Hale's Special Bitter | Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub

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15 Ratings

Brewed by:
Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub
Washington, United States

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-12-2004

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 15 |  Reviews: 6
Photo of rab53
3.32/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of abrodsky
3.03/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of sharpski
3/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of nineworldseries
3.5/5  rDev +2%

Photo of trytoketchup
3.5/5  rDev +2%

Photo of jaydoc
3.5/5  rDev +2%

Photo of MDDMD
3.5/5  rDev +2%

Photo of gpawned
3.75/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of weerezboy
4/5  rDev +16.6%

Photo of beertunes
3.45/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in straight pint glass. Poured a lovely reddish-brown color with a thick, off-white nitro head that had the usual great retention and thick lacing typical of brews served on nitrogen.

A slightly sweet malt aroma greets the nose with just a hint of hop at the end. The flavor is a smooth, balanced malt dominant treat, with just a delicate hint of hop for a little spice.

The body is typical for the style, smoothed out thanks to the nitro. Extremely drinkable this is a perfect session beer. Worth trying when you see it.

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Photo of RedDiamond
3.19/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hale's was a pioneer in nitrogenating their beers decades ago and this nitro-bitter would seem to be a holdover from that era. I'm not sure if an ESB wants to gain the turbulent creaminess of a nitro serving, and after drinking a pint of this ale at their brewpub, I remain skeptical. The nitro makes it look good and feel good. But it doesn't make it good.

Hale's pours this cream HSB (as they call it) with a luxurious head of refined lather that trails scads of foamy lace as the beer descends. If nothing else, it's an elegant 'stache tickler. The nitro has the effect of smoothing the body while perhaps erasing some of the flavor. Many ESBs express subtlety, but this ale delivers little to even characterize as subtle. The deep bronze body is undercarbonated and the aroma is dilute. A modest measure of simple malt and bitter balancing drives the core of it, with a light creaminess of taste and texture. There's no late addition hop character at all.

Innocuous and well behaved. Otherwise simply bland.

 1,014 characters

Photo of dnichols
2.41/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I was poured a pint glass from the tap at Rico's in Pullman, WA.

A: It poured a shiny brown body that looked like a washed out cola or black tea. The two finger slightly off-white head was composed of desnse small bubbles that had good retention and supported a moderate curtain.

S: It had a musty, hoppy aroma with some whiffs of pepper and malt.

T: Ouch. ..The musty aroma carried over to the taste leaving a sour, slimy taste in my mouth that was quicly overwhelmed by a sharp bitterness generated by piney and peppery hops.

M: It as medium bodied with a slimy, creamy sensation followed by a bitter sour finish that lingered long after the brew was consumed.

D: Not again. The mustiness and bitterness were a combination I would rather leave to others.

 762 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.7/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a honey on tap. The maltiness was the most dominant aspect of the taste. There was also a piney hoppiness that was less pronounced than usual I thought it was bitter enough for me..stuck arund or a well. I would recommend this bitter to a pal for sure.

 259 characters

Photo of RJLarse
3.93/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I had a couple of pints of Hale's Special Bitter (Dublin Style) a the Elk Public House. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a light brown color, about the color of a chocolate malt, and is hazy. A rich creamy two-finger head was served on the beer. The head an outstanding retention, and lasted until the "bitter end."

The smell was decidedly hoppy, with some spices, nutmeg and pepper along side.

The taste was hoppy and bitter, with a faint malt prsence, and a piney flavor, with some peppery spices.

The mouthfeel was thick, rich and smooth.

This is not a great thirst quencher, but a very drinkable beer just the same.. I think it's sessionable. I've only seen this beer at two locations, The Elk on a cold winter night and Campbell's Resort on Lake Chelan, WA. on a hot late summer day. It was very good on both occasions.

 837 characters

Photo of woemad
3.71/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had a pint of this on-tap at the Elk Public House in the Browne's Addition neighborhood of Spokane for $3.75.

This beer looked great. It was a light shade of brown, with the creamiest-looking head I think I've ever seen. This big, white head hung around for some time. Big, big sheets of lacing.

Smell was of caramelish maltiness, with a slight, piney note in the background.

The maltiness was the most dominant aspect of the taste. There was also a piney hoppiness that was less pronounced than usual for a U.S. ESB. It seems like most US ESBs have this really obvious piney flavor. It's not bad, but I find it distracting. This one was better balanced than most. It's no Fuller's (which for me will always be the benchmark for ESBs), but it's not bad, either. I would have preferred the hoppiness to have been a little more on the floral, slightly honeyish side, but it's a minor quibble.

The mouthfeel for this was fine. I think it might have beren a little bit thicker than I was expecting, but I've always had a fondness for thick beers, so it wasn't a flaw to my way of thinking.

This was a nice beer on a nice, spring evening. I could have had several more had I lacked the curiosity to sample some of the other beers on tap at The Elk.

 1,259 characters

Hale's Special Bitter from Hale's Ales Brewery & Pub
Beer rating: 3.43 out of 5 with 15 ratings