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Red Racer ESB (Extra Special Bitter) - Central City Brewers + Distillers

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Red Racer ESB (Extra Special Bitter)Red Racer ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

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BA SCORE
88
very good

45 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 45
Hads: 105
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 5.53%
Wants: 29
Gots: 18 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Central City Brewers + Distillers visit their website
British Columbia, Canada

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

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: canucklehead on 10-13-2005

The use of crystal malt lends to this beer’s flavour and colour profile. Packed with hops from the North West and United Kingdom this is our original take on the classic English bitter.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 45 | Hads: 105
Photo of stagger
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Alibi Room, as part of a three-round face-off between a number of different draft selections there.

In three rounds of four beers each, the ESB clearly came out on top, ahead of perennial favourites such as Red Racer IPA and Driftwood Farmhand. A well-rounded, extraordinarily favourful and balanced bitter, equally suited for savouring and sessioning. As fine as their IPA is, it pales (no pun intended) in comparison to the ESB.

If they can get this into bottles (correction: cans, I suppose) I'd drive across the border regularly to get my fix. Well done, Central City! (590 characters)

Photo of IllNate
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Rich copper colour. Finger of off white heat, decent retention. Subsides to web/lacing.

S - Great aroma on this. Rich English pale malt aroma mixed with a fairly prominent hop component. Citrus and herbal hops.

T - Taste follows with an excellent rich maltiness with good balancing hops (mostly citrus). Might be just a tad on the bitter side for an ESB (otherwise a solid 5).

M - Creamy and smooth with a good amount of bitterness.

D - Wonderfully balanced, really a great beer all around. (500 characters)

Photo of Seanstoppable
4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pouring into a glass results in a hazy darker amber. Somewhere between a regular amber and caramel. Plenty of fluffy white head that leaves lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell is hoppier than a regular ESB, but oh so good. Hops are a bit piney in nature.

Taste is awesome. Plenty of piney flavor from the hops, with some nice smooth malty background. A decent core bitterness throughout the entire drink. Technically off balance for an ESB, with the hops being more dominant than the malts, but many is it tasty!

I won't lie, while this was available locally, I bought a six pack whenever I stopped by where it was being sold. My favorite Red Racer beer overall. (669 characters)

Photo of Long813
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From: Premier Wine & Spirits
Dated: NA

A: Hazy orange body with two fingers of off white head. Retention is fine and leaves nice lacing.

S: Nice mix of citrus malts and bread. Nothing off the typical ESB

T: Fair in malt content, has a notable spice to it and a load of hops. Very pleasing.

M: Light bodied with high carbonation making for a frothy mouthfeel. Very bitter and dry finish.

D: A tasty ESB, not as malt forward as English styles. (449 characters)

Photo of papat444
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Part of a mixed pack that my uncle brought for me when visiting.

Poured from a 355ml. can, canned Nov. 1, 2011 (Lot K0111).

Appearance: A brass colored body with 3 fingers of foam, a bit lopsided and with good lacing.

Smell: Biscuity, malty, hops and ripe fruit.

Taste: Only a few drops on my tongue and i taste immediately orange & grapefruit. Further tasting reveals the plush fruit mixed with some earthiness. Quite flavorful.

Mouthfeel: Gritty just a tad, solid with just the right amount of dryness & bitterness.

Overall: A well balanced ESB that exemplifies the style. One of the best of its class. (610 characters)

Photo of chickenm
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Central City brewpub. Pours a clear copper color with a medium white head. Aroma of citrusy hops and caramel malt. The flavor is fairly hoppy, but nicely balanced with the malt. Medium-light body with good carbonation, and a mild bitter aftertaste. Very drinkable, this makes a great session beer. (311 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

355ml can poured into pint glass jan3 2010

A clear reddish copper with some slowly raising bubbles feeding a thumbs width of beige head that slowly falls to a thin film leaving a few patches of lace

S some citric hops with some caramel, bread and faint pine

T again lots of hops but plenty of malt to go with it, slightly metallic with some toffee, good balance with this brew quite enjoyable

M full for the color and enough carbonation to give it some life

D very easy to drink and a well rounded beer, no complaints in any area

not what I was expecting after reading they use UK hops on the can tastes like high alpha acid hops too me (maybe I need to research this topic) this just seems like a toned down version of their IPA and that works just fine for this hop head (779 characters)

Photo of woodychandler
4.26/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my kind of Christmas Eve! I am watching the Rams/Stillers game on TV and thanks to my CANadian trading partner, BigBry, I have a new CAN of CANadian beer to add to The CANQuest (TM), plus it marks the return of my old buddy, Red Racy! Frequent readers of my salacious reviews CAN tell you that I am unabashed in terms of my redhead fetish and the boys in Surrey, B.C., CANada seem to be catering to me. Ride on, Red Racy and happy holidays to you, doll!

From the CAN: "The use of Crystal malts lends Central City's Extra Special Bitter its flavour and colour profile. Tempered with hops from the United Kingdom, this English bitter is an appetizer on its own, or a great accompaniment for any hearty dishes. 'Cheers!"

I had an exciting Crack & Glug as I was overanxious to see Red Racy and I nearly had an overflow as the head rushed up in the glass. The tawny head was the stuff of which dreams are made - three (!)-plus fingers topped by peaks resembling the top of a meringue pie or whipped cream atop an ice cream sundae with excellent retention. Red Racy never disappoints! Color was a deep-orangish copper with NE-quality clarity. Nose had a welcome piney bitterness, very appropriate for a home sans tree. The lacing that began to appear was going to require a jackhammer to remove. Mouthfeel was medium and the coolness of the hops was intense at first, but nicely balanced out by the presence of a malty sweetness. The finish was quite dry, breathtaking, literally, thanks to the intensity of the hops. Oh, Red Racy, I love you! Thank you for riding by on Christmas Eve 2011 and I look forward to more run-ins next year. (1,640 characters)

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - clear bronze, tall soapy off white head, some sticky lacing
S - strong herbal and citrus aroma, bready and peppery
T - herbal hops and bready malt up front, quickly moves to spicy lemon zest hop notes and rich nutty malt
M - strong carbonation, thin and a very tart bitter finish
D - strong hop flavour with plenty of malt balance, carbonated for easy drinking (364 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Pours a clear deep amber with 2 fingers of sticky yellow head that leaves some nice lacing.

Smell. Fruity, piney hops and a little malty caramel.

Taste. Bitter, dry and toasty malt. Grassy and citrus hop bite. Lasting, dry bitterness and a little alcohol.

Mouthfeel. Medium body with medium-strong, prickly carbonation.

Overall. Tasty, bitter beer. More hops than I expected. (392 characters)

Photo of TCgoalie
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After having the IPA, this ESB confirms that Central City is a really good brewery.

Pours a peach color with a decent head. The lacing is very good.

Smells of peach, pine, and orange make an inviting statement for this brew.

The solid bitterness consists of pine and orange creating a nice backing to this brew. Some additional tastes of peach and grapefruit round out the taste.

The mouthfeel is full with a lot of carbonation. Some stickiness comes through at the end rounding out a delicious drink.

This is an excellent beer in which a serious beer drinker could have several of. Central City is turning out to be one of the best Canadian breweries in the great north. (676 characters)

Photo of nighthawk
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

355mL can with possible date code stamped on bottom of can.

Pours a nicely clear orange-y amber with a ton of visible carbonation feeding a firm, just-barely-off-white head. Good retention and nice lacing left down the glass.

Aroma has nice tropical and citrus fruits, much like their IPA, but turned down a notch or two, and tempered by some caramel and biscuity malts.

Going from the aroma, I was worried this might be just a milder, slightly bready version of their tasty ipa. There's some nice complexity here instead; yes those beautifully fruity hops are there in spades, but throughout there can be tasted a nice caramel and biscuit malt backbone, complementing the citrus hops with some fruity esters. Great balance of the sweet, but never cloying crystal malt and the bitter hops.

Mouthfeel is nice and creamy, with a nice little kick of carbonation to give a bit of verve to the finish.

Great balance makes for a wonderfully drinkable brew, I'd really enjoy having several of these in an evening. (1,011 characters)

Photo of biboergosum
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz can, a single procured at Zyn in Cowtown. The label is replete with the standard Red Racer cutie, strikin' her pose as ever was.

This beer pours a clear, bright, and solid medium copper amber hue, with two chubby fingers of puffy, densely foamy, and somewhat bubbly beige head, which settles at pace, leaving some whipped-cream topping, and a nice thin wall of meshed lace around the glass.

It smells of sharp biscuit/toffee malt, pine resin, warm citrus (orange and lime, mostly) rind, a soft oily nuttiness, and further floral, weedy hops. The taste is more edgy biscuity graininess, a heady nutty caramel sweetness, toasted brown bread, lime and lemon peel, a certain mineral flintiness, and general forest floor hop esters.

The carbonation is moderate, just a flitting frothiness wafting about, the body a lean medium weight, and just a tad prickly in its otherwise unassailable smoothness. It finishes clean and crisp, the hops and crackery malt seeing to a lingering dryness.

A nouveau-riche ESB combined with all the proper West Coast IPA sentiments - big British maltiness, and some tethered, but well noticeable Yankee PNW hops. Quite drinkable, and patently enjoyable, for lovers of both styles, such as this guy (points both thumbs at self). (1,263 characters)

Photo of canucklehead
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at The Railway Club which is the only place other than Central City to get this beer. Gerry Lohin is the old Sailor Hagar's Brewmaster and his Empire IPA was the hit of the Hop Festival last March at Dix.

This is a first class ESB that echoes Elysian's version in its hop punch and balance. This beer was bigger and bolder than the R&B Hopgoblin that I sampled afterwards. Along with Steamworks and Phillips, Garry's beers are among the most progressive in BC. (479 characters)

Photo of Fader
4.11/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark amber, very appetizing look, slight head, decent lacing.

S - Very hoppy aroma, caramel on the nose as well.

T - Not what I was expecting, the hops are there, but are dominated the entire way by caramel and coffee flavors.

M - Very smooth, envelopes the taste regions, and leaves an appetite for more.

O - Red Racer has a taste, and they don't disappoint, it's crazy how a beer can be so similar, but be so different from the next in the lineup. (458 characters)

Photo of eat
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Almost clean and golden-amber in colour, finger of frothy off-white head.

Red Racer hops in an ESB? Lychee, guava, grapefruit, caramel. Smells more like their IPA than their pale ale does.

The nose has a ton of similarity to the IPA but the flavour here is different enough. The "Central City" hops are still perceptible but they switch it up a little here with some dark earthy bitterness in the foreground, overshadowing the fresh tropical fruit from the IPA. Lots of hops here to be sure but there are enough distinguishing features to know it's an ESB (lighter malt body and more prominent minerals). Fairly well-balanced with an enjoyable amount of caramel malt (including some roasted character), with the bitter finish winning out in the end.

Nice thick medium body with an active moderate carbonation.

This stuff is extremely drinkable. One of my favorite ESBs I've had. If you're looking for a lighter alternative to the IPA, pick this stuff up instead of the pale ale. I would totally buy this stuff if it were available here. ABV is pretty high for an ESB but I'd session it anyway. Really tasty stuff. (1,121 characters)

Photo of andrenaline
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a crystal clear dark copper colour, finger of off-white head with decent retention, nice sticky lacing and noticeable body carbonation.

S - Pine and cedar hops dominate, sweet citrus and a little bit of a toffee malt sneaks through.

T - The earthy hops come through, with noticeable bitterness, and some toasted biscuits malts sneaking through on the finish. The hops are less sweet than implied by the nose. Sour citrus bitterness lingers on the palette, but is not offensive and rather tasty.

M - Nice medium bodied ale that goes down smooth and isn't overly dry.

D - This is a new go-to beer on my list. Nice solid hop presence, and a tasty bitterness that lingers and keeps you wanting more. Highly recommended offering by Central City and a solid example of the style. (787 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Can thanks to biboergosum. Cheers man.

A - Pours a medium brown colour with a giant four finger head of an off white hue thanks to my crazy pour. Head looks like it has some loose bubbles but staying power. Good carbonation and definately hazy. Sptty lacing with bubble bath-like notes along the sides of the glass and a head retention at half a finger you'd expect from an ice cream float.

S - Really piney with a little crackery malt. Prickly pineapple. Definately a hopped up ESB to come.

T - Great sweet caramel and bread with pinesol hop, aka tons of pine and some citrus with a bit of soapy character. There is some strong earthiness too. But the hops are fruity and piney. Drinks more like an IPA. Less balance than a typical ESB, but you notice the malt body representing quite a bit.

M - Carbonation could be a little strong for the style but it works, body is right at medium with a definite bitterness and astringency.

O/D - Probably not to style, yet the west coast interpretation work well for me. The malt and hop profiles are changed up a bit, but it still works its way into the ESB mold - really fruity from both malt and hop and just being a joy to drink. Another good one from Central City. (1,215 characters)

Photo of JCDenver
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tried this one courtesy of Rutager, thanks again!

Got the tulip ready, cracked the top and bam, EXPLOSION. What was left, I am guessing about half, went into a tulip. It wasn't dropped, and any travel shock should have worn off, so I'm guessing it was just a gusher.

Poured a dusky orange with one finger of head, which stuck around for a bit and then dissipated to dense white lacing.

Aroma was of citrus, particularly a lot of grapefruit with a touch of lemon and a bit of bready malt. Really, really nice aroma.

Citrus flavors with a strong, malt backbone to balance the hops and a nice, bitter finish. Alcohol not really present.

Mouthfeel is light, crisp, and almost effervescent. Another great offering from Central City. (734 characters)

Photo of evlu1441
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This will be my second Red Racer beer review after the delicious IPA. I really enjoy an ESB as a style, so hopefully this doesn't disappoint.

Poured into a pint glass, it's a hazy amber colour with a lot of carbonation fizzling up to the top. The head is substantial and foamy, and it seems to be sticking around at about 2 fingers which is impressive.

The aroma is light. Slightly hoppy with a bit of toasty maltiness rounding it out. Very balanced, but not too intense.

Bitterness is the first aspect of the flavour that comes through as it hits the back of my tongue. I get some sweet notes as the rich toasty malt flavours come through. My mouth is fulled with some lovely hop aroma that gives way to some roasted malt flavours. I'm left with a hint of a citrus flavour.

Overall, I think this is a little to hoppy to call an ESB, but it is still an excellent beer! It is very much up my alley, and I'm sure I'll be grabbing a 6 pack of this again soon. (960 characters)

Photo of LampertLand
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Central City Brewing's 'Red Racer ESB' @ 5.6% , served from a 650 ml bottle purchased for $6.50

A-pour is a nice gold from the bottle to a clear amber in the glass with a good size off white head leaving a minimal streaky lace

S-big floral & citrus , hints of pine resin

T-big bold ESB , nice start , decent bitter finish

MF-ok medium carbonation , medium body

Ov-good beer , ok ESB , will be my go to mainland 'ESB' while it's available

prost LampertLand (462 characters)

Photo of beertunes
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into 9oz Pilsener glass. Poured a clean, clear, medium amber color with about 1/2 inch of khaki colored head that had very good retention and light lacing.

The aroma was very good, earthy grains and nicely even malts. Some gentle hop aroma around the edges added a bit of a tang. The flavors were pretty much the same, just a lot more fully developed. The grains and malt were nicely earthy while remaining clean. The hops provided just enough zest to keep the beer interesting throughout the glass.

The medium body was crisp, clean and smooth, with a pleasantly dry finish. Drinkability was very good, bordering on excellent, I could have immediately drank a few more of these. Overall, an exceptionally well built example of the style, a style which in the hands of many North American brewers just becomes "IPA Light". A must try if you see it, and worth some effort to obtain. (889 characters)

Photo of jrenihan
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is a cloudy caramel/toffee colour, with tonnes of off-white head. Good lacing.

Caramel and biscuit malt is upfront in the nose, nice complemented with grassy, floral hops. Some pine, a touch of citrus.

Taste follows the nose. Biscuity, caramel malt, with pine, citrus (orange) and grassy flavours. Nice.

Medium bodied, moderate carbonation. A bit chewy.

Overall, another good one from Central City. Seems to be a pretty reliable set of beers. (451 characters)

Photo of McBastard
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful dark amber with a finger of head. The head mostly disappears after a few minutes, leaving good lacing throughout.

The aroma is citrus and piney hops.

The initial flavors are grapefruit and piney hops, balanced out by a slightly malty, dry finish. Pretty hoppy for an ESB though. Medium bodied with a fair amount of carbonation. Finishes with pleasant tartness and astringency. Another tasty, well crafted ale by Central City. (445 characters)

Photo of marty21
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear copper/orange with a big frothy off white head. Settles to a nice cap with a large, thick island of creamy foam in the middle. Leaves lots of thick lacing.

S: Very nice aroma of citrus and hops combined with a caramel/biscuit malt aroma.

T: Caramel/biscuit malt and a hoppy taste. Good balance.

M: Medium carbonation with a light to medium body. Goes down very smooth with a very bitter finish.

D: Another really tasty beer from Red Racer. This would make for a really good session beer if you enjoy bitter beers. (536 characters)

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Red Racer ESB (Extra Special Bitter) from Central City Brewers + Distillers
88 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.