Archive for the 'Extra Special Bitter' category
Massachusetts is due to get hit by a snow storm tonight and tomorrow (I’ll believe it when it actually happens… weather forecasters are not the most reliable bunch around here), the temperature has been quite cold recently, and I’m sitting down to enjoy an… ESB? Sure the ESB might not be the typical “winter beer” but so what? The McNeill’s ESB is a favorite of mine, and any time I see it on store shelves, which happens to be more frequently thankfully, I pick up a bottle or two.
It pours a lightly cloudy light copper into my pint glass. The beer is topped with a finger of slightly off white head that sticks around for a good few minutes. The head’s texture has a cream consistency, with some large interspersed bubbles, almost like it was poured from a nitro-tap.
In the nose the beer is a pleasurable mix between its malt and hop characteristics. Freshly toasted bread, and slight caramelization provide a mouth watering malt presence. The hop is equally enticing with lemon zest, herb, floral, and lingering pepper spice all playing in my nose. The aroma is quite dry in experience, which reads strange, even when I write it, but dryness came to mind when thinking about the character.
In the mouth the beer is clean and runs smooth through the mouth. The beer starts with a sweet caramel, bread taste. This bread flavor provides a nice base for the hops to work off of. Though I did not notice it in the nose, the hop character has a grapefruit presence, which is a nice surprise, mixed with a herb character. The finish is nice and bitter with a slight spiciness to it that drys everything off.
Now I am only left with thick lacing on the glass walls, a reminder of a great beer drunk.
Next up from Propeller Brewery is their ESB. The beer poured a clear copper body in my pint glass. Initially there was a finger of white head but this dissipated to a thin covering after a couple of minutes. The aromas of earth, moss, mushrooms, and wood all tickled my nose. The beer was on the medium side for a mouth feel and was solid and smooth. This mouth feel allowed the earthy taste to encompass and coat the whole entire mouth. Even with prominent earthy taste, some malt and bread tastes were able to distinguish themselves. This malt helped to balance the beer out.
An enjoyable ESB and a fine showing from Propeller. I kind of wish I tasted the IPA and ESB together, because from my notes they nearly read identical.
This concludes my travel beer reviews from Nova Scotia. I know there is more beer up in Nova Scotia, including other Propeller products, but those will have to wait for my return trip some day. Next my travel beer reviews move south as I tackle beers from Mount Dessert Island Maine.
Moving on from the citrus and spice of the Belgian ale to straight up earthiness. Now I love a hoppy beer, but I’ve never really gotten into the E.S.B. beers, probably due to the different hops used to make them. Plus they seem to be sweeter and have less of those sharp, piney, grapefruit flavors of an IPA. in general I can tolerate 1 or 2 but after that I’m ready to change types. This beer is dark amber in color and creates a very frothy, creamy looking head. The smell is fairly clean with just a touch of roasted malt and very few floral notes. The bitterness of this beer is fairly mild and not nearly as noticeable as in others I’ve had. It has a smokey, toffee-like flavor that takes center stage. The hop characteristic is crisp, clean, and quick. It comes and goes in the middle of the tongue while the malt flavors last throughout the mouth. There is a sweet fruitiness that keeps me coming back for more, although I’m disappointed that I’m not tasting a lot of hops. The overall taste is pretty simple and pretty good. Again I don’t particularly care for the E.S.B. style but in this case it’s not bad, but again I could used some more floralness. It won’t make me run out and buy E.S.B.’s on a consistent basis but it has renewed my interest a little so it might make me think twice about picking one up every now and then, plus it’s a good addition to this variety pack.
Hey you guys, it’s canned beer week! Frankly, in NC, I’m noticing that it’s hard to participate in canned beer week without reviewing some domestic macro-brew swill. I’m going to search further beer repositories around town to see what I can snag, but this offering here is the only canned microbrew I could find at the Triangle’s best beer store that we haven’t reviewed yet. So, in a nutshell, it’s looking dire for canned beer around here. But, mark my words, I’ll keep trying…
Some of you know that I’ve had a mixed bag reviewing Ska beers. A couple of their brews I really like, a couple of them I literally abhor. We even got one of the founders at Ska to comment here on SevenPack when I gave an especially scathing review (input that I certainly appreciated). So, I’m not sure what to expect from this. I haven’t drunk it in the past, due to my mixed emotions about Ska – but, since it’s canned beer week, I’m going to give it a go.
This beer pours a beautiful filtered dark amber color – truly a very pretty beer. There is a lasting thin caramel head on this beer, and the head sticks to the glass leaving an impressive spiderweb on your glass. The aroma of this is rich and malty and really very impressive – much better than you’ll find on most canned brews. In the mouth, this beer is initially a bit impotent, and I had a big ‘blah’ reaction. However, shortly after the tip of the tongue, this beer comes screaming in with a rather impressive flavor blast. About the middle of the tongue, we catch a big dose of biscuity malt and the rich sweetness of that quickly spreads around the mouth. This sweetness rules the beer until right at the back of the mouth and into the aftertaste. At this point, a nutty bitterness springs up and creeps back into the mouth to tackle the remaining sweetness. All in all, it’s an interesting beer that has pleasant and discrete stages in its flavor development. I must say, this is another victory for Ska, in my book. While this isn’t an especially refreshing canned beer, it would be great at a backyard BBQ sometime around spring or autumn. Quite tasty, if you’re into ESBs…
I’ve had about 3 of these Clipper City brews sitting in my fridge for over a month now, and I really don’t know why. I really love these beers – I think Clipper City has done a phenomenal job on just about every variety of imperial brew that I can imagine. So, I guess the reason I haven’t reviewed these yet is just because I know it’ll be another, “Yeah, it’s great, I like it,” kind of review, and those aren’t as much fun as when we’ve got something unique to say. Oh well, such is life. Here you go.
This beer pours a fairly light brown color and smells light a fresh-baked loaf of bread with just a bit of nut – it isn’t too sweet, just very rich and malty. In the mouth, this tastes just like what an imperial ESB needs to be. It’s full and silky, has tons of malt, and a rich bready sweetness with just a tinge of a more refined caramel flavor. There is also a hop profile that is quite a bit more expressive than I normally expect from this genre. This beer has the interesting trait of feeling fairly light across most of the mouth, but then sticking to the back of the mouth like a bad habit, but a very tasty bad habit. The aftertaste lasts for quite some time, and leaves you with a rich sweetness that just begs you to have another drink. I thoroughly enjoy this beer and, while it may not be the best summer ale out there, it’s still great when you’re looking for something rich and high in abv.
“Smells like a buttermilk biscuit” -Matt
I really don’t feel the need to say much after Matt’s short and fairly accurate review because, frankly, this does smell kinda like a buttermilk biscuit. It’s because of all the malt. As I’ve said before, these River Horse brews are all malt-forward. And, given that an ESB is typically pretty malty anyway, this thing is just a regular malt bomb. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tasty – but the sweetness is almost overbearing and the richness is more than you typically expect from an ESB, so go into it with those expectations. Honestly, this is as close to a dessert beer that I’ve found in this genre. It’s really quite decadent, and that’s about all I have to say about it. If you’re into smooth mouthfeels and rich, sweet-bread flavors, then you’ll dig this beer. And, hey, there’s also a fair dose of hops in here, if you’re into that. On top of all that, the dark ruby color is very pretty and, as Matt established, there’s a very rich aroma to work with.