McNeill's Extra Special Bitter - McNeill's Brewery

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

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BA SCORE
85
very good

115 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 115
Reviews: 93
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.11%
Wants: 3
Gots: 2 | 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: 115 | Reviews: 93 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of patm1986
5/5  rDev +31.6%

Photo of scottum
4.72/5  rDev +24.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a brown amber with a nice head. Bitter and hoppy. Nice breadlike malt balance. Better on cask, but the bottled version is damn fine. My favorite ESB. A very solid English Style Extra Special Bitter. Much better than Fullers. This one is actually bitter. Good mouthfeel. Makes ya want more and more.

Photo of rabidawg
4.65/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

What a great ESB. Pours a slightly hazy copper with a small white head. Moderately carbonated. Laces well. Aroma is surprisingly citrus-filled, but in a gentle way. Sweet caramel malt and a toasty, bread crust smell comes through as well. Taste is mind-blowing. Soft in the mouth initially, with prickling carbonation coming through only after a few seconds. Slightly sweet up front; herbal and citrus hops in the middle. Finishes crisp and dry, with lingering English hop flavour and a nice yeasty tone. Excellent.

Photo of mshallah
4.53/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

December notched on the label but no year. Very hazy to cloudy amber with a very soapy looking two and a half finger head which recedes slowly.Fruity and hoppy nose. Smells inviting. Very fruity and hoppy taste. Malt is very sweet. Hops are in the nose. Bittering hops for flavor dry out the sweetness for a pleasant finish. Fruitiness is of fresh baked fruit pie and the malt sweetness is the pie crust. Floral hops with bitter hops and a slight alcohol note round out the complex balance of flavors. Love this brewery. A two hour drive I really need to take soon. Decant this beer carefully to keep the yeast in the bottle.

Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was really, really suprised by this one to say the least. I recieved it as part of a BIF and decided to open it the other night as I was in need of a little hoppy relief. Much to my suprise this turned out to be one of the better of the style I can remember. Served cold and poured into a pint glass.

Brilliant pour, rich amber in color with a good bit of clarity to it. Big head of foamy white lace comes up and over the top nearly perfectly, cratering and sticking to the sides with a wonderful amount of foam. Lively carbonation streaming to the surface all the while. Huge lemon and rich citrus aroma. Pungent and hoppy, really very well put together. Warming brings a subtle balance, but again this was a big, bitter, esb. First sip is medium bodied, clean and crisp with a wonderfully balanced amount of carbonation. Superb balance here. Fresh, crisp notes of lemon and ornage peel undercut a light, but present buttery middle. Smooth, dry and long lasting finish leaves a touch of zest on the tongue and a yearning to go back for more.

Overall, wow. I was not expecting this one to be as good as it was. Simply blown away. I would have no issue with having this one again, in fact I may be on m way to seek it out. Damn fine beer here.

Photo of cheapxceptbeer
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Of three Mcneill beers I bought at the single most disgusting liquor store I have ever seen, this was the only one that wasn't skunked. It was really unfortunate because they only cost 3 dollars a piece and I thought I was getting a deal, actually its pretty funny, who buys craft beer at a nasty looking liquor store and goes away thinking they have gotten a deal?

While my opinion of this beer may be inflated because the other 2 were skunked and it was all I had to keep my sanity from cabin fever in the middle of the woods of Vermont, this is a great beer. All I can think about is how much I love golding hops with caramel malts. This is an A, and I am not explaining why.

Photo of John
4.45/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What we have here my friends is one highly hopped ESB bordering on being an IPA. I'm not complaining mind you, in fact this stuff's right up my alley. Pleasantly balanced with the right touch of malt. I could down several of these with ease.

Photo of marc77
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy tawny bronze hue. Thin, soapy off white head manages loose lace. Dark caramel drizzled grapefruit upfront in aroma along with mellow hints of burnt biscuit and faint butterscotch. Fruitiness is mild and pleasant, being comprised of subtle ripe pear and red grape. Enticing and well rounded aromawise. A snap of toffeeish dark caramel sweetness in flavor is quickly superceded by assertive, lingering citrus pith like hop bitterness. Fruitiness, of a fructose rich dried date nature, accentuates the initially overshadowed caramel malt presence, lending balance mid palate. Mild diacetyl surfaces late along with judicious grainy whole wheat biscuit, lending an agreeable bread and butter contrast to the hop bitterness late. Moderately bodied, with the well calculated attenuation and usage of caramel malts facilitating a dextrinous smooth mouthfeel that assuages any hop astringency. Finishes with lingering hints of singed cracker and juicy citrus. A delicious ESB with a firm malt backbone and well hopped American flare. Please send some to Kansas.

Photo of PatandDavid
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good stuff. Cloudy and like brewed tea in color. Faint bitter hoppy smell. The head disapated quickly, but still left me with nice lacing at the top of the glass.

Carbonation is very pleasant, feels like millions of tiny bubbles. Medium bodied, with a well rounded mouthfeel...no thin notes here, but not heavy either. Nice base of malt, the finish is dry and slightly hoppy.

This could turn into my new favorite style of beer. One gets a lovely aroma of hops. The taste is bursting with hop goodness, but not of the extreme, in your face style of over hopping. I would get this again, and again, and again. Pat

Photo of purplehops
4.4/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

McNeill's ESB pours a hazy deep copper red with a light tan head that is volcanic and frothy. It doesn't really leave lace on the glass it leaves a coating on the glass. Aroma is a smack of floral hops followed by a big malt nose and a hint of citrus. Taste starts with assertive caramel and pale malt flavors and then a good dose of spicy and citrus hops. This is followed by apple, mace, and pear flavors blending with the sweet malt and citrus hop flavors. The finish is slightly dry while maintaining a great balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness with citrus flavors. Aftertaste is a desire for more. A lingering citrus and pale malt blend with a wee bit of pucker. Mouthfeel is refreshingly bitter with a medium to medium-heavy body and all the carbonation you could ever want.
Overall a great bitter. Hoppy, malty, thirst quenching, and it taste great! What more could you want. One of Vermont's best.

Photo of MJR
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased in Boston the weekend of the AoBF...

Appearance: Pours crystal clear with a reddish-amber color with a touch of copper on the edges. It's thick tan head has the consistency of freshly whipped cream and holds like a champ. Lacing decorates the glass like cobwebs in an attic that's been neglected for years...

Smell: The aroma is well balanced between the piney, fresh hops and caramelly, sweet malt. There's a hint of a crackery, bready character that only adds to the richness.

Taste: This brew is painfully close in flavor to Fuller's ESB...now that's impressive! The flavor is rich with malty goodness that has caramel and toffee, breadiness, and a wonderful estery fruitiness. Bring it all into balance is a healthy dose of fresh English-variety hops. They're fruity and piney, with a slight hint of apricot. The finish is bitter, with a faintly minerally taste and a small swipe of alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Dry and crisp with a medium mouthfeel. The finish gets even drier with a touch of alcohol. Good stuff...

Drinkability: Damn good! While this is a very well done ESB that I could drink several of, it's amount of hops almost borders on being an English-style IPA. The alcohol on the finish makes me think it's a bit stronger than your average ESB, but it would still make a great session brew.

One random note: this brew's yeast sediment matches anything from Belgium! The yeast chunks are huge!

Photo of francisweizen
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fresh from the brewery bomber. A grainy biege/tan appearance with an off-white head. The aroma screams fresh biscuity malts, and lovely floral hops from the English countryside. The taste is a nice biscuity malt bonanza up front, with some herbal/floral hops in the middle and a nice boozy flash of spiciness in the finish. The mouthfeel is quite heavy...yet creamy and smooth. The drinkability is excellent as well. One of the best US versions of this style....this one is done right.

Photo of guyforget
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, poured into weizen glass

appearance - cloudy copper, some sediment. thick, puffy head, takes a while to subside. lacing with each sip.

smell - citrus, pine. plenty of aroma coming from the thick head.

taste - citrus, hops, resiny. slight caramel up front gets cut by the lingering bitterness pretty quickly.

mouthfeel - fizzy, lots of carbonation as evidenced by the abundant head. slightly oily finish.

drinkability - very drinkable, not as bitter as the name would imply, at least not as bitter as i was expecting. would drink again.

Photo of gfreed
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice amber color and a towering head, produced with very little effort. Totally unexpected, but then I was quite surprised by this beer all around. It has a pungent, lemony aroma that was surrounded by malt, and the taste was extremely bright and citrusy but not in an overly hopped, grapefruity manner. Relatively low ABV and powerful carbonation make this a good summer beer. This is one of the better American British-style ESBs I've had, and would gleefully buy another bottle. The generous amount of yeasty scud at the bottom of the bottle was a bonus.

Photo of smcolw
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Gorgeous head, nice lace. Orange-amber in color. The negative here is the amount of suspended solid particles in the beer--unusual. Big points for the former; lost points for the latter.

Sweet and bitter in aroma. It's unusual to have this sort of complexity in the nose. The hop is very flowery; the malt is very rich.

This is very highly hopped. The malt is the vehicle to deliver the hop bitterness. Frankly, this is more bitter than the average American IPA--not that I'm complaining.

The flavor is strongly hop--again, very close to an IPA. Looking past the bitterness, the malt is very dry, subtle and easily overlooked. The body is like skim milk and the carbonation is slightly high.

This is a powerful ESB. If you imagine IPA, you'll enjoy this beer. If you prefer ales closer to a mild, this will overwhelm. As a hophead, I enjoy this one very much. There are many interesting qualities that require subtle observance. You may bow your head in prayer now.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a mug glass.

A: The beer is a light brown color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of grassy hops, honey, citrus, and caramelized malts.

T: The taste is very well-balanced with a strong but not overpowering hops bitterness that complimented nicely by mild flavors of citrus and caramel. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, nice representation of style, this very good milder beer with a lot of substance and is worth drinking for a long time.

Photo of paceyourself
4.28/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour from my bomber produced hardly any head but the foggy amber color was enticing. Malty sweetness gets met by a strong citric bitterness. It has a dry finish and is a very drinkable ESB. A ton and i mean a ton of sediment from my last pour of the bomber surprised me. This was my first brew from McNeill's and now i can't wait for my next.

Photo of mschofield
4.25/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy red-amber with a one finger tan head, leaves thick sticky webs of lacing.
Great floral aroma, a fruit note is introduced when the yeast is swirled and added.
Toasted bread, biscuit, floral and grapefruit notes in the taste.
Strong bitterness for an ESB - very good.
Medium bodied, smooth, great body and feel, good session beer

Photo of travduke
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy dark orange/red body. Generous white fluffy head and great lacing.

Aroma: Nice citrus and floral hop profile. Sweet grain malt backbone.

Taste: Hoppier than I would of thought, but that's good! Nice smooth bitterness.

Feel/Drink: Medium to full mouthfeel. I really enjoyed this and can drink a couple with pleasure.

Photo of gentlebubbles
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

NERAX 04

One of the few cloudy ones. A hazy amber swirls under a nice high rounded head. The sour scent from the citrusy orangey hops rises up from the fruity appley malt base. Lots of orange popping up all over this one. The juicy finish keeps you from getting too dry.

Photo of edchicma
4.18/5  rDev +10%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bit too much sediment suspended in the pour...but smell made up for it...floral. hoppy...excellent. Taste was cirusy, hoppy and robust...left that great bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel was dry and sharp....just what I was looking for. Easy on the drinkability side...mmmm I'm still tasting those hops!

Photo of Gusler
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lightly murky deep amber to copper color on the pour, the head cyclopean in size, frothy in texture with the lace so sadly left behind fine clinging sheets. Floral hints up front, malt and quite lemon peel fresh and crisp, a real schnozzle pleaser. Pleasing in its malt sweetness at the start, top middling in feel, finish is spicily hopped, big time carbonation with the aftertaste droughty. "Quaffable", I do like a nice ESB, and this one I "Likes" a lot.

Photo of Neorebel
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep cloudy golden brown in color. The head is extremely dense & soapy, very strong 1"+ retention. Be careful pouring this one as to not waste any! The aroma is complex with a slightly earthy malt, grapefruit, and some hops as well. The taste starts with the malty presence and then there is a quick 'zing' of strong bitter hops and alcohol. The mouthfeel leaves a pleasant bitterness and definitely makes me want another sip right away. This is the forth beer out of Vermont I've had. I'm pretty impressed with it. Not on the same level as the benchmark ESB's, but still very good.

Photo of UncleJimbo
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber, purchased at the brewpub.

This ESB poured a hazy, amber color with creamy, white foam that settled to a thin coat which clung and left some lace on the glass. The smell was malty with a hint of yeast. The taste was malty with a dry maltiness. There was a touch of yeast flavor and a very modest hop bitterness blended in. The mouthfeel was dry and malty with medium body and modest carbonation. The malt and hops lingered in the finish. This was a very smooth and easy-drinking ESB.

Photo of mydeadguy
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber..

pours a hazy mix of red, orange, and brown tones. Plenty of yeast in the glass, topped with a loose frothy head that drops quickly. Aroma is floral and bitter hops and oils, followed by bready malts. The taste is all ESB, sweet malt backbone followed with a huge herbal/citric, and bitter hop flavor. Medium bodied, medium carbonation, this one is a joy to drink. patchy lacing sticks throughout..

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McNeill's Extra Special Bitter from McNeill's Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 115 ratings.