Beer Squared #28: English Bitter Ales

Posted: March 13, 2012 in Beer Squared, Beer: Ales, Beer: English Bitter Ales
Tags: , , , , , , ,

12, 13, 14, and 15 of 2012.

This is the first edition of Beer Squared that is outside of Lafayette Square! My wife started a project in our kitchen that needed some help from Bob, so he decided we’d have a “mini tasting” after he was done. In honor of the work put in, the beers have been photographed in front of the new wall.

In this post, we’re doing English Regular Bitters. Strength between 4.2% and 4.7% abv. In the United Kingdom bitter above 4.2% abv accounts for just 2.9% of pub sales. The disappearance of weaker bitters from some brewers’ rosters means “best” bitter is actually the weakest in the range. (source) (There’s a lot of good info on the English Ales at that link.

Boddington’s Pub Ale (4.7% ABV)

Boddington's Pub Ale

Nik: I started drinking this beer when I started watching soccer seriously and I have long loved it. It has a great malty aroma and a thickly bubbled head that’s maded up of very tiny bubbles. This head, while thin, lasts the entire glass. It’s very pale in color and lightly bittered. This beer goes down very well and with it’s low alcohol content it’s a great session beer. This would be a good training wheel beer to get someone off of pale lagers. Another great beer in the “Pub Can.”

Bob: Wonderfully creamy head, something I have always experienced with pub can packaging. Poured a light golden straw color, very clear, with just a hint of aroma. Unique, mildly fruity and pleasant taste. Hadn’t had one in a couple of years, and it was even better than I remembered. A very pleasing session beer that I could drink a lot more of.

Goose Island Honker’s Ale (4.2% ABV)

Honker's Ale

Nik: How can you not love Goose Island? This beer has a very nice head and a malty nose to go along ith it’s light, amber color that’s a bit cloudy. It has a hoppy flavor which seemed to me to be more of an English style IPA than an English Regular Bitter. It has a very complex flavor that hit all parts of my tongue.  It has a sticky mouthfeel. This beer is great, but it missed the mark slightly in terms of style.

Bob: Generous hop aroma, with a very nice head that laced the glass, sitting on medium gold liquid that was a little cloudy rather than clear. Fairly bitter on first tasting, with just the right amount of carbonation. Less bitter in the aftertaste. This is a very nice offering from one of my favorite breweries, and perhaps the closest an American firm has come to matching true English ales.
Fuller’s London Pride (4.7% ABV)

The standard.

Nik: London Pride also has a thin head made up of small bubbles and it has a perfectly clear bronze color. It has a malt nose, but it is weak. Aside from that, this is the perfect regular bitter ale. Its taste is the perfect combination of malt and hops.  This is the English Pub Ale and it would be another great session beer if it wasn’t so price prohibitive!

Bob: Pours nicely, with a rich golden color and a pleasing mild hop aroma. Good small-bubbled head that laces the glass well. Slightly watery mouthfeel makes it a good session beer. Truly excellent blend of hops and malt makes you want to drink just one more. Outstanding example of an English Ale.

Dundee English Style Ale (5.1% ABV)


Nik: Another Dundee beer…what a shock, eh? Now, in fairness, this ale is a touch over the limit for regular bitter, but what the hell. Like the others, it’s very pale in color. Its small head goes away quickly and it has a cloudy color to it. I thought this beer was lacking in both malt and hops. I have had this beer by itself in the past  and enjoyed it, but it just could not stand up to competition. For lack of a better explanation, this beer does not taste English, but it tastes American. The other American entry in this category still tasted English, even if they missed the mark by a touch. To end on a positive note, it does get better as it warms up. At about 55 degrees F, it has a much better flavor.

Bob: Have had several of these and they are OK if drunk by themselves, but suffer in this group comparison by being a little too sweet for my taste. Definitely a different taste, with a noticeable lack of hop bittering.

  1. Mike says:

    Have to go with the Boddington. In all fairness – I have not tasted a Dundee.

    Not sure you would agree but there is a real difference in taste from a can vs. a bottle. In most cases – I would take a bottle but not with this beer.

    • The 13 Blog says:

      I do not think bottle vs can makes a difference in taste as long as the cans aren’t too old and as long as you pour the beer out of the can and into a glass.

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