Barn Owl Premium Bitter
Cotleigh Brewery

Barn Owl Premium BitterBarn Owl Premium Bitter
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English Bitter
Ranked #62
Ranked #28,575
3.77 | pDev: 12.73%
Cotleigh Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Barn Owl Premium BitterBarn Owl Premium Bitter
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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 29
Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.79/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Feb 2019. Purchased a while back from ALDI. The label describes it as a copper-coloured ale with a malty character.

A: Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep coppery-chestnut colour with good clarity and moderate carbonation. Produces a large head of creamy off-white foam that lasts for a few minutes before subsiding to a patchy surface layer. Slight lacing.

S: Aroma of rich caramel malt with hints of dried fruit, mild brown sugar, a touch of molasses, fruity ale yeast, faint roasted grain and stewed hops. Sweet, malty and balanced - lovely.

T: Tastes of sweet caramel malt with notes of toffee, dried fruit, a hint of molasses, fruity ale yeast, mild roasted grain, leafiness and stewed hops. Quite sweet, followed by a substantial bitterness upon swallowing.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with spritzy carbonation and decent body. Lightly astringent. Aftertaste of caramel malt, mild roasted grain, dried fruit, ale yeast and leafy bitter hops.

O: Rather good; it grows on you as you drink. Looks great, while the aroma and flavour are a balanced blend of caramel malt, dried fruit, ale yeast and leafy hops. Well-judged bitterness pairs nicely with the malt character. Decent body. Very drinkable and would probably be outstanding on cask. Worth sampling.

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Photo of crossovert
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle.

It pours a hazy brownish amber with some reddish hues. The head is foamy but soapy and slightly off-white.

The smell is mild. English hops, doughy malt, subtle fruit tones. Earthiness, toffee.

The flavor is pleasant. Breadcrust, some cocoa, dark fruits, almost a tawny wine flavor. Hops come in with some mild herbal notes and a slight bitterness in the finish.

This is a pretty good above-average brew.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich chestnut brown body good show with the head here most impressive 2mm thick tanned affair

Glorious aromas malts and hops and a spritely almost sherbet like note.

Real good balance of roasts and hops and malt a lot of depth slight sweet notes with cinder toffee.
Slight peppery bitterness but not overwhelming rich without being cloying, sweet with losing a bitter tang.

Slightly less full on MF spot on carbonation.

More like a brown ale all in all but damn tasty and a great beer non the less.

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Photo of brentk56
3.47/5  rDev -8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy ice tea brown color with a very modest head; not much retention though it left some streaky lace behind

Smell: Toast and earthy hops; just a hint of diacetyl

Taste: Toasty, up front, with subtle stone fruit and toffee undertones; by mid-palate, the tea-like herbaceous and earthy hops make the presence known and linger into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low carbonation

Overall: Probably a delight to drink on cask in the UK but I have had better bitters on this side of the pond

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Photo of hustlesworth
3.79/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- not a whole lot of foam, but what i have is beige colored, creamy and frothy from a hard pour. the body is a hazy rusty brown with orange highlights and looks rather appetizing topped with a fine crusty network of lace, but a real head would make it much better.

S- toasty and buttery, caramel, toffee, copper, burnt sugar cookies, and a bit of herbal hops with some woodsy and tobacco notes, a hint of cedar, and some milk chocolate.

T- some wet dog at first, before it airs out. i just looked at the date and it says best before 1-1-11... that shouldn't be too much of a problem but maybe it is. overall flavor is mild and toffee like, with a solid toasted malt backbone. hops provide a woodsy, earthy, somewhat grapefruity and tea like bitterness that compliments the chocolate and burnt flavors nicely. finish is mostly clean with some toffee and a lingering bitterness.

MF- initially low carbonation becomes zestier on the swallow. just as good as being zesty on the owl... it's got a juicy body with a pleasant fullness and finishes dry. very drinkable stuff.

D- there's better out there, and i've had much better english brews, but this one isn't so bad and i like the whole label scheme of a different bird for each brew.

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Photo of rarbring
2.87/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer is deep amber and slightly hazy, a very small, quickly evaporating and uneven off-white head. No lacing.

The smell is sweet, nuts and almonds, some sour fruit notes, and a hint of old pea soup.

When it comes to the taste this sample was quite stale and a bit sour. Don't know if something had went astray. Anyway; Some toffee nutty sweetness, slightly sour fruits and a presence of glue.

No carbonation, flat but soft, slightly dry finish.

As said, this was probably not in the best conditions.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brown 500ml bottle, best before end of March 2012, drank fairly fresh on 17th Jan 2010. Poured into an Abbot Ale glass tankard.

Not sure where this came from, but it has an American importers name on it and refund prices for the US, as well as the Government Warning. It must have been intersepted before it left the UK!

What beautiful looking beer! Great reddy, deep rustic brown body, clear and bright. Minute bubbles rising up to the wonderfully formed light tanned foaming head which sits like a crown on top. Good heavy lacing on the glass as I ploughed my way through the brew.

Toffee notes in the nose and semi-sweet molasses from the malts.

The malts rule the taste challenge, the hops only arriving later as the mouth drys.

I thought the mouth dried very quickly, leaving a hop bitterness in the throat. The brewery claim it has "a smooth malty bitter sweet finish" on the rear label, can't agree with that. OK the dryness could be a mix of maltiness and hops combined, but smooth it wasn't.

I liked it greatly, looked and tasted like a good quality product.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #37 (Feb 2010):

What a stellar-looking head on this ale, and with the dull glow of weathered copper when put to the light, this is a truly amazing beer to look at. Thankfully, we don't just look at beer. Ripe apples and a hint of blackberry in the nose ... faint roasted grain and burnt sugar as well. Wonderfully smooth and without missing a step, the quick crispness primes the palate for what the beer has to offer. A bit of body to go around; roasty but mellow. Pressed tea leaves, chicory and dry cocoa nibs come to mind. Nutty yeast with an herbal woody hoppiness join in on the dry finish.

Serious English Bitter lovers should seek this ale out; definitely moreish and most cer- tainly bold enough to pair with exotic cuisines.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.77/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml bottle, best by 1/1/2011. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours a cloudy chestnut brown color with pretty much no head at all. However, there is a good bit of lacing left on the glass. Aroma is bready and sweet malt, nuts and some butterscotch. The brew tastes like bready and chocolate malt, toffee, nuts and a bit of earthy hops. Mouthfeel is medium, it's a bit coating with moderate carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth and goes down easy. This brew seems to improve as it warms, and I let this beer sit a few minutes once I took it out of the fridge before opening it. I think it's a pretty decent overall brew, I certainly wouldn't turn one down.

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Photo of russpowell
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I used to love this beer & other from Cotleigh on cask over in England. BBD of 01 01 2011. Let's see how this bottled version holds up...

Pours an effervescent chestnut with a slight chill haze & a finger of sand colored head. Good head retention & some lacing

S: Breadyness & peara

T: Slight toffee notes, slight nuttyness & pears & plums up front, plus muted herbal & grassy hops presence. Dryness, toasy malt & slight figgyness as this warms. Finishes fruitty, slightly nutty with slight herbal & sulphur flavors

M: Light/medium bodied with minimal carbonation & alright balance

This drnks easy, but a mere shadow of the cask version IMO. Would drink again if offered, but not in a hurry to buy any more bottles...

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Photo of bump8628
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light chestnut with an eggshell colored, loose head of foam.

Some dark fruits coupled with light nuttiness and some warming biscuit malt gives this Bitter more malt character than most I've tried. Hops are pretty even with only a flair of earth and flowers. Soft but plenty full in the mouth.

A nice bottled English ale. I may pick up another bottle while I know it's still fresh at my local shop.

Now that I've tried Cotleigh's Beers of Prey line I can only hope we get a few more of their beers sometime down the road.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A solid English Ale that reminds me of a lighter Hobgoblin, but with more assertive English hop flavor, bitter, and aroma.

A dark copper (nearly brown) color with bright clarity, carries an off-white formitable head with good retainage and lacing. Masculine and dependable in appearance.

Malty rich grains of caramel, almost toffee, and shortbread fill the nose. A pungenty earty, spicy aroma is obviously hop deriven and give balance the the otherwise sweeter nose. Fruity esters put the English Ale signature on the aroma.

Sweeter early with the caramel/toffee malts, the beer fades slowly into a boldy bitter and earthy/spicy hoppiness after mid-palate and only intensifies in the finish and aftertaste. All the while with the soft fruity flavors of apples, plumbs, and other non-descript fruitiness.

Moderate in weight, the beer has a malty-creamy texture early, but the beer sharpens up considerably going into the finish with a minty, grassy hop taste/bitter, leading with an almost grainy flavor and feel.

A solid English Bitter with a bit more weight and heaft than most- somewhere between an English Brown Ale and an English Pale.

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Photo of Brysky
3.12/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

ST- 500ml bottle poured into a glass

A- copper in color with almost no head, the little head there was, is a off white color.

S- light chocolate smell, nothing to special

T-darker copper in comparison to sea hawk but very similar in taste, chocolate light malt. little more hops though.

M- easy on the mouth, nothing to special

D- low ABV so can be a session beer, yet again nothing to special.

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Photo of jkrich
4.27/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown 500 ml bottle with a freshness on side label. The ale poured a slightly opaque, brownish, copper with an off-white head.

Unique sweet and refreshing malt aroma; a little tangy as well.

This english bitter proves how a beer can be malt dominant while remaining extremely refreshing even as it warms. The taste has some faint toffee and semi-sweet chocolate that is nicely balanced by english hops. The faint fruity flavor brings everything together.

Low carbonation with a medium body: A little thick in the mouth with some refreshing fruitiness on the tongue.

It is always surprising how complex these english ales can be for so little alcohol. This would be a fine ale to accompany food. I would purchase more english ales despite the higher cost if they were packaged better. That is, not in clear bottles with no freshness date.

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Photo of Cresant
4.13/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured this 500 mL brown bottle into a Sierra Nevada Hops glass. Dated best before: 01 01 11. The deep garnet-caramel color was clear of sediment. The modest tan head dissolved to whisps.

Smell was light syrupy malts. Hints of molasses. Much more bready as it warmed. Whole wheat crust.

Taste was flinty. Nutty and fruity. Some mineral sharpness. Walnut like gentle bitterness. There was a lingering grassiness. Apple peel. As good as this beer is I do prefer the Tawny Owl by the same brewery.

Mouthfeel was smooth and medium in density. Lightly/adequately carbonated.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.63/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another bitter from Cotleigh set in a 3-pack. This one is a bit different, no honey with this one. Pours a light chestnut brown, amber. Seems a bit cloudy. Dense foamy head, semi-thick, that brought out the body color nicely.

Aroma of caramel, roasted malt, some light tobacco (?) and very faint pine and citrus.
Taste is just like that, too. Nothing dominates, but a nice blend of caramel, some chocolate if I think about it, nutty, faint pine and some florals.
This one doens't have quite the bite as the other, but is still crisp and nice drinking.

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Photo of oberon
3.91/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First that I have seen of this English Brewery around my parts.Poured into a nonic a rich amber/bronze with a clingy one finger white head that had great lasting power.Fruity English malt aromas with a bit of biscuit, and caramel,a passing leafy hop presence is there but its passing.Malt driven but quite nice,toasty with lighter caramel sweetness,a decent amout of fruitiness comes into play as well.This is a quaffer no doubt,Iam like big hops but I really like this beer,a true session ale to be had.

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Photo of brewbasterd
4.2/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber brownish color with almost no head and extremely light carbonation, almost flat. Caramel, toasted grains and earthy notes on the nose with what seems like a hint of cocoa? Dry malty biscuity tastes with a decent amount of bittering hops, a hint of sweetness mixed in there also. Light to medium body, slightly crisp and a dry finish. Very drinkable and with low carbonation can be consumed in excess, good example of this style.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2nd bottle of the Birds of Prey series sent to me by TATTORSO. You rule, Jeff!

Aha...astronomy crept its way onto the label. Gotta love that.

Best by 01/01/2011

This pours darker than the Tawny, a deep reddish brown with over a finger's worth of billowy foam but minimal lacing. has a great look in my glass.

Taking some whiffs, it has a nice mix of roasty and biscuit malt, and nutty notes with some hoppy bitterness on the back end. A different nose than the Tawny but again, quite nice.

My first sip brings the nicely not overdone biscuit flavour, a nice subtle nuttiness, a flavourful presence of hop bitterness that's hard to classify...not really citrus pine or grass, just plain old bitterness and it works for me.

Smack dab in the middle of everything that is going on is a very tasty addition of toffee! Wow, what a fine dimension it brings to the taste of this Bitter. I'd say if it wasn't there, the balance of Barn Owl wouldn't be where it is and that would be a shame. I'm loving this English Bitter!

Medium bodied with low carbonation, this is such a smooooth beer and going back to appearance, the foam and lacing continue to shine.

Drinkability? It is 4.5%abv, which technically isn't within sessionable beer territory, but I can't sense any increase in the alcohol vs the 3.8% Tawny which I had earlier. To me, this far outshines its lighter weight brother in every way but please don't shy away from trying any Cotleigh brew you can find. The 2 I've had so far are emminently drinkable. Sadly, only 1 more to go.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours ruby brown with dense rocky off white head that clings and takes ages to fade. Nose is chocolate, brown bread and hazelnut. Toasty nutty malts with cocoa earthiness in back followed by a tea leaf and kola nut sting. Prickly carbonation, finishes dry, medium body.

The malty end of bitter, but balanced and not sickly sweet. I could drink more than one.

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Photo of kmacphail
4.27/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sampled this from a 500ml bottle purchased from the Tesco at the Inverness retail park.

The beer poured a copper bronze colour with a slightly off white head. This was a bit on the thin side but it did show decent retention albeit only a 1mm film.

The nose was of malts, toffee, oats and a biscuit note. The taste was initially dominated with malts, but this is then followed by a hoppy after-note and a sampling of biscuit and nuts. The overall aftertaste was rather dry, slightly odd for this type of beer. The mouthfeel was medium-heavy, about right for this type of beer.

I would definitely drink this again should it become available. At 4.5% this is a realistic beer to stick to all night, however it is a lucky punter that finds a pub selling this classic English beer.

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Photo of Sigmund
4.03/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500 ml brown bottle, courtesy of Cardinal pub, Stavanger. ABV is 4.5%. Copper coloured, large and lingering creamy light tan head, leaves a nice lacing. Very nice aroma of toast, roasted malts, burnt caramel, orange marmalade and aromatic hops. Powerful flavour of roasted malts, burnt toast, caramel, brown bread and nuts. A distinct hoppy and roasty bitterness in the finish and aftertaste. Not a beer of the "easy drinking" kind, but has definitely character. I might have liked a tad more sweetness to balance the bitterness, but this is still an excellent beer. As the beer warms up, the malts come even more in front, and the bitterness is somewhat less dominant.

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Barn Owl Premium Bitter from Cotleigh Brewery
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 29 ratings