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McNeill's Extra Special Bitter - McNeill's Brewery

Not Rated.
McNeill's Extra Special BitterMcNeill's Extra Special Bitter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
86
very good

114 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 114
Reviews: 93
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 12.34%
Wants: 3
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
McNeill's Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-03-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 114 | Reviews: 93 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of patrick802
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

patrick802, May 04, 2014
Photo of Noelito76
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

Noelito76, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of scotorum
3.96/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the 22 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English tulip.

a: Nearly clear dark gold, huge white head dissipated fairly quickly to surface foam and some lacing.

s: Strong pine with a curious fruit or spice undertone.

t: Pine hops forward, if I had not been told this was an ESB I would have taken it for a stronger than average American IPA. Much too hoppy for an English style ESB, likely to please hopheads. Surprisingly dry finish considering.

m: Light to moderate, good body.

o: Difficult to rate this because it's a good IPA, just not malty enough for a good ESB. Maybe this is the coming style given the popularity of IPAs: an "American ESB." Or maybe the new definition of "Strong Bitter" is "Hoppy Bitter." In any case it seems to me this beer represents a trend of more and more American craft brewers brewing out side the traditional style boxes.

Creatively speaking that may be very good, because it means an infinity of different tastes. But one consequence of that is that buyers can no longer rely on getting any particular ballpark taste from any craft beer described as in that style by the brewer unless they have already tasted it. I'm not objecting to McNeill's ESB, it's a pretty good brew. But in my style book, it's definitely not a traditional ESB.

scotorum, Sep 29, 2013
Photo of HRamz3
3/5  rDev -21.3%

HRamz3, Sep 03, 2013
Photo of ZEB89
4/5  rDev +5%

ZEB89, Aug 20, 2013
Photo of jealmanzar
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

jealmanzar, Aug 13, 2013
Photo of OriolesFan1008
3/5  rDev -21.3%

OriolesFan1008, Jul 06, 2013
Photo of jaxon53
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

jaxon53, Jun 26, 2013
Photo of sammy806
2.75/5  rDev -27.8%

sammy806, Jun 20, 2013
Photo of Kelp
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%

Kelp, Jun 04, 2013
Photo of sacrelicio
4/5  rDev +5%

sacrelicio, Feb 13, 2013
Photo of Willytee3
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour a light amber orange with one finger of cream color head. Large bubbly carbonation that recedes quickly. Little if any lacing.

Trace of smell is clean and crisp with slight Carmel malts.

High carbonation with a little bitter bite up front. OK mouth feel. Slight malt flavor through the sip. A little fruity essence not much, finishes bitter on the tongue and lingers. A little malty sweetness is present with nice balance to the bitter.

Willytee3, Oct 09, 2012
Photo of fuzzcherry
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

fuzzcherry, Sep 23, 2012
Photo of Kerin
2.63/5  rDev -31%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

This beer is not my favourite. It's labeled as an ESB, but, um, it isn't. A fair amount of hops - it's hoppier than SNPA, and in spite of being called an ESB it has predominantly American-tasting hops. I think I'm detecting a fair portion of Nugget, Cascade and (I think) Newport hops, none of which are remotely English in profile. There's no earthiness here, and the only thing bitter-ey about this is the diacetyl... which is nuts. So, uh:

Appearance: Slightly below average. It'd be fine for an amber, but it's miles away from being pale. Cloudy, there's an insane amount of sediment in the bottle (and this is coming from a homebrewer.)

Taste: Not terrible, not great. This tastes like an aggressively average American pale ale, and the only distinctive thing about it is the elevated bitterness. No malt profile to speak of save a brief, well-rounded sweet tang at the end of the sip that gives way smoothly to...

Mouthfeel: There is so much diacetyl here I feel like I'm drinking this out of a theater popcorn box. The first couple mouthfuls were novel but by the end of the glass it's getting to be a Goddamn chore. I've had several bitters with significant diacetyl where it worked, but they all had less than this - and they also had less hop bitterness, and the flavor was therefore better integrated with the beer.

Overall, this is a disappointing beer - doubly so because a good ESB is so hard to find in the USA. I'll admit that I do have a very... defined idea of what an ESB should taste like (Fuller's) but this is so far outside the style that I don't know what they were thinking. Marketed as a Pale I'd probably bump the taste and overall scores up half a point apiece, but this mosaic of attributes doesn't work no matter how they're described. Pass, and I would have to think about it if someone offered me one.

Kerin, Sep 16, 2012
Photo of bigred89
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

bigred89, Aug 29, 2012
Photo of RoryOMoore
3/5  rDev -21.3%

RoryOMoore, Jul 08, 2012
Photo of jsprain1
3.75/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours about the lightest color that I could still call brown. Head is thin, off white, retains well and leaves good retention.
S- The smell is pleasing but is a bit one-dimensional with sweet grapefruit.
T- The flavors are a bit more complex. Up front is a wave of grapefruity hop flavor, but some light caramel and toffee flavors fill it out. There also was a bit of lingering peach flavor.
M- Crisp, yet it finishes slightly slick.
O- A good bitter beer. It was easy drinking enough and was both interesting and balanced.

jsprain1, Jun 20, 2012
Photo of djrn2
3.25/5  rDev -14.7%

djrn2, Mar 11, 2012
Photo of MattyMcGovern
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

MattyMcGovern, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of bennway
4/5  rDev +5%

bennway, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of dunix
4/5  rDev +5%

dunix, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of UDbeernut
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle aquired in trade with shcufj, best before Feb 2012.

Hazy copper hut with strong 1" head with beyond excellent retention. bread light flower, and yeast in the nose. Taste is well balanced, just basic malt and flower hop. mouth is light to medium bodied with plenty of carbonation to help.

UDbeernut, Feb 09, 2012
Photo of calmstock
4/5  rDev +5%

calmstock, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4/5  rDev +5%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 28, 2011
Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +31.2%

patm1986, Nov 18, 2011
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McNeill's Extra Special Bitter from McNeill's Brewery
86 out of 100 based on 114 ratings.