Who are Little Ox?
Little Ox Brewery are, by their own definition, “a microbrewery with a focus on the local area” who make “craft beers that have a broad appeal with a twist from the traditional to challenge drinkers to try new tastes”.
My journey with Little Ox has been a good one; I’ve tried their beers in local pubs, at the Oxford Beer Festival and enjoyed bottles at home. They haven’t failed to disappoint; and I’ll throw this out there early, I think they are the best brewery in Oxfordshire right now.
What sets them apart?
Brewing consistently and bringing something new to the marketplace is no easy task. Ask any brewer who started out in the shed, garage or commercially, the elements that can make a complete mess of your brew are endless. That doesn’t even take into consideration the chaos that can ensue when you get it through the pub door. Bad lines, unclean lines, poorly maintained cellar temperatures, lack of bartender experience. All that being said, hand on heart, I don’t think I can remember having a bad pint of Little Ox.
Yeah… OK… I might have been lucky, but maybe they’re good at choosing pubs that keep their beer in excellent condition?
OK, lets stop asking questions and talk about why they are good…
It’s just good beer. It can be that simple. As beer drinkers, we’ve all had a pint poured or bottle decanted, taken a sip and said ‘oooh, that’s good’. If you haven’t had that moment, have a chat with me, I’ll find you a beer that does that! This is what a number of beers I’ve sampled from Little Ox Brew have done for me.
Yabba Dabba Do won Beer of the Festival at The Oxford Beer Festival in 2018. In my opinion, the beers have only got better since then. What’s not to like?
An IPA, bitter, pale, maybe a stout if you’re lucky, all come out of local breweries on a regular basis. How many small, local breweries, come out with a variety of saisons, wheat beers, imperial stouts and schwarzbiers? Not only just producing them, but beers that are actually good? Little Ox have hit the nail on the head with a solid core range of beers, and innovative specials that keep their customers trying something new.
Not to take anything away from our fantastic local breweries – I am just astounded at the beer coming out of Little Ox Brewery in terms of quality and variety. Not taking anything away from some of our other brilliant breweries – see my write-ups here for Loose Cannon and Tap Social.
Something else to note is that all of their beers are vegan and gluten free – unless specifically stated on the bottle.
I was lucky enough to have a mixed case, gifted by Little Ox, to try earlier in the year. Here are some of the beers I tried.
Bounce Back – Saison 5.6%
One of their core range, this saison is light gold in colour with a zesty, fresh aroma with hints of banana and gooseberry. It has an initial sharp, juicy, refreshing taste, that gives way to a dry, slightly peppery finish. Definitely a beer I would come back to, a great all round saison. This year they also had Roobarb, which was one of their monthly specials, and another brilliant saison for a hot day.
Yabba Dabba Doo – IPA 4.8%
Yabba is a bit of a Little Ox Brew classic. It won the Oxford Beer Festival in 2018 and you can see why. Wonderfully golden in colour with sweet honey, pine and tropical fruit aromas. As you would expect for an IPA, it has a strong hoppy hit, that gives way to zesty, citrus flavours with a crisp, bitter finish. I think this is an IPA that would appeal to many. It’s not as hop forward at some of the more modern IPAs, that can have a tendency to slap you round the face with hops, but has more depth of flavour than the more traditional English IPAs. It offers a great balance.
Wipeout – American Pale Ale 4.2%
I would put this one down a great session ale. Light gold with a slight haze, that gives a citrus, fresh aroma, with a light, clean zesty flavour. Easy drinking with a light bitter finish. At 4.2%, you can have a few and hopefully not fall over.
Schwarz ‘n’ all – Schwarzbier 4.7%
One of their monthly specials, but I wish it was a core beer. If you are not familiar with a schwarzbier, it’s a German black lager. In my experience, these can be fantastic, but also can be hideous! This one fits into the ‘fantastic’ category. As it’s a black lager, you guessed it, it’s black with a subtle roasted malt aroma. On drinking, it’s crisp, light and refreshing (not like you would expect it to taste if you didn’t know what you were drinking). It provides a good amount of hops but also a wonderful roasted, rich coffee flavour. Very, very drinkable – please bring this one back, Little Ox!
Underworld – Barrel Aged Imperial Stout 9.6%
This brew used whisky barrels from The Oxford Artisan Distillery and you can tell! This imperial is jet black, and you can tell on pouring, is a very unctuous beer. You are met with a dark fruit aroma with hints of cherry and oak. On tasting, you get instant dark chocolate with some coconut and marzipan vibes, this gives way to that barrel aged oak finish. This one sets the scene for the up and coming, barrel aged programme. If this is anything to go by, it’s going to be good.
Oxford Pilsner – Pilsner 5%
Light straw in colour, with a floral, sweet aroma. As you would hope from a Pilsner, it’s light and refreshing with hops in the background, that give way to a pleasing bitterness with a honey like finish. Another great core beer.
Dark & Seedy – Vanilla Stout 5.5%
Having a solid stout in your line-up as a brewery is always a good thing. Dark & Seedy doesn’t disappoint with is roasty, almost burnt sugar aroma. On tasting, it provides a good balance of sweetness, with dark chocolate and coffee hints, combined with hoppy bitterness. It’s not too heavy, rich or sweet (which I have found some vanilla stouts to be). Little Ox also have serving temperatures recommended on the bottle, which is a nice touch. This one is best to serve a bit warmer, 12 – 15 degrees, which I would have to agree with. That warmer temp brings out more of the flavour, so take it out of the fridge for while before you serve it.
Get hold of their beer
Little Ox Brewery are located near Freeland, if you wanted to pick up your beer from the brewery, but if you can’t collect they offer a free local delivery service for orders of over £30 and free national delivery for orders over £60. Please check their website for the full list of local delivery postcodes. If you want to enjoy their beers in the pub, follow their Instagram page as each week they tag the venues their beers are heading to.
Their beers are available to order direct from their website in 500ml or 2 litre bottles, as well as the odd 5 litre polypin ‘bag in a box’. Prices start from £2.70 per 500ml bottle, £10 for a 2 litre and a 5 litre polypin will set you back £20. Larger 10 and 20 litre polypins are available on request. Something else worth mentioning, they also can provide kegs and casks with equipment; prefect for weddings and private events.
As COVID-19 restrictions eased, Little Ox recently hosted a brewery open day, which was a great opportunity to try some of their fantastic beers and have a look at the workings behind the scenes. They hope to host some more of these over the coming months, as well as the release of a ‘barrel aged’ programme, which I am really looking forward to. They will also continue with their monthly specials, with a DIPA coming up next – can’t wait.
A new website is also on the horizon, so keep checking them out online.
Little Ox Brew Co
Unit 6 Wroslyn Industrial Estate, Freeland, Witney, OX29 8HZ
🍻 COMPETITON TIME: Win beer from Little Ox! 🍻
We’ve teamed up with Little Ox to offer Bitten readers a mixed case of 12 bottles of beer, chosen by Little Ox.
- Follow @littleoxbrew on Instagram.
- Follow @bittenoxford on Instagram.
- Comment on our Instagram post, tagging a friend.
- One tag per comment, you can comment multiple times and each will be counted as an individual entry.
- The giveaway closes on Friday 27th of August at midnight BST.
- One winner will be chosen at random after the closing date and contacted directly via Instagram.
- You must be a UK resident, and able to collect the beers from Little Ox at Unit 6 Wroslyn Industrial Estate, Freeland, Witney, OX29 8HZ within 1 week of the giveaway closing or arrange delivery at potential cost to the entrant, depending on location. Check their website for the latest opening hours.
- Per Instagram rules, this promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc.
- Proof of age will be required upon collection of the beer.