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

very good
329 Reviews
Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale

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

Style: 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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Reviews: 329 | Ratings: 439
Photo of TastyTaste
1.82/5  rDev -53.9%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Out of an undisturbed bottle, this monstrosity grew. Exposiive carbontaion at cellar temp. Body was dark orange, with flecks of yeast suspended throughout. Taste was bitter orange flavor, somewhat like tang or sunny delight. I think this might be a bad bottle, I will reevaleaute it when i get the chance.

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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 moulefrite
2.23/5  rDev -43.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This beer was almost all foam! The beer shot out of the bottle like a rocket and the bottle became half foam. After the head dissapated, the beer let out its lovely aromas of sticky sweet malt and rotten bananna. In the mouth the beer felt overly fizzy. The taste was redolent of a bananna malted milkshake. A bit of hairspray flavor posing as hop was in the mix as well. A cloying malt flavor and some bitter coated the mouth as I poured the remaining inch or so of this beer down the drain. I will re-try this beer at a later date to see if I got an off bottle. For now, this was not too fun.

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Photo of heygeebee
2.6/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

No BB.

A - Pale amber, one finger coarse head.

S - Malts, bready, almost yeast.

T - English malts and caramels, tainted by sharp astringent aftertaste

M - Over carbonated as seems standard for many bottles of English styles.

O - Overall, sad example of style, tainted.

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Photo of RevDru
2.61/5  rDev -33.9%
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.

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Photo of stephendr
2.64/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

500 ml. glass bottle best before date Sept. 21, ‘07 sampled Nov. 13, ‘07- color of translucent honey, with a thick long lasting off white colored head - nose of mild hops, some sweat, and oats – taste of sharp honey, mild bitterness, light fruits, and apricots- body is medium, and sharp, and with high carbonation – aftertaste of mild hops, slightly bitter, and apricots

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Photo of jarmby1711
2.81/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

I was disappointed with this beer.
It had all the look it required and maintained a healthy white head and sustained its carbonation however it all went downhill.
The flavour , what there was of it was pretty damn dull.It had no pleasantness or particular unpleasantness just a bland vaguely vegetative taste.
The alcohol seemed to dominate and for me this was not a good beer

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Photo of LarryKemp
2.89/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This brown pint bottled bitters, poured a very clear dark copper approaching a light amber. It had a nice white head that lingered long into the drinking session. Much lace clung to the side of the glass. The aroma was pretty almost nonexistant. If I held the glass to my mouth and breathed into and out of the glass, I got a little matliness and some dirt/grass kind of sensation. The flavor is hard to describe. There is some malty sweetness but it finishes sour. There is not hops bite or taste. The mouthfeel is medium with a slight creaminess. I don't think I could recommend this beer to anyone. The Best Before date is the end of October 2003 so it is not old brew. I might try another bottle some other time to see if this was a bad bottle or just BAD beer.

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Photo of bark
2.9/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The colour is cloudy copper red; the thin lid of foam is pale beige.

The smell is sweet with notes of yeast, nuts and fruits (apricots? Peaches?).

The carbonation is fresh with lots of large bubbles.

The taste is fruity, sweet with some bitter almonds, diacetyl and yeast. The aftertaste is medium bitter, short and rather anonymous.

An average bitter, nothing special at all.

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Photo of kimcgolf
2.96/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle. This beer was very ho-hum. Aroma and appearance were okay, but left a short, dry, almost flat finish. Did not have a lot of taste. Ales are my favorite beers, and I expected a lot more from the name of this beer than I receieved, as unfortunately, this left a lot to be desired.

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Photo of rugger
3.03/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not one of my favorite styles, but this beer poured a coppery/amber color with a nice cream colored head that lasted. Aroma is very light and malty with a very sharp malty bite with hints of rasins and cloves. Mouthfeel is light and I wouldn't really drink another unless that was all that was availble. Not bad but not great.

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Photo of auntfloyd
3.03/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served from a 500 ml bottle into an imperial pint glass.

Pours a hazy, bright amber color, with a large off-white head. The smell is sweet malt, slightly biscuity. The flavor is similar, sweet at first, followed by more hops bitterness, and finally ending on a slightly metallic-tasting tea note. The mouthfeel is smooth, and the drinkability is ok, though I wouldn't really want more than one glass of this.

Overall, kind of disappointing, I've liked the other beers I've tried from Young's. I wouldn't buy it again.

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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 ScarletLady
3.12/5  rDev -21%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Although I tried this from the tap, it had been poured in to a pitcher then passed around - so i won't comment about the head or lacing as it really wouldn't be fair. Nice color, a light to medium copper. The nose was my favorite part with apricot and a sour hoppiness. Mouthful was 'medium' and the taste a little sour but good. Overall nicely carbonated with a light finish. I would try it again I think that it could really grow on me . I'm interested to try it from a bottle

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Photo of zebedee
3.13/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Ok, this'll be my first review, so please forgive my amateurish palate and large nose.

Noted the silver medallist thingy around the neck of the bottle, so I thought it'd be a good beer to review.

A - Poured into an old dimpled pint pot. 2cm head, which dissipated to a thin layer within 5 minutes. Coppery/orange hue. light carbonation.

S - Apples, grapefruit, pears, and toffee. Some maltiness coming through aswell. A hint of almonds too I'd say, but overall sweet smelling.

T - Sweet apples, toffee. The taste I'd say matched the smell, that is, extremely sweet and a bit malty. There was no noticable bitterness in the finish, which dissapointed me somewhat.

M - Mildly carbonated, which i prefer. Nice, chewy, full bodied texture.

D - Could sink a couple of these, but no more.

This ale will appeal to some, and it certainly isn't a bad ale, but I just find it far too sweet. If there was any bitterness in the aftertaste I'd rate it higher. Alas, this shall not be the case.

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Photo of elricorico
3.15/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy amber with a thin white head. The smell is a mix of hop and alcohol warmth. Mildly grassy aroma as well.

Taste is mild, toffee and citrus with a bit of a hoppy finish and some alcohol warmth. There is a flavour in there that reminds me of a strong macro lager(in case you can't guess, it's not good.) If not for that poor bit, it would be a pleasant taste overall.

Having a peak at the bottle shows that this one was marked best before February 2005. Guess I should have looked before buying. It isn't bad, but I'd have to guess that a lot has been lost over that time. I'll leave this review for now and hope for a fresh bottle someday soon.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.15/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from a grocery store in Warsaw. From notes.

A - Poured a hazy dark gold with a thin white cap of head. Lot's of visible carbonation and good retention but no lacing.

S - Good juicy hop with some spicy hops too. Bready malt. Fairly standard.

T - Malts with a nice hop kick. Otherwise fairly plain and bland.

M - Medium tingly carbonation and a medium body.

O/D - Meh. Fairly run of the mill. Didn't jump out at me and I was happy to move onto something else.

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Photo of theopholis
3.18/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Very Clear, amber, nice creamy frothy off-white head. Very little staying power with no lace.

Aroma-Very well blended mixture of malt sweetness, citrus, some fruiteness (not to much), hops and a touch of breadiness. Not as hoppy as the style calls for tho.

Taste-Nice blend of bittering hops and malt. Fair amount of bitterness on back of toungue. Just enough spiciness to make it interesting.

Mouthfeel-medium body with a pleasant hop finish. Clings to mouth nicely. Nice acid bite on the tip of the toungue, but creamy on the lips.

Drinkability-Pretty good. No aspect (taste, mouthfeel, aroma) is outstanding, but the overall experience is quite nice.

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Photo of snogglethorpe
3.2/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

An oddly disappointing beer from a famous brewery; maybe the bottle I had wasn't fresh enough.

Nice looking enough, a copper color with a small head. Smell is nice, a little fruity, but indistinct.

Taste is a big let-down ... it's just ... bland. There's very little obvious malt or hop presence, it's a tiny bit fruity, but very much less so than typical English ales, there's a hint of mineral taste and maybe a little hop bitterness. There's a strong taste of yeast.

But mainly it's just sort of blah, nothing stands out, it's not particularly refreshing, although it's not actively bad. The alcohol is evident, and makes it somewhat less drinkable than it might be otherwise. I drank the whole bottle, but I can't see much reason to ever order another one; hopefully it's better on cask or tap...

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Photo of Drew966
3.23/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Young's Special London Ale pours a hazy copper with very little head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. I just noticed that this bottle is two years past the best by date. I purchased it within the last two weeks at Total Wine in Ft. Lauderdale, so buyer beware. The smell is a little estery. Taste at first is caramel malt, some estery flavors too. Not bad for being so far out of date, but I will have to try a fresh bottle one of these days, if they continue to brew it.

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Photo of Rocko
3.24/5  rDev -18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wow, this brew has a really nice color. A nice clear amber that insist you to drink it all up immediately. :)) The head is frothy light white and quite big. It's abv leaves you warm in the tummy after a few sips.

The nose is quite small imho, but I do sense a slight buttery, citrusy and metallic smell...

The taste is medium bitter, fruity and you can sense little alcohol too. I think the taste is a bit too sweet, it's not sweetsweet but there is something sweet in the background I can't really define that aint really in my liking.

This is a decent brew imho, certainly drinkable, but not something I will come back to regularly.

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Photo of TubaManJack
3.26/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


Appearance- Misty Amber Gold colored body, A very vigorous head and by far the most intense lacing I have ever seen, it makes be honestly wonder how much beer was lost to the sides of my mug.
Smell- A wee bit of spicy hops, the majority of the smell is coming from the herbal British hops and the bottle conditioning. Very limited bitter malt.
Taste- A surprising lack of hop in the taste. A strong sourness from the bottle conditioning. The malt is there. It almost is a complete reverse of what the smell indicates.
Mouthfeel- Medium Carbonation and a moderate body coming from the hops.
Drinkability-I would not go out of my way to find it but its interesting to see compare it with a Non BC ESB. It went down smooth and the ABV is well hidden. Cheers

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Photo of dedrinker
3.28/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A little biscuit and tea. Some fruit. Each sip eludes me, and when I think I am failing to be impressed, suddenly an aroma and flavor arrives that has me breathing in my glass for a while, trying to place the fruit preserve this is reminding me of. Serving temperature is key here - 20 minutes out of the fridge is a good place to start. Having finally reached the ideal temperature in the last quarter of the glass, I suddenly feel duped. I should have waited! This must be what hop-heads are afraid of - having to actually probe the complex subtleties instead of being bashed over the head by the lupulin mafia. Eat a raw clove of garlic with a jalepeno pepper, and you'll be sure to miss the flavor of anything else that enters your mouth. I'm getting a sweet wort and marmelade flavor, with a light cracker element. Time is limited to figure this one out and enjoy it. Young's is history - hurry and buy up whatever is left on the shelf that claims the Ram/ Wandsworth origin. It will be the last time we taste these beers in this life friends.

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Photo of ralree
3.3/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Honey-colored with a white 2-finger head of large bubbles. Head dissipation medium.

S: Smells like crisp apples - very fruity. Some hops lurking in the background.

T: Really fruity and a little overpowering and a touch skunky. Alcohol very apparent. Not a bad taste, but one that you have to acclimate to for a few gulps. Bready aftertaste with a hint of sweet green apple. Has an alkaline taste to it.

M: Overcarbonated, and a little astringent. Not as dry as I would like - a little oily. Medium body.

D: I'll drink it, but I'm not really enjoying it.

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Photo of Quaffer
3.33/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16.9 oz. Bottle. Picked up in Dallas. Not available here in Wichita.

Appearance: Crystal clear, shiny copper. One-finger coarse head with a rough pour. It disappeared quickly, leaving not a trace after a short amount of time. No lacing.

Smell: Sweet and caramel malts and light cracker from roasted malts. Hints of smoke and a definte vinuous quality. It had a very sharp tarntess to it. Became somewhat sour with time.

Mouthfeel: Thin-bodied, crisp, and a little on the rough side.

Taste: Started out wine-like, with dark fruits and light alcohol. Became more tart in the middle. English hops kicked in just enough to balance out the brew and lingered through to the aftertaste. They provided more bitterness than flavor. Finish was very grainy and bready. A lot of maltiness without being very sweet. I like that.

This beer had a few redeeming qualities, but not enough to make me rush out and buy it again. It seemed too dry, wine-like, and tart.

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Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
3.95 out of 5 based on 439 ratings.
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