PRELUDE: 87 Points
Grows on You
This English Strong Ale is released seasonally between November and December in 12 oz. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Prelude Special Ale is full-bodied in the true English Style. It’s a rich and nutty ale with a hoppy finish and an inviting deep amber hue.”
My Description: The first few minutes of drinking this ale, I wasn’t too impressed but as I got towards the middle of the glass this beer starting to grow on me. It has a good sized, beige colored head that fades to a thin film but holds leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma definitely malt forward with notes of caramel malt, hints of dark fruit, and it is a little nutty. Prelude is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The texture is chewy and the alcohol is completely hidden. The flavor profile is clean enough and slightly nutty with notes of caramel malt and spices, which are subtle. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and a little harsh. Overall, this beer is pleasant and satisfying. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with beef stew, roasted turkey, or a veggie pizza.
ABV: 6.7% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 4/10
VINTAGE ALE (2012): 98 Points
This English Strong Ale is released in limited batches on a yearly basis in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “The 2012 Vintage Ale, our 16th, is brewed with three of this year’s finest hop varieties including, Goldings, award winning Sovereign and Target hops. These combined with our unique yeast and organic barley grown by Sir James Fuller on the Neston Park Estate result in a wonderful limited edition brew that has a luxurious flavour. Individually packed and numbered, this bottle is one of only one hundred and twenty five thousand produced.Although we are obliged to state a best before date of 2015, like a fine wine or whisky, this mellow golden ale will improve with age for many more years. Being bottle conditioned, the beer will form a natural sediment, so pour carefully, sit back, and enjoy this, the very finest of Fuller’s ales.”
My Description: This beer is delicious, clean, and remarkably smooth. It begins with a large, off-white colored head that retains nicely and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is somewhat sweet with notes of toffee, fruits, hops, and a touch of alcohol. The aroma smells great and welcoming. The beer is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The hop flavors in this beer are smooth and tasty. There are also notes of grains, caramel, some yeast presence, and a touch of alcohol. The aftertaste is slightly bitter bringing great balance to this ale. Surprisingly, I found this beer to be rather refreshing considering the alcohol content. This is a satisfying English Ale and is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with fish & chips or grilled shrimp.
ABV: 8.5% Color: Orange/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10
HEN’S TOOTH: 88 Points
Tasty English Strong
This English Strong Ale is available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Hen’s Tooth, a fine, specially brewed English ale which matures in the bottle producing a richer and more distinctive character. A warming blend of fruit and malt flavours are followed by a smooth finish.”
My Description: This ale is presented nicely with a very large and dense, beige colored head that lasts forever and leaves behind a great amount of lacing, unlike the other Hen beers. The aroma is slightly complex and welcoming with notes of caramel malt, biscuit malt, herbal hops, and light fruit undertones. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The bitterness is subdued in this beer which brings the rich malt notes to the fore-front. Bread notes are also apparent along with some earthy hops, mineral notes, and a hint of fruit. The aftertaste is clean and the alcohol is nicely hidden. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with mushroom risotto, sauteed snapper, or a fried chicken salad.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Copper/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
OLD CRAFTY HEN: 89 Points
A stronger speckled hen
This English Strong Ale is available year-round in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “A blend of 10 – 14% Old 5X (aged up to 5 years in oak vats – and used in Strong Suffolk) and regular Old Speckled Hen. A distinctive malty taste with a satisfying, smooth raisin finish. This delicious dark amber ale is perfect for indulging yourself and your friends.”
My Description: This beer has similar flavors to Old Speckled Hen with a touch less bitterness and a little more body. Unfortunately, it has the same sub-par head; it is light beige in color and dissipates quickly leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is malt forward with notes of caramel, light fruit, some earthiness, and a hint of oak. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer definitely delivers rich malt notes accompanied by toffee and a some earthy hops. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with a clean hop presence giving this beer great balance. The alcohol is nicely hidden and overall this beer is quite refreshing. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled lamb loin, deep fried cod, or a light cigar.
ABV: 6.5% Color: Deep Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2.5/10
SAMAEL’S (2012): 91 Points
Strong and Sweet
This Oak-Aged English Strong Ale is released in the month of April in 12 oz. single bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Samaels is a super-caramelly, oak-aged English-style strong ale. Perhaps the least hoppy (sacrilege here at Avery!) beer we’ve brewed, to accentuate the malt. The oak is very apparent in this rich and high gravity ale, adding additional depth and complexity with a woody and cask-like nose and a pronounced vanilla flavor on the palate. With the addition of a more roasted malt in 2007, Samaels now delivers subtle bitterness to add balance to the natural sweetness. Cellarable for 10+ years.”
My Description: This beer is definitely a sipper. It is very strong and a person needs to take their time to really appreciate all the complex flavors that develop as this beer warms in your hands. It begins with a good sized, light beige colored head that lasts for some time and leaves behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is very rich with notes of caramel, sugar, light fruits, and alcohol. It is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a creamy finish. Everything about this beer is strong including the flavors. There are notes of caramel, molasses, woodsy hops, oak, vanilla, and fruits like apricots. This beer is definitely on the sweeter side but the aftertaste does provide a slight bitter note to bring balance. The alcohol is noticeable (obviously at this ABV) but not overwhelming. It is more of a flavor note than anything. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with bread pudding and other desserts.
ABV: 15.47% Color: Dark Amber Sweetness: 4/10 Bitterness: 2/10
1845: 96 Points
Enjoy the celebration
This English Strong Ale is available year-round in the U.S. in 500 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “To ensure this magnificent ale reaches perfection, 1845 is matured for at least 100 days before being released for sale. During this time the rich fruity characteristics of the beer are enhanced, while the well-rounded malt flavours create a wonderfully balanced ale. Given this, it’s no surprise that the philosophy of our brewers is that perfection cannot be hurried. Roger Protz, beer writer and critic, describes 1845 as ‘a rich beer with a fruit cake aroma, spices and nutmeg from malt and hops resulting in a dry, fruity finish’. It is also bottle conditioned, which means it is live beer which continues to ferment in bottle, adding to the complex development of flavours.”
My Description: This beauty is well deserving for any occasion. I would suggest enjoying this ale as a sipper rather than pounding out a few. It should be savored and enjoyed. It has a good sized, light beige colored head that lasts forever and produces an amazing amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming and slightly complex with notes of dark fruits, caramel, and a slight roastiness. It is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This ale is well rounded with a sweet caramel body backbone upfront which transitions beautifully into an aftertaste that is moderately bitter. Upfront, there are also sweet notes of dark fruits like plums, toffee, and a hint of alcohol. The hops in the back have a delicious earthy/noble hop flavor. The quality in this beer is world class and it is a must buy. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with lamb chops, grilled pork loin, or stuffing.
ABV: 6.3% Color: Garnet Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 4/10
YORKSHIRE STINGO: 92 Points
This English Strong Ale is aged in oak casks and is released in limited quantities in 550 ml. bottles.
Brewer’s Description: “Yorkshire Stingo is aged for at least a year, matured in well-used oak casks in the brewery’s underground cellars deriving fruit, raisin, treacle toffee, Christmas pudding and slight oaky flavours, before being further naturally conditioned in bottle.”
My Description: The aging process and the use of oak casks create a complex flavor profile that is similar to a Barleywine, just not as big and strong. It has a big and bubbly, light beige colored head that retains nicely and produces a decent amount of lacing. The aroma has a sweet and malty presence accompanied by notes of toffee and raisins. It is roughly full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The taste follows the nose; it has a malty base with notes of dark fruits like raisins, caramel, some vanilla, and oak. The alcohol is apparent but does not interfere, which is true to the style. There is a slight bitterness in the aftertaste, which brings balance and character to the beer. This is a high quality ale and can be aged for several years. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, strong gourmet cheeses, or roasted duck.
ABV: 9% Color: Dark Amber Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10