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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

570 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 570
Hads: 640
Avg: 3.82
pDev: 9.16%
Wants: 4
Gots: 3 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.90% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 01-09-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 570 | Hads: 640
Photo of Jadjunk
3.43/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Our ESB combines the best of English tradition with West Coast style. A blend of malts featuring British-grown Maris Otter is balanced with the earthy spiciness of hand-selected English and US hops. The ale is left unfiltered, which enhances mouthfeel and hop aroma creating a slightly reddish-copper hue." Brewed in the style of an English Extra Special / Strong Bitter. Previously available in 12 oz. bottled 6 packs and on draft, this was retired after 2009.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a pint glass. Served above 53 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a frothy foam head of an off-white color over a very cloudy deep amber body. There is a dense cloud of sediment floating in this beer. Retention is good and lacing is medium and solid curtained. 4

(Smell) Doughy English bread malts with a light sweetness are joined by a very faded earthy hop notes and some light fruitiness. Altogether, it's a light aroma but very clean. 3.5

(Taste) English pale malts, slightly less sweet, less bready with a light earthy hop profile to pair. Finishes earthy bitter and hoppy with a touch of stale graininess on the back end. 3.25

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, lightly chewy, mildly dry. Carbonation is soft for a smooth, fluffy mouthfeel. Body is medium for the style, shy of medium overall. Balance is grainy and bitter over sweet. Alcohol presence is medium, and there are no discernible off-characters. 3.5

(Overall) ESB is another beer that I stumbled upon recently and despite its age, it's still a decent drinking beer, likely handled very well over the past few years. While I don't recommend going out of your way to dig through the cellars for this beer, I can testify that what remains of the ESB is still a mighty fine beverage, and I hope to get the chance to try it again, especially if we have an American ESB interest reemerge in the future. 3.5

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s
Sierra Nevada Early Spring Beer (ESB)

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Photo of Knapp85
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very upset to see this has been retired. This beer pours out as a really nice copper color with a fluffy white head. Excellent lacing down the glass. The smell of this beer was fresh and very hoppy. Floral and citrusy, very good smelling brew. The taste is sharp and crisp, very hoppy and really refreshing brew. The mouthfeel was light and clean. Overall it's a real shame that this one is no more. This was easily one of Sierra Nevada's best.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review culled from the backlog from hell. I am sad that this beer is no more; Glissade or whatever replaced it is not a good substitute.

A - The beer is radiantly copper, and is topped with a fluffy off-white head that clings to the glass.

S - It smells deliciously hoppy, but not terribly bitter. Citrus aromas mingle with pine notes above a toasty and crisp malt base.

T - The crispness of flavor is great. Toasty malt and citric-piney-floral hop share equal billing in this show. The resulting brew is easily enjoyable, and exhibits a greatly balanced dynamic.

M - The feel is like a good IPA. Medium-light in body, and gentle carbonation.

D - I drink the hell out of this stuff; it is my most commonly consumed SN offering during the season, although Celebration is neck-and-neck with it. A great beer from a great brewer.

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Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From old notes.

A: The pour is amber-orange in color with a large white head and some streaky lacing.

S: Very crisp on the nose. Clean citrus hops, toasted malts, and a nice clean breadiness. Some yeast notes to it as well. I also pick up some floral hops and maybe just a touch of grass.

T: Decently bitter with good citrus, floral, and grassy hop flavors. Clean bread and toasted malt flavors to go along with the hop profile. A touch of yeast and slightly dry on the finish.

M: Medium in body with a moderate carbonation.

O: I really liked this beer and I wish that Sierra Nevada hadn't retired it. Really easy to drink and good clean flavors.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.71/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A dark gold color, good clarity. A negligible degree of citrus aroma.

Taste, very balanced, not super bitter or hoppy, a trademark of SN, but not overly malty or some funky yeast flava. A dry finish to a highly carbonated beer. Right in the middle of the road really in every category malt, hops, alcohol, citrus feel, etc. . ., this is a good 2nd beer of the day.

Got one of these left that has been aging over a year. Was it meant to be? No. But who knows, I'll revisit when I have it.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.47/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a 2009 bottle

A - pours a cloudy dark rust orange with just a bit of foam

S - hints of toasted grains and sweet caramel malts

T - strong malts up front with hints of orange, grassy earthy hops as well

M/D - medium bodied with good carbonation and flavor. Not my favorite by any means, but just a decent tasting brew

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Photo of Durge
3.64/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 2008 bottle I finally got to, this shows a very hazy dark orange amber color with a giant light oatmeal colored head with lots of lace hanging on the pint glass. The aroma is grassy malt and metallic hints. Not too impressive or alluring but not bad, with just a touch of citrus bite. The flavor comes on with much more balance malt and herbal hop bitterness. It's grassy with a kind of simple grainy malt and hop bite. Good but not great. Medium to light bodied and fairly drinkable. The feel is a little crispy and vaguely resinous.

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Photo of FishGetter
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hayzy reddish-copper color. Thin head that disapates quickly.
English style malt aromas blend with a noble hop profile. Some slight spicy citrus hop too.
Light sweetend malts provide a strong backbone for this brew. Some dry, breaddy flavors peak through. Hops blend in with mild bitter flavors that turn to spicy citrus tones.
Nice big body here for the style. Unfilltered leaves body true. Some oily resins left in mouth too.
Pritty good offering here. Drink doesn't seem to have great freshness or crisp quality. Neverless a respectable brew.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Bottled sometime in 2009.

(A)- Pours a hazy orange copper color that produced a superb off-white fluffy head that just stuck to every inch of the glass; solid retention.

(S)- Piney lemon & lime with a twist of pineapple & grapefruit. Bits of honey & caramel. Just a kiss of damp wood.

(T)- A big dryness & bitterness with the same citrus notes from the smell. Extremely bitter & dry.

(M)- A good carbonation level & balance of bitter hops & citrus; minimal malt, but present in a honey-like sweetness.

(D)- A solid beer that certainly fits the name/style. A good feel & bitterness; plenty of hop goodness. Wouldnt mind having a 6pak of this on hand in the springtime.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours a hazy golden amber colored beer with a thick, creamy, off white head. Solid retention and a spider web like lacing left as the head diminishes

S-light nose of toasted grains, a touch of sweet caramel, and a light lemon hop

T-bitter throughout, although not over powering, grainy, caramel and pale malts, with a finish of honey and citrusy hops.

M-relatively smooth and highly carbonated, coats the mouth and somewhat dry and crisp at the finish

D-pretty solid flavors and goes down nicely. A little strong on the bitterness flavor throughout detracts from the balance.

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Photo of DNICE555
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Plan B. I've had this bottled before but I like to review things on tap.

A - Dark amber body with a nice white head.

S - Bready malts with some citrus notes.

T - Bready malts, some spice to it, citrus hops, nothing overpowering about this beer, very tame.

M - Medium body, medium carbonation. A nice mild mouthfeel that does doesn't scream anything at you, it just whispers.

D - Well balanced beer that is very sessionable.

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Photo of Stigs
4.01/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, Stone Levitation flute-like glass

A - big pillowly and thick head, could only fit about 80% of the beer in before letting it die. lots of spotty lacing down the glass as the foam falls to a big chalky mound in the center. beer is a very hazy pale amber color.

S - big bread and dough, slight citrus and grassy hops which have died down quite a bit (aware that this beer is well past its prime).

T - big bready malts hit first then followed by some grass and piney hop bittering, finishes with more smooth malt.

M - nicely carbonated, medium bodied and a nice syrupy feel let the flavors dance. imagine this would be even better fresh.

D - great beer, will try this again in season for sure.

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Photo of dbtoe
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz poured into a pint glass
I really enjoyed this beer. Not too bitter and not to malty. A very well balanced and tasty beer.
Look is a dark gold with a large head, 3 fingers. It reduced quickly.
Smell is bready and flowery hops.
Taste is very well balanced between bitter spiciness and toasted bready malts. Very good.
Feel is smooth with not a lot of carbonation. A mild bitter finish.
Drink this is a very drinkable beer. I found myself taking large drinks and the beer was gone quicker than I'd liked. Wish I had another.

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Photo of earthboundagain
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From Notes:

A: A slightly hazy gold in color, fluffy white head that stays a wee bit.

S: Slight hop and floral aromas.

T: a bitter hop balanced to a small malt presence. Bitter Hops, slight malt taste.

M: Not a lot of carbonation and it finishes with a small bite.

D: Not that hard to drink, I could but back a few.

I had to go back through my notes on my computer to find this one. I have a bad habit of saving notes and reviews and not posting them for months. But since this one is going away. . .

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Photo of seanyfo
2.55/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

33cl bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

A: Pale cloudy blonde body, full creamy 3 finger head, reducing quickly with poor lacing

S: Faint hop floral notes, nothing leaping out

T: Flavours very subdued, a floral citrus quality with a dying faint biscuit malt, watery finish

M: Refreshing although watery

D: Poor subdued flavours make this pretty forgettable, although crisp and refreshing. Boring

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Photo of jantonius
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Bright Gold Color, slightly cloudy, nice white head.

S: Slight Hoppy Smell

T: Bitter Hops, slight malt taste. Clean finish.

M: Very little carbonation, nice hops on the back tongue.

D: Very nice drinkable spring ESB

I really enjoy this beer, my second favorite Sierra Nevada Seasonal. I believe it is being retired to my dismay. Nothing phenomenal, just a great beer!!!

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Photo of Jae27
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard Grumpy Dave's pint glass.

A. Golden yellow with a nice creamy head. No carbonation nucleation. Yeasty quality to head, and yeasty bottom poured into glass. Cloudy from the yeast.

S. Mildly hoppy, no real strong aroma. Some pine smell came as it warmed up a bit.

T. Pretty delicious bitter hoppyness. A very light malt sweetness. Pretty nice mild floral taste, but not overpowering. Basically a well balanced ESB. Very enjoyable flavor.

M. Medium bodied. Light to no carbonation present. Nice nose, and finish bitterness.

Really nothing special about this beer. Nothing bad about it either. Some cool lavalamp-like effect occurred when I ported the yeast into the pint glass. You should try this beer at least once.

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Photo of brewerburgundy
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tasting notes from 10/26. 12oz bottle into weizen glass.

About the same orange-red, light end color of my homebrewed IPA that I had before this. Little cap of light tan foam. Good lacing. Low spice-like hops. Less aroma than my IPA and Great Divide's Titan. Ooh a little peach now. I'd better let this warm a good bit. Body seems very thin. Nothing remarkable unfortunately and thats the first Sierra Nevada I say that of. Bit o biscuit, assumed from the Maris Otter. All big bubbles around the edge. Little tiny carb though. The bread builds and the foam cap stays. Mouthfeel seems a bit heavier now. I won't buy this again, Sierra Nevada offers so much hoppy goodness.

I assume this bottle was quite old, bought as a single.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Nice amber/orange color, with mild carbonation, and a thin head that didn't lace very well. The aroma ran the gamut from pine and lemon citrus to biscuit, maltiness, and toffee, however the individual components were more subtle in the taste. Sometimes a blend of various flavors results in a tremendous flavor sensation, but this blend seemed weak, possibly because there were no dominant contributors. The body was a little on the thin side, with an easy-drinking characteristic. A sessionable beer, but I would rather choose their Best Bitter over this stronger version.

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Photo of hwwty4
3.03/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've had this in my kegerator long enough. Poured a 12oz bottle into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a copper orange with a good 2 inch head that leaves some pretty spotty lacing. The aroma reminds me of a American Pale Ale mixed with a ESB. Big American hops present themselves on the nose. Big orange citrus, caramel, biscuits and just a bit of toffee. The flavor is just muddled to me. Nothing really stands out. Slight fruits with just a bit of toast and yeasty biscuits. The mouthfeel is fine. Thats about what I can say about it. Sierra Nevada puts out some great beers. This is just average.

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Photo of PintOHops
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance/Smell - Appeared a clouded amber/copper with a 2 finger head upon a somewhat gentle pour. Outstanding retention with broken, but pretty nice lacing. Smelled of big malts! Lots of soft caramel, molasses, almond nuttiness with biscuit notes, following is some pretty pronounced earthiness with mild spices. Sweet biscuit/grainy profile overall with subtle pine & citrus.

Taste/Mouthfeel - Tasted of loads of burnt sugary like flavors, caramel, molasses, hints of dark chocolate and roasted almonds. Earthiness follows as well as subtle spices, and it finishes with a burnt biscuit like bitterness that lingers a bit, and soft honey/caramel sweetness. Mouthfeel was smooth and just slightly slick, full-medium bodied, it really complimented the smooth sweet flavor profile.

Drinkability/Final thoughts - Not to big on this style of beer, this one had a decent amount of burnt like bitterness with sweet caramel notes, which I liked I guess. I would have appreciated more carbonation in the feel but otherwise a highly drinkable brew. I would like to enjoy a couple pints on a cooler day, this one really seemed fresh to me as well. Not bad overall, coming from a great brewery I wouldn't expect less. Cheers!

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Photo of mdale13
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Orange with yellow highlights. Moderate white head on a pour into a pint glass.

S- Hops. Citrus. Smells of an IPA.

T- Very hoppy. Bitter tastes in the middle. Sort of a dry finish.

M- Light and carbonated. Very lively.

D- Moderately drinkable if you are into hops. I am more of a malt man myself, but all around this was an enjoyable beer.

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Photo of mklinger
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip.

A: 1+ finger head. Light copper/amber color with a fairly stiff head that leaves nice lacing on the glass.

S: Pleasant aroma, not particularly strong. Bready and herbal and earthy. Pleasant hops, not the kind that'll smack you upside the head but pleasant with some assertiveness.

T: Nice smack of bitterness, much more than one would expect from the smell of this beer. Very assertive bitterness balanced by both a Maris Otter, toasted bread flavor and nice flavor hops. This is a very drinkable ESB with so much more hops character than that other popular US ESB.

M: For me, slightly overcarbonated for my tastes for an ESB. Nice malty character to the mouthfeel.

D: Very nice beer. I never very actively seek out this beer (whereas other "seasonal" SN like the Anniversary Ale I do), but I enjoy it when I do have it. Just not my favorite style or combination of flavors.

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Photo of WCBCFrank
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sierra's ESB pours a coppery amber giving way to a nice cloudy head - good lace in a pint glass. ESB is true to the style with good notes of caramel malt, slight hop bitterness and smooth finish.

For the novice: Good intro to ESBs, not as heavy a malt punch as the CLASSIC Fuller's.

Personally: Another consistent winner from the folks in Chico, CA.

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Photo of Kraken
3.47/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. Consumed 3/6/09

I have been meaning to get around to this review for a while now and as this is the last of the 6er I figure there is no better time then the present. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 16oz pint glass. Hard pour is greeted by a 1/8 inch of snow white head. Head falls quickly to a light skim leaving a patchy lace. Color is a faintly cloudy apple cider.

Nose- Very light caramel, mild biscuit. Nicely hopped. I wasn't expecting this level of hops. Muted citrus, grapefruit & lemon.

Palate- Light sweetness, followed by faint caramel and biscuit. Somewhat subtle grapefruit, not over powering. Pleasant bitterness, mildly sweet orange in the finish.

Mouthfeel- Active, light, very refreshing.

Drinkablility- Very Good. This is a very nicely balanced spring beer.

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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 570 ratings.