Brewed by Charles Wells (Marston’s)
Style: English Strong Ale
Bedford, England


on tap

Broad Distribution

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RATINGS: 1010   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.52/5   EST. CALORIES: 192   ABV: 6.4%
Bottle Conditioned. Occasionally available in the cask.
Production moved from Youngs to Wells & Youngs in 2007. Brand acquired solely by Charles Wells in 2011.
Ingredients: Maris Otter and Crystal malt; Fuggle and Goldings hops. Dry hopped with Golding and Target hops. Re-pitched with fresh yeast and wort in the bottle.
Young’s Special London Ale is the UK’s No.1 bottle conditioned ale. It is an unpasteurised, living beer, matured in the bottle for a fuller, more complex, multi-dimensional, fresher taste. Without artificial carbonation, the only fizz is the natural effervescence created by fermentation.
“A wonderfully balanced, deep-golden strong bottled ale, brewed from pure malt and a phenomenal amount of hops. A lively, fruity character with suggestions of banana and orange zest.”
CAMRA Champion Bottled Beer of Britain - 1999.

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SilkTork (5737) - Southampton, United Kingdom, Hampshire, ENGLAND - JUL 3, 2004
UPDATED: OCT 13, 2016
July 2002. Bottle. Excellent beer. Plenty of body and a good mouthfeel to ground the wonderful zingy and very fruitful hop buzz. Drunk quite young so it’s slightly fizzy, and the malt base and the hop zip are a little too far apart. [3.3]
July 2004. Bottle conditioned. BBE Dec 04. Compared with Orval and Freeminer’s Waterloo. Opens with a hiss and a little whiff of vapour. Aroma is fruit, some wet cardboard, vintage ale notes and some bitterness. Less attractive than the Orval but at this stage more range and variety. After pouring the aroma contains bananas and volatiles, then just prickly metallic volatiles. The appearance is the richest and most attractive of the three beers - a glowing copper amber, slightly dark, with a loose bubble head evenly covering the beer. Raw meat, metal and damp cardboard are now the noticeable aromas, to be followed by banana, and at this stage the Young’s is the most interesting. Mouthfeel is fatter and oiler than the Orval and is sustained through to the finish. A very fulsome and pleasurable feel - alcohol is hardly evident, just malty flavours. Good mouthfeel, but the Freeminer’s mouthfeel is much better. Flavours are smooth and fruity with a dark woody bitterness coming along in the middle, finishing with wet cardboard. A strange mix of banana, malt bread, metal and damp cardboard. The initial brown sugar sweetness is very pleasant, and the bitterness is serious and old school, but the cardboard is simply unpleasant, though it eventually fades until the flavour becomes consistantly pleasant, developing more and more as the beer progresses. Even though the Orval and the Young’s share brewing methods (same triple fermentation - one week open, followed by three weeks over a bed of Goldings, and then reprimed in the bottle), it’s the special Brettanomyces yeast developed by the Orval Abbey that really makes the difference between the beers. The Orval being quite dry, while the Young’s is sweeter with caramel notes. I prefer my beers to have a touch of sweetness balanced by bitterness, so this comes in just ahead of the Orval, though not by much. [3.6]
July 2004 A second taste comparison - this time with Fuller’s 1845 and Greene King’s Hen’s Tooth. The fruity lightness compared poorly to the other two, and this was placed last. [3.3]
Dec 2011 Compared again with Fuller’s 1845, and again came off worse. There’s nothing really distinctive about this beer, and it comes over as a bit wishy washy and even a bit muddled. Drinkable for sure, and pleasant enough, but if you’re getting a bottle conditioned strong ale from one of the big British brewers, then the Fuller’s one is more impressive. [3.2]
Oct, 2016 I have a fair degree of respect for Youngs SPecial London, and i’s been a while since I had it, so to see it on offer at Asda for the same price as some 4% beers, then I had to grab a few. And it was worth it. This is the first 100% Charles Wells version I’ve had, and it’s fine. I’m not sure how close they follow the original recipe, including the open fermentation, and there is perhaps a lack of depth and character about this to suggest they cut corners, but it’s still a decent brew. Nice sweet malt with good body, and well integrated with English hops. Old fashioned and very satisfying. Nice. [3.5]

Kevin (2199) - Montana, USA - JUL 2, 2004
Bottle. golden brown with a red hint. creamy light tan head. slight fruit aroma. sweet hoppy taste up front mellow into a nutty malt finish. leaves a slightly slick mouthfeel. a very smooth drink

Cowtown57 (18) - Ft Worth, Texas, USA - JUL 1, 2004
Pretty good. Small head, nice dark amber color. Bitter but there’s kind of a sweet fruitiness there too. It’s all good.

crzybob77 (530) - Richmond, Virginia, USA - JUN 29, 2004
Some citrus in the aroma. Taste is crisp with a pretty good bitter hop and lemony citrus. Nothing really special, but still enjoyable.

envane (570) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - JUN 28, 2004
Clear copper colou with a slight tan head. It started out very hoppy, almost like an IPA, with earthy english hops. Asit warmed up, the malt became more apparent:- nut, fruit, caramel. Bitter finish.

guzzler67 (1696) - Hanover, Maryland, USA - JUN 27, 2004
Deep amber appearance with an aroma that was just a bit woody. Smooth and fruity up front, followed by a malty, slightly sweet taste. Good carbonation with a finish that was mildly bitter. (on tap at the ODBF)

robertsreality (2460) - Minnesota, USA - JUN 24, 2004
Tried at The Salisbury, Covent Garden, London. Brown Coloring. Hops oh yeah... uneventful but not a bad one to try.

Malakin (470) - Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA - JUN 22, 2004
UPDATED: JUN 23, 2004 Light amber in color with a dense foamy head. Some hoppy earthy flavour with a light bitterness and maybe some citrus.

frankR (149) - Livermore, California, USA - JUN 16, 2004
Nose of apples, thick white head, mostly diminishing. Some bland earthly tones in the body, with an uninterestingly bitter finsh. Rather diappointing.

BigBilly (127) - London W3 6PF, ENGLAND - JUN 11, 2004
500 ml brown bottle. Clear amber with white gold head. Miniscule carbonation and no lacing. Spicy toffee nose-I didn’t get the hops. Lovely brandy fruit flavour with ginger notes but never sweet. Nice full mouthfeel with fruity bitter finish. A lovely beer which is surprisingly easy to drink considering its potency.

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