Proper English Bitters in the States/New England?

Discussion in 'New England' started by CheezyBlaster, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. CheezyBlaster

    CheezyBlaster Initiate (0) Sep 16, 2011 Massachusetts

    Looking for some recommendations in New England. I've had some here that are close. I haven't seen anything for bulk purchase either. thanks.
  2. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (215) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Can you give some examples of British ones that hit the mark and the American ones that just missed? It might help narrow it down.
  3. woosterbill

    woosterbill Poo-Bah (2,616) Apr 6, 2009 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    While it's not a Bitter per se, my favorite English-style beer in New England is Cottrell Old Yankee Ale, a nice malty 5% brew.
  4. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,177) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    Don't know if you can get it where you are but if you can get your hands on it try Yard's Pugilist Brawler, some good stuff!
    chadb likes this.
  5. CheezyBlaster

    CheezyBlaster Initiate (0) Sep 16, 2011 Massachusetts

    Good question, and hard to say . . . something that tastes like it came from cask would be great? Lol. I mean, I went on a little search looking for a bitter reminiscent of some of the pub stuff I had in the UK, but it's all different. Honker's, Hedgerow, Bitter American, and others that just taste like good American takes on Eng Pales.
  6. emannths

    emannths Aspirant (215) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Have you gotten a change to try CBC's ESB on cask? That might do it for you, but brewpub-only of course. You should be able to find Fullers in bottles. Maybe Old Thumper from Shipyard?

    Part of the challenge to find a British doppelganger is that the British renditions were probably lower ABV than just about anything on American shelves. And the British imports have been pasteurized and are usually old, whereas they're pipin' fresh on cask in England.
  7. Number45forever

    Number45forever Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2012 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    I had Portsmouth's ESB when I picked up my Kate tickets and it was phenomenal. I've been to a couple English bars in NYC that had really good imported bitters on draft, and they were better. But Portsmouth did that beer really well.
    GrittyMug345 and chadb like this.
  8. duchessedubourg

    duchessedubourg Aspirant (242) Nov 2, 2007 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    In Burlington area, both Queen City Brewing and Goodwater both make a proper English-style Bitter, and are very proud to do so. Former in bottles, latter in cans. Both on draft locally and in their tasting rooms.
    yarnbomb likes this.
  9. rhino88888888

    rhino88888888 Initiate (172) Dec 12, 2013 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

  10. yarnbomb

    yarnbomb Initiate (69) Oct 1, 2014 Vermont

    Goodwater's is especially delicious.
  11. Auror

    Auror Defender (644) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    This is a 4-year old thread :confused:
  12. duchessedubourg

    duchessedubourg Aspirant (242) Nov 2, 2007 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    How the hell does that happen, anyway??!!
  13. LukieBL

    LukieBL Initiate (86) Jun 10, 2015 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Confusing page. Has directions to Haverhill but fest is in Salem?
  14. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (726) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    When I clicked on the link the address is 94 Washington Square, Salem.

    And under directions it says, "Directions to the fall festival will be posted soon."

    They tweeted out that the location is in Salem too. Go to Salem, it'll be awesome. And it's after Halloween, so it won't be a shit show. Worst case scenario if this is all wrong, Notch is there. Which I'm going to anyway after the festival.
  15. HuskyHawk

    HuskyHawk Devotee (465) Jun 5, 2014 Massachusetts

    Good point on the abv%. Firestone Walker DBA is nice, but is an even 5% Old Thumper is solid.
  16. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (726) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    As a huge huge fan of English bitters, and pretty much any session English ale (especially on cask), I routinely rock Honker's Ale.

    It shows up here quite fresh (within a month or s) fairly often, whenever a new batch comes in I pick some up. Very good stuff, and spot on in my opinion. 4.3% ABV, close enough. About as good as you'll get in the bottle in MA, obviously you can't buy English cask at the liquor store.

    Timothy Taylor's Landlord and Boltcutter are awesome, but I can't really figure out the bottling date, so I typically don't buy it unless I see new bottles at my store.

    Fuller's London Pride is excellent as well, but it's not their bitter technically, and a bit higher in bottle at 4.7% ABV. Also, I can NEVER find it fresh anymore, it's always incredibly old. I believe I had it on cask at the Coat of Arms in Portsmouth, and if I'm remember which beer I had correctly, it was delicious.

    Riverwalk Uncle Bob's Bitter is in cans too, at 4.5% ABV, it's a bit higher, and not quite as good as Honker's, but it's another fresh option.

    Aside from all that, follow NERAX on Twitter, they always keep you posted on the latest beers on cask in MA. There's usually some English styles on cask somewhere.
  17. Seacoastbrewer

    Seacoastbrewer Aspirant (215) Jun 5, 2012 New Hampshire

    They seem to be forgotten these days but Redhook's ESB is pretty decent if you can get it fresh. They almost always have at least one hand-pump on at their portsmouth facility on Pease AFB/commercial park.

    Also I would take @AlcahueteJ s advice and hit up the Coat of Arms in Portsmouth for hand-pumps regularly. Portsmouth Brewery also always has two beer engines, but I can't remember the last time they had a bitter on.
    FrankLloydMike and AlcahueteJ like this.
  18. elucas730

    elucas730 Initiate (197) Feb 5, 2010 New York
    Beer Trader

    Seneca Lake Brewing Company in Dundee, NY is an all British Real Ale brewery. Everything in cask and yes, they do have a proper English Bitter. The first annual New York State Cask Ale Festival will be on October 15 at Woodland Farm Brewery in Marcy, NY.
  19. Abinlp

    Abinlp Devotee (416) Dec 7, 2012 Michigan
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    A distinction that often gets lost here in the US, is an English style ale/bitter in brewing method versus a beer that actually tastes like it is from the UK. I have had many pale ales that are advertised as English style, but actually taste nothing like it. The difference I'm guessing is the origin of ingredients. All English malt/hops/yeast/water versus all American ingredients. Vastly different results in flavor.

    I recently had TT Landlord in London and about lost my mind, don't know if I've ever had a better beer. Also had several London Prides and ESBs on tap, they were damn fine also. Many people on this thread seem to like Honker's. Its been way too many years since I've had that on tap in Chicago (and it was great), yet the bottled version seems a different creature, and I can't recall it tasting British. I once thought Geary's pale ale from Maine came pretty close to hitting the mark, although more of an ESB I think. Recently had some for the first time in about 20 years and it was too stale to know if I remembered correctly.

    Overall, seems anything tasting as good as Taylor's Landlord or London Pride is really tough to come by here in the states, as there's not enough of a following for the more subtle British style beers, especially with the IPA craze still at its peak (a good thing as we guzzle the benefits). Good British beers here sit on the shelves forever in bottles, hardly worth buying because they've gone stale.
    meefmoff likes this.
  20. SABERG

    SABERG Poo-Bah (1,787) Sep 16, 2007 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    I agree with Jack about cask at CBC, here in WMass the Northampton brewery still brews
    it version Daniel Shays best bitter, they hit all the right notes. Draft only.
    Bright Ideas Brewing in North Adams has a fabulous Bitter as well, sometimes on cask as well.
    Again draft with crowlers available.
    #20 SABERG, Feb 19, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017