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: 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 edchicma
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
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 +11.7%
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 +7.9%
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 +1%
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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Photo of beergeek279
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in the 500 mL bottle, into a pint glass. The color was copper, with a foamy white head. The smell was a slight hop and good malt. The taste was a slight hoppiness, with a very strong sweet maltiness to it. Mouthfeel was average. As for drinkability, I could have a few of these.

When I first had this, I thought it was a really weak old ale, but glad to see that it's an ESB, and as such it definitely improved in my mind. Quite good, if a bit pricey, but still something I might have again.

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Photo of ManekiNeko
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass at Dr. Dremo's

Appearance: Clear yellowish amber topped by a thick and creamy white head. After a few hearty sips, the head shrank to a small layer of foam that remained throughout the rest of the glass's comsumption. Thick sheets and rings of lacing were left on the sides.

Smell: Healthy, but not overwhelming, aromas of hops (Fuggles, East Kent Goldings? Certainly British hops) with undercurrents of biscuity and toasty malts.

Taste: Sweet, bready, and caramelized malts. Gently bitter hops on the finish. The hops are quite lingering, too. A few minutes drag time.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth, rather light in body. Very refreshing.

Drinkability: Great English-style ESB. Nice, pleasant, and a great session beer were it not for the price.

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Photo of mschofield
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The aroma hits me even before I checked out the appearance, very fruity with strong toffee.
Pours a crystal clear dark amber (hints of copper) with a three finger light tan head, leaves partial rings of lace.
More examination of the aroma turns up biscuits, toffee, fruit, and butter.
The same notes appear in the taste, with the toffee being most prevalent. Nutty, earthy woody and nicely bitter.
Medium feel, too drinkable for it to be kept a limited edition.

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Photo of WaltTrombone
3.38/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The Millenium Edition, Best by date of Oct. 03.

Poured with a red-amber body, and a light tan head. Malty sweet aroma, plus caramel. Tastes were malt, caramel, vanilla, and clove. The mouthfeel was thin, with a light tangy carbonation. The finish was the most complex part of this beer, with mild orange, cardboard, leather, and grapefruit.

Another tasty beer from Young's, goes down very easy. "Please Sir, may I have another?"

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very well carbonated, the combination of highly carbonated & a low flocculent yeast kicked up the sediment even before I had a chance to pour it. It is touch & go just to open this bottle so that it does not gush all over the place. I am not even sure I will be able to open this bottle. Ok, I finally got it open & I lost about half of the bottle to gushing in the sink. So what are the chances that this is not infected, my bet is nil. Ooo, cool It smells like the unmistakable aroma of Brettanomyces infection (can you tell that I am a Lambic fan). This would have been a common bug in English beers of an era gone by, especially the old and or stock ales.

There is a light fruitiness in the aroma as well as a hint of acidity. I can't believe I am going to drink an obviously infected bottle, am I a beer geek or what. Hell it might be good though in a Lambic sort of way. The beer itself is a hazy copper-red color & is topped by a prodigious tan head. The taste of the beer is only slightly sour but definitely has the musty, leathery, barnyard flavor associated with a Brett infection. Though not bad there is not enough complexity in the base beer to stand up to the little critters. There is quite a bit of hop bitterness in the finish, and there is still a slight malt sweetness in this beer as well. Actually this is quite interesting because I can still taste the hop flavor notes of this Pale Ale, this is interesting because there is not Lambic that I know of that with such a fresh hop character. I am not sure I like this better than a fresh uninfected example, but I certainly enjoyed this enough after I was able to get some into my glass.

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Photo of ToolHead
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

50 cl bottle, served in Gouden Carolus chalice.
Copper colour; moderate head. Assertive and full taste w/ a pleasing, firm hop presence. Complex and layered. Long finish w/ a nice bite to it. The alcohol makes itself known without in any way being dominating.
A well-balanced and quite impressive ale.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured crystal clear golden amber. The head was white and fell back quickly to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with caramel. A slight mineral aroma was present. No real hop aroma was present.

The flavor was malty but with balanced and restrained bitterness. The balance was just slightly toward bitterness, but the balance was well done.

The finish was crisp and dry with a slight and pleasant bitterness aftertaste. The body was medium to medium full. The alcohol is restrained with only a slight warming in the finish making the drinkability good.

16.9 ounce bottle. Best before end Feb 04.

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Photo of beernbbq
4.18/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

In its beautiful 500ml bottle. Pours a beautiful dark yellow (ochre) with a wisp of a white head. Even though my bottle was dated May 03 it tasted fine as it has been refrigerated. MIld malt smell with a gentle floral hop. Taste is easy biscuit malt with that slightly resinous hop and wonderfully dry finish. Pairs with just about any food and has an easy drinkability. A classic.

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Photo of DrunkMcDermott
3.84/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark color, with a malty aroma and taste. Had to give it the maximum points for appearance, because even out of an imported bottle, it looks just right. Comes in with an alcohol bite that's almost like an imperial. Pertty nice taste, though, and if you had some, I wouldn't refuse.

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Photo of GreenWBush
4.43/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer was purchased in a wineshop near Hyde Park in central London, then made it back home safe and sound. It was put directly into the cellar, only to see the light of day exactly one year after it entered.

This long-travelling pint bottle was poured into its proper etched-glass Young's vessel. It kicked up a mega frothy head that soon sank down to a quarter inch of so of marbled surface haze. After settling, all I could think about when peering into the glass was "dishwater froth". The color was copper-bronze with a nice yeast cloudiness. This ESB-type ale left large clouds of lacing on the glass, reminding me of the lucky state of the weather when I was abroad.

Young's SLA had nice bready, sweet tones on the nose along with a slightly sour alcohol smell. I was a bit surprised to notice a slighty barleywinesque note, reminding me of Young's Old Nick.

The full year of cellaring treated this beer quite nicely. Along with the forefront of sweet and bready malt tastes, your tongue finds and is quickly numbed by the classic British hop tastes. I noticed tones of apples and cider in there somewhere as well as a silky harmony of flavors, presumably due to the aging process.

The aftertaste of the beer was the finest part - real ale heaven. I found this beer to be one of the best examples of a bottle reproduced cask-conditioned ale. The mouthfeel was a bit on the slender side, not chewy or hefty, but still rich and almost refreshing.

Overall, a fabulous experience. It was hard to be overly objective because of the good memories, but I did my best. I'm going to go out of my way to pick some of these up in the US and throw them directly into the cellar.

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Photo of Jables
3.59/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an ok ESB, appearance is great and the mouthfeel is nice and creamy. But the smell is plain and uninteresting, and the taste left a lot to be desired. The malt was balanced by some bitterness but not much there. The hops only served to balance with some bitterness, some raisin-like flavors were detected but nothing that I found overly interesting. It is by no means bad in fact the great mouthfeel made this quite a satisfying experience.

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Photo of longpondbeerman
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This ale I had at a delightful pub called Mahar's in Albany, New York on a cold winter evening. It poured a rich, golden amber with a sight reddish tint. The off-white, creamy head, subsided into lacy symmetrical rings around my pint glass. The smell was of green raisens and hops coupled with light malts, and the taste was bitterly juicy with a tinge of grapefruit. The taste held through all the way to a tart finish, and the mouthfeel was, like the head, creamy and bubbly. A good brew.

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with a very scotch like appearance. Orange in color with a scotch aroam to match. Thin white head with rich large bubbles. Very peaty aroma along with dark fruit scent (maybe plum). Toffee and caramel malt up front but definite taste of hex nut also.
Finishes with a pretty alcoholic kick and some bittering.

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Photo of nomad
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An orange color, on-tap this beer's great thin foamy head stays, and shows off some sloppy lace and almost stain. Draught makes this fairly carbonated. Smelled of strong, sweet fruity esters (Ringwood?) but also grapefruit and rough bitter scents, on top of a biscuity malt background. Solid, and definitely more expressive than the bottle version. Taste is very fruity, juicy, and judiciously bitter in a thirst-quenching and inducing way - citric. Bitterness is bountiful and delectable with the balancing juiciness. Has a nutty presence too, and a great body, though it is a little carbonated but easy enough to drink. Calms down to a smooth drink, tasty and wonderful, a great session beer and proof again that British beers are better on-tap.

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Photo of rkhaze
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a golden amber. Huge long lasting rocky, foamy beige head. Left beautiful lace. Aromas of sweet malt, fruits(apricots,peaches?) honey and some yeast.
Sweet malt and fruitiness up front.Finishes with some caramel sweetness and hop bitterness. Nicely balanced beer.
Light in body yet smooth and creamy. Very drinkable ale.
Not my favorite style, but found this one scrumptious.

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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 TheLongBeachBum
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: The usual high quality Victorian style heavyweight relief molded/embossed brown glass bottle. Listed on the US label as 1pt 0.9fl.oz, it started life as a half-litre bottle. The label is very colorful, and describes this as ‘Young’s Special London Ale’ which has a light blue silhouette relief of the London skyline. Listed as 6.4% ABV, Bottle-Conditioned and Best Before May 04 – all the information that the drinker needs – how Civilized.

Appearance: A perfectly lucid light amber–golden copper color. A thick but smoothly compacted ‘egg-white stiff’ dirty beige head forms readily and plays hard for the full 90 minutes and does not require substitution. Conditioning is excellent – just perfect. Excellent presentation which looks “the business” sat in a Pint glass. Note: no cloudiness from the beer in the glass, but a thin layer of yeast on the base of the Pint Glass was evident after the last mouthful.

Nose: A *very* fruity nose, bouquet like at times. Sweet-ish malts, some light breaded caramel odors, and some yeast traits. Tons, erm, Tonnes of fruit in the nose though lends an ESB-like character.

Taste: Smooth, SOoo silky smooth – which is characteristic of many of Young’s beers. Malt dominant to start with, hoppy in the finish, with some raw like hop-leaf character that layers the tongue and linger. Bitter and Fruity at the same time. Perfectly balanced.

Mouthfeel: Solid and full bodied, bags of malts and lots of hops lend a heavyweight strong ale punch with all the dexterity of a fruity ballet dancer.

Drinkability: Dangerous – good Job I did not get a Case of this! Another oh-so typically quaffable offering from Young’s.

Overall: An Award Winning CAMRA Beer of the Year & just sheer Bloody Marvelous, this beer has immense Churchillian character. How Young’s continually come up with such great beers makes me realize that I really need to get back to London, England and drink these beers on my (and their) home turf next year. GBBF August 2004 here I come I reckon.

I have never had this beer before tonight. But this is yet another excellent beer from Young’s, who are one of the best purveyors and bottlers of English Ales that you will ever find. They are a genuine credit to Great English Beer - long may they continue to remain bastions of the Independent London & English Brewer.

Does Not Disappoint.

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Photo of Gusler
4.29/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a crystalline burnished copper color; the head Antaean in size, creamy in texture and the color a beauteous light tan as it slowly erodes the lace forms a thick and glutinous veil to obscure the glass. Nose is rich in the aroma of sweet malt, caramel, a bit brandy like, crisp and fresh, with a slight undertone of ripe banana, start is ambrosial, excellent malt profile with the top rich and full in its feel to the palate. Finish is austere in its acidity and the hops sententious in their spiciness, very long lasting and semi-sweet aftertaste that has just a hint of alcohol bitterness, a real fine beer from one of my all time favorite breweries.

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Photo of Rumrunner
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9 oz. bottle. I like the style of Young's bottles.

Pours a transparent amber. A nice head upon pour but it leaves quickly. Good lacing. The scents are heavy spice and malt. Some sweet buttery undertones find their way out.

The flavors are rich and purposeful. A strong buttery malt starts us off. There is a nice hop bitterness that follows. A crisp fruity flavor persists. A touch of caramel and spice for the finish. Very nice. Excellent flavors that combine for a mellow finish.

The mouthfeel is syrupy and sticky. I like this. A beer that hangs around. A very smooth drinking ale with a nice crisp finish. A nice after taste as well.

Overall this ale fits the mold of a classic.

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Photo of shippos
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very nice light amber hue with a white head and medium size bubbles. wonderful sweet malty aroma followed by some floral hops (fuggels of EKG?). excellent malty mouthfeel that isn't too sweet and a slight hint of butterscotch (Diacetyl?) followed by just the right amount of hops to balance it all out. An absolutely great beer, definetly worth trying again.

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Photo of AudioGilz
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very clear and caramel colored is the beer. The head is small yet thick and sticks. Crisp and sharp hops are in the aroma along with a mellow maltiness. This is hoppier than I expected, and this is a good thing. The caramel, buttery malt flavors are quickly conquered by a solid hop presence. It's so enjoyable to drink and let this caramel, buttery thing start and then have it shoved aside by hops. The mouthfeel is wonderful by the way, with a sweet smoothness. A kick ass ESB here....go buy it.

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