Brains SA

Brains SABrains SA
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English Bitter
Ranked #234
Ranked #43,821
3.44 | pDev: 11.92%
Wales, United Kingdom
Brains SABrains SA
Notes: In the mid-1950’s Brains introduced SA Best Bitter. This was quickly shortened to the easier bar call of SA and has become one of our most famous beers recognised throughout the country and further a field. SA celebrated its 50th birthday last year which is a testament to its popularity and is currently displayed on the Welsh rugby shirt.

The renowned ‘special ale’ is copper coloured with a full premium quality flavour. A nutty richness derived from a blend of fine pale and crystal malts is balanced with a satisfying dryness from the unique use of three hops: Challenger, Goldings and Fuggles. The aroma has a hint of spirit which adds to the legendary mystique of this premium cask beer.
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Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 49 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of stevoj
3.25/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Cask at DoW. Medium golden with a tight, creamy head. Light, sweet malty aroma. Taste becomes more white bread, light malty notes. The cask body saves it though, smooth and silky.

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Photo of metter98
3.33/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Cask at Duke of Wellington, Cardiff, Wales

A: The beer is relatively clear dark yellow in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high dense, creamy white head that died down a bit but never completely faded away.
S: Moderate aromas of pale malts are present in the nose along with notes of fruity yeast.
T: The taste follows the smell, except that the fruity yeast are a bit stronger and stand out in front of the pale malts.
M: It feels medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is a nice and easy drinking bitter with an exceptionally smooth mouthfeel.

Serving type: cask

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Photo of flyingpig
2.92/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

500ml bottle from Tesco, Enniskillen (£1.70):
Basic stuff but drinkable through, the beer was quite earthy with a combination of bread & biscuit malts along with the odd nutty flavours dominating for the most part, there was some caramel sweetness & touches of butterscotch though. It's not a beer that I went into with high hopes but it was decent enough & much as I'd expect from the style too, a solid English style bitter that was easy to drink an inoffensive.

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Photo of zeff80
3.23/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

On tap. Poured a pale orange color with a small, tan head of foam. It smelled of caramel, grains and floral notes. Sweet and malty with a touch of citrus.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.48/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Allen Street Pub in Albany, NY.

This one pours a light orange-ish color, with a small head and not much lacing.

This smells like tea and sweet malt mainly, and not much else.

This wins on drinkability, but it's fairly flavorless and pretty watery. There's some light tea flavored hops, and sweet muddled malt. There's not much else.

This is quite watery with a low level of carbonation. This would probably be better on cask- more lively, possibly.

This was interesting to try but very boring.

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Photo of JPNesker
4.7/5  rDev +36.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

One of my hands down all time favourite beers. Dead drunk on one cask pint fresh off the train from London to Cardiff on a student backpacking trip from canada. Missed the last castle tour of the day but worth it. Love love love SA "Skull Attack"!!!

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Photo of charlatan
3.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Half pint at Wetherspoons in Helensburgh: dark amber coloured beer with a decent 'spoons head. Typical 'spoons lack of aroma, just a bit of an acidic twang. A rather chocolatey start then a combination of a cereal flavour and some acidity, before a metallic finish. The feel is excellent, along with the chocolate they comprise the most noteworthy elements here.

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Photo of Dave1999
3.08/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light amber colour with no head.

The smell is sweet and grainy.

The taste is sweet and grainy, with just a hint of bitterness at the end.

The mouthfeel is medium bodies with medium carbonation.

Overall just ok, boring and too sweet. Won't purchase again.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
3.53/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Chestnut brown clear body

big splodgy White head lots of dif sized bubbles covering half the surface

Brewers mash/sweaty armpit aroma with caramel

Big malt flavours with hints of toffee, sweet without being sickly stewed hops warm and finish with and tiny yeasty bitter aftertaste finishes the procedures

The Mouthfeel gives the beer a much stronger abv beer
perfect carbonation
A solid beer

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Photo of brewskifan55
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My 200th review. Sampled at the Frankenstein Pub, Edinburgh. figures.

A: A hulking amber with a monster-sized one finger head that lurks about the glass. Thick, eerie lacing.

S: Biscuity malts creep in. Nutty, if not crazy.

T: Lightning strikes. The monster pops up on the table and embellishes the bar with malts, nuts and toffee. He licks his lips with a dry, bitter finish.

M: His mouth opens to a light, dry feel. Oh my, there's not much carbonation, but it doesn't matter. Drink more, the monster says.

O: A great bar, a great show and a fairly decent Pale Ale. Sessionable. Not too scary.

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Photo of laituegonflable
2.78/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a metallic bronze colour with nice smooth nitro-head of brilliant white. No bead - of course - and lace is nice 'n' dense. More head would be nice, but good for what it is.

Smells very English. Rich earthy malt with a slightly sour red apple aroma, hint of honey, wattle and grass. Pretty standard, and can't say it really enchants me.

Taste is very mild, almost non-existent on the mid. Grainy hints upfront but mid-palate is watery and uneventful. Slight, polite English hops on the back with a touch of lemon zest adding just a hint of tang, but yeah, there's nothing here - it's a high volume session ale that's sacrificed flavour for drinkability. Ultimately hollow.

Fairly smooth but there's a real watery blandness, just feels wet in the mouth.

I could drink this in high volumes. I wouldn't really want to, though, unless I were simply planning on getting wasted.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
2.61/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A 500ml clear glass bottle with a BB of Nov 2011. The label mentions a 'legendary mystique'. We'll see...

Poured into a Sam Smith's pint glass. A clear reddish-amber hue with medium carbonation. Topped by a head of white foam that disappears after a minute or so. Aroma is quite weak; a whiff of malt and an underlying sweet note like apple juice. Also a hint of solvent or alcohol.

Taste is faint malt with a slight note of biscuits and tart fruit. A dry, mildly bitter finish. Mouthfeel is smooth but leaves the palate dry. Weakly bitter aftertaste.

OK, but not great. Certainly lacking in the 'mystique' department - it seems rounded but pretty bland and flavourless. I can't recommend this one.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.42/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours rich amber with a small head.
Nose shows lovely nutty, toffee and caramel notes, very appetising.
Flavours are exactly the same but with that addition of some hazelnut praline.
Moderate carbonation, could be higher really.
Nice and easy-going.

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Photo of david18
3.95/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I sampled as many english beers as I had the chance to on a recent trip to London and this one was somewhat of a standout for me.

It had the dark malt of typical english beer but was a bit more refreshing than many of the others I had sampled. Dark carmel color, decent carbonation, a lot of flavor but not too overwhelming. In general a very well balanced beer.

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Photo of diablo14
3.68/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It has been a while since i've reviewed a beer, and it's been a while since i've had Brains SA, so it's rather appropriate that the two should come together on a humid night here in Oz.

Poured forth from the can with a delightful amber color and creamy golden head that left thick lacing on my glass (that may be because I cooled my glass in the freezer before using it ;)). Biscuity malt aroma, with bold but not intrusive hops. Pretty standard stuff for a British ale, as was the flavor, plenty of malt, slightly fruity and a firm bitterness down back. Also has a texture that while on the creamy side, doesn't come over as too heavy.

Probably would have been better from a bottle, but nevertheless, this beer was as I remembered it. A very tasty session beer that went down a treat. Rock solid stuff from the Welshmen with this brew.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.95/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear 500ml bottle poured into a normal UK sleeved pint glass.

The beer was a reddy, amber colour, clear and clean looking. On top sat a bubbly head, off-white almost a cream colour.

The aroma was of hops and yeast with a hint of caramels and molasses.

Challenger, Goldings and Fuggles are all used in the brew, the blend of thses hops produces a well balanced and pleasant tasting beer. There is an overiding mini sweetness throughout the drink, the aroma starts it off and the aftertaste reminds you.

I very drinkable beer, even better when on cask and kept well.

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Photo of crowncapcollect
3.03/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500ml bottle into straight pint glass

I vaguely recall this being better on tap in Wales itself. A very average bottled ale. Lacking in complexity, but quite okay. Nothing special, but nothing really wrong here.

I do like the red dragon bottle top.

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Photo of apbarwood
3.51/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Dark amber, nice creamy head.

Smell- Biscuit and toffee notes with a hint of hops.

Taste- As it smells, but with more bracing hop flavors and a nice fruity quality, slight citrus maybe.

Mouthfeel- Smooth and creamy with a dry, brisk finish.

Drinkability- Tried it at a Welsh bar in Wellington, New Zealand and I was hooked all night. It's fairly light on alcohol so it's not exactly overpowering and the hop and malt flavors are well blended. Overall it's a nice beer and worth a try if you can find it.

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Photo of thierrynantes
3.83/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer bottle (50cl), tasted in 2007.
Appearance: dark amber color,
Smell: malty and fruity
Tsate and mouthfeel : A little bit of hop as well. Good flavour with a well balanced bitter finish. Smooth dry Palate
Drinkability: called SA (Skull Attack), the name actually comes from the initials of the founder of the brewery (Samuel Arthur Brain).

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Photo of callmemickey
3.92/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Golden orange: with a creamy white-orange head

S: Yumm. Bisquity malts. The hops are faint but recognizable

T: Hops shine through the malt backbone... some orange zestyness comes through towards the end and the hops return for a solid after taste.

M: Medium bodied.. with a smooth dry finish

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Photo of wl0307
3.49/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tasted this beer again at my local JDW pub in East London. The barrel was just tapped today so I'm very very lucky indeed!

A: beautifully clear pale amber hue, with a nice, muffin-like fluffy as well as frothy bear head, lasting extremely well and leaving wool fibre-like thick and tight lacing~~ sheer brilliant for a cask-conditioned ale.
S: biscuity malt on top of slightly sour floral and fruity hops, with a mildly citrusy aroma like that of Goldings.
T&M: lightly and softly malty, followed by some rock-sugary flavour and fluffy texture on the palate... light bitterness and lingering soft hoppy aftertaste. Overall it shows a bready texture--concrete but soft at the same time; however, the fizz is almost non-existent and slightly overly flat for it to be lively.
D: this time it's more pleasant than my previous experience at the same pub, though it's still too mild to be my cup of tea.

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Photo of cypressbob
3.6/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On cask locally

Pours with an amber body, thick creamy head with good retention

Smell, slight hint of caramel and burnt sugar, little grassy

Taste, some englishy hops, a little bit of grain.

A fairly good ale, little bland though. Def. not one of brains best brews

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Photo of Dithyramb
3.68/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled in a pint glass at Mallard's Bar at the Swan Hotel in Hay on Wye (Wales). Was told this was the bitterest beer on tap at the bar. Was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't. Not sure whether or not this was due to the length of time on cask, but was especially smooth and creamy drinking. A nice session beer to help me as I took on several locals to a game of Euro rules 8 ball. Creamy head left excellent lacing. I'll have to try this one in bottles to see if the bitterness was just this cask in general.

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Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another solid session ale from Brains. Fresh this is pretty damn good, and quite refreshing. Light amber with a nice head of white foam. Aromas of sweet malts, and a fresh citrusy hopy. Taste is hoppy and bready, and oh-so-drinkable. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamysmooth. Drinkability as I just said is very good. Nice stuff.

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Photo of dauss
3.75/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in England. Served just a little bit colder than chilled. Light carbonation, head had good staying power and good lacing. It poured a clear dark brown. It was light bitterness and hoppiness all over the palate. Its a fairly good ale, but nothing special.

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Brains SA from Brains
Beer rating: 79 out of 100 with 49 ratings