7 O’Clock Special Bitter Tasting Notes

Original Post: 7 O’Clock Best Bitter
Style: Special/Best Bitter
Brew Date: June 18, 2013
Tasting Date: December 6, 2014
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 37
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I don’t have fond memories of this beer. There are a few more bottles in the basement, but I’ve had no desire to drink them. Let’s find out if my poor opinion is justified.

The beer is over carbonated. It wasn’t a gusher, but it poured about three quarters of a glass of foam. As it finally died down and I filled more of the glass with liquid, it became obvious that it was thick with yeast. The color is bright orange, but the overall appearance is not nearly as appealing as it would be if it wasn’t so cloudy.

The aroma of the beer is very strong and actually pretty nice. I got some citrus notes just from pouring. Getting in closer, the aroma gets a bit earthier. I was surprised by the citrus aroma, which was distinctly American. That smell stays, but takes a back seat to the earthy English hops with notes of tobacco. There is also some oxidized, cardboard aroma evident, but considering the age of the beer, that is to be expected.

On the first sip, the tobacco-like hops come through first but there is some caramel malt sweetness as well, balanced by bitterness. The malt and the bitterness are pleasant, but I just don’t like the hop flavor.

The carbonation is crisp and sharp. Between that and the moderate, but not overwhelming bitterness, the beer cleans up pretty thoroughly.
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Everything else is fine, but it really just comes down to the fact that I don’t like the hop character of this beer. I don’t know how to describe it other than tobacco, but with hints of citrus. It is sort of the worst of British and American hops combined. The earthy British flavor and the harsh American character are combined into a dirt sandwich.

The cloudy, yeasty over carbonation is the only real problem with the brewing of this beer that I can find. But I really don’t like it. The citrus and harshness makes it too American to really feel like a Bitter, the sweetness and British maltiness means it can’t be an American IPA and that tobacco flavor… well, I just don’t like that.

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