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Belk's ESB - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Belk's ESB
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very good

506 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 506
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: 506 | Reviews: 355 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gasp100


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy orange with a dense fluffy white head. The lace clings all the way down the glass. The smell consisted of a little raw hop and biscuity aroma as well.

The taste was big and malty with an extremely creamy and slick mouth feel -- almost like an orange creme-sical. Lots of malt with a huge sweet grain presence. A slight hops added a bitter character. Alcohol is warming and noticeable, but definitely not overbearing.

This is the last pair of a "sampler" case of ESB's and Pale Ales that I bought in PA (12 different brews in one). Every one was good, but I am glad I saved this one to the last. I really, really think this was the best of the bunch. It had a very "American" Character --- much different from the Fuller's ESB or Young's RamRod but just as enjoyable. I've noticed in DE that the Anderson Valley beers are quite a bit more expensive than most other micro's but I won't pass them up next time around.

Serving type: bottle

01-08-2004 02:11:28 | More by Gasp100
Photo of pezoids


4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A very nice beer. This one poured out an orangey gold color and the thin foamy head laced the glass nicely. The aroma gives off a sweet grainy, almost fruity malt aroma. There’s a nice balance of light and fruity sweet malt in the taste along with a dry and grassy bitterness. Detected a bit of alcohol peeking through, along with some woody and earthy notes. Finishes with a perfect bitterness. A very nice ESB.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2004 08:30:37 | More by pezoids
Photo of Finn


4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Orange/amber color, strikingly clear, like most of AVB's brews, strong carbonation with a creamy, thick head that stays nicely.

Smell: spicy hops, biscuity/bready malt aroma

Taste: starts with a hint of malt taste in the beginning and quickly leads into sharp hop bitterness. the end lingers with hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: sharp, crisp, refreshing mouthfeel, but enough body to hold up the flavor.

Drinkability: Goes down easy. Pretty strong esb alcoholwise.

overall, a great beer, not what i traditionally expect though from esb, this is a more crisp, clean, american take on the style.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2003 01:51:59 | More by Finn
Photo of GeoffFromSJ

New Jersey

3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a good ESB but not a great ESB. It starts out with a nice malt flavor which quickly dissipates into a hops and alcohol bite. A strong hops presence at the end is expected and desired, but this bite was a bit too harsh. There is not enough malt to balance it out. As time wears on the bite is wearing on me.

To sum up, this isn't that bad. But don't go out of your way to get this.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2003 20:06:10 | More by GeoffFromSJ
Photo of cokes


3.4/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2003 02:25:19 | More by cokes
Photo of skar

New York

3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Foreword: 12 oz bottle, light residue on interior of bottle cap.

Appearance/Head: Light brown, orange color. Clear. Awesome, very fine head with a nice lace.

Aroma: Fresh hops, light toffee, notes of alcohol.

Taste: Starts with a nice malty backbone, and transitions into a nice moderate hops flavor. The hops used are appropriate for the ESB style.

Bottom line: Quite a nice west coast ESB.

Serving type: bottle

10-26-2003 16:15:11 | More by skar
Photo of kunzbrew


4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This brew pours a slightly hazy dark straw color with a big creamy white head that last for a while, leaving a silky sexy lace in its tracks.

Strong hop aroma hits the nose hard, as well as a buttery toffee smell come from the glass.

A strong bitter hop flavor is king in this beer, along with tasty pale malts, make this a well balanced brew. Tingle of carbonation on the tongue make for a very refreshing beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2003 18:36:05 | More by kunzbrew
Photo of far333


3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2003 23:34:57 | More by far333
Photo of Mustard

District of Columbia

3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle; no "bottled on" or "best before" warning; purchased as a stray single from Trader Joe's for $1.17.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy, light amber; fine, one-fingered head; c-cup's worth of lace; fairly good head retention.

Aroma: Primarily of cherries, toasted malts and tropical fruits; spicy, floral hop medley.

Taste: Firm malt presence upfront with a moderate-to-heavy hop bitterness in the finish; ever so lightly sweet; notes of grapefruit, butter and non-citric fruits throughout; floral and spicy; fairly phenolic; medium bodied; somewhat creamy mouthfeel.

Notes: Big and tasty.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2003 06:54:00 | More by Mustard
Photo of Boilermaker88


3.63/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear apricot color with a frothy off-white head that faded to a small cap pretty quickly.
Smell was mainly of floral and citrus hops. Quite aromatic with the emphasis on the floral hops.
Taste was initially sweet with caramel/toffee flavor. Then a fairly robust grapefruit and citrus peel bitterness took over. Finished up with a lingering bitterness.
Feel was medium-bodied with a slick smoothness.
Overall, not too bad of a brew. In fact, I rather enjoyed this even though I'm not a big fan of well-hopped beers. This is a nicely balanced beer.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2003 21:38:50 | More by Boilermaker88
Photo of dmarch


3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Golden in color with some orange hues and a thin, well-retained, off-white head. The aroma makes it obvious that hops are present. Lime and floral flavors show through with only the slightest hint of sweet maltiness. The hops really cover up much of the malt character, but a good ESB for the hopheads.

Serving type: bottle

09-20-2003 13:49:25 | More by dmarch
Photo of alexgash


3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light copper color with an off-white head (not too big). Smell low key evergreen hops (they kind of reminded me of Scotch Tape--weird), and subtle malts. Delicate, flowery malts up front, quickly eclipsed by huge, spicy Anderson Valley hops. Almost as big (hopwise) as Hop Ottin'. The similarities stop there, however. Doesn't have the sweet malt presence that Hop Ottin' does. Adequately balanced, but not exceptional.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2003 17:22:16 | More by alexgash
Photo of edchicma


4.38/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Mmmm...I must have caught a good batch of this brew. The dark golden yellow color was enhanced by a nice light hoppy and fruity smell. The head was beautiful and the lace stayed around the glass all the way down. Taste was tart initially with a great hop presence with a flowery characteristic. The tartness stayed just the right amount of time with a light malt presence, ending in a very crisp finish. Maybe it's just me, but when a super hopped presence ends with a nice clean finish I will go back for more. Needless to say, I thought the drinkability was good.

Serving type: bottle

09-10-2003 23:07:08 | More by edchicma
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.18/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A nice deep copper color, pours with a cream colored head. There is a slight amount of chill haze present. Smells malty with a bit of sourness to it, maybe some sort of musty character as well. There is lots of caramel malt character in this beer. It ends with nice amount of bitterness, and there is a sharp bitterness at the beginning to. There is not too much hop flavor or aroma in this beer. Though as it warms up a definite hop flavor starts to assert itself. This is a nice solid beer, but it could use a few more dimension to it. I expected a bit more hop flavor from this brewery. There is a bit of grassy - hoppy notes to it though. Some biscuity flavors to this beer as well.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2003 16:50:18 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of RonfromJersey

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A white, fresh whip-cream head tops a light copper clear body. Nice lacing. The aroma is a burst of hops in both citrus and floral. The taste opens with a rich, deep caramelly malt foundation, and then the hops rise to first balance, and finally overtake then malt in the finish. Not as citrusy as most west coasters, the hops have some appropriate English qualities. This is hoppier than the typical English ESB though. This is another wonderfully solid beer from one of America's premier breweries.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2003 03:03:40 | More by RonfromJersey
Photo of putnam


3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

OK... this might upset the gearheads out there, but aren't Pales, Bitters, Extras Special Bitters and even India Pale Ales just variations of the same idea...one only having meaning relative to another? Where are the absolutes? I guess I want this to be less hoppy than the same brewery's IPA, which it is. That being said, it's still pretty hoppy...both of the bittering and aromatic sort. After a week of serious west coast beer study, I'm beginning to understand that "those people" out there really like hops. So once I've had a chance to either recalibrate my style assumptions or ignore them altogether (the latter is my choice here) I must note that this is a terrific beer...if you like raw, high-quality hops.
Slightly chill-hazed orange-colored brown, it offers a nose of minty, juniper-fleshed pinecone and caramel apples. On the palate it lounges about with downy richness while delivering stern, chipped-slate bitterness. The bubbles are so fine that it is impossible to register them individually, instead they pixillate to create images of whipped cream and roasted baba ganoush.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2003 01:20:12 | More by putnam
Photo of hotstuff


3.1/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Dayton, OH AleFest:This beer consisted of a small sized tan head with fine-small sized bubbles that quickly diminished.The body of this beer was clear and its hue was orange.The nose was very hoppy and malty.It had a very heavy bitter flavor to it that lingered for quite some time.The palate was tingly on my tongue and medium bodied.This beer was just too bitter for my taste.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2003 16:09:02 | More by hotstuff
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh


3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

08-12-2003 00:50:44 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
Photo of nomad


4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very light orange color. Had a big frothy head that exploded quickly and fell in caverns and an uneven surface, and had some stain left behind. Smelled of nuts, wonderful fruity hops, some florals, and scents of bitterness. Had some woody notes and roasted flavors deep and cutting in scent. A fantastic smelling ESB. Taste was a wonderful bitter, fruity and firm-bodied and strongly bitter, with some good amber malt behind it all. Had some very strong earthy flavors - too strong? Hop oil flavors became a little noxious when it mixesd with these earthy and biting flavors. Not very drying but quite dis-tasting flavors in the finish. A smooth and firm ale mouthfeel unfortunately turned into an oily covering on my tongue. Regardless, a damn fine ESB.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2003 20:11:34 | More by nomad
Photo of beerluvr

Ontario (Canada)

4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a cascading, sticky & lacey white head that settles over cloudy amber liquid. The nose is bready, malty and slightly spicy/sweet. Taste is of malt given a beat down by an ugly stick full of fresh flowery hop bitterness, with the malt becoming subservient to the mightily powerful flower. Finishes wonderfully bittersweet...a top American ESB, if not THE best!

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2003 03:20:16 | More by beerluvr
Photo of maxpower


3.5/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange-amber color, frothy off-white head that leaves a nice sticky lace in my glass. Bready and citrusy aromas, bready caremel flavors, medium to full bodied with a somewhat rough mouthfeel, a bit unbalanced yet tasty. The hops really stand out in the end with a bitter finish, not bad.

Serving type: bottle

07-31-2003 17:09:33 | More by maxpower
Photo of fattychubs

North Carolina

3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Belk’s ESB pours a hazy light copper color with a respectable dense white head. Aroma is subtle mostly hops. Taste starts with a smooth sweet malt, but hops dominate quickly, finishes really hoppy and bitter. Body has some density to it, medium feel with a crisp bite from the hops, alcohol is noticeable but goes good with the hops.

I liked this overall, pretty strong bitter and alcohol tastes, not a standout but very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

07-18-2003 02:59:09 | More by fattychubs
Photo of OatmattStout


4.28/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

It was recommended to me from a great source and one who likes big beers and hop head IPA's. He didn't disappoint. At first sip I realized what he meant when he said hoppy. It had a huge hop character of grapefruit rind that lasted well into the next sip. Body was good and did have a malt presence with some buttery caramel undertones. The color was great as well as the head. You could feel the alcohol after one so not a session beer for me and I'm sure many but definitely one to try if you like hops.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2003 18:14:42 | More by OatmattStout
Photo of mickeymac


3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomer, it's a good looking golden-orange with a fairly billowy white head. It smells more hoppy than most ESBs from the "home country" and also has nice note of biscuit. The taste is pleasant but not spectacular. The hops tend to dominate, though a nice yeasty flavor makes its presence known. The mouthfeel is creamy and it's quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

07-05-2003 20:11:14 | More by mickeymac
Photo of beerguy101


3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Medium Brown color, medium head. Aroma is malty, citrusy and buttery. A medium bodied ESB. Nice bitterness in this beer. Its not very malty, but its well balanced. Kind of what an ESB should be, kind of hoppy and bitter and juicy, Mouthfeel is full and round, Finish is clean and crisp. Aftertaste is bitter

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2003 18:02:56 | More by beerguy101
Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 506 ratings.