Young’s Special London Ale
I’ll admit, as I opened this I was expecting big things. Young’s Double Chocolate Stout has been a hit with everybody that has tried it and this ale isn’t cheap to buy. Coming in a massive 500mL bottle (ok, 500mL isn’t THAT big but it’s a chunky mother-of-a-bottle!) it looked quite grand, blue with plenty of gold decals on the label, it looks special. It’s the sort of beer you see on the shelf and just have to buy.
Excellent marketing aside, I cracked it open and it instantly overflowed. I don’t know if I’d been quivering in anticipation or it was happy to see me, but either way it gushed. That says to me that it is a highly carbonated ale to begin with, so I had it in my head that it would be light and tasty.
On pouring, head disappeared quickly and showed a lovely light amber, almost honey. Very light nose with spicy hops, toffee and sweetness. First taste was actually quite confronting; the flavour was quite strong with a punch of hops and then it subsided leaving a beautifully rich malty warmth. Part of the initial shock was also a strong sense of alcohol. I had to check the bottle to realise that yes, it was 6.4% abv. Good alcohol content, but really not masked that well by the flavour.
After initial sippings, when the hops seemed to continue to fade, the ale brought out a few different characters. There was spiciness on the tip of the tongue, the malt grew and was really quite enjoyable, and there were fruity aspects that I couldn’t name.
Overall it did taste a bit raw, kind of like homebrew (and hey, I should know what that tastes like), and after half a glass started to feel a bit of a chore and mouthfeel reduced in quality. Maybe carbonation had died away due to the lack of head, but it started to feel like I was drinking a nectar. The syrup felt like it was sticking to the top of my mouth and it wasn’t the session beer the early carbonation had hinted at.
I must say I loved the beer for its well-crafted hopping. It wasn’t too over-the-top and still left room for other flavours to shine. While I did really enjoy it, the price tag and the lack of sessionability make this a beer I can’t see myself drinking for a while. I recommend you buy a bottle if you want something different and nice, but one is enough.