Sunday, 19 December 2010

Young's Special London Ale


I cracked open a bottle of Young's Special London Ale a short while ago, whilst settling down in front of the TV to watch David Suchet on the Orient Express. Excellent programme with some superb scenery, and some equally superb restored 1920's carriages.

It's a shame I can't say the same about the beer. What on earth has happened to this former classic? It seems someone has forgotten the hops. You used to be able to smell them as soon as the crown-cork was released, and when the beer was poured it was like drinking in a hop-garden! Somewhere along the line, this once excellent beer has lost its essential character.

I suspect this "dumbing down" occurred after Young's shifted their brewing operation to Bedford; throwing in their lot with Charles Wells. However, I'm still not certain why this change should have come about, but feel it's unlikely to be just down to the different water and brewing environment in Bedford. Did the company feel that the beer was just too hoppy and decide to go for a safer, more mainstream market?

I used to be a big fan of Young's beers back in the late 70's and 80's. Sadly this is no longer the case, and Special London Ale is now anything but special, so far as I am concerned!

9 comments:

Ben said...

Paul, a number of people have been enthusing about this recently.So much so I bought a couple of bottles 2weeks ago and mighty fine they were.However the last few bottles I bought over the weekend would back up your comment.I thought I was drinking a completely different beer!!
Very strange

Ben

Tandleman said...

Neither special nor London then. Not tried it for a while.

Ed said...

That's a very worrying development, I'm a big fan of Special London Ale.

Paul Bailey said...

Ben - it sounds as though there's something strange going on here. I've still got a bottle left, but it's almost certainly from the same batch.
Tandleman - definitely NOT London, and on current form definitely NOT special!
Ed - I was a fan too, but yesterday's bottle was very disappointing!

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I used to love SLA but it hasnt been the same since the move, but then again it had lost some of its hop character towards the end of the Wandsworth days.

It is a shockingly pale shadow of its former self.

Claire Monk said...

I've not tried any of this for a while, I love their double chocolate stout though. Well, I did last time I had it!

Paul Bailey said...

I used to like Young's Double Chocolate Stout too, Claire, although like yourself it's a while since I last tried it.

GRANDE CERVEJEIRO said...

Hello brewers, that this Christmas will bring much happiness to all and many beers ...
Happy Christmas ...........
http://grandecervejeiro.blogspot.com/

Paul Bailey said...

I tried the second bottle I had in stock, last night. It was definitely better, with more hop character than the first bottle. However, it still didn't taste anything like how I remember SLA tasting.