Founded in 1842, Ridley's was the longest established brewer in Essex until 2005 when, struggling under high debt, Ridleys was bought up by it's behemoth East Anglian neighbour. The plant was closed and the brand assimilated into the wider GK business.
Old Bob is a "Strong Premium Ale", and at 5.1% abv they're not wrong about the clout.
It pours fairly flat, with a whiff of toffee and grass on the nose and a deep potent chestnut colour. The brief suggestion of a head makes a fast exit within seconds, like a sweetshop robber making off with a marshmallow.
First taste is a bit toffee, with some slidey citrus flavours segueing into darker fruit. It's quite pleasing, and the biscuit-malt lilt at the tail end is verging to sweet but capped off by a brush of hoppy bitterness.
The brewers making this have done some good work here - there's no doubt this is a sweet beer, but the tangy fruit and hops really staple it down so that it has no chance to become sickly.
The alcohol carries gravitas throughout, and the final effect is a creamy, robust cold-weather pint, well suited to the bottle.
I'll likely never get a chance to sample the original Ridley brews, but whatever you think of large brew corporations hoovering up smaller competition, this still stands as a fine ale.
7/10 - A fine example of acrobatic balance in the stronger pint. Rich, creamy quality.