Adnams SSB (Suffolk Special Bitter)
Adnams plc, Sole Bay Brewery

Adnams SSB (Suffolk Special Bitter)Adnams SSB (Suffolk Special Bitter)
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #30
Ranked #17,435
3.89 | pDev: 10.54%
Adnams plc, Sole Bay Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Very Good
Adnams SSB (Suffolk Special Bitter)Adnams SSB (Suffolk Special Bitter)
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Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 141 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
Hopheadjeffery from Illinois

3.84/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tasted in a pint glass from a 500 ml bottle. Look is bright clear amber with a thick foamy head and lingering lacing. Smell and taste is spice, resin and aniseed with biscuit malt aromas and flavors. Feel is medium in body with a smooth dry finish.

Jul 08, 2013
Photo of claminat420
claminat420 from Michigan

2.31/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A- poured a deep brown/ mahagonay color. white half a finger head with thin lacing.

S- raisons and alcohol.

T- dark malts with a raison taste. no hops. lame.

M- medium. hardly any carbonation.

D- pissed i bought a 4 pack.

Overall- for 12 bucks a 4 pack this is just rediculous. and only 3.7 abv??? pass this up!!

Nov 09, 2009
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TLove from District of Columbia

3.17/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a glass tumbler.

Has a truly beautiful pour, color, head, and retention. Without a doubt the best appearance of its style. A nice, balanced ESB that is actually quite smooth and yeasty. Tangy, buttery, sweet, and slightly smoked in flavor, the beer has a slight, malty structure.

Sweet finish, with some very soft, apple-like finish with moderate carbonation. A solid beer of its style. Decent finish, though a bit dry and sparse tasting.

Nov 06, 2009
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cswhitehorse from California

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Suffolk ESB poured a caramel color with a 1-2 finger foam head that dissipated quickly. Not much in the way of lacing.

It smelled of caramel and a slight hoppiness. The taste reminded me of a Scotch ale which has that unique taste to it. It had a nice bitterness on the finish which rounded it out nicely to me. Overall a good ESB and I would recommend it.

Feb 09, 2009
Photo of BedetheVenerable
BedetheVenerable from Missouri

3.56/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 16.9oz brown bottle with a cool lighthouse before date of over a year ago...Damn you Friar Tuck's...

Appearance: A SUPER hazy orange/gold beer with medium carbonation and a thin ivory cap.

Smell: Large sweet caramel and toffee presence up front supported by a mild fruitiness and just a TOUCH of leafy hops.

Taste: Fruitier than expected from the nose...there's a mild/grainy presence up front, backed by slightly tart fruit (apple) and a decent kick of hop bitterness on the finish. The beer finishes tart and dry, and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Slightly fizzy and light-medium bodied.

Drinkability: Fairly high.

Conclusion: Not bad, not great. It's pretty on target for a Special Bitter, but it's a little TART and aggressively bitter (without much hop flavor for my taste). I'd really like a FRESH sample to compare this to as I think this beer might have greater potential than shown here.

Jan 08, 2009
Photo of avalon07
avalon07 from South Carolina

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a yellowish-brown color and a cloudy consistency. There wasn't much head with this beer, but it did have excellent lacing.

S: There was a very malty, bready smell, along with some mild spices.

T: A nice roasted malt flavor accented by some brown sugar and other spices. Not overly complex but good.

M: A fairly well-carbonated beer with a very dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: On the whole, this is a well made ESB with a solid taste.

Dec 19, 2008
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Spikester from Oregon

3.51/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy brown with a fat one finger light tan head. Plentiful lacings.
Aroma was malty with some euro hops.
Taste is sweet malts and a good amount of bitter hops. Some leather, minor citrus, and a medium dry finish. Not a bad ESB overall. Quite sessionable considering the 4.5% abv.

Dec 10, 2008
Photo of champ103
champ103 from Texas

3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark copper/brown color. A two finger beige head forms and leaves sticky lace down the pint glass.
S: Light buttery and caramel malt. A light citrus hop aroma.
T: Toasty sweet caramel malt. A subtle fruity flavor with pears and apples that come out as the beer warms a bit. A light hop bitterness to balance out the sweetness.
M/D: A medium body, but thin and watery. Low on the carbonation end. Easy and smooth to drink, like most good ESB's. A good session beer.

I enjoyed this. Pretty much everything you want in the style, I just find it a bit typical. Though, I will take a typical ESB over most anything else.

Nov 08, 2008
Photo of clayrock81
clayrock81 from Florida

4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light copper body with a foamy one-finger head. Has a strong malt smell along with some citric notes and dark fruits from the hops.
A mix bag here - there is some tartness and fruit notes from the hops, yet this fuller-bodied beer goes down smooth and creamy, and has some sweet malt taste to it. Finishes with a dry backbite. A great beer that I'm glad I got to try.

Oct 09, 2008
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AKBelgianBeast from Alaska

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice slightly clear ruby red/deep orange amber color with a nice frothy white head that leaves good lace. Nose is mostly malty. Taste has a good malt profile with some decent british hop presence. Almost some toffee or caramel hints in here. Mouthfeel is nice, but a bit thick. Nice dry finish. Drinkability is good but not the best. Overall a good english bitter and a fair representation of the style. Im not that crazy about it, but it is a good representation. I think this bottle may be a bit old. A good brew, but there are enough better bitters available that I probably wont be purchasing this one again, except maybe at a bar.

Aug 22, 2008
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nasty15108 from New York

4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Tulip pint glass.

A - Deep brown color with ruby hues when held up to the light. The pour produced a slightly off-white head that subsided into a spotty film. Scattered lacing throughout the glass.

S - Malty. Slightly nutty, with sweet buttery aroma. I also detected slight hints of caramel.

T - Slightly sweet roasted malt flavor up front. Hints of butterscotch and caramel. Finished creamy with a slight bitterness from the hops.

MF&D - A creamy and smooth medium bodied ESB. It reminded me a lot of Sam Smiths Nut Brown. Great flavor, coats mouth well and left a sweet taste on my lips. Highly recommended.

Apr 05, 2008
Photo of blakesell
blakesell from Ohio

4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance- Beer pours a biscuity hazy brown with almost no head at all. Lacing clings to the glass and leaves streaks on the sides.

Smell- A nutty brown sugar with much in the dextrine malts. Hops are subdued to none, very sweet, almost like wort in the aroma.

Taste- Not near as sweet as the smell would imply. A light sourness with a nice biscuity background. Hops come in at the background. Noble hops providing the bittering and a bit in the finish. A hint of brown sugar but it is very subdued.

Mouthfeel- Light and creamy. Good carbonation and evenly balanced.

Drinkability- Smooth and very drinkable. Good for warm or cold weather. I could deal with this beer just fine in a session. I hope our paths cross again on this beer. I will enjoy a great many more.

Nov 03, 2007
Photo of smcolw
smcolw from Massachusetts

3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a murky light brown; Very little head, although what is there does leave some spotty lace.

Melted brown sugar and caramel are the strongest aromas.

Creamy caramel flavors. Unlike American bitters, this is a malty brew. Very full body, but it is not sweet. The hop is almost not present. The aftertaste is brief.

This reminds me very much of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale. This is a good beer, but is very much a British Bitter, not an American one.

Oct 13, 2007
Photo of BDTyre
BDTyre from Canada

3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Decent ESB, but not up to my favourite, Fuller's. Nice, slightly cloudy copper-amber colour with a richy, bready, yeasty malt smell. Very faint citrus hints.

Slightly bitter taste, with a bit too much citrus for me. Malt is pushed to the background I think.

Drinkability is hampered somewhat by the slightly bitter/sour taste. But otherwise, a nice ESB and probably would make for a good session beer.

Jun 17, 2007
Photo of rallison
rallison from California

3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Overall, while not really my favorite style, this was a pretty tasty example. Nice crisp maltiness tempered by some earthy hops. Mouthfeel was well carbonated. Overall, a very easy drinking, nice example. That being said, nothing really stood out either.


May 25, 2007
Photo of kimcgolf
kimcgolf from Georgia

3.4/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured an hazy amber color with thin off-white head that lingered atop the glass well, and reduced to marginal lacing. Try as I might, it was difficult to detect much aroma, save for a little hoppiness. Nice tingly, bitter mouthfeel, and the flavor was a pleasant blend of bitter hops and malty sweetness. This was topped off by a finish that was slightly dry and bitter, but nowhere near what the name suggests.

OK beer is the best I can do on this one.

May 20, 2007
Photo of BeerTruth
BeerTruth from Connecticut

3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a nonic.

This ESB pours a dark foggy copper with a nice 1.5 off-white colored head. Stickiness is pretty good, here and there on the side of the glass. Smell is quite buttery with a nice toffee undertone. I also detect some pepper/spice in the nose as well. Taste is a nice nutty malt with a unique pear/mango flavoring as well. There seems to be a tiny bit of hop that tries to surface, but the malt pushes it back down. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with very little carbonation, could use a few m ore bubbles. Drinkability is scary good, could easily drink this as a session beer...hmmmm, note to self...

May 17, 2007
Photo of MrHurmateeowish
MrHurmateeowish from Maine

3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

16.9oz brown bottle from Florian's. Hazy red/orange body with a quarter inch of off-white head that leaves some good lacing. Caramel malt and diacetyl characterize the aroma. Tastes like grassy hops and caramel malt with a hint of diacetyl to make a butterscotch-like flavor. Medium bodied, somewhat aqueous. Not a lot of carbonation in this one. Other than being slightly astringent, it's fairly drinkable and a pretty solid English ale.

Apr 26, 2007
Photo of BretSikkink
BretSikkink from Mexico

3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper brown color, head retention is good, leaving a full off white head over top the brew. The aroma is raisiny malt, almost a nut brown but but more hops, there's some pepper in those.

The flavor brings a toasted malt with some big dark fruit sweetness. A lot of yeast flavors for an ESB, lighter fruit in there as well - pear, I think. The hops don't quite exert themselves as much as I would like for an ESB, but this is sure tasty.

The mouthfeel is fairly thick and smooth, good amount of carbonation is very nice. Terrific bitter, I'd love to have it in a local pub.

Apr 07, 2007
Photo of IntriqKen
IntriqKen from California

3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice slightly cloudy amber with a half finger white head that melts quickly to sticky lace.
Aroma pretty typical British amber malts and yeast with a nice toasty presence.
Taste is toasted amber malts that are pleasantly balanced with a nice hoppy swallow at the end.
Mouthfeel is a little drier than expected and that's pleasant..
A very decent British bitter and very drinkable with no unpleasant or lingering aftertaste.
Expensive, but I've already bought it again.

Mar 29, 2007
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
brewdlyhooked13 from Ohio

3.51/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours with a cloudy iced tea color. Cream colored head is maybe three fingers to start, melts slowly and laces fairly well.

Aroma - rather plain, grainy and undistinctive nose.

Taste - basic English malt base, lightly toasted. A bit of metal as well, not overly off-putting. A pleasant kick of hops on the swallow rounds out the flavor nicely. Finishes with a mildly bitter edge, rather nice.

Mouthfeel - slightly watery, average carbonation, not really anything happening here, a slight downer.

Drinkability - an average but tasty beer.

Mar 06, 2007
Photo of Chaz
Chaz from Minnesota

4.4/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I reviewed this one the day after reviewing the Broadside Strong Ale, and while it's similar in some regards (from it's coloration to its generous tan head and lacing) it differs in many others. The nose is different for one, exhibiting a pronounced hop bitterness and restrained malt profile. The mouthfeel? WOW! Seriously, this is one ofthe most complex and generous tipples I've had for a while in this regard, so soft and easy-drinking you'd swear it was nitro-pushed, it's also one of the creamiest beers I've ever put my lips to! More biscuity malt in the profile as it warms, making for a sweet/sour and tangy (but not really so sweet) ale, light in body, much more of a snack than a meal, and plenty refreshing all the way to its dry, bitterness-lingering finish. Bitter is in the name and this ale is true to style, and as with the Brakspear's I reviewed a few days ago, I really wish there were more well-made Bitters produced domestically on the micro front, because it's a wonderful style when executed properly, and by `properly' I mean everything from nose and mouthfeel to bitter hop/restrained malt balance AND low alcohol . . . from my experience a good bitter doesn't usually top 5%, and some of the better ones I've downed barely hit 4%. Now this sort of admiration of a `low-alcohol' brew might sound strange coming from a guy who likes his big beers once in a while, but the term "Session Beer" originated with the British practice of quaffing just such low-alcohol pints of ale for long afternoons in a pub, a practice almost unthinkable to young American drinkers weaned on Keg Stands, 40s, and Natty Ice. America -as we all know by now- tends to be the land of More and Faster, and this holds true to our partying tactics, as we typically try to liven things up by consuming more alcohol, faster, than other cultures. But don't worry, the British bitters I'm raving about here are imports and on the expensive side, their low-alcohol kin will never appeal to Joe Sixpack, nor will they supplant the American Premium and "Popular" brands out there complete with their high-gravity brewing methods, adjuncts, and 6% ABV to get you fooked up in the back seat of yer Chevy.

Jan 12, 2007
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norwichboy from Australia

4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Oh Adnams. Thoughts of home in the East of England. The label states "The Bitter" although I've been used to seeing this labeled SSB in Australia: the same beer all the same.

Deep copper coloured, very slightly cloudy, with a large fluffy head that retains well throughout and produces some lacing. The aroma does not seem particularly strong at first but later livens up with caramel malt, herbal hops and some fruit aromas. The taste is superb, good malt and hops flavours, well balanced, with a very pleasing long bitterness on swallowing. Moderately carbonation a bit too strong for my taste - better on tap. A very enjoyable ale us East Anglians should be very proud of. I can't wait to go home and go to Southwold.

Nov 28, 2006
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jarmby1711 from Australia

3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a cloudy dark tan colour with a thin, light tanhead.
Smell is malty and strong.
Taste is fruity from obvious hops and a cutting bitterness that is all excellently balanced.
There is a strong alcoholic tang which belies the 4.5% , but somehow manages to finish sweet.
Mouthfeel is clean crispand appropriately carbonated.
Overall a pleasing beer.Not a standout but a more than adequate example

Nov 16, 2006
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afinepilsner from Iowa

3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle

Adnams Suffolk Special Bitter was a hazy dark amber color with a thick off-white head. The head had good retention and left lots lacing behind. The aroma was fruity and malty. The taste was a good blend of malts and english hops with some fruity and toasted flavors. The finish was dry and slightly bitter. The body was medium to full with medium carbonation, it was sort of creamy. Drinkability was good. It would work fine for a session beer.

Oct 23, 2006
Adnams SSB (Suffolk Special Bitter) from Adnams plc, Sole Bay Brewery
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 141 ratings