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Belk's ESB - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Belk's ESB
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very good

512 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 512
Reviews: 356
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: 512 | Reviews: 356 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

1.8/5  rDev -52.5%

No question this is an ESB, strong, hoppy after taste. Very little aroma its all in the taste. Alcohol not noticable even though it's on the high side. Low carbonation. If you like a bitter this one is for you but it is not my style.

03-15-2002 18:30:41 | More by jdhilt
Photo of brpendergast85

District of Columbia

2/5  rDev -47.2%

03-25-2014 03:42:22 | More by brpendergast85
Photo of TheBeerAlmanac


2.17/5  rDev -42.7%

Bottle poured into a pint glass

A: Dark yellow in color and has a surprisingly thick and spongy head.

S: It does smell a little bitter but also metallic, much like a typical adjunct lager, not the greatest comparison.

T/M: Tastes malty like a traditional ESB with a slight hoppy bite and little bit of that bitterness in the finish.

Overall, it’s relatively bland.

06-21-2011 00:30:40 | More by TheBeerAlmanac
Photo of PDXHops

South Carolina

2.25/5  rDev -40.6%

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A hazy dull orange body makes a nice backdrop for the constant cascade of white carbonation bubbles. Off white head doesn't rise vertically much, but has nice retention and lacing.

Very floral with a slightly sweet bready and malty character.

Much more "busy" in the mouth. Crisp grainy flavor up front yields to significant yeasty sweetness and a noticeable alcohol burn (at only 6.8%?). Piny bitterness is significant- would be great in an IPA, but out of place for this style. Some sort of medicinal aftertaste lingers along with the pine down the throat. Not feeling this beer- it just doesn't come together nicely.

Overall impression- Disappointing ESB.

06-07-2009 23:42:25 | More by PDXHops
Photo of harrymel


2.45/5  rDev -35.4%

Bottle date: nunya!
Pours an amber with a finger of light cream foam. This falls in a couple minutes to a beer with moderate lace. Smells of malts (english tone) with a bit of a hit of bitter, burnt caramel. This is the nose I generally look for in an ESB, but this is a little too subdued. Flavor is of malts and a weird, over powering flavor I place akin to sushi wrap (seaweed). Really this flavor is overpowering anything else I am tasting, unfortunately. The body is a bit thin with high carb and a semi dry finish. I'm a bit disappointed by this and would not likely order again on my own buck.

03-06-2012 09:50:57 | More by harrymel
Photo of littlejon326


2.48/5  rDev -34.6%

Im not sure why this is even classified as an ESB.

Pours a very hazy golden straw orange. Huge head that I appreciate.

Aroma was hoppy and herbal with a slight malt backbone and sublte alchohol bite...6.8% for an esb?

Taste was, in my opinion, too much for this style. Slightly piney but a little apricote/clove notes, malt halfway through with a lingering bitterness. To me, this beer seems more to style as an american pale bordering a *balanced* ipa.

02-28-2010 08:31:42 | More by littlejon326
Photo of SmashPants


2.49/5  rDev -34.3%

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.

04-22-2014 11:26:42 | More by SmashPants
Photo of iemailjack


2.5/5  rDev -34%

12-04-2011 22:18:19 | More by iemailjack
Photo of jaidenjb


2.5/5  rDev -34%

02-28-2012 01:02:09 | More by jaidenjb
Photo of beermanbrian


2.5/5  rDev -34%

10-16-2012 00:40:58 | More by beermanbrian
Photo of gdogalishus


2.63/5  rDev -30.6%

Serving from a bottle to tumbler
Serving temperature 47 degrees F
pH: 4.37
Alcohol Measured: 6.9% by Residual Extract Method

This ESB poured into my tumbler with a beautifully hazzy copper core surrounded by a cylinder of gold by the edges of the glass. The head was full and robust.
The aroma was cause for concern. I instantly noted a distinct yeasty/stale aroma that may be suggesting that this bottle has some oxidation issues.
The taste was mildly hoppy with little malt character. Bitterness was the main characteristic of this beer, and for an ESB is not out of character, but the oxidation made it through to the flavor as well.
I think I got an old bottle, and perhaps I should try another one before deciding that this is not a particularly good ESB, but the beer is whats in the bottle and I will review it as such. If I try another sometime and see a difference, I will update this review. For now, not a particularly good example of an ESB other than the appearance.

01-18-2006 21:09:14 | More by gdogalishus
Photo of maxwelldeux


2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

06-03-2013 02:35:31 | More by maxwelldeux
Photo of Cresant


2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

Poured this undated 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. A semi-cloudy body of golden honey color supported a minor head. A ring of white foam remained throughout.

Smell was caramel sweet. Piney and citrus. Floral notes. Rather spicy.

Taste is very APA-like. Caramel sweet taste reflected the aroma. Balanced but not subtle like a British ESB.

Mouthfeel was stylewise appropriate with mild carbonation. Not a standout in any characteristic but drinkable.

01-10-2007 03:13:08 | More by Cresant
Photo of NJBeer265

New Jersey

2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

06-28-2014 23:58:11 | More by NJBeer265
Photo of Hopswagger

South Carolina

2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

07-20-2014 21:35:36 | More by Hopswagger
Photo of zbloom

New York

2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

08-28-2012 04:02:24 | More by zbloom
Photo of SaltofOH


2.78/5  rDev -26.6%

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.

06-23-2014 00:26:01 | More by SaltofOH
Photo of littlesgtpepper


2.85/5  rDev -24.8%

Had a 6oz taster glass at AVBC.

A soft off-white head faded fast on this beer but had some nice lacing. A rather pretty deep honey color.

Maybe I had a bad batch? The scent is slightly skunky which was weird for Anderson Valley and kind of overpowered the smells of hops and malt.

Good strong hop flavor (Cascade hops maybe?), but not enough malt flavor. Something slightly floral is here too but I can't place it. A nice ending spicy bite.

ESB's are all about balance between hops and malt and this beer tends to lean more toward and IPA style. Not a bad beer but I won't go out of my way to try it again.

09-25-2010 05:26:22 | More by littlesgtpepper
Photo of ThirstyBird


2.88/5  rDev -24%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a challis..I know weird but too lazy to switch from my last beer.
A - Hazy honey colored. 1/2 inch of light tan head falls to a mottled skim.
S - Big caramel malt nose with some fruity hops.
T - Damn hoppy, I get the malt for a moment then quickly the hops bombard. This is the most bitter ESB I've ever had. This baby is definitely not balanced. Lingering spicy and bitter.
M/F - Medium body, more carbonated than I would expect for an ESB.
D - I don't know about this one. I seems like somebody mixed an ESB with a hoppy IPA. Weird, seems like a wild pitch to use a baseball analogy for me.

05-06-2009 03:53:23 | More by ThirstyBird
Photo of guityler83


2.95/5  rDev -22.2%

A: An overy aggresive pour (oops) into an imperial pint glass produced a four finger head that sustained for a minute and laced the glass with a thick coat of off white foam. The beer itself showed a murkey copper / orange color a few shades darker then the half acre logo on the glass.

S: Sweet with toffee, caramel and a hefty toast vibe. Some fruity esters coming through possibly from the yeast and a spicy, earthy hop character that is almost missed with all the malt smells.

T: The big malt character expected from the nose: toffee, caramel with some gram cracker and bread crust. The bitterness is fairy strong with earthy noble hop flavors and lingers on the pallet long after it's been swallowed. A bit of a papery tasting in the middle (oxidation?) and a fruity almost german tasting yeast flavor

M: The bitterness in this drys out the mouth giving a slighty astringant vibe (or from the carmel malts?) Moderate body with moderate carbonation.

O: I'm not a big fan of many ESB's or english beers in general unless they are firkin (cask, real ale, etc). This one was a bit harsh and I think it had an oxidation problem. If that was fixed I might have scored it higher, but for now... meh

06-06-2013 20:01:01 | More by guityler83
Photo of dertyd


3/5  rDev -20.8%

09-08-2013 04:46:07 | More by dertyd
Photo of jackndan


3/5  rDev -20.8%

Belk’s ESB: Very nice looking amber beer with an off-white head. Very little aroma. Surprisingly mild taste, not as much hops bite as I’d expected at all. Some alcohol warmth, but this was not a lively or flavorful beer by my book.

05-11-2002 19:35:06 | More by jackndan
Photo of TheMrFarnham


3/5  rDev -20.8%

07-07-2013 20:40:20 | More by TheMrFarnham
Photo of largadeer


3/5  rDev -20.8%

05-08-2013 19:23:47 | More by largadeer
Photo of gleemonger


3/5  rDev -20.8%

03-28-2012 22:46:11 | More by gleemonger
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Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 512 ratings.