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Belk's ESB - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Belk's ESB
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very good

532 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 532
Reviews: 357
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 11.9%
Wants: 18
Gots: 9 | 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: 532 | Reviews: 357 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of karst
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a chill hazed amber orange with dense persistant 1-2 fingered head and sticky lace. Haze clearing as this ESB nears 55° F.

Aroma of citrus hops with caramel malt and fruity esters. A little alcohol in the aroma. Similar flavors with grapefruit hops dominating the crystal and biscuit malts and drying out the sweet caramel flavor.

Medium body, medium-light mouthfeel with good level of carbonation. Finish from Willamette bitterness lingers long.

Not your typical English ESB but still most drinkable. Must try.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A little more agressive that the average ESB. Look is fine, just a little lighter rust color than most. Low carbonation, dainty head, fair lacing. Smells malty sweet and biscuity. Light caramel tones. Good hop spiciness and bittering. Tastes lightly malty, caramelly, and a little toasty. Good dosage of spicy and bitter hops against light grain bill lends to agressive hopping for style, maybe American hop varieties...I like it. Warming alcohol rides from sip to swallow. Finishes crisply bitter, lightly sweet and alcoholic, and slick like buttered popcorn. A little less dry than expected. Alochol becomes a little medicinal in the aftertaste.

Photo of OatherS
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice label with a Cali valley scene with a bear in a lake.

A: One finger head with a amber color on the light end.

S: Hoppy, bitter, alcoholy.

T: Similar to the smell, strong bitter hoppy aftertaste. Very enjoyable drink.

M: Crisp.

D: Very good ESB, nice and strong.

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

Anderson Valley's ESB pours golden in color with some head that dissapates fairly quickly. Very minimal lacing. Balanced between solid malt flavor and strong hop bitterness. Nice crisp bitter finish. This is my first ESB, so I will have to try more to compare. But to me, it is like a light IPA with little hop oil flavor and more full malt flavor. This is a drinkable beer and I enjoy it paired with Jarlsberg cheese.

Photo of DogFood11
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I thought the appearance was outstanding. I've purchased this beer many times but i'm reviewing this with beer in hand. Big head depletes into a nice coating and lacing. light caramel coloring. Very inviting. Smelled bitter with a distinct sharp hoppiness. I want to devour this beer but at almost 7% its a bit too inviting for a lazy saturday afternoon.

Taste: The bitterness really grabs the top of the palate. The aftertaste lingers a bit but it sharpens into some hoppiness. This is a solid beer and the drinkability is off the charts. mouthfeel is a bit creamy , fine carbonation means it probably was not forced or at least it feels that way which is fine with me.

Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark golden brown with a frothy white head. The foam falls flat pretty quickly but leave a bit of lacing along the glass.

The smell is pretty inviting - fruit notes of peach, apricot and apple accompanied by a bucketful of noble hops. There's a pervasive new mown grass smell with hints of floral notes as well.

The taste is quite fine - most of the fruit notes in the nose come through on the tongue as well, along with golden toasted bread and a light nuttiness. The hops are the main event here and AVB uses lots of 'em. This beer is right on the edge between 'hoppy' and 'bitter' which is about the right place for an ESB. I wish there was a bit more of a grain note to balance the hops but it's a minor quibble. Hops again are straight out of the noble family: mostly grassy notes with a wee bit of pine, floral and herb to round it out. It's a pleasantly complex hop mix.

Mouthfeel is dead on. This is a light bodied brew with plenty of carbonation; what was lost in the head stayed in the drink. The hops leave a pretty dry finish to each sip.

This is quite drinkable - the next time I'm hankering for a good dose of Euro style hops and there's not a high quality Pils nearby I'll most likely reach for a Belk's.

Photo of bmills1608
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Color - Hazy, almost cloudy orange color with touches of rust
Nose - Heavy handed ripe fruits, kiwi and orange, red licorice, really nice nose
Taste - Wonderfuly fruity and complex, under the fruit flavors a solid, lightly bready toasted malt flavor foundation, fairly sweet. Tangy and snappy herbal flavors flood in towards the end, cutting the sweetness of the malts.
Mouthfeel - Smooth and creamy, easy tight and light carbonation

Overall - Great drinkable brew, very complex with several distinct flavor layers are succesfully intigrated into a smooth unifiyng drink. Great balance and a great ESB.

Photo of IceAce
3.34/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Despite all the coaxing one could muster, it is virtually impossible to get this copper colored pint to disclose its contents by way of aroma.

The first sip eliminates any doubt that this will be a boring beer as a full mouthfeel and a wonderful dry malt profile mixes with hints of nuts and fruity sweetness. The finish commences with a floral hop bite and a long, slow Euro-hop fade.

Photo of Luigi
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice clear amber color with a giant white head that sticks all over the glass. Smells rich with spicy hops, bready grains, and alcohol. Tastes very hoppy. Citrus and piney hops dominate at first but are soon balance by a big biscuity malt. The body is meduim and the drinkablity is great! What a beefy ESB! At 6.8% (and I do not know how I even found this in NC) it gets you buzzed really quick.

Photo of silver0rlead
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light golden color with a big white head that leaves nice lacing down the glass. The aroma is caramel malt with a hop background that smells citrusy. The taste begins with a sweet molasses malt followed by an herbal and citrusy hops bitterness that lingers throughout the taste. The hops flavor has hints of grapefruit, pine sap and lemon rind. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a warming effect. The drinkability is good but not great with an almost 7% abv.

Photo of ybnorml
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An orange /amber beer with just a slight haze. Has a small creamy off white head, with a small amount of lace. The aroma has strong vanilla and fruit notes with a hint of citrusy hops in the background. The flavor starts out with a blast of hoppy bitterness followed by a nice caramel malty sweetness and finishing off with a smooth tea like bitterness.

Photo of freed
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours nicely, rich copper to bronze with good clarity. Mixing of bubbles of various size slowly thinning to a whiff of foam. Minimal lacing.

Aroma wells forth with both authentic british mulled malts and mellow herbal hops. Nice balance and character.

The taste is clean - full, well rounded malt body combining traditional pale and darker roasted malts giving it just a hint of astringency but not too much that it hides the breadiness. The hops create a uniquely bright and somewhat grassy, somewhat lemony baseline bitterness. The same bitterness finishes the sip sharply and cleanly. You certainly know you've swallowed the beer, and you certainly know you'd like more.

There's somewhat of an accumulating effect by the hops though that dries the mouth out a little much by the end of the glass, so you're ready to move on. Delightful though.

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

Picked up a bottle at Papago Brewing back in early March for $1.75.

Poured a nice deep orange with a strong head that is leaving a nice lacing behind. Nose is of bread at of floral hops. Taste is a great representation of an American ESB. Starts with an extreme amount of malts and finishes with a generous amount of floral hops with a hint of citrus. Most extreme sampling of this style to date. Nice full mouthfeel. This is a very nice drinkable beer. It gets better the more it warms up. Anderson Valley has yet to dissapoint me!

Photo of krberg
4.43/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Amber with a nice tight white head. I use Fuller's ESB as a benchmark so I expected something a bit more dark.

The smell is all ESB. Malty as hell. Smells like honey.

That's balance! I notice the hops before the malt; bitter followed by sweet, which is different, but excellent. The finish is quick according to style and quite refreshing. Simple and beautiful!

Thick and rich, but, once again, refreshing. Outstanding!

5. I wish this beer wasn't 6.8, but, if taken slowly Belk's ESB, could be an all night kind of beer.

Overall this is a fantastic ESB. Yet again Anderson Valley has "wow"ed me.

Photo of xgrigorix
3.2/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Twelve ounce brown bottle - no dates.

Medium amber in colour. Topped by a frothy off white head, which leaves some nice lace behind.

Biscuity grain aromas & raw hop notes.

Quite sweet, grainy. Rough & raw hops. Medium-full bodied, moderate carbonation. Alcohol comes right through. A brash American interpretation of an ESB, that leaves me wanting.

Photo of Stimack
3.63/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Gave this brew a try last evening. Poured to a clear golden color with orange highlights. Had a smallish off white head that had some retention but left a fair amount of lacing. The aromas of this brew seem to be buttery, sweet malt and a touch of alcohol. The taste seems to have very similar characteristics to the aromas, definite sweet malt tastes. Nice spicy hop taste that seems to help this brew out quite a bit. Also can really notice a strong alcohol taste as it finishes. Not my favorite brew but is pretty solid, not sure if I would get it again.

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 crookedhalo
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an orangy amber color with a rocky beige head. Butterscotchy malt profile with a moderate amount of hops in the aroma. Light floral fruitiness as well. Lots of caramel and crystal malts in the flavor with a transition towards a soft, fruitier, spicy hop finish with some citrus suggestions. Carbonation is average to above average, but good for its style. It's a bit big for its style, too, but pretty drinkable. Not my favorite, but not bad by any means.

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 GeoffRizzo
3.23/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light orange in hue, some sediment lurking slowly; thin, yet bubbly white head. A spicy and hop based nose. A hop blast up front, delicate malt based body, a bit carbonated. Grainy notes with some alcohol offerings, finishes a bit dry, a pretty decent stab at the style, just nothin’ to write mama bout’.

Photo of Southernbrew
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice copper-orange, nice big, soft head.

Aroma is all about the hops with just a hint of bitterness.

Medium bodied, lots of malt flavor comes first but then a nice bitter flavor comes through as does a bit of a floral flavor. Following the bitterness is the alcohol that does a bit of a warming job. Finishes with a bit of a grain flavor.

Heavy duty ESB, nearly as big as Rogue's Brutal Bitter but in a much different way.

Photo of Naerhu
3.61/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Beautiful copper semi-opaque body with tight 2 cm creamy head. Excellent lacing.
Aroma: Light spicy hops and creamy malt aroma.
Taste: Long firm bitterness, firm large breadcrust maltiness. Yeasty.
Mouthfeel: Bigbodied for esb, kinda tastes like an IPA
Drinkability: The harsh bitternes brings this beer down a notch and draws it out fo style.

Photo of twelvsies
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one definately pushes the boundaries of an ESB. Pours a medium amber color with a creamy little head on top. Smells of hop oil and nutty malts, grassy at times and with a doughy bready hint in there. It's pretty malty on the palate although the bitter hops are definately there. Nutty flavor malt blends well with the floral and also citrussy hops. Also has that classic English ESB buttery toffee taste to it, which creates and interesting balance. The one thing I think is the most strange is that the %6.8 percent alcohol, not particularly high, seemed very noticable to me. I usually like that in a beer but it seemed a bit odd here. And believe me, I really like beers where you can taste a kick of alcohol. This really is a pretty big honkin ESB in my opinion. Definately unique and pushes the envelope of this traditional style. I like that in a beer. Go git some.

Photo of Bierguy5
4.01/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Pours a cloudy, orange/amber color. Huge thick white fluffy head. The head on this lasted the entire beer, and left a great amount of lace. Slightly grainy nose, with notes of both citrusy hops, and piney hops. Taste has some biscuity maly, but the hops seem to take over quickly. Spicy, and slightly grapefruit like hop flavor, with a good amount of bitterness. Not the ESB I was expecting, but Anderson Valley seems to be all about the hops. Medium body, maybe a bit too carbonated. Overall, a very different ESB than what I was expecting, but it sure was pretty tasty. I didn't think it was as balanced as the label says, but no matter. This is a solid beer.

Photo of GreatPondBrewer
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The ESB poured a light, and completely clear copper color with a frothy, pinky thick head with a just a bit of lacing to complete the package. The nose was dry smelling with notes of grapes, butterscotch and english hops. The taste was sharp up front with some metallic hoppiness that faded slowly into a more traditional, buttery flavored English ESB. The mouthfeel was properly carbonated without being everly so. Good interpretation of an ESB.

Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 532 ratings.