Past Masters XX Strong Ale | Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

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Past Masters XX Strong AlePast Masters XX Strong Ale
Very Good
Past Masters XX Strong AlePast Masters XX Strong Ale

Brewed by:
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 33 | Ratings: 44
Photo of CanuckRover
3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bright amber with a light head, couple fingers thick off a careful pour. Slippery lacings.

Aroma is all near-burnt caramel with a noticeable alcohol.

Bread pudding up front, starts to change as the heavy malt mingles with the yeast we all know and love. Result is fresh orange, but slightly candied. Bittering hops take over at the beginning of the end, with warm alcohol closing things out. Surprisingly juicy finish.

You're always in good hands with Fuller's. That said, not many surprises here. Definitely in the same vein as Pride, ESB, Vintage, etc.

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Photo of bark
3.59/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The colour is dark amber (30 EBC), the liquid is clear. The three finger head is beige and compact, good retention and some lacing.

The smell is malty with toffee, treacle and some alcohol. Biscuits, and fruit candy. It is a bit thin with some chemical hints in the background.

The taste is at first a bit porter-sour with some bitter notes. Hay and dried flowers from the hops. Caramel and toffee. It is somewhat thin for the style and strength, perhaps that is historically correct? Medium body. Prunes and hints of raisins in the aftertaste, together with some red berries. The finish is very malty with some dusty notes.

The carbonation is light, the small bubbles fresh and short-lived. The liquid is mid-smooth.

As said earlier, it is a bit too light. Apart from that this is a very pleasant and very English ale.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ochre deep amber colour head quickly disappears but leaves pretty enough white bubbles.

Muted floral notes combine with liquorice hints on the nose aromas rhubarb, Christmas cake, peaches and nectarines.

Tastes give hints of cherry cola, burn't sugar peppery bitterness leaves the mouth but not a heavy aftertaste the alcohol is noticeable but not overbearing.

Not heavy going and nicely carbonated.

Well rounded and balanced stops the 7.5% being sickly and makes a great end of the night ale.

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Photo of Ruds
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a snifter glass to a light copper brown colour with a very small white head. The head vanished without trace in a minute or two leaving but a few bubbles atop the beer!

The nose is all about dried/matured fruits. Dates, figs, sultanas maybe a little almond in there? A sweet alcohol aroma is present but in no way excessive! Also a lingering toffee/caramel note.

The taste runs fairly parallel with the nose in the dried fruit scenario. A sweet malty flavour also comes into play allied to some subtle hopping and a little caramel.

Mouthfeel - this beer is a little over carbonated for my liking with a good medium body.

Overall a good strong ale from Fullers, well balanced in terms of flavour and strength, no real sense of 7.5% when drinking. It is just let down a little by the carbonation in my opinion.

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle. Pint glass. Enjoyed on sep´11. Reddish copper in color. Fairly clear appearance. Yellowish white froth. Slowly dissipated head leaves some lacing spots. Moderate malt aroma with orange zest hues. Malty, slightly citric flavor. Subtle hoppiness & bitter mouthfeel. Gentle warming sensation. Medium body, moderate carbonation. Dry finish & rough orange aftertaste. Good company in cold weather.

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Photo of BGDrock
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes:

Appearance: amber colour; very slight mist; head fades fast

Aroma: grassy, hops come through strongly; some sweetness of citrus fruit (orange)

Taste & Mouthfeel: creamy, slightly fatty texture; butterscotch; bitter but not in a hoppy way; good carbonation and great balance

Overall: pretty straightforward flavour, but very well balanced - great play between bitter and rich maltiness; very interesting texture

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Photo of BBP
3.86/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours clear chestnut with little in regards to head or lacing.

The aroma is fairly malty with a hint of raisin and some hop spiciness.

The flavor is somewhat consistent with Fuller's other offerings with a nice boost to the intensity. At the same time, it's still remarkably smooth. The sweetness is in the front, but the majority of the flavor is in the bitter foundation. Hops are always slightly present and the malt seems well integrated.

The body is moderately full, and somewhat heavy. The finish is dry and slightly sticky.

Overall, this was a solid addition to the fullers lineup. It definitely opens up nicely as it warms up. I can't say this is one of my favorite strong ales, but it was made well and completely worth picking up.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep amber color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma consists of deep caramel malt with semi-sweet notes with light floral undertones. Taste is dominated by a solid malt backbone with a nice touch of semi-dry caramel malt with floral notes and light dry English hops. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed with a solid malt backbone from a brewery whose malt presence is always to my liking.

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Photo of mintjellie
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Burnt orange colour with light haze. Massive white head has nice retention and lace. Nose is toasted bread, caramel, orchard fruit, raisins, and alcohol. Its flavour is malty and sweet with lightly toasted bread and caramel notes. There is a big complementary ripe and juicy nectarine character, with lighter sweet apple and raisin tones. Black tea and moderate bitterness in the lingering finish. Medium-bodied with low carbonation. Very smooth, lightly syrupy, very mild alcohol warmth. Bold but approachable flavour and lovely mouthfeel, but not quite as good as the Double Stout.

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Photo of Sammy
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours peachy body with one-quarter inch of retained head. Malty aroma. The taste is malty, a bit fruity, with a bit of alcohol in the finish. Only OK drinkable. A pint is too much to more than sip and nurse over a long period. Average mouthfeel. Appropriate, if not a bit over carbonated. LCBO.

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Photo of NForr
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a beautiful dark auburn color, with a small soapy head. Slightly foggy but pretty translucent.

Smells of spicy hops, raisins, strawberry. Some citrus. Lots of caramel. Also some alcohol.

tastes of caramel, slight sweetness, lots of alcohol - but in a good way. Warms as you drink, but also good drinkability.

Mouthfeel was a nice rich full body.

Enjoyed this one quite a lot. It felt a lot like an imperial IPA, but without the heavy bitter punch. It had the richness you find in an English ale, but more complex. Very well balanced.

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Photo of biegaman
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

XX Strong Ale has a golden bronze colour that, despite its brightness and clarity, was evidently not filtered and makes no secret of its bottle-conditioning. Its deep tone suggests little malt was spared and its ability to hang on to the cottony head that formed off the pour is further evidence of more than ample grain use.

The aroma is at once malty and yeasty, falling somewhere between a classic English ale and a typical Belgian offering. It has a wealth of big, bold, bready caramel malt but also plenty of ripe fruit esters, most notably the enticing scents of apricot jelly and golden raisin. Altogether it smells almost like a Calvados-infused apple crumble.

XX Strong Ale drinks like liquid bread. The flavour is not exactly complex, but with bready caramel malt and a substantial hop presence it is, however, quite gratifying. Notes of apricot, golden raisin and under-ripe pear turn up big on the palate. It has a great deal of leafy, earthy Noble-hop flavor with hardly more than a hint of bitterness.

Come for the yeast, but stay for the malt. Rare is it for such a pale beer to have such complex malt flavors. It bears repeating: they've obviously used a lot of grain. Even at 7.5% this is an incredibly refreshing, approachable ale, and dry enough to be invigorating. If you like 1845, ESB, London Pride or Vintage Ale, then this is a no-brainer.

The brewery is right in calling this a "deeply satisfying...experience for those who love traditional English beer". There's just something distinctly British about it; a beer like this can only come from a classic brewery like Fullers. The fact that you also get to sample a delicious piece of history with this rustic, robust beer is an added bonus.

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.19/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

look ~ pours a light amber colour, which is really nice. Head is good: cream coloured, soapy in texture, rises pretty large (about three fingers) off a hard pour, it falls a little quickly without any lacing. There is a bit of haze, though not fully opaque.

smell ~ very similar to a nice strong english pale ale (a little like to abbot ale). Lots of fruit (dried apricots) in the bouquet, which blends pretty nicely with some sweeter caramel tones with some biscuit/breadcrust as the support and a hint of something that seems a bit like kettle caramelization. Floral/earthy hops and some hardwater finish on the end. No real alcohol heat.

taste ~ pretty similar to the aroma in the fruity-malty balance it strikes. The malt has the same biscuit/breadcrust backbone with the same melanoidin (dried apricot) flavours and caramel. The more burnt kettle caramelization is a bit more obvious on the palate. The hop profile also makes a stronger appearance: similar floral/earthy tones, with a good helping of bitterness. This, and some carbonate water taste, balances the malts really well.

feel ~ fairly light body and higher carbonation. There's a lasting feel of cloying sweetness and alcoholic warmth that wasn't really all that good.

Came off as more of a strong pale ale that it's own thing (admittedly, I don't have much experience with British style barley wines). It was deep and complex, but the long alcoholic and cloying finish kinda threw off a good thing and really hurt the drinkability more than anything else - other than that, very good!

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Photo of jwhawkins81
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tasted on 2/1/2011

Aroma - Caramel and fruity esters with very British sweet aroma overall. Slight alcohol note in the nose too.

Appearance - Golden amber with plenty of carbonation. Poured gently so not much of a head.

Taste - Sticky and not exactly malty sweetness but morish. Notes of bitterness but not a "bitter." A balance of flavors neither sweet nor bitter, definitely not bland or even one-dimensional. Alcohol isn't hidden but only plays a light part in the flavor. A subdued British beer with a muddled bitterness and a touch of alcohol.

Notes - lots of carbonation and a thick mouthfeel. While I can't say I loved this beer I did enjoy the experience which I think is the whole point of this beer. One of the bottles I brought back from the brewery.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best before end of 2013. Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Medium translucent orange/amber colour with half a finger of bubbly off white head that quickly receded to a ring around the glass.

S - Caramel, toffee, floral notes and a noticeable hop bitterness. Fairly sweet overall nose despite the hop presence.

T - Sweet caramel and bready malts with a hint of toffee are the dominant flavours. A pungent hop bitterness is present as well and it cuts through the sweetness a little bit, somewhat balancing out the flavour profile. The finish is bitter with some floral notes.

M - Medium body; light to moderate carbonation.

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Photo of Stocean1
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a two finger off white head upon a deep mahogany body, lots of big bubbles and thick lacing.

Sweet malt, plum, floral hops and dark fruit in the nose.

Taste follows the nose with caramel, sweet bread, orange peel and some ethanol as it warmed. Some of that earthy mineral twang I get from all fullers ' brews. Well, well, balanced.

Medium body with some carbonation this is very smooth for the style and incredibly well balanced which is the best characteristic of this brew.

Overall,another Fullers' brew that hits all of the right notes and I will be sad to see it go in a month or two. A spectacular price (3.75) for such a high quality strong ale.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fifth and last bottle from the LCBO's Fuller's bottled release. Based off an 1890's recipe, and utilizing a malt that has seen limited brewing use in over a century. Without knowing the hops (the old recipe did not specify), the head brewer went with Goldings.

Poured into a nonic. Light copper-tawny, with a slight haziness to it. Big bubbled inch of head, some lacing, a thin ring survives.

Nose is boozy and sweet, with notes of fruit, caramel and bread. Like the Golden Pride, this one has a bit of a barleywine feel to it.

Tastes pretty nice actually, though certainly quite sweet. Nice and fruity - I get peach and plum - caramel, and a fine bready character. The hops are tart and pure Goldings. Body is like a thin barleywine, slightly oily, and lower carbonation.

Not as robust as I would have hoped, but I prefer my ales a bit sweeter than most, so I quite enjoyed this. Perfect for a gross cold rainy day in Ontario. Great end to a terrific winter release!

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Photo of jrenihan
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Best Before "End of 2013"

Beer is caramel/amber in colour, with a moderately large off-white head. Dissipates at a moderately quick pace, leaving a bit of sticky looking lacing.

Nose is full of caramel malt, pretty heavy smell. Some fruit in the back, plum and raisin. A light hop smell is present as well, characteristically English- floral and woodsy.

Taste is similar to the nose. Caramel and bready malt, plum and raisin flavours, some woodsy and pine hops. Quite balanced between sweet and bitter. A bit of alcohol. Has a bit of a barleywine flavour.

Medium to full bodied, moderate carbonation.

Overall, pretty enjoyable but not great.

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Photo of bryehn
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice coper-amber colour with a light honey-like tone. The moderate head is tan coloured and leaves some spotty lacing before settling as a thick collar.

Syrupy dark fruits, toffee, biscuit and roasted malts all come through in the aroma. It takes a good hour for the ale to really open up.

Sweet caramel flavour with an earthy and grainy body. Dark fruits, chocolate and a dry, peppery spice note as well. The finish is crisp and bitter.

Full-bodied mouthfeel with a medium carbonation level. Syrupy and oily on the tongue, but it still has a bright pop to it. The aftertaste has a syrupy fruitiness and more than a hint of alcohol.

Surprisingly muted and uncomplicated for a strong, bottle conditioned ale, it simply isn't as robust as I'd expect. Still a fine strong ale, but both 1845 and Vintage Ale from Fuller's are better.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.44/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a gorgeous glowing rust color. The creamy off-white head quickly collapses to a thin foam but drapes the glass in lace. The aroma is of stewed fruit and rum cake. The alcohol kick is also quite evident in the taste. Bready malts and treacle mix with berry notes. Some earthy hops lay far in the background. The mouthfeel is full bodied and moderately carbonated. Some bitterness and fruit are noticeable in the finish. Alcohol is very prominent throughout for 7.5%.

This is an OK strong ale, but there are far tastier ones in the Fuller's line. Try 1845 or Golden Pride instead. The alcohol is immodest in this and the overall character is too sweet for me.

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Photo of Kartoffeln
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep, clear tawny amber with a fair-sized head of fluffy, light tan foam. Solid retention, dissipating to a ring of froth and a patch, bubbly cap. ???

S: Sweet caramel malts with overtones of treacle, butterscotch, and Westphalian pumpernickel. Loads of fruitiness, presenting plums, raisins, tangerines, and red and black cherries. Floral and woody hops are understated and fresh. Slightly musty yeast aromas and hints of clover honey, ginger, and citrus throughout.

T: Slightly sweet toffee and biscuit malts with a rich butteriness gives way to dark fruits - the usual plums, sultana raisins, and black cherries. The malts resurge with a distinct breadiness that lasts into the finish, joined by herbal and woody hops, slightly resiny with a tea-like astringency, some pepperiness, and citrus notes, especially orange zest.

M: Medium-bodied with modest carbonation, creamy and slightly gassy, that makes for an unexpectedly sudsy mouthfeel that doesn't fit or complement the style. However, it is quite well-balanced between the robust flavour profile and bitter finish with lingering woodiness.

D: A good, traditional English strong ale that sticks to the style and does it well. That said, there's nothing really unique or outstanding about it besides being a limited edition brew; it's just a strong archetype that I'd say is on par, at best, with the more easily acquired Fuller's 1845.

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Photo of liamt07
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from the LCBO, 500ml into a tulip. Best before end of 2013. LCBO lab tested at 7.9% ABV.

Pours a golden brown with a nice cap of just offwhite head. Nose is fruity, with some English malt character. Some lightly toasted breads, caramel, nuts, a bit of a tart note and a tinge of greenery. A bit weird, and somehow, a touch off (?). Taste redeems to a degree, and takes on a lighter barleywine-like character, caramel, toffee, toasty breads, a touch of metal, a hint of alcohol/spice and a little more of the 'green' note I detected in the nose. Loads of sweet malt character, but this metallic note is quite prevalent, almost like sucking on a penny (hard water or something else?). Weird-ish bitterness in the finish, battles with some alcohol. Medium full feel, with a medium low carbonation. This was decent but the metallic notes were fairly off-putting here. It slides into the background with warmth, but is still detectable. (initially had this at a 4/3/35/35/25, but it cleared up at around room temp).

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Photo of korguy123
3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml into tulip

A- Clear burnt caramel pour. Two finger eggshell head that slowly drops to a thin ring with slight wisps. Lacing is spotty.

S- Sweet malts, slight fruity note (raspberries and apple) there is a subtle alcohol note. Everything is subtle, nothing stands out.

T- Sweet malt, brown sugar with a warm alcohol presence. Fairly one dimensional.

M- Thin bodied, warming, chewy with a lingering aftertaste and slight burn.

O- While very tasty, this beer seems to be missing something that I cant seem to put my finger on.

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Photo of cragus
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle into Duvel tulip

A - Pours a deep amber with a couple of fingers of white head.
S - Bread and caramel with a bit of citrus
T - A bit of bite from the alcohol with bread and malt and a little bit of citrus. The alcohol is more present in the finish along with a note of caramel.
M - Moderate mouthfeel with moderate carbonation.
O - Pretty good ale, but nothing about it stood out as impressive. I would probably get it again, but would not seek it out.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle

Appearance – Clear copper colour with an average size fizzy and frothy beige coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation visible and there is a good amount of lacing. The head lasted for around 7 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel/toffee, wood, anise, leather

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, raisins, caramel+toffee, and some light hops. There is also an earthiness and some notes of wood and some herbal flavours. It ends with a malty herbal aftertaste.

Overall – A very interesting tasting/smelling beer. It's along the lines of a barley wine but a little thinner. At first it came across as a little harsh tasting, but towards the end I was really enjoying it. I'm happy I had the chance to try it.

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Past Masters XX Strong Ale from Fuller Smith & Turner PLC
Beer rating: 3.79 out of 5 with 44 ratings