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 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 Garin
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It poured coppery gold, perfectly clear (amazing, considering it's bottle-conditioned...) with a nice pillowy creamy white head.

Fresh hops aroma rises to greet my happy nose. I'm already pretty excited about trying this one. It's fruity, earthy, and rich.

A rich malty flavour, with lots of resiny hops. A citric twang, and a metallic finish. Alcohol is present but it fits in well.

The body is soft and full, with lots of carbonation. Man, this is good stuff. It's not the "millenium edition" but it is a wonderful ESB.

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Photo of avylover
3.74/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This a lighter golden color with a few bubbles rising up and a foamy off-whitish head with some larger bubbles in there. The head did'nt last too long.. This brew actually reminds me a bit of a very low octane barleywine, which is nice, since it's only 6.4%. Smell has the typical english hop aroma.Very nice caramel scent and nice alcohol warmth. Some biscuity malt aroma in there too. Taste is fairly sweet & malty, hence the barleywine refences. Lots of caramel maltiness, and buttery finish. Mouthfeel is a bit sticky but not syrupy. Good beer, but not all that drinkable. A bit too thick for quaffing.

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Photo of Brent
3.92/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I could not find a date stamp on my bottle, but I think it must be fairly new as the label is different from what they show on their website. The label on my bottle was a prominent "SLA." From reading other reviews it seems this beer is a little on the fragile side, but fortunately I seem to have gotten one that is in good shape.

Poured a murky tannish-brown - to be expected for a bottle conditioned beer. Striking aroma of orchard fruits. Assertive flavors of caramel malt and almost over-ripe apple, like a caramel covered apple. Other bright but quite ripe orchard fruit flavors lurked in the background. Slight tartness tended to balance the malty sweetness, with a bittersweet finish. Overall quite a good beer, but suffered a little in drinkability due to the fruityness.

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

Pours with a slightly off-white creamy head that falls on top of clear golden/bronze colored ale. Nose is heavy with fruity overtones...almost a Belgian quality to it. The taste is a firm fruitiness backed by ample malty stealth & a damn near perfectly balanced hoppiness. Finishes smooth with some dryness among the malty flavors...a harmonious paring. Add it all up and you'll get a deliciuously drinkable bitter ale, one of Young & Co.'s finest offerings! Worth looking for, superbly balanced.

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Photo of assurbanipaul
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I can only assume that recent reviews may reflect samples suffering from handling. My dated bottle sample proved nothing less than outstanding.

A fine example -- nay, a perfect example -- of what the ale style should be like. It pours reddish-brown with a medium head and full nose, slightly caramel. The taste is sharp and crisp and clean and perfectly hopped. Aftertaste has a very, very slight trace of malt and alcohol.

An extraordinarily well-balanced ale.

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Photo of SheepNutz
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this one in a 12oz. bottle poured into a Young's pint glass. It pours a reddish-orange with 1 finger of head. There is only a bit of lacing left on the glass. The smell was a little off. You could smell roasted malt, but there was also a sour smell. The taste also is a bit sour. I think I may have gotten ahold of a skunk. There was no best by date to confirm it. What part of the malt I tasted was okay. The mouthfeel was pretty weak as well, and if it was fresh, I'm sure the drinkability would be good too. I'll have to try a fresh one.

UPDATE: New .5L bottle. Very fresh, no skunky aroma. Good smell of lightly toasted malt with a tad bit of honey and hops. The taste was very nice, with light ginger and sweet malts up front, with a slight hops finish. Very nice the 2nd time around. First sample must have been a little old.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.73/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Came in a 500ml brown bottle with freshness date marked on the back label. Pours out with an aggressive foamy whitish head that subsides after a couple of minutes, but leaves an impressive lacing down the glass during the tasting. Nose is ever so faint, light malt, light floral hop, a bit of metal, somewhat boozy. Flavour is balanced, sweet malt counteracted with the floral hops, a slight acidic aftertaste. It goes down smooth considering the alcohol content.

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Photo of cokes
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Foggy copper orange with a short-lived beige capping.
Sweet, malty wafts of toffee, black liquorice and burnt peaches coupled with a light flourish of herbal hops.
Straddles the line between an ESB and an English strong ale. Begins like liquid caramel. Chewy malt load. Loses girth as it warms and becomes lighter and fruitier. Blackberry and raisin sweetness ensues. Turns buttery midway. Breadier too. Smoothed-over coarse grains. Butter tones mix with the malt and turns this into a fluid butterscotch. Lavish and delicious. Ends hoppy, yet subdued with a passive, lingering herbalness.
Real ale, indeed. This tastes like it just came from the cask (even on the eve of its "Best Before" date"). If I ever found this served via the real deal, I'd have to change my pants.


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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 bditty187
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Coppery/bronze hue with reddish highlights, a finger’s worth of off-white head, good retention, and unorganized rings of lace. Softly pleasant nose… fruity, candy sweetness with hints of caramel, stray hints of hops, malt. Inviting. Pleasant palate, fruity with well-placed bittering hops, some caramel notes, malt hints too, slightly sweet. Definitely British. The fruitiness took a few sips before it grew on me… and once it did, what an enjoyable beer. Slick carbonation, medium bodied, somewhat tacky… the aftertaste is a blend of sweetness and hints of bitterness, nice. Another dandy from Young’s, try one.

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Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

***My 300th review***

Notes: 16.9oz glass bottle/Best By October 2002. This beer may have been 'out-dated' but it tasted great to me. This is a higher alcohol offering from Young's and as such it can mature in the bottle, far past its 'best-by' date. This beer poured a crystal clear, orange-amber colour with a nice, white head. The aromas were of bready malt, complex alcohol, and british yeast and hops. The taste was great! A nice combination of malty, bready flavors with a nice boozy hop bite. The mouthfeel was pretty full and well-balanced and the drinkability was great as well. I heard that Young's will be dumbing down this beer. That is a shame. I suggest that if you love this classic Young's ale you should stock up on this Millenium Edition!


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Photo of mickeymac
3.65/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It pours a pretty honey color with a small head that disappears quickly. It has a pleasant sweet smell with notable hop presence. Although the taste is nice, I encountered a bit of metallic taste that didn't mix well with the nice sweetness of the beer. At 6.5%, the alcohol is also noticeable. The mouthfeel and drinkability are decent but nothing extraordinary. All in all, it's a nice beer but I've enjoyed similar selections from Fuller's much more.

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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 tang214
4.09/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This excellent ale pours a deep amber color with a foamy head that remains and leaves a decent lace. The aroma is delicious. It has a very full aroma of pale hops and is quite refreshing. The taste does have some bite to it but just the right amount. The malts leave a sweet kiss that is in perfect harmony with the hops. It is very well balanced in flavor. It has a slightly carbonated mouthfeel but still goes down very easily. Since this is a Millenium Edition it is not for drinking all the time, not to mention it costs $2.50 for a pint bottle, but I would if I could.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought this at the local grocery store in the 1 pint bottle "Millenium edition"..didnt notice until I got it home that it was "out of date" had AUG 2002 approached with some trepidation..
the beer pours a lovely dark amber colour with a small but persistant haed..which very slowly dissapates to a thin lace down the glass.
Very nice malty aroma smell caramel in this.
Taste much to my relief was wonderful..malty as the nose suggested but also quite warming although the alcohol is only 6.4.%..also very buttery after taste which i enjoy ..english toffee in here too..very very nice.
Feels smooth as silk in the mouth couldnt ask for more.
Very very drinkable even at the price i payed..good beer will sample again ..out of date or not this beer keeps well.

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Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.47/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation. Brown Pint bottle, typical of the Young's pint-bottles I've come across. Best before end date APR 01. Sampled on Feb 27, 2003.

Poured a copper/cloudy orange with a very thick bubbly head. Initial smell is of sweet fresh fruit. The initial taste is very tangy, almost has a cider feel. The mouthfeel becomes quite unique, a bit sour and bitter, the cider tastes rest on the palate. The bottle claims a phenomenal amount of hops, but they're not there--at all. After you get through the tangy/sour feel, this becomes somewhat drinkable.

Notes. Picked up for $1.99 at Brandon Spirits, the last one on the shelf--had to grab it! Not impressed by this offering, almost too bitter, lacked the character of a true English bitter ale--but then again, this one is of strong bitter. Still glad I could sample this bad boy!

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Photo of kbub6f
4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A big cream-colored head collapses noisily (and somewhat unevenly). No lacing to speak of, really. The color is orangey-brown and clear with generous carbonation.

The smell is tangy, spicy and very bready. Some slightly inky toffee.

The front is caramel, toffee and apples. Alcohol shows up in the middle (at cooler temps) along with butter, toffee, a full, deep malt and the beginnings of the bitter finish. The feel is foamy but smooth. The finish is quite hoppy, tangy, bitter, grainsy, buttery, fruity.

Awesome! A very malty, buttery, tangy, toffee winner.

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Photo of BeerAngel
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Young’s Special London Ale (Millennium Addition) pours a clear light copper color with a very large cream-colored head. The faint smell of an earthy grain and light hops make up the aroma. At first taste, you notice the creamy mouthfeel before anything else. Then you get the very light taste of faint malt fading quickly into a hint hops. Very light flavored for a heavy bodied brew and it finishes slightly sticky. This is a warming beer even though it’s only 6.4% ABV, and drinkability is affected by this. Still a nice brew, but just once in a while. You can tell this beer is put together well, but it is just comprised of bland ingredients. Young’s can do better. Cheers!

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Photo of Morris729
4.38/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a medium amber color with a very nice thick and creamy white head that fades into a heavy and sticky lace. Nose is lightly toasted sweet malts, floral hops, and a bit of fruit. Fruit flavors are thick and juicy up front blended with sweet malts. Bitter citrus notes and hop resins balance against the sweet fruitiness very nicely. Some dry grainy notes are present in the finish. Medium to full bodied and the hop oils create a slick mouthfeel. This is a very well balanced brew with some of juiciest fruity flavors I’ve ever tasted in a beer. Another winner from Young’s!

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Photo of Naerhu
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ingredients: malts, hops
Nice tan head opaque reddish brown body. Malty earthy nose. Creamy full mouthfeel. Creamy! Slight harsh bitterness on the finish. High alcohol readily apparent. Carmel flavor that just does not come together. Long lasting pleasant flavor.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Along with Fullers ESB my favorite English ale.Great amber color wirh nice thick head,has a yeasty orange-like smell.Nothing bitter about this ale,mellow easy drinking for the alcohol content.Has a slight bitter ending wich compliments this beer greatly.Always savor this when get a chance to get one.

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

Golden-brass color with a tan head and decent carbonation but leaves little-no lace. Aroma is fruity, hoppy and malty. Nice complex balanced flavor, fruity (banana tones?), and light spiciness (malt or hops?). Medium bodied and creamy with a light bitter finish.

** Spicy hop aroma, flavor, and crisp finish when fresher (less malt character). Better fresh. **

Labelled as "CAMRA champion bottle conditioned beer of Britian 1999". Previously Young's Export Bitter.

(16.9 oz bottle for $2.99)

Best before: 12/02 Tasted: 01/12/03 & 01/26/03
Best before: 10/03 Tasted: 01/26/03 **

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Photo of Riggo
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A generously hopped pale ale from Young's that does not disappoint. One of the better imported bottled English ales I've had.

A lovely golden honey-amber color and creamy off-white head with low head-retention. A minerally hop nose with fruity elements of apple. Citrus hops flavors up front, balancing malty sweetness with backnotes of toasted grain. Upon warming, a gentle swirl reveals notes of bubblegum in the nose.

A very well-balanced ale with a stronger hop presence than is perhaps typical for English ales. A quaffable yet characterful and charming ale.

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Photo of jackndan
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Young’s Special London Ale: Big half liter bottle, best before date of July 2003. It pours a nice looking deep amber, just a tiny bit short of pure clarity. The head is whitish, but not much of it. Leaves a thick lacing on the side of the glass. Very nice, very sweet aroma, not unlike candied apples. I didn’t like this after the first sip, but it really grew on me. The initial molasses sweetness fell away, revealing a much more complex brew, with very prominent malts, balanced by understated hops. Very nice beer.

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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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