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Belk's ESB - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Belk's ESB
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BA SCORE
85
very good

508 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 508
Reviews: 355
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.87%
Wants: 19
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Inspired by the classic “Bitters” from Great Britain, our Belk’s ESB is an innovative take on the style. With a deep, golden hue and big malty foundation, the spicy, herbal hop aromas and crisp, bitter bite give a West Coast flair to this classic recipe.

Formerly Boont ESB.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-25-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 508 | Reviews: 355 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Dantes:
Photo of Dantes
Dantes

New Jersey

3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Package: 12 oz. Bottle, No date or ABV listed. A nice description of the beer on the back.

Cost: $6.99 6-Pack

Presentation: Pint glass at ~45º

Appearance: A rich, golden color, paler and less red than the amber. Slightly cloudy. Formed a nice white head, with remnants lasting most of the glass.

Smell: Sharply hoppy, with spirity notes. Bread and malt notes lag behind, but do moderate the initial prickly nose.

Taste: Just too hoppy. In my experience, as bitter progresses from ordinary to best to extra special; the complexity is meant to increase. It does not just get “more bitter.” Unfortunately here, that seems to have been forgotten. The expected malt complexity is not present, nor are the fruitier “ale” elements I was looking for. If you are looking for something more like an IPA, perhaps this is your beer. I guess that is what is meant by the “Western Style.” Too one-dimensional. The finish is very dry and hoppy, without much malty relief.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly for an Anderson Valley brew, I found this a bit too carbonated. Maybe it was the hoppiness, but all I could think of was how sharp this seemed. Not smooth enough for a special bitter.

Drinkability: The 6.8% ABV is barely apparent and certainly does not affect the drinkability. I just don’t really see where I would drink this in the place of so many other more complete offerings.

Seen as an “extreme” Western-style ESB, I guess one would have to say this is a success. For me however, this is more of a curiosity than a serious ESB. A caricature of a top British bitter if you will. It is as if someone said, let’s see how hoppy we can make this, without boosting the other elements (malt, fruitiness, complexity) to achieve a balance. Perhaps it would have worked better if a better blend of hops had been found.

Backwash: In my opinion, a crude attempt at a true ESB. Sort of like a gangly man-child that isn’t completely filled-out. Doesn’t hold a candle to Fuller’s ESB, much less Young’s Ram Rod or SLA.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2003 14:58:58 | More by Dantes
More User Reviews:
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Hopswagger

South Carolina

2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

07-20-2014 21:35:36 | More by Hopswagger
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vhmf1978

Brazil

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

07-13-2014 19:53:37 | More by vhmf1978
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NJBeer265

New Jersey

2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

06-28-2014 23:58:11 | More by NJBeer265
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SaltofOH

Ohio

2.78/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Last week I was excited to be the second review for this beer; now there are more than 500, and they go back some time. Damn you re-branding! Bottle from a mix and match sixer. No freshness dating.

Appearance: Pours a hazy ornageish-brown with a 1/2" light tan head. Very foamy. Very little visible carbonation. Lacing goes all the way down as I drink. The best lacing I have seen on a beer in a long while.

Aroma: Something is weird here. Yeast fruitiness and sweet malt. Touch of earthy hops.

Taste: Dry arrival, full-flavored, malty bitterness across mid palate then POW big bittering hop finish. Cloying at the end of the glass.

Mouthfeel: Midweight with significant slickness.

Overall: This is not an ESB. This is an IPA without aroma hops. I cannot imagine drinking more than one of these. Out of balance.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2014 00:26:01 | More by SaltofOH
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markdrinksbeer

Massachusetts

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

06-20-2014 15:45:05 | More by markdrinksbeer
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Necronomad

Switzerland

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

06-20-2014 01:07:56 | More by Necronomad
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wrightst

Maryland

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

06-02-2014 02:38:50 | More by wrightst
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Georgiabeer

Georgia

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

05-11-2014 20:18:07 | More by Georgiabeer
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MikeWard

Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

05-01-2014 21:35:09 | More by MikeWard
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bubseymour

Maryland

4.25/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bought this one as a single sampler. Surprised I live in Maryland and am the first one to write a review of this California brewers beer on Beer Advocate.

A nice clear copper beer with frothy 2 finger head and great retention. Smells great of caramel and malt. The taste is very "complex" (darn there it is). If you read the back of the bottle it discusses lilacs, white pepper, Bartlett pears blueberry honey and roses. Well I can taste some white pepper, honey and a crisp hop finish. It's a good beer and has a lot going on but the overall taste is, well, a little weird.

For an ESB at 6.8% its a little more to work through than most lighter ABV ESB's but its well crafted and very experimental. Tastes like something DFH would put out. That is a compliment.

Overall, I recommend everyone to sample this. Others may really like it. I enjoyed it but probably won't buy too often due to competition.

Serving type: bottle

04-29-2014 22:24:36 | More by bubseymour
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SmashPants

Australia

2.49/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: 355mL blue can with an antlered bear (assumedly the Anderson mascot).

Appearance: pours a hazy orange amber with a thin white head that drops pretty quickly, leaving some lace.

Aroma: some herbal and grass hops with unrecognisable malts, with wet cardboard and some pine. Not the greatest aroma ever. I checked the best before, and it's still in date. Either it has suffered light strike (unlikely as it is a brown bottle) or this is a real ordinary beer.

Taste: again some malt and grassy hops - certainly nothing special. Also very flat in flavour - if anything, I would call this beer quite boring.

Aftertaste: a bit more hop bitterness comes through on the finish, but this is still one very disappointing brew.

Mouth feel: a light- to-moderate body with mild carbonation. A bit lacking.

Overall: this is the second beer I have had from Anderson Valley (the first being their Amber Ale), and neither are even a decent beer, let alone worth the top-end boutique price. One brewery to scratch off the list.

Serving type: bottle

04-22-2014 11:26:42 | More by SmashPants
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robotiks

Illinois

3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

04-22-2014 01:27:07 | More by robotiks
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John_Squires

New York

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

04-19-2014 21:16:02 | More by John_Squires
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Jalle

Sweden

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

04-05-2014 09:02:28 | More by Jalle
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Modernrickk

California

3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

04-03-2014 22:43:49 | More by Modernrickk
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brpendergast85

District of Columbia

2/5  rDev -47.2%

03-25-2014 03:42:22 | More by brpendergast85
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VeganUndead

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3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

03-24-2014 06:45:51 | More by VeganUndead
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FadetoBock

Alberta (Canada)

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

03-23-2014 07:05:17 | More by FadetoBock
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Dsimenson

California

3.99/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a New Belgium goblet. Thin head but nice lacing. Coppery amber color, and hazy. Aroma is citrus and malt. I don't quite get the floral notes in aroma and flavor thAt are advertised on the label. The flavor is delightfully bitter, grapefruit with pine and malt. Mouthfeel is medium, with a fair amount if carbonation. Overall this is a very good to outstanding bitter ale, and one of my favorite styles. This brewery makes several styles that I really like.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2014 02:57:33 | More by Dsimenson
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Catracho5

California

4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

03-11-2014 22:49:18 | More by Catracho5
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4.25/5  rDev +12.1%

03-07-2014 02:14:20 | More by rapayn01
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Eriktheipaman

California

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

02-22-2014 02:23:11 | More by Eriktheipaman
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Jah_Json

Sweden

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

02-20-2014 10:19:55 | More by Jah_Json
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WoodBrew

Illinois

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Anderson Valley still remains one sneaky brewery....they are producing some good stuff. The ESB....while not my favorite style is quite taste. The beer poured a slightly hazy copper with 1/2 finger thick head that is leaving a lace. The scent is slightly sweet with bitter hops present. The taste is bitter at the front then smooths with a sweet malt. The mouthfeel is lighter in body with good carbonation. Overall this is a decent beer and glad I tried it.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2014 01:56:08 | More by WoodBrew
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Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 508 ratings.