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

very good
441 Ratings
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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Ratings: 441 |  Reviews: 329
Photo of PatandDavid
3.38/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Redbones. Pour when served was a brown amber color, no head. Clean aroma. I thought the initial taste sensation was of a tingly mouthfeel that goes into malt. Medium bodied, there was some hop astringency towards the end that made your mouth water. I also thought the finish had a slight alcoholic note, and looking at the abv, I think I know why.

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

Had on tap at Toronado in San Francisco and in the bottle.
Young's SLA pours to a rich deep honey rust color with a stunning tinted head. The smell is unique, malty and rich. Although this is an ESB, the bitterness was present but subdued, really giving way to a rich bready malt flavor with a bitter hop back. The after taste is reason enough to drink more. This would be an ideal session beer, it goes down smooth and gives plenty of warmth. Definitely one of my new favorites.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Muddy Pig: Rusty orange-brown, a bit tarnished, thin creamy off-white cap, light lacing capabilities. Aroma is all malts, a large display of toffee tang and subdued dark caramel with some richer honey and butterscotch candy notes. Taste is a wholey large malt base. Smooth and rich display of toffee and darker caramel, darker and bolder tang found here then with some. Subdued and rounded malts, eager though with a barely there hop of wet grass. Ensued chewy aspects in its body and feel, smooth and creamy with a large malt proflie. Somewhat bready as well and a great full and malt laden rich body feel. Not as bitter as one would think an ESB would be, but as it stands, its a very interestingly nice beer on-tap. Glad to have tried it and will probably again.

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Photo of cypressbob
4.03/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle

Pours with an amber body, not too dark, full, slightly creamy head forms, half decent retention

Smell, slight musky malty aroma, nothing too strong, fresh hoppy aroma, almost smokey aroma also

Taste, dry musky and slightly hoppy, malty body and biscuity body and aftertaste

A good ale, the young's equivilant of fuller's 1845, not as good by any stretch of the imagination but still, a very respectable brew

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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 CAMRAhardliner
4.87/5  rDev +23.3%
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 beertaster13
4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark reddish and turns lighter towards the bottom of the glass. The off white head is outrageously gorgeous. Huge lacing will slide down the glass. The smell is stong toffee and butter. Oak and caramel are present. The taste is very thick and filling. A nice bitter citrus hop is present followed by a nice thick buttery sweet maltiness that will keep you coming back. This is a full bodied thick ale. Very drinkable and very good. One of the best I've had in a while.

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Photo of Cwrw
4.37/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Opaque light orange, nectar honey brown, sometimes rose/pink-coloured, sparkling, but with the yeast poured it is thick and foggy, dullened, flat. The head is very good for an ESB, bone-white, fine-bubbled foam, and creamy lacing. For its style I think it poured with an unusually massive head, but I am not complaining. The aroma is spicy yeast and hops, with caramel malt. The spice hits the nose with strong herbal and peppery smells immediately. Butterscotch, cream, nuts, much vanilla, light candy sweetness, with detectable alcoholic notes. Pine needle or tree-like hop character. The aroma reminds me of vanilla ice-cream, and is very mouthwatering. The taste is caramel on the front, and deliciously bitter on the middle and finish. The aroma did not suggest THIS much hoppy dryness in the taste. On the front you can taste the numerous fruity sweet yeast sensations: raisins, maple syrup, cinnamon, tapioca, and caramel. Phenolic finish along with the dominant grassy aftertaste. Mouthfeel: high carbonation, full bodied, and gaseous. The dryness with the gaseous carbonation make this an ale to consumed slowly and occasionally. A champion of ESB, this one is not to be missed.

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Photo of gentlebubbles
3.6/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap at the Horseshoe

A golden ale with a layer of white foam on top. I don't smell much, just a faintly sour scent of cut hay. A sharp bitterness cuts through a mild appley malt. Served too fizzy and cold, but it was gone before it could warm up properly.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
3.62/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one poured to a copper color with a creamy tan head. The aroma is spicy, peppery, bready, and malty. The flavor is spicy, bready and malty. It is medium in body and well balanced. It has a slight drying hop finish. Not too shabby.

Sampled 3/20/04

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Photo of studentofbeer
4.45/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a fantastically clear and rich orange, with a short two finger head. Lots of fruit in the nose — apple, lime, orange, as well as some breezy hops.

It smelled good and tasted great. One thing about good English ales is the subtlety and balance they strike. The beer had plenty of fruity malt backed by a full-flavored hop bouquet. Garrett Oliver has described certain English beers as having a maritime quality, and the seaside (though not quite with the recollection of seafood but more a distant salty, earthy whiff) definitely showed up in the delicate sweetness and balanced hop load of the beer.

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

The SLA pours a nice orangeish color with a very well produced head that laces very well. The smell is very dough like and sweet with a hint of carmel.
The taste is very smooth with a nice sweet start that is malty and finishes with a bite of hops in the end. Very well balanced.

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Photo of claytri
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a brilliant Old Gold with a small amount of effervesience. It had a fine malty and hoppy aroma with a hint of cherry. The taste is mellow and malty with a touch of cherry. It has a smoothe finish with a bit of hoppieness to it. The feel is slick and oily. A very enjoyable beer with a distinct flavor, and a bitter aftertaste.

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Photo of BierManVA
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A nicely aromatic ESB that does not scrimp on the flavor. Bottle conditioned, this bier pours nicely with just the right amount of carbonation. Some other ESB's I find anoyingly flat.

A crisp and slightly hoppy nose give way to a smooth and mellow flavor of hops, wood and wait, I can hear the croud buzzing and the thump of the dartboard in my old pub on a tuesday night!

Ah yes, the memories of a great bier.


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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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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.5/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Young's Special London Ale

Appearance- a copper/ caramel with a nice white head. Head dissipated quickly.
Smell- malty and bready with a little tanginess.
Taste- malty with a little hop kick to boost. tasty with a nice little bitter bite in the end.

Overall- a nice ale that would go great with a meal. Not spectacular, by any means, but I would recommend.

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

On opening, you instantly get a whiff of this beer's hop bouquet. Hello British ale! Smells like my homebrew dryhopped with Fuggles and EKG (probably the Fuggles). Also with a sweet smell.

It comes out a copper-orange color just a shade more yellow than Fuller's London Pride. Brilliantly clear. No sediment although it is bottle conditioned. I poured it hard and got 3 inches of head in my imperial pint glass. The head dropped to half an inch over a few minutes to a slightly off white cake sitting on top of my beer. The lace was less impressive though. The head was sweet and full of hop aroma.

On tasting, there is moderate to strong wave of carbonation to get through. It comes with a firm hop bite (Fuggles again?). The hop flavor begins reminiscent of my EKG/Fuggles homebrew, but it takes a turn and I get a lot of woodsy/piney hop flavor through the lingering bitterness. I wonder what hop mix is responsible... The bitterness is balanced by sugar. The backbone is caramel. I get vague fruitness. No bread or toffee, but I do get some toast at the end. Syrup coats my mouth as the bitterness fades.

Medium to full body. Warmth. I'm feeling the alcohol pretty quickly.

Gets better as it warms. Every swirl releases that gorgeous hop bouqet; how could you get tired of that. Awesome British ale.

hop character either decreased or my perception of hops has changed. English character of malt and yeast gives this a refined taste and mouthfeel. Malt is complex but understated. Alcohol is prominent but works well. Still very enjoyable. Very different from my usual choices.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wonderful hoppy aroma is evident as soon as you open the bottle. Poured slowly into a nonic pint glass. Color is dark amber with a one finger head that dissipates fairly quickly. Taste is floral at the start with a touch of sweetness. Ends with a nice hop bite with some bitterness, but not in a bad way. Alcohol is surpirsingly warming. Did not quite expect that from this beer. Mouthfeel is par for the course in this style. One of the more exciting offerings from the UK in my opinion. I'm going to buy a few to cellar for a year or so. I've never been able to resist popping one open within a week or two of buying.

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Photo of Zorro
3.79/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear copper red brew. Very clear for a bottle conditioned brew. A really pleasing to the eye brew.

Smell is fruity with mild malt.

Tastes is a pleasant mild malt flavor with mild but complex fruitiness. This is a mild mannered brew that you could serve anytime.

Mouthfeel is good; carbonation isn't a big factor in this one.

A mellow chill out brew. I read some of the other reviews here and I think this is a brew that changes a lot as it ages.

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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 Doiv
4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle conditioned. Deep Honey colour. Good lacing leaving little beads on the glass. The head is creamy and perfect. Just going by looks, this is my ideal bitter.

The aroma is hoppy with a small hint of limes. The caramel flavour along with its a citrussy accompaniment are very apparent, with gingery or cinnamony tones to give it a nice little kick. Vanilla can also be detected. Yeasty aftertaste and goes down well. It might be a little difficult to stomach after a few bottles, but nice as a good tasting beer. Well done Young's!

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

Nice light appearance...decent head with good lacing. Faint hoppy and citrus smell that was not overly impressive. Taste was slightly sweet with a very nice bitter finish. Mouthfeel was light to medium with a nice hoppy finish that was refreshing. Very easy to drink..for the abv, very easy to quaff.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
4.4/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

16.9oz brown bottle.
It pours a deep amber color with a medium-sized off-white head and some trails and sticky lace.
The aroma is a harmonious blend of lightly roasted malt and citrus hops, with a faint smell of tea in the background.
The full malt body has flavors of fresh bread dough and sweet caramel.
A delightful taste of fresh flowery hops.
This is a rich and complex brew, though all of the flavors are reserved and subdued. Well balanced! Very tasty and the flavor lasts!

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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 filabrazilia
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear light copper with a fluffy tan head. Excellent lace.

Subtle malt aroma mingles with a subdued hop essence. I would have liked the smell more assertive.

There is a nice bitter finish to the smooth malty sweetness. This is a weel balanced flavorful beer.

This is a medium bodied beer that has a great hop finish. The hops loiter on the tongue well after the beer has left your mouth. The carbonation is excellent and this is a nice beer.

I really was impressed with this beer and would love to try it again.

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Young's Special London Ale from Wells & Young's Ltd
3.95 out of 5 based on 441 ratings.
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