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Belk's ESB - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Belk's ESB
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very good

517 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 517
Reviews: 357
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 12.14%
Wants: 19
Gots: 7 | 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: 517 | Reviews: 357 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of plaid75
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark copper hue with a one finger creamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured an upfront sweet caramel malt with a troublesome diacytl element.

The taste was upfront swett malts with a touch of diacytl. A decent resiny hop developed toward the end. Dry finish.

The mouthfeel was of average fullness with a dry finish.

Overall a decent malty ESB. I orefer my ESBs a bit hoppier and the diacytl didn't help out either.

plaid75, Jun 28, 2007
Photo of soupyman10
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly amber copper coor, a little foggy, with a finger of white head on top that dissolves fairly quickly. Nose is balanced; hops and malt both show up, and a hint of saltiness in the background. Definitely bready as well. Nose is good, but mild. Taste is solid ESB ish. Salt is what hits you immediately, and then again in the fairly salty hop aftertaste. In the middle there is that slightly sweeter toffee malt flavor. Not bad. Feel is standard; medium body with solid carbonation. Overall, this is a good one, although the saltiness (kind of a staple for the style, I realize), might limit the drinkability a little.

soupyman10, Jun 24, 2007
Photo of Osiris9588
4.2/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

Osiris9588, Jun 10, 2007
Photo of smcolw
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A beautiful pour: great head with excelent lace, cloudy orange-amber in color.

Slightly sweet malty smell. Enough hop to provide balance. A little bit "bready".

This is a very "round" beer, much like the English ales I've had. Malt is the key ingredient, but the hop shows up nicely in the aftertaste. The body is as I would expect.

Overall, a nice entry into this style. I like the balance. And the appearance is superior.

smcolw, May 27, 2007
Photo of ncvbc
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep golden color with a decent head and medium to lower carbonation. Smell is of sugary caramel malts and citrus hops. Taste is balanced with malts and a little hop bite. Mouthfeel seems good to me. Crisp and smooth at the same time. Medium. Drinkability is good as well. I like Anderson Valley's beers greatly. This one isn't necessarily the best that they have to offer but it's a good ESB.

ncvbc, May 26, 2007
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Plucier: Poured a deep brown color ale with a big nice foamy head with good retention. Aroma of PNW hops is well balance with caramel malt. Taste is a well balance mix between some caramel malt with light toffee and some great hops presence with provide mild bitterness and a great floral aspect to this beer. Great carbonation with a full body which really fit the style. I really like and enjoy the balance in the beers from this brewery.

Phyl21ca, May 25, 2007
Photo of EStreet20
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle, shaker pint glass.

A - Very light golden color (near yellow) with two fingers of nearly white head.

S - A faint aroma overall. Some sugary malt smell.

T - Wow a much stronger flavor than I expected from the smell. Nice sweet malts coming through, some fruity tastes. Hops make a brief appearance and provide some balancing bitterness. Beer finishes clean. Alcohol is completely masked.

M - Fairly ligfht body. Just the right level of carbonation. A good feel for this flavorful ESB.

D - This beer feels like a session brew and has some nice malt flavors. Careful with its drinkability at 6.8 % ABV.

Notes: My first try of an Anderson Valley brew and a solid ESB with some great unexpected flavor characteristics. I'll definitely check out their other two brews that became available in my local store recently.

EStreet20, May 12, 2007
Photo of williamherbert
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy light orange color. Light specks of carbonation floating up. Nice finger of frothy head. Looks really nice and refreshing. Some light lace.

Nice, balance biscuity malt smell with a sweet flowery hop accent as a nice balance. Both smells are apparent and balance well. Smell is (appropriately) bitter.

Sweet and flowery hops flavor, with an interesting nutty undertone in the dry malt taste. Very English-Ale, but more hoppy than a regular English IPA. Bitter/flowery aftertaste. Bitter malt is dry, not the normal German/Bavarian flavor.

Dry finish, but a "wet" drink. Very clean, no film. Overall, very dry, biscuity and balanced. Bitter/dry malt, sweet hops. Quite good. Really the defnition of what an ESB should be.

williamherbert, May 02, 2007
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
3.35/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

GratefulBeerGuy, Apr 14, 2007
Photo of ccrida
3.1/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a shaker glass, the Boont ESB is hazy burnt orange with a tall, rocky light khaki head, that took a while to subside to a thick skim leaving decent lace. Very nice!
The aroma is pretty grainy, like bread dough, moderately strong and really not that appealing. Maybe I didn't make the best choice of glassware, as this shaker is pretty wide-mouthed, but I really doubt thats it.
After the smell, the taste is a welcome suprise, with better flavor and more depth then I expected. While it's certainly heavy on the grains, nice and bready, there is also a nice balance of fruity esters, some piney flavoring hops and a firm bitter finish, hiding any trace of the ABV. Is this beer awesome? No, not even one of my favorite West Coast big ESBs...but it's certainly not bad, and is well crafted.
The mouthfeel is a bit oily, with moderate carbonation and body.
The is not the most drinkable ESB in my book. It's a bit heavy on the alcohol, even if it is totally hidden, and not so tasty that I just couldn't get enough. Although it's a smooth and easy drinker, the bittering hops build on the tongue, and could have used more aroma to balance them out. All and all, not bad, but not one I'll be buying again most likely.

ccrida, Apr 14, 2007
Photo of wspscott
4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle in pint glass

I am not sure if they were going for a traditional ESB, the bottle says "Extra Special Beer". This is not an English style ESB, it is more of an American Pale Ale. I'm not sure it is extra special but, it is special :)

Appearance: middle of the road pale ale, i.e. amber colored, not very dark
Smell: Not much in the way of smell, even as it warms in the glass.
Taste: Very well balanced between hops and malt, the alcohol (6.8%) does not come though at all.
Mouthfeel: Typical Pale Ale, I am aware of the beer but it is not cloying or thick
Drinkability: This beer is made for summer. At first I thought this is a great lawnmower beer, crisp, nicely hopped, perfect on a hot day. Then I saw the alcohol, 2 of these after mowing the lawn and I am not sure I would be awake for dinner. But, I could drink these by the six pack if I had no where to go :)

All in all, a very good beer

wspscott, Mar 25, 2007
Photo of brentk56
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear dark golden color with a fluffy head that leaves shards of lace

Smell: Not much of an aroma but what there is, is not particularly enticing; more of a chemical smell

Taste: Starts with a modest toffee flavor that is joined, after the swallow by a harsh, grainy flavor; some residual sweetness at the tip of the tongue at the very end; the finish is very harsh, however

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation but a prickly mouthfeel from the harshness

Drinkability: Not particularly well-balanced for an ESB; rather disappointing, in fact; I like many of Anderson Valley's beers - this one and the Belgians are not at the top, however

brentk56, Mar 17, 2007
Photo of BeerTruth
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance is a cloudy burnt orange with a generous khaki head. Lacing is quite sticking and remains well throughout tasting. Very clean scent, a little weak but has mild hop aroma with a buttery undertone. Taste was much different than expected. Hops appear powerful in smell, but weak in taste. Malt seems to overpower the flavor of this ESB with a fair hop bite to the aftertaste that remains well after swallow. Carbonation is quite mild throughout tasting. To me, this is a very drinkable ESB at 6.8%. Alcohol is present, but not overwhelming. Very smooth, enjoyable beer. My first brew from Anderson Valley, and I now look forward to trying more in their lineup.

BeerTruth, Mar 13, 2007
Photo of plaztikjezuz
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a brilliant copper color with a small off white head.
the aroma is malty, little munich, spicy, hop sack, hint of alcohol.
the flavor is malty, munich, some graininess, the hopsack is very present, grassy, spicy.
this is avery nice esb, i think i will buy it again.

plaztikjezuz, Mar 09, 2007
Photo of wagenvolks
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours the standard light copper/golden brewwith an off-white head. Transparent with the slightest amount of suspended yeast particles. Fantastic lacing. Smells how an ESB should: pungent piney hops, citrus, and some sticky icky green.

Taste is interesting, with subtle notes of eggplant, metallic hops, and wheat. A tough one to pin down. Mouthfeel is acidic and well-carbonated with an immensely bitter aftetaste (some may go so far as to call it especially "extra" bitter). Bottom line: I'll have this one again at some point in time, but I'm not enamorated with it. Give it a try, it won't disappoint.

wagenvolks, Mar 04, 2007
Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

served from 12 oz bottle, appearance is almost like a hefeweizen, light straw and somewhat cloudy, bouqet is excellent, distinct aroma of fresh-baked biscuits, also some honey in the nose, i could smell this one all day, more complex than i can remember here, taste is similar to above, also buttery, some nice lingering sweetness but balanced well by enough hop acids, even though the hops are somewhat understated, not your usual in your face grapefruit/pine hops typical of american micros, body was perfect, mouthfeel smooth and drinkable for a higher alc beer, overall this is an excellent beer, a staple in the fridge.
update: less complex than i remember, buttery, bready malts in the aroma and taste with a gingery bitterness balancing out the light to moderate malt sweetness. simple but sessionable other than that i'd expect more from a beer of this abv.

MrMcGibblets, Feb 24, 2007
Photo of stegmakk
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured a hazy orange with very little off white head.

Aroma was mostly of sweet malt and citrus.

Taste is excellent. Well blended mix of wood, citrus, hint of pine, and a nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel was fine.

Drinkability is very high. Tastes well, and the dry crisp finish makes it easy to down many of these. I didnt realize the alcohol level was as high as it is. There is NO noticing that while drinking. Excellent for a spring afternnon.
Big thanks to Wasatch for this one as well!

stegmakk, Feb 05, 2007
Photo of mynie
4.3/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy dark yellow with a small head that dies away fairly quickly.

Smells strongly of rough yeast, lightly roasted grain, and a pine sticky hop.

Taste wise, the yeast dominates the front and barely lets the malt come into the picture. The ending is a wonderful mess of hops, very bitter and very potent, sticky pine and flowers.

Much stronger than what I expect from an ESB--actually stronger than their APA! A wonderfully Americanized version of the classic UK style.

mynie, Feb 03, 2007
Photo of Bitterbill
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle a cloudy orange with a large head of foam that shrank quickly leaving very little by the time I got half way through and..there's just a tad of lacing.

The smell is of caramel malt with a bit of citrus.

The tasteis very malty...lots of nice caramel malt flavour up front. There's just a hint of hop bitterness in the background, mainly lemon, that offsets the malt sweetness just a tad but this is all about the malt and a fine example of an ESB. Yummy. Even the finish is sweet though it does fall off right at the end and concludes on the dry side. I wish I had another as I really appreciate ESBs that are true to form.

Bottom line: A very good ESB that I can easily recommend!

Another brew obtained via Wasatch; thanks bud!

Bitterbill, Jan 11, 2007
Photo of Cresant
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

Cresant, Jan 10, 2007
Photo of bigdeuce
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had a couple Anderson Valley's and haven't been let down yet. This is a really nice looking beer, great lacing and a head that never dies down. Has a slight oft-red color with nice caramel malts to it that are heavy. Full-bodied flavor with some Northern Brewer Hops kicking in at the end to balance this beer out. A great price, a malty/hoppy nose and a malty/hoppy taste. Great offering!

bigdeuce, Jan 09, 2007
Photo of Grundle20
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a honey gold in to a pint glass. There is a fat sticky head to the beer with some awesome retention. The lacing is clumpy.

Grassy and detergent like for the most part. There is less apparent spicy hop character with a candy like sweetness from the malts.

Taste and Mouthfeel:
Drinks smooth and buttery with a bitterness to the back of my palette that slowly escalates in intensity to a high mild bitterness. The spicy character from the nose carries through in to the middle of the drink with a mild tropical fruit note to compliment. The finish is bitter and slightly unclean leaving me with a grassy chlorophyl like aftertaste.

Probably my favorite English style that is still done with some trueness to it's roots here stateside. I find ESBs to be drinkable for the most part but I find this to be a deliciously mild and well flavored interpretation of the style.

Bottom Line:
I'm finding that ESBs are slowy going the way of the IPA here in the states and it was refreshing to see this beer not only be good but rather true to it's roots. Another fine beer from Anderson Valley.

Grundle20, Dec 06, 2006
Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is a cloudy orange with good carbonation. The head is 2 fingers off white with big rocky bubbles. It fades leaving little lace.

The smell is hopy, bitter and slightly spicy.

The taste follows, but delivers a little less. Spicy and bitter could use a bit more of malt.

The mouthfeel is good, Medium body good carbonation.

The drinkability is ok, a hard beer to brew and keep my attention. MK

MuenchenerKindl, Nov 24, 2006
Photo of dherling
3.48/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out a cloudy orange golden color topped by a thin white lacey head. Not much in the nose, some slight hop bitterness, a tiny bit of malt. The taste echoes the nose, little bit of malt, some hop bitterness, spicy to some degree, but not much else. A fairly crisp dry mouthfeel. Good pleasent beer, but nothing special.

dherling, Nov 18, 2006
Photo of rowew
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12 oz longneck - the usual antlered beer on the label. ABV clearly marked, but no date information.

Appearance: Pours a bright orange with a bit of haze, medium head fades to leave a fairly substantial lacing.

Smell: A bit of malt sweetness and lots of spicy hop aroma.

Taste: Starts off with just a bit of sweetness, then hop spice takes over. A bit of alcohol is present in the finish.

Overall impression: Definitely bigger than your average ESB - the alcohol is just a bit to prevalent for this to be highly drinkable for me.

rowew, Nov 04, 2006
Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 517 ratings.