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 oberon
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
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 +12.9%
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 +7.9%
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 -4.1%
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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Photo of Bierman9
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First-time shot at this baby...has a healthy, medium-copper color, with a fine, thin, white head and decent lacing. I get some bready, malty notes in the nose....a touch mild, though.... Mouth has medium body, and fairly smooth on the tongue... More bready, toasty malt flavors...combined with a pleasant, balanced hop finish.... Good brew...nice balance...not too much malt....not too bitter... not bad...Cheers!!

overall: 3.9
appearance: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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Photo of bmills1608
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Monster foamy off white head explodes when poured into an imperial pint glass. Lots of carbonation in that initial pour. Golden copper color, excellent clarity. Nose is a bit alcoholic, strong, with lively British hops steaming forward. It had really quite a hop dominated nose which struck me as a bit unusual for a British beer where in my experience this kind of hop-forward nose is usually more restrained.

Taste is toasted malt, and bready, with a hard sharp brittle edge. Flinty mineral start gives way to a good dose of baked grains and dough. Little to no fruit detected. A good solid earth bitterness follows with some faint alcohol trailing off. Very full flavored and drinkable. The finish is lingering and quite hoppy with some chewy residual grains hanging around. Mouth feel is medium.

A really good brew that takes you off guard a bit at first, but settles nicely. I think the alcohol whiff could be tamed a bit more as I feel it takes away a little from the overall taste.

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

"I say, the grass is different over there, Old Chum."

Just what you'd expect for a British ale--water that twangs like a teapot, a "proper" hop balance, and that jolly-good, beefsteak-buttery diacetyl. Throw in a scrape of wood here and there, for good measure, and there you have quintessential ESB.


RANT: This is a flavor I have yet to find stateside, that's why I say "The grass is different over there...".

U.S. micros take note. Young's is certainly onto:

A) U.S. micro penchant for implementing the term "bitter", literally, by over-hopping their beers, and

B) The average American's disdain for hoppy beers and the term "bitter" which is associated with such beers.

Therefore, to elevate, insulate, and distance themselves from such stylistic abberations, Young's has obviously avoided the term "bitter" on their labeling for U.S. sale.

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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 NeroFiddled
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear, deep amber with a bright-white creamy head that quickly settles into a thin but solid foam which leaves Belgian- lace throughout the pint. The aroma is cleanly malty with some light caramel, and displays the classic house yeast character as a faintly tart and lightly fruity (berries, apple). There's a fairly distinct aroma of earthy Fuggle and Goldings hops. Very inviting. The medium body and fine, moderate carbonation leave it smooth and creamy in the mouth. The flavor is of a semi-sweet, lightly honeyish, bready, and mildly nutty malt (Marris Otter), balanced by an aggressive bitterness and earthy hoppiness. The finish is not as hoppy as might be expected, but long lasting with a gentle maltiness coating the tongue. The alcohol is well hidden within the flavor but tends to make itself known towards the end of the pint. A classic!

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Photo of marc77
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The clear, orange / copper hued brew is topped by a head that quickly settles into a thin, but tight layer. The aroma is an entcing mix of caramel, nutty sweet malt and fruity, almost fig - like fruity esters. DIstinctive, pungent, earthy Fuggles hop nose from the apparent dry hopping. As the volatile hop oils dissapate, a hint of diacetyl beocmes apparent. The hop bitterness is fairly assertive, but is adequately balanced by a firm, lightly nutty Brtish pale base malt backbone and medium crystal malt sweetness. Biscuit flavors become noticeable as the beer warms. The signature Youngs fruity ester profile is quite pleasant and couples well with the earthy fop flavor. Finishes w/ dark toast and residual sweetness coating the tongue. SLA is highly drinkable and flavorful ESB that epitomizes the style.

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Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy amber color, due to the abundant sediment from bottle conditioning, with a thick off-white head and plenty of lace. Rather unique aroma, consists of malts, dark fruits, earthy notes, and a slight herbal or medicinal quality, though this last is quite subtle. The taste is very smooth, with sweet toasted malts dominating initially, followed by fruity notes, and ending with very well-measured hop bitterness and yeast flavors and a smooth mouthfeel. Alcohol flavors are also prominent. Though I know many will disagree, I often find that the use of hops in brewing is rather heavy-handed. Hops should complement a brew and not dominate it, and here they do, playing off well against the strong malt backbone. A fine ale, worthy of the connoseur.

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

Semi-aggressive carbonation that foams quickly when first pouring. Tawny bronze hue with a very faint haze from the yeast, light tan head drops down to a thin lace. Woody aroma with hints of hops and a musty grain showing some faded sugary sweetness. Thick and slick mouth feel, smoothness has to force its way through the viscous body. Juicy fruity and a tad buttery with a thick maltiness which brings a heavy hand of sweetness. Hops are bitter enough to counter the sweetness as well as a spicy alcohol. Ripe fruity flavours throughout. Drying husk toasted grain in the end. An eclectic strong ale that would be better paired with a rich meal than to drink it alone.

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Photo of AaronRed
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Great brew. Nice copper tone, with creamy head. One look at this beer and you just know it is good. Hops delight, but some malty undertones that smooth this beer out. Just a pleasure to drink. Flavor never lets up, as this is a real ale. It goes well with food. Balanced, but with a kick.

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Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bronze color with a nice tan head, good retention. On the nose the aroma was of some breadiness and mild malty notes. Mouthfeel has medium body, and fairly smooth feel. On the palate there is more bready, toasty malt flavors with a balanced hop finish. Good stuff...

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Photo of Suds
3.86/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very well made beer; classic British Ale. Bottle conditioned with a nice English hop character. The beer itself is very clear despite the yeast. Great head retention. The beer's best quality is its apparent lack of flaws. On the downside, it's not a particularly exciting beer. This is a solid bet, I don’t think anyone would be disappointed.

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Photo of Murph
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice golden orange color with a thin frothy head that quickly subsides. The aromas are malty with some slight hop undertones. The taste is of the malted barley with some rather aggressive (for the style) hops working in the background. A nice hop bite for an english ale. The mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy and the brew is nicely drinkable. This beer was a bit surprising as it does have a nice hop character to it that most english ales do not have. If you are just looking for a classic english ale then this is not the one, but if you are looking for a damn fine quality beer then it is a good choice.

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Photo of rastaman
3.1/5  rDev -21.3%
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 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 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 Todd
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: Custom 500ml brown bottle. This is Young's Millennium Edition of the style, previously known as their Export Bitter. Best before 4/2001. Bottled conditioned.

Appearance: Pours with some highly active carbonation which induces a great big foamy, off-white, rocky head with great staying power and stick -- probably one of the best heads on a beer. Colour is a bright amber. There's a thin layer of sediment at the bottom, from its being conditioned in the bottle.

Smell: Has a really soft bouquet with notes of fruit, fresh hops and toasty malts with a slight earthy aroma. Lovely perfumy vapors.

Taste: Smooth on the palate, a bit slick. Medium bodied brew with some chewiness to it. Upfront there's a rather tasty malt character of caramel/toffee and toasted malts that mingles with a unique raw hop presence (leafy and oily). Fruit flavours and some citrus adds a lovely twang of bitterness, especially as it gets a boost from a tingly carbonation that refreshes the palate. It's all artfully balanced with the malt. Finishes sweet with some bready flavours (yeast).

Notes: Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable beers that I have ever had. All the makings of a world-class brew. It's balance is perfection, it's taste is liquid bliss. I got this one on sale at Bread & Circus for $2.99. I have to buy some more!

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