Belk's ESB - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Belk's ESB
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BA SCORE
85
very good

536 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 536
Reviews: 357
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 11.9%
Wants: 19
Gots: 11 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 04-25-2001

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 536 | Reviews: 357
Reviews by Molson2000:
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had tried this on tap over a year ago and wasnt really all that impressed with it but I have to say I like it alot better out of the bottle.Poures a burnt orange color with a nice almost creamy-like head head that leaves a nice sheet of lace behind as it settles,some citrus and piney hop really come thru in the nose with some light caramel as well.Taste seems to be more well balanced out of the bottle there is still a big west coast hop profile pine and grapefruit but thereis a nice big firm slighty sweet maltiness to it that makes it a very solid well rounded ale.Glad to not only try the bottled version but to find it here in Greensboro.

Photo of RoyalT
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a good-lookin’ ale. The body is a hazy orange and the head was big and puffy, showing exceptional retention and leaving some nice lacing all along the inside of my glass.

Smell – The aroma here is light. I can pick up some bitter grainy notes along with some grassy hops.

Taste – This is pretty damn good. There’s a funky grainy aftertaste that I could do without, but other than that this is a big ESB. The bitter, citrus hops are nicely mixed with a touch of pine and a good, smooth, malty backbone.

Mouthfeel – This one is medium-bodied with a nice, dry finish and some light carbonation that kept things interesting.

Drinkability – A pleasant surprise. I’ve avoided this one for a while because of the cheesy label (“Gold Medal Winner”) but this is a quality Americanized ESB.

Photo of brownbeer
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Copper in color with a frothy head.

Well balanced aroma of doughy, biscuity malt and spicy hops with a touch of yeastiness.

A nice, sweet dose of caramel and hop fruitiness with a soft, comfortable medium body. This could almost be an English strong ale.

Overall, very tasty without trying to hard with great drinkability. My only problem would be letting the 6.8% catch up with me as it's not noticeable in the flavor.

Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew was a hazy amber pour into my pint glass carrying a frothy head with visibly active carbonation. The muted floral notes on the nose and pallet are very nice. There is a good amount of fruit presence, again, both in the nose and pallet. This ESB is top end with with a great crispness and sticky feel as it is drank. This is a wonderfully drinkable ESB.

Photo of Jason
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown long-neck bottle with no freshness date. Blurb about the beer on the back label.

Appearance: Gold with a deep orange hue, dense fluffy white lace does a great job of leaving rings all the way down the glass.

Smell: Clean to the nose with a mix of a little raw hop and biscuity grain.

Taste: Medium to full in body, big malty palate with a creamy and slick mouth feel. Lots of malt with a huge sweet grain presence. Alcohol and hops come hand and hand to leave a cutting spicy and bitter character. Hops are more or less a quick in and out bitterness with a leafy finish. Alcohol is fruity, warming, estery and quite boisterous. Vague hop leaf and lots of grain in the finish.

Notes: Big beefy American Style ESB these guys have dished out. Close to a strong ale in my opinion, alcohol is very noticeable. Certainly one of the biggest ESBs I have ever had the pleasure to try.

Photo of merlin48
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy, burnt-orange, amber color with a two finger beige head. Leaves patchy rings of lacing all down the glass. Aroma is initially of toffee and butterscotch, then comes an assault of westcoast hops with pine and lemony citrus. Mouthfeel is creamy, tart, and medium bodied. Plenty of carbonation here. Taste has a few complexities. Toffee and lots of bittering hops up front. Sweet caramel malts fight a losing battle with the big hop profile. Some buttery and nutty flavors seem to be present, but are, unfortunately, subdued by the massive hops. Finishes dry and very bitter. This could use a better malt profile to balance the hoppiness and come closer to matching the style.

Photo of mrquartetman
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber in color, decent head that dissipated quickly

S: Distinct hop, not much malt, fairly floral

T: Quite hoppy, balanced nicely by the maltiness. Citrusy.

M: Hop all the way across the palate, a bit of a malt follow

D: Drinkable, certainly, but not in preference to lots of other highly drinkable beers of the same type.

Photo of warriorsoul
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A gift from a co-worker I helped move yesterday...thanks Tim.
Pours a clear dark amber color w/ a full finger and a half of tan head...pillow-like and slowly recedes as I enjoy the pint. Quite thick, sticky lacing forms on the side of the pint glass...much better than expected.
Aroma is pleasant...sweet malt in the nose at first w/ some fruity hops in the finish as well as a mild spice.
Taste is pretty darn impressive w/ a plentiful dose of bitter hops dominating the flavor...malt is there, but this one is not sweet and it stays true to the style w/ the bitterness smacking you from start to finish. No alcohol detected during the duration.
Mouthfeel is a tad thin and the carbonation is nice...making this one quite easy to consume.
Overall, a nice representation of the style...glad to try this one.

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Capital Ale House.

A cloudy, dull orange in color. Thick and creamy white head distinctly laces the glass. Aroma was of....sweet iced tea. Call me crazy but that's what I smelled. Taste was sweet at the start. Finished delightfully dry with a very noticable and pleasing bitterness. Alcohol well-hidden (6.8%) but peeks through from time to time. Medium-bodied with a very crisp and dry finish. A "right tasty" ESB (thanks to AKSmokedPorter for his eloquence). Good combination of flavors and the finish make for a much better-than-average ESB.

Photo of Osiris9588
4.17/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle, no date. Rusty orange color, fluffy white head, decent retenton and a ring of small-bubbled, sticky lace.

Aroma is orange peel, malt, and floral hops. The flavor is malt, orange, some cherry phenols, and a strong presence of alochol--bold.

Medium-bodied and pretty complex, going from bright on the front palate, to a sweet middle act, but the hops are present throughout, yet provide different sensations on the way. Dense but drinkable and unlike any ESB I've had.

Photo of Thrasher
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bright amber with full head that leaves lace. Mellow nose with some pleasant mustiness and good, grainy malts. Flavor is much too hoppy. If this was an IPA I could understand the bitterness, not to mention the alcoholic strength. I guess AV already has their IPA (and what a huge one it is) and this so-called "bitter" is just a step down from it. Doesn't qualify as a bitter, though, even though it is very bitter. A true English bitter is more balanced, with the malt playing perhaps the dominant role. Here, it takes a back seat to sharp spiky hops that are grassily pungent. Small sips as the beer mellows and warms give evidence to a nicely diverse malt profile, but you have to dig down deep to get past the blatant hops. Not being one who loves hops just for the sake of hops, I can't say I'm crazy about this. A true hophead may appreciate it much more.

Photo of far333
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy orangey color with big brown flecks of something or other floating around in it. Big beige foamy head about an inch high just sitting there and not moving. Lots of spider web oily lacing all around the glass. Aroma is sweet malt and hops and citrus and pine. Flavor is hoppy and piney and citrusy and has an odd malt flavor to it, like it's spoiled. The malt is a bit off. Not at all what I think of in an ESB. More hoppy and citrusy and lighter colored.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Well damn, if Anderson Valley ain't a cool brewery, and the what is it Buckhorn Saloon (not sure on the name) sure does act as the de facto brewpub in town for these guys. Very hospitable.

Appearance, looks like a decent English ESB. Nothing coming across aroma wise, taste, sweet and tasty, a little thin, doesn't last, but doesn't disappoint and devolve to something lesser. Drinkable, if not for the other (and better) Anderson Valley brews, like the IPA, Oatmeal Stout. . .

Photo of ADR
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazy, amber/brown. Big bubble, thin head that lasts. Robust impact taster, hop bitterness, quite alcoholic. Lots of flavor front to back but a little on the "too bitter" side and needing some balance to me. Real sticker of a mouthfeel, a little overdone, almost as if Anderson Valley is showing off too much.

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not as caramelly as most ESBs, this one leads more toward the hop end of the spectrum. Appears a slightly hazed copper amber tone with an off white lucious two fingered head leaving lace as it settles a magnificant looking brew. Aroma consists of floral hops combined with a decent amount of balancing malt. Taste is piney with hop resin yet a contrasting bitterness balances out the brew almost perfectly, not completely characteristic of an ESB, but I love this beer a great counterpart to most any food the hops complement so much. The mouthfeel is medium bodied fluffy with some oily resins sliding on the tongue this beer is seductive. The drinkability for me well if I found it on tap at the right place this could be dangerous for me, but either way this is a great beer.

Photo of rastaman
3.35/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle. Pretty tasty ESb. Firm mouthfeel, bready, citric, tangy, resiny hops. Failry english in style. An averagely drinkable, and well made ESB, slightly aromatic American style ale, but true to the style it is generally pretty English in taste, drinkable stuff in the end.

Photo of Doughbodyboy
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this one pours i golden orange hint with a creamy head. the smell is definatly hinting at what's to come. the taste is carmely malt and a smoothing out of hops. it is an extremely well balanced brew. is leaves a smooth mix of hops and malt. it is a sticky and bubbly brew. overall i like this one. it is very well balanced leaning towards the malty side. try it out if you get the chance.

Photo of Ryanm1
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours from the bottle to a darker
Golden color. Lots of white lacing but could be due to that fact I used a narrow glass. Disappeared quickly. The nose of the beer is hoppy, floral, the bottle describes it as lilacs, white pepper, and Bartlett pears with blueberry honey and roses. Not sure if I get all that but can believe the floral as it is flavorful but dry. Spicy but mild in my opinionCrisp finish slightly hops.

Photo of IntriqKen
4.53/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It looks like this is going through a name change to Boont ESB...I suppose to fall in line with the rest of Anderson Valley brand names.
Poured a beautiful clear amber orange with a nice cream colored head that melted slowly to a full lace.
Smelled of fruits, malts, and mostly bread...biscuity bread yeast. Hmmm.
Taste faintly of citrus but not strong..very faint, blended nicely with sweet malt and finishing in the mouth with only a slight hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel is full of tiny carbonation with only a faint alcohol warmth to the back of the throat as you swallow.
I served this beer a little warmer than would be expected...probably close to 60 F.
I found it creamy with delicate blending of flavors and very satisfying. I think I could session this or at least go through a picher with no problem

Photo of biboergosum
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Now (for how long, I have no idea) called "Belk's ESB", at least as far as the label for this one is concerned, whose antlered-up brown bear depiction might seem more amusing after a few more of these, I'm sure.

This beer pours a clear medium copper amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, bubbly ecru head, which leaves a few swaths of upwardly mobile spectral lace around the glass as it slowly sinks away.

It smells of semi-sweet biscuity, bready malt, a mild drupe fruitiness, spicy, bitter, leafy hops, and a wisp of warming alcohol. The taste is sharply biscuity, grainy caramel malt, earthy yeast, bitter, zingy citrus and pine esters, a late-arriving bready pastry essence, and further spicy herbal hops.

The bubbles are a tad sassy, but agreeably par for the course, the body a decent medium weight, and mostly smooth - all that there biscuit and hop meddling does indeed take its toll. It finishes off-dry, the sweet bready caramel maintaining the chutzpah to deal with the still active old and new world hop phalanx.

A rather enjoyable little experiment, this forcing a West Coast idealism down a traditional English bitter's trusting throat. Anyways, the extra oomph here ensures that this particular ESB doesn't fall prey to the corner cutting prevalent in such offerings of late, from both sides of the Atlantic. Session worthy? Errrr, maybe, but by the third round or so, one might come to disagree, even if the robust flavour seems to indicate otherwise.

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Belk's ESB

A 6er cost me $12!!!

Appearance- cloudy orange with a thick head.
Smell- caramel/ molasses malt. Slight nutty hop aroma, very faint though.
Taste- sweet caramel with a touch of roasted nut hops.
Mouthfeel- sweet, too sweet.

Overall- a decent ESB unfortunately the sweetness practically ruins it.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

AP: Semi-cloudy, yellow-hued copper color with medium carbonation that creates a one-finger bubbly and scattered white head that dissipates slowly and leaves a few clumps of lacing behind.

nose: mildly sweet, biscuity malt, hearty wheat and an herbal hop scent overall.

flavor: This is a hearty, semi-sweet, biscuity malt flavor with some subtle red berries-type effect and a VERY subtle herbal and spicey hop note.

Feel: Medium body, crisp and clean with a mild bite and a mild smoothness going down.

DA: This is not my favorite ESB, but it's not very hard to drink either.

Photo of jmz62565
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a real beautiful cloudy amber gold with a huge 2 finger white foamy head. The smell is very pungent with high aromas of citrus hops along with a bready "bisquity' aroma. The taste is very much like an IPA with a big hop presence. Citrus hops really dominate this beer with, grapefruit, and a buttery creamy sweet malt. The m/f is light with all the flavors mixing very well. This is a very drinkable beer,one that could be an everyday session beer.

Photo of GilGarp
3.96/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased mainly because it was on sale. I wouldn't have paid $10.99 for a 6 pack but it was marked down to $7.99 so I went for it.

Pours a slightly hazy copper orange color with great head and nice lacing.

Aroma is mostly malty with a touch of hoppiness. They claim that this has 4 additions of hops but I don't think any of them were "dry-hop"

Taste is a nice surprise. It's well-bittered from all the hops but still pleasantly balanced. Definately a california ESB. I've had these in England and tended to stay away from them. They were usually too sweet and creamy for my tastes. This one has the usual american twist of extra everything especially hops.

Mouthfeel is great, medium body, nicely carbonated, good aftertaste.

Very drinkable and could be a session if it was about 1% less alcohol. A good 4 seasons beer.

Photo of cokes
3.38/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Blurred yellow-orange with a thin gray top. Bald after a few moments.
Nose full of lemon-zest hop essence, butterscotch and gin.
This begins, seemingly, as a pleasingly hopped-up, Left Coast ESB a la Brutal Bitter. It gradually falls apart from there. Malt is significantly lacking. Lightly toasted bagel hues up front. Buttery and attractive diacetyl looms large in the middle. Malt is gone at this point. Big, bitter hops loom at the end. Lemon rind, bitter herbs and faintly vegetal. Alcohol jolt at the finale, especially as this nears room temp. Medium-full in stature with stunted carbonation.
Not a total failure, but a bit tedious given the excess ABV and lack of malt backing.

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Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 536 ratings.