Drunken Speculation

#17 Lord Nelson Brewery Old Admiral

lord nelson old admiral“I need booze and cigarettes!”
-The lady in front of me in the bottleshop queue

She left with a pack of Winfield Blues and a bottle of butterscotch schnapps. I guess I’d feel crappy too if I slipped on a wet toilet and screwed up my knee. That’s no excuse to drink butterscotch schnapps though. That’s just wrong. What are you, 15?

(Note to self: never go to the local bottlo on a Friday night)

That non sequitur had almost nothing to do with the review. That’s just what happened before I bought some of Lord Nelson Brewery’s Old Admiral. She may have held up the line but she gave me a start to this post.

One of the first aspects of the beer to catch your eye is the complex label. It contrasts with the clean designs of Vale Ales but, at the same time, I have almost no idea what I’m buying based on the label alone. I’m quietly confident its beer though.

In fact, there isn’t even a description of the beer on the bottle but it turns out its a dark, amber-style ale. Online it says:

Old Admiral 6.1% alc/vol – Old Ale

Strong full bodied and malt driven serious ale with plenty of flavour.

Not a lot to go on there but at least it’s not your usual flowery tasting notes, which typically involve at least three different aromas, two of which are untraceable.

The ale’s head is brownish and not entirely unexpected. It’s a dark caramel colour, featuring smaller bubbles and minimal cloudiness, though the beer is still somewhat opaque. The aroma has a bit of kahlua about it, maybe caramel (read: malt)? In searching for something definitive in the smell, which is admittedly not my strongest sense, I’m getting a little light headed from the fumes.

Tasting it and malt is the obvious flavour driver. There’s some bittering hops lurking in the back. Actually, there’s more hops than first anticipated. I feel, using our patented yet narrow Drunk Spec categorisation system, that it lies closer to an Indian pale ale than an amber ale. There’s more hops than you’d allow to mess up the malty character of an amber ale and the added alcoholic strength really puts it over the line into the IPA category. But I’m going to line-ball it and put it into the Dark Ale category.

I’ve made no secret that I prefer malts to hops in my beers. That probably puts the Old Admiral at a disadvantage in this review. Overall, I feel it lacks character that one expects of a craft beer. It is serious. It is full-bodied. It is malt driven. However, when one goes to craft section of your bottleshop, you want something to take your breath away when you give it a good swish around the palette. Compared to other British-style/-branded beers (#5 springs most readily to mind), it brings a knife to a gun fight.


  • Website
  • Genre: Dark ale
  • Regionality: Sydney, NSW
  • Strength: 6.1%
  • Rating: 1.5 / 3 taste + 1 / 2 ancillaries = 2.5 / 5
  • Plus: Interesting balance of hops against malt.
  • Minus: Not much…bluster? to this beer.
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