Young's Special London Ale
Eagle Brewery

Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale
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English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #7
Ranked #7,373
3.98 | pDev: 11.06%
Eagle Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Very Good
Young's Special London AleYoung's Special London Ale
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Reviews: 333 | Ratings: 452
Photo of TheSarge
4.63/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Produces 2.5 finger thick off white head, which forms tightly and lasts a good amount of time. Nice lacing sticks well to the glass. The body is slightly hazy and is amber gold in color.

Aroma is dominated by floral hops, with a hint of spruce/pine.

The taste also leans to the fruity/hoppy side, surprisingly. There is some lemon zest along with a light tea and biscuit taste.

MF is medium in body. Wetting to the palate. Very enjoyable with seafood I'd suppose, rather than the recommendations on the label.

This is a totally well balanced brew and a great hops profile. I'm slowly becoming a fan of these British ESBs.

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Photo of dgilks
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy golden pour with a creamy white head. Good head retention with the one and a half finger head dissipating to a persistent 1/2 cm. Decent lacing.

Aromas of tart pineapple and sweet malt are assertive. Some spicy notes also come through.

Plenty of hop presence is here along with sweet pineapple and some spicing. Alcohol is noticeable along with a strong malt backbone. Slightly buttery. The hop malt balance is quite good here.

Above average body with vibrant carbonation. The carbonation is actually a bit high for style and takes away from this beer's smoothness.

This is a drinkable beer with a good bit of flavour. It goes down relatively smoothly and offers enough to justify drinking it.

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Photo of joe1956
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

50 cL bottle. Pours clear and golden orange with a lacing white head. Fruity to spiced hops and light malty aroma. Flavour is mildly spiced but mainly sweet caramel malt. A light fruity hops note appears before the finish. Goes rather dry and bitter into the finish, mild wood note too.

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Photo of LittleCreature
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - 4.0
Poured a smallish cream coloured head that had good retention. The body is a hazy amber-orange. I just noticed after pouring that the brewery recommends leaving the yeast in the bottle. Oh well.

Smell - 4.0
An aroma that while less intense than that of the fruity, American-style ales, still entices with rich malt, pineapple and spciy hops.

Taste - 4.0
Good. Damn good. This is a strong and tasty beer, smooth, rich and malty with flavours of candied fruit and sweet cakey malt, balanced by a good dose of spicy, slightly steely hops and warming alcohol. There is a faint, savoury ham-like flavour lurking in the background.

Mouthfeel - 4.0
Carbonation is moderate, but a little more lively than I was expecting from an ESB of this strength.

Drinkability - 4.5
For one so strong it is a very easy beer to drink.

OVERALL - 4.05
Not outstanding in any area, but good to great in all. I feel that I am underscoring this beer, it is certainly one of the best ales available in England, rivalling Fuller's for the title of best Extra Strong Bitter.

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

Poured with a finger of off-white head. Retained well and reduced to a very thick lacing for the remainder of the drinking session. Colour was a dark orange amber, slightly hazy.

Smell was malts, esters and floral hops. The esters were on the dried fruit side of the scale.

The dried fruit esters carried on into the taste and blend well with the malty backbone. Ends with a nice floral hops with a deep bitterness at the end. I enjoyed it quite a bit though I found the bitterness a little overbearing towards the end. Not sure if it had something to do with yeast sediment or if my palate just wasn't in the mood for the hops used. I didn't notice any sediment, but it is a bottle conditioned brew. In any case I definitely didn't find it watery.

Mouthfeel was fullbodied for the style and had a nice creamy smoothness about it. Good carbonation.

Went down fairly easily for a strong ale. Not something that I think would be wise to chug down, but you could quench your thirst during a meal with it or savour it depending on your mood. Just got a little bit over the particular bitterness towards the end of the bottle. I do enjoy a nice strong sharp bitterness but this was something different.

Overall quite enjoyable. I'd definitely drink it again.

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Photo of vancurly
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a) Pours a nice pale amber, with a foamy white head, which leaves a sudsy lace as it sinks.

s) Musk candy, lemon. Bready crusts. Slightly briney.

f) Floral hoppiness, sweet spiciness that hints at licorice. Slight nuttiness. Warms into a marmalade citrus profile, sherbie lollies. Medium bitterness anchors it all in place. Great complexity and many interesting points.

m) Medium, chewy body, slight tingly tongue & palate. No hint of alcohol heat.

d) I could drink this in the same way I drink Cooper's Sparkling i.e. all day. A good drop.

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Photo of asabreed
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Best before 10/05/05, so considering this is about three and a half years old, let's see how it holds up.

Appearance: A nice darker amber body, and a good amount of yeast on the bottom of the glass. Some swirls and a pour later, and you have a cloudier version of said beer. Off-white settles down fairly quickly, but it leaves nice snail-like raindrops around the glass.

Smell: A combination of lighter apples and maybe some strawberries in there, maple syrup, nuttiness, doughiness, some grains, and hints of raisins and vinous characteristics.

Taste: Nuttiness and bread start this out, but then it slides into apples and strawberries, some raisins and sweeter malt flavors, ripe strawberry, a bit of biscuit dough, and finishing with some nice hops to curb the sweetness. Long and interesting finish with a lot going on.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and fairly creamy, with the yeast adding a nice bit of grittiness to the body.

Drinkability: Yes, this has held up quite nicely, as I hoped it would. I don't have a fresh bottle to compare, but this is definitely great stuff, and it's probably great fresh too.

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Photo of cavedave
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy medium amber into my nonic. Big beige head despite a careful pour. Sheets of delicate lace cling after a gentle swirl.

Smell is a wonderfully muted mix of sweet biscuit, toffee, and lightly floral bitterness. My favorite style, the smell is nostalgic as I haven't had this old friend in a while. Welcome back buddy. Mmmm.

Taste is a complex mix of biscuit, toffee, flower, and herbs. It plays on the tongue and lasts into a finish that is dry and pleasing. No hint of alcohol, just wonderful flavor that ends in a tantalizing zest of sweet and bitter. Gotta love the British and their long practice at doing this. If I had never tried Fullers I would say this is the best.

Drinkability is probably the best thing. Mouthfeel is perfect, carbonation and thickness exactly right, the best thing about this beer. I could drink this all day, and start tomorrow off with more.

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Photo of TubaManJack
3.26/5  rDev -18.1%
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 BierFan
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is an old bottle from the old brewery, Young & Co.'s Brewery P.L.C. It has a "best before" date of April 13th, 2007, which I think means that the beer was bottled April 13th 2004. Poured from a 16.9 ounce brown bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Big off white head. Clear reddish orange body. Sparse carbonation.

Smell: The smell is mostly toffee and caramel. Smells dry instead of sweet, slight alcohol aroma.

Taste: A lot more toffee and caramel is in the flavor. Pretty malty, little to no bitterness.

I wasn't planning on submitting a review for this because it's an older bottle of a style that's not supposed to be aged, but it was so good even 5 years later that I thought I should let it be known. I'm surprised how well this has held up over time. Thank god for bottle conditioning.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lovely bright golden hue, with a slight hint of haze. Head is a yellowish film of pancake bubbles - some fine, some larger. The lacing is excellent, just what you like to see in an English Ale.

Nice fruit notes and sweetness on the nose - pineapple and a little tropical, with an underlying molasses maltiness and a light bread/grain character. Hint of something dusty as well, a little Fuggley English hop character perhaps. Nice.

Nice initial sweetness on the palate is quickly superseded by a wonderful dark and dusty English hop robustness which clears out any residual stickiness. For me, this showcases brilliantly those English hops, quite a pronounced bitterness, but not quite the sharp resiny or fruity characters of their American brethren. It's deeper and more mellow.

Mouthfeel is smooth on the initial palate but reaches a crescendo of exciting effervescence to complement the rise of the hops bitterness nicely.

Great beer this one. Fabulously drinkable despite its 6%.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown 500ml bottle, best before 31st May 2009, drank mid Jan 2009.

Poured into a standard UK pint sleeve glass.

Slightly cloudy it was a tangerine orange/amber colour with a huge cauliflower head very like the ones seen at breweries on open fermenting tanks.

The yeast aroma from the head was very powerful and it overshaddowed the hops and malt smells trying to get out, very impressive.

A deep, traditional English Ale bitterness, grainy and a good balance of hops, malt and yeast.

Depth of flavours hide the alcohol very well and the whole beer seems to be a well balanced blend of good quality ingrediants.

A very good beer, now one of my favourites.

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Photo of thespaceman
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass

Appearance: Cloudy golden in color, this one poured a nice white head with clumps of lacing. Decent retention spotted as well.

Smell: Nose comes off of some citrus elements, paired with a slightly oiled hop spice, and a tinge of some sweet esters. This ones got a bit of a malty third sense that wants to pop through but is subsided by some stronger hop prescence.

Taste: More of the malt comes into play when it comes to the taste, a light maltiness paired with some hoppy elements is well balanced. Some alcohol is present on the tail end of the finish, slightly grain/grass notes emerge through the malt as well.

Mouthfeel: Fairly carbo'd, a light bodied mouthfeel doesn't make the alcohol stand out too much, but just enough. The maltiness adds a bit of firmness on the tongue as well.

Drinkability: I found this a refreshing ESB that combines a good malt and hop element without going too overboard with one another. It's got a smoothness and a warmness from the esters that is inviting. A must have if you see it on the shelves.

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Photo of Jyubei
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A. Amber body and a 2 in white head.

S. Bitter hops, malt and a hint of fruits mainly apple and slight citrus notes.

T. Bitter hops and a refreshing orange/apple taste with a bitter malt aftertaste.

M. Very slight stickiness and good carbonation.

D. Good brew with a nice taste, smell and head.

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Photo of WHROO
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Orange, gold, little cloudy. nice head with good lacing.
S: Found it florally, with some citrus hops - grapefruit, & some sweetness notes like caramel
T: Didn't get the pronounced hop bitterness I expected, moreso tasted the floral hops...a little musk sweetness, & not too much bitterness to finish.
M: A little heavy & sticky on the palate, but does leave nice fruity flavours.
D: Cannot see a problem drinking a couple of these in a session. Considering its a 6.4% this beer felt lighter.

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Photo of sgoodship
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I didn't drink any Young's when I lived in the UK (shame on me), so I wasn't sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised.

A: Carbonation fired up a nice clean finger width head to begin with but it was short lived and settled down into a nice lacing as expected. It is semi-translucent (hazy) with a little carbonation visible.

S: A quietly lively smell. It came across fruity to me. Some malt and hoppiness but generally understated.

T: It came across fruity to me but not too dominant because as I registered that, I started to get that lovely sugary malted biscuity flavor. It finishes off with a really nice hoppy bitterness but retains some of the earlier flavor and is certainly not a forceful aftertaste.

M: Really creamy and round. Carbonation provides some fresh liveliness to the palette. Medium body - just really smooth.

D: I have to admit, I found myself finding it hard to concentrate on reviewing this beer because I just wanted to drink it and not think about it. It was really delicious and so easy to drink. Even the short half-life of the aftertaste made me want to drink more. I guess there is a complexity to this beer but it is so well balanced - they have taken all the work out of it for the drinker - just enjoy it! I think you could find yourself drinking it down and forgetting the strength - dangerous! It is my new go-to ESB.

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

16.9 oz bottle served in a standard pint glass.

L - hazy orange/gold color with a beige head that left big patches of sticky lacing.

S - sweet malt, yeast and slight earthiness.

T - not quite the hop bomb I have come to expect from American ESB's. Sweet and fruity flavors most of the way through with a very light bitterness after the swallow.

F - medium bodied with a rich and creamy feel.

D - a nice treat but in no way is this a session beer.

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Photo of pleasewearpants
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy butterscotch color with a delicious looking frothy head. Like eggwhites! The nose gives slight hints at the mild sourness to come but a sweet buttery caramel flavor dominates. Slight hints of fruit too!

Nice carbonation - light body with a slightly sour yet pleasant start and finish. Small vanilla flavors vie for attention. This bottle has a bit of creaminess to it whereas in the past I've noticed more sour notes. Maybe I'm getting tired (or drunk!).

Alcohol is concealed splendidly and at 6.4% this is an extremely pleasant beer to drink. One of my favorites. Also works great as a marinade for pork loin!

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Photo of rjimlad
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful deep amber colour with creamy head that stayed for most of the glass. There was a fruity aroma that was quite nice but spoiled a bit by some disturbing detergent character. On tasting I got into the awesome balance of malt and hop, fruity and yeast but there was that soapy thing in the taste as well. I know my glass was clean and rinsed and this sample was within the date stamp so I can't explain this. No other reviewer picked it so think it was this sample only. My wife picked it straight away. Other that that it was perfectly balanced and a classic ESB with all that Fuggly goodness. Carbonation was a bit higher than a normal bitter but perfect for this. Very drinkable. I'll review it again for sure.

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

Deep golden in colour, great clarity and a tall white persistent head. Huge hop profile, earthy and fruity english hops. Strong hop presence in the flavour with some slight oxidised and metallic notes - perhaps this sample hasn't journeyed as well as it could have. Sweet malt profile is complemented by the fruity aspects of the hops. Big full mouthfeel lingers on with enough bitterness to keep it in check. Great balance. ABV is well hidden. Top shelf beer, everything an ESB should be.

Best before date 30/11/2008

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Photo of ajmoody76
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

blah, blah. bought this at the usual spot. poured into an imperial pint. clear light amber. not much head (white). looks like beer.

some fruitiness. sweet malt aroma. earthy. no off odors.

good amount of hops. caramel sweet. kinda sweet aftertaste. good balance.

low carbonation. mid body. tastes good. i was a bit nervous because the best before date was a few months ago. gotta love the turnover at the beer store. would like to drink a fresher one to compare.

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Photo of Pencible
4.26/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured a clear amber with thick light tan head. It smelled like salt and cultured yeast (almost like play-doh) with citrus hops and a light nutty malt. It tasted quite different, like copper hops with hazel nut and apple cider malts, with a bit of citrus hops. It was fairly thick with slight carbonation, and had a moderate bittersweet (nutty) aftertaste. Overall this was a very clean ale with a great classic flavor. Very nice.

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Photo of atis
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh floral and hoppy aroma, maybe some maltiness in the background, but it was not very pronounced. Flavour is spicy bitter upfront followed by malty fruitiness (mostly citrus). Creamy mouthfeel.

I really enjoyed the excellent bittery aftertaste.

Great beer, classic ESB.

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Photo of WillClark
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of 16.9oz bottle into an imperial pint glass a murky goldish amber with a nice head and notes of honey, grass and citrus. Mouthfeel is, how shall I say, velvety- quite smooth and nicely hidden alcohol. Finish is a clean bitter with a little bit of sweetness to compliment. I

This is a beer that I've always loved but never really got a chance to review until now. It's a fantastic beer at any time of year. I've heard some scuttlebutt about it no longer being available in the US in a short while due to Young's and Wells trying to cut cost, but it would be a shame if this gem came off the market.

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Photo of nasty15108
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass.

A - Poured a slightly cloudy orange/amber color. The pour produced a bubbly head of slightly off-white foam.

S - Malty and slightly floral with definite hints of caramel and citrus.

T - Malty with a slight caramel sweetness. Definite flavor of ripe fruit also detected. Finishes slightly dry with a piney/citric hop bitterness.

MF&D - Medium bodied and slightly sticky. Definitely worth trying.

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Young's Special London Ale from Eagle Brewery
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 452 ratings