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Brains SA | Brains

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Brains SABrains SA
46 Ratings
Brains SABrains SA

Brewed by:
Wales, United Kingdom

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 46 |  Reviews: 25
Reviews by TeeCee:
Photo of TeeCee
4/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

More User Reviews:
Photo of innominat
3/5  rDev -12.8%

Photo of fionn13
3.75/5  rDev +9%

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.

 701 characters

Photo of rastaman
2.8/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pretty boring really, no real flavours stand out, but its a good session ale i suppose, a bit overated by many beer lovers, especially those from Wales.

 152 characters

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.

 519 characters

Photo of Lion088
2.64/5  rDev -23.3%

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.

 250 characters

Photo of stampfler07
3.75/5  rDev +9%

Photo of georgeanthorpe
3.56/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

 508 characters

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.

 569 characters

Photo of vinicole
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of bewley
3.43/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I has this in Cardiff in a few different pubs, most notably in a pub on the coast called the "Blue Anchor," a place reputed to have been once frequented by smugglers due to all of its nooks and crannies and underground passages and whatnot. This was back in 1990 (I think the pub may be closed now) so my memory's a bit blurry due not only to the passage of time, but to the swill I drank on that cold, foggy evening: BRAINS SA.

The locals spoke reverently about their local beer and referred to it as "skull attack." It was ok tasting, not much to speak of, but there was this, well, rather odd quality about it that it sort of got you hooked. It was seductively addictive. Not in an alchoholic sense (though I'm sure this was the end result), but in a--I just woke up in the morning and thought that I wanted a quick pint before breakfast sort of way. I don't know what was in it, but it wasn't quite right.

I honestly would love to try it again as I have been craving it for the past 14 years . . .

 1,009 characters

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.

 364 characters

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.

 512 characters

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

 399 characters

Photo of cdwil
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of aoeui-dhtns
3.48/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

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.

 261 characters

Photo of endless1408
3.25/5  rDev -5.5%

Photo of MisledTitan
3.5/5  rDev +1.7%

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.

 154 characters

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

 277 characters

Photo of BumpkinBrewer
3.25/5  rDev -5.5%

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Brains SA from Brains
Beer rating: 3.44 out of 5 with 46 ratings