is also on the sweet side and some buttery notes were evident. Another winner from Young's my favorite brewer. I have had some fresher samples recently and this is very close to cask! A top bottle conditioned beer!

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Photo of cebeci88
4.8/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of John
4.76/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my favorite beer styles is English strong ale and this one's a classic. Great bottle conditioned, outstanding on tap.

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Photo of Gastrick
4.75/5  rDev +20.6%

Citrus, floral, nice hops, lively small bubbles.

I can't believe this is 6.4 abv, more quaffable than any session beer I can think of.

I do like this brewery, but this surpassed my expectations.

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Photo of KnutAlbert
4.75/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The best bottled beer regularly brewed in the UK IMHO. Fine hoppy bitterness on top of complex flavours from the malt. The extra strength gived added dimensions compared to most of their draft beers. And it travels well, too.
A warning: Very easy-drinking, despite the alcohol!
Let's hope they can keep the same quality in the new brewery!

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Photo of drpaj
4.75/5  rDev +20.6%

Photo of hoppecatania
4.75/5  rDev +20.6%

Photo of jkdrummer
4.68/5  rDev +18.8%
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.

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Photo of snilsen13
4.65/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Okay, this is a loaded review, maybe. I had a bottle in CA while camping in some mosquito infested redwood forest. I drak it wjile eating NY Strip, fresh from the fire. I was in heaven. I drank from a plastic mug, but this beer elavated the experience to a perfect cullunary delight.

A - dark beer small head. Has nice solid color, looks good.

S - Pairs really well with meat. Not exotic.

T - smooth, luxurious balance of hops and malts, minimal aftertaste. Alcohol was faintly present ... on par with the best bottle conditioned ales or cask conditioned ales. really exceptional.

M - probably the weakness of all bottle conditioned, they're politefully smooth, watery, I can't give the more than 4.5 ... if it had just a little more carbonation.

D - Oh, friggan perfect! Please I want more! Where can I buy this in MA!

I can't believe the 4s this beer is getting. I know what I tasted. This is exceptional. I doubt I'll need to ammend these thoughts, except to better describe the A and S.

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Photo of TheSarge
4.63/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Produces 2.5 finger thick off white head, which forms tightly and lasts a good amount of time. Nice lacing sticks well to the glass. The body is slightly hazy and is amber gold in color.

Aroma is dominated by floral hops, with a hint of spruce/pine.

The taste also leans to the fruity/hoppy side, surprisingly. There is some lemon zest along with a light tea and biscuit taste.

MF is medium in body. Wetting to the palate. Very enjoyable with seafood I'd suppose, rather than the recommendations on the label.

This is a totally well balanced brew and a great hops profile. I'm slowly becoming a fan of these British ESBs.

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Photo of StevieW
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Same big bottle depicted in the picture.
Rusty copper color body, big rocky, dense, sticky, bubbly head. Laced the glass all the way to the bottom. Big nose of fresh whole hops, citrus and grapefruit and buttermilk biscuits. Lots of freshly baked bread smells.
Taste was exceptional for an ESB. Perfectly smooth combination of fresh bready biscuit malt and striking hop presence. Lots of lip puckering dry hop finish. Sticky on the lips though. Beer temps you have another sip. Loads of flavors, all balanced, wash right over each other.
Light to moderate body, super smooth and very very drinkable. The most refreshing, well balanced beer I have had in a long while. I can still taste it. I had this with grilled chicken and sweet peas, but I think it would go with just about any dinner. Well worth a try.
I bought this one at shop in St. Andrews and lugged it home, then stored it for about 5 months in my fridge, and it was still great. I think it's readily available in most parts of the US though.

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Photo of SteenLarsen
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite English ale. Ahh those Golding hops. stars with a ligth bitter taste which turns into a comfortable but not too sweet aftertaste.

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Photo of kitschiguy
4.57/5  rDev +16%
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 beerinabottle
4.54/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of ppoitras
4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

500ml bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Bottle conditioned, and hoofed back from the UK by him. A hearty thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a creamy 3/4" off-white head over the bright amber brew. Head lasts well, and lacing consists of foamy bits here, there, and everywhere. Aroma is malt sugars, paired with some citrus hops character. Flavor is as well caramel malt sweetness, with light hops character bringing a clean, crisp bite. Bottle conditioning has done it's work here, mouthfeel is incredibly smooth over the tongue, and drinkability is amazing. After cask, I'm sure, this is the way to enjoy this one.

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Photo of bakero
4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of nortmand
4.52/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Rich amber hue, with a stiff white head and minimal lacing.
Pine resin dominates the smell, with a fruity plum essence underneath.
Tart citrus beginning, which rolls into a nice, clean bitterness. Ends bitter with a fresh baked bread maltiness.
Bubbly yet smooth, with a slightly sticky mouthfeel
Very drinkable. Packed with flavor and a great upper end session beer.

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Photo of Darkale
4.52/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Copper-gold clear body, thick tan head, great lacing.

Sweet and malty aroma with a tinge of yeast.

Chewy mouthfeel is soft and sweet and creamy in the mouth. Ends with just enough British sourness.

This beer has one of the best mouthfeels of any beer that I've ever had. It starts sweet, goes raspy, then bitter, and ends with creaminess. Fabulous.

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Photo of Globetrotter
4.52/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Found in a Moscow supermarket, my bottle looks just like the one in the picture. Russian import label lists only purity law ingredients and emphasizes that the sediment at the bottom is OK. Best before 1/17/07, I opened it on 4/29/06.

The initial pour is clear, pinkish copper under a fairly short-lived off white head that survives as film and collar and generates some pretty nice lace rings at first. The secondary pour brings out the sediment, generating a slight haziness but none of the chunks I feared after reading the import label (or the actual label, for that matter, which recommended leaving the sediment in the bottle.) The nose is sublime, with sweet fruity (plum) malt and spicey hops well combined. The mouth is very well-carbonated and just a bit sticky, coating the tongue and palate with brisk and prickly viscosity. My goodness, this is good. The grain is distinct, leaving a bready impression. There's also some plum or grape here. And lots of hops flavor, from acidic spice to refreshing floral. The hops win out by the finish, leaving the tastebuds awash in crisp, dry, enticing dryness that begs for the next sip. Very enjoyable indeed, despite the strength.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.52/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16.9oz dated best before 4/13/05 poured into an imperial pint.

Clear copper with a frothy white head that stands tall for more than a few minutes. Good lacing rings the glass.

Smells very bitter with some caramel malt and yeast aromas. The bitterness is citric, while the yeast gives it that bottle conditioned aroma I love so much.

Nice caramel notes upfront when tasted. Fades nicely into a growing bitterness that is hoppy and has a pleasant flavor of green apples. Clean, dry finish that retains some malt character. Very balanced, very tasty.

The mouth is smooth and malty upfront, but is wiped clean by the bitter flavors. Damn refreshing, I could drink this all night with food or by itself. I highly recommend this one.

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Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
Beer rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 445 ratings