Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Extra Special Oak (ESO) - Element Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Extra Special Oak (ESO)Extra Special Oak (ESO)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

37 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 37
Hads: 109
Avg: 3.78
pDev: 14.55%
Wants: 11
Gots: 12 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Element Brewing Company visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  7.75% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Jwale73 on 05-10-2010

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Extra Special Oak (ESO) Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 37 | Hads: 109
Photo of ComputerBeer
5/5  rDev +32.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

WOW, like nothing I've ever had before! Oak aromas without any hops in the nose. Creamy texture with a oak like never before finish. I can't tell is is a wine, port, whiskey, barrel? Some vanilla, spice, tannin. Has a alcohol wallop that you will not see coming. I had 2 of these at the bar and I was done. There is no booze or heat like you would expect from such a potent beer. Very well done.

 395 characters

Photo of pat61
4.69/5  rDev +24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Vanilla, spice, and a faint sherry note first engage the nose, and then light hop aromas, malt and slight caramel with a hint of fruit become more apparent. It pours brilliant copper amber under a fluffy 1” off white foam cap. The palate really highlights the oak in a masterful way with vanilla, a slight mustiness that suggests a bourbon with considerably less alcohol. Behind this lurks a nutty, graham cracker, fruity ESB flavors. Above average carbonation also masks the ESB qualities a little bit as does a creamy texture. The body is just above medium. Almost like a jazz riff on an ESB.

 596 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.34/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: poured into a nonic pint, deep amber brown ale body with a nice finger of foamy head

S: dry malts and hops; some oakiness and woodsy flavors; mild hard liquor aromas

T: pale malt flavors with a hearty rich bready character; some deep wood flavors added complexity and distinction to the beer; sweetness of vanilla

M: the body and feel of a sweeter beer; buttery on the finish, not quite butterscotchy - it stays dry and then evaporates into a near-clean finish

O: a highly driknable brew, that I would gladly buy again.

 526 characters

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

Reviewed from notes.

In the glass, this one had a clear, deep yellow hue with a thin layer of head on top. Not bad at all.

Aroma was oak tannins, vanilla, and apples. Other fruits were also present, but so subtle I could not discern between them. Almost tropical.

Taste was sweet, vinous, and slightly fruity. Light bitterness played around prominent oak flavors. Well balanced.

Mouthfeel was very good. Surprisingly dry for a beer with this complexity.

Overall this is a very good, well put together brew. Element brews cost a bit more than some, but they are definitely worth it.

 586 characters

Photo of Ommy
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Extra Special Oak pours honey colored with a large foamy head. The bubbles are fairly large and lingers for a decent while.

On the nose the oak gives it a very musky and foresty smell. I feel there is a hint of fruits, like lemons or something similar.

The taste is a lot more muted than I expected, but it is definitely delicious. The oak gives the beer a nice character that you don't find often. This feels like a great beer to dine with, maybe with roasted chicken or pork.

Sometimes I don't bother with writing about the mouthfeel, but this is a huge part of the beer. The carbonation instantly stings your tongue when you drink this. I like variety so I'm saying this is a positive.

 691 characters

Photo of brureview
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%

Poured a reddish copper color with a 1 finger head in a Pretty Things glass. A wide mouth glass is recommended by the brewery for this beer.

Fruit, barnyard, and esters from the aroma which becomes more pronounced with warming.

The mouth feel is very carbonated.

The taste is distinctive. As in other beers in the style, there is fruit and esters finished with a sharp hoppy bitterness. Although the brewery refers to it as an ESB, it's more like an English Strong ale ( Beer Advocate)or closer to an Old Ale.

The beer is bottle conditioned and unpasteurized. It's the first beer I have tasted from the brewery. A singular brew- best warmer-( start at 50°F) which brings out the aroma/taste/palate in the beer.
I am looking forward to tasting more of their beers.

 774 characters

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

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #46 (Nov 2010):

Not too shy to show off its presentation of epic lacing and pale amber sheen. Oak, fruit, yeast tone, doughy biscuit and lemony hops are a great showing for an aroma. Heavy, silky smoothness. The malt and oak character intertwine so much and so deeply that they play off each other ... and compliment each other. Subtle hopping evens out the fruitiness that bounces around. Leafy. A drier side shows more toward the finish with oaky overtones and a lingering fruitiness. Yeah, the alcohol warms, but it's very delicate. A brush of greatness they have created on this canvas.

 632 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.19/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a cloudy apricot nectar color with a foamy head that leaves some impressive splashes of lacing behind

Smell: Malt and oak forward, with shortbread, earthy hops and vanilla/oak

Taste: Sweeter malt flavors, up front, with shortbread and toffee followed by a slightly lemony/earthy hop in the middle; the barrel builds after the swallow, bringing oak, vanilla and marshmallow to sweeten up the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Pretty good stuff for a sweeter style ale; like the balance and complexity

 560 characters

Photo of GregBarleycorn13
4.16/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First off, had to pop the cork with a loud pop. Poured a deep copper with lots off carbonation. I had to pour slowly so not to have too much foam. As it was there was a good two inches, which made the beer look even better. The smell was of a normal ESB. The taste came thru alot better. Smooth. Even after finishing the big 750ml bottle, I stiil wanted more. DeCicco's had this one reduced to $2.99. This was my second Element and hitting 2 for 2. Gots to find more.

 467 characters

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

Poured from a 750ml bottle into two pint glasses. Special thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist. Extra special thanks to jayli for this from our recent trade!

Bottled DEC 15 2010

A: Pours a cloudy dark amber with two full fingers of creamy off white head on top. Retention was fleeting with the cap quickly dying off and leaving a thin skim and collar. Some droopy ropes of lace were left behind.

S: Aromas of rich toasty malt, light smoke, new oak, and spicy citrus hops. After it warmed a bit, I noticed an interesting aroma of vanilla bean and/or maple.

T: As above with a greater emphasis on the oak and smoke flavors. Some elements of spice creep in as probably a counterpart of the oak ageing.

M: Wonderful silky smooth mouthfeel that somehow leads into a finish of spicy spices and hops. A dry oakiness takes over at the very end and does a fine job of cleansing the tongue.

O: Very impressive. I don't usually gravitate towards ESB's/ESA's but the oak ageing (and this brewerys' track record with me) made me really glad that Jax sent this along!

 1,059 characters

Photo of nhindian
4.11/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle wrapped in paper and finished with a cork and cage, poured into a Southern Tier Imperial goblet. Bottle generously provided by apollokim, thanks Kim!

A - Pours a beautiful burnished copper color, with a lighter orange in the highlights and deeper mahogany in the middle. After opening it threatened to gush, but only reached the opening of the bottle before retreating. The head is huge and very active; easily 3-fingers worth and shapeshifts between thick foam and a cavernous, rocky terrain. The body is pretty clear, which makes it easy to see the rush of carbonation flooding this beer. Head retention is great, and the lacing is more so thick clumps of leftover head rather lacing. Great looking beer.

S - Upon first smell, I am getting a noticeable English influence here in the malts and the oak really accentuates its oakiness. I'm also getting a lot of spice and earthy tones. Overall a mild, but pleasant smell.

T - Whereas the nose is more mild, the taste definitely boasts a lot of flavor. The malts are thick and flavorful, adding more depth than sweetness, that leads wonderfully into the barrel flavors. Speaking of, this beer brings more oak to the flavor than almost any other beer I've had before, it is almost chewing on an oak trunk and eating oak sawdust shavings. It's an interesting and certainly unique flavor, and is strangely addicting. Not much hops going on here, and the finish is moderately long with a ton of residual oak flavor.

M - Mouthfeel is light-bodied with moderate carbonation. Finish isn't as long as I would've liked given the different flavor, and it just kind of disappears from the palate.

D - Drinkability is high. Incredibly easy to put this down and the flavors keep enticing me back for more. The alcohol is non-existent and overall, just a finely crafted beer.

 1,828 characters

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

Bottle probably 2 years old.

A: Pours a reddish-amber with a big fizzy white head. Fades slowly, leaving no lacing at all. Common element of this brewery (see what I did there?). Oddly enough the second pour produced a solid wall of lacing. I'm not sure what to think about that but I did upgrade it to a 4.

S: Smells similar to an ESB. Toasted malt. Vanilla and oak. Swear I even get maple syrup.

T: Oaky for sure but not overpowering. Toasted malt and lots of bread. Some mild vanilla in the middle and through the finish along with some maple. Nice clean finish with just a touch of oak and vanilla that lingers.

M: Medium bodied and smooth.

O: Pretty much exactly as described. Tastes and smells like an ESB that's been oak aged but without the bitterness. Nice, clean crisp and balanced flavors. Relative simplicity keeps it from scoring higher but it's definitely a beer I enjoyed. Super malty and the drinkability is very high.

 940 characters

Photo of DIM
4.07/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: This was a slightly hazy golden color with peachy highlights. It poured with a smallish, short lived head.

s: I found lightly tart smelling grainy biscuits, vanilla, and powdery fruit candy.

t: Toasted grainy crackers, vanilla, woodiness, leafy bitterness, and faintly floral fruit.

m: Soft body with gently prickly carbonation.

o: Unique is the best word to describe this. Everything I found in here was subtle and well incorporated. Thanks for the treat B and E.

 471 characters

Photo of Evilyak
4.04/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish brown with a finger of white head.

This thing is great. It's not perfect, but it hits all of the bases. Doughy with some spice. Sweet and sugary, with no bitterness at all. Clean, with that cinnamon gum aftertaste.

Oddly drinkable

 240 characters

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

The beer pours a nice, white head that borders between creamy and bubbly. The beer itself is a dark copper that borders on brown and is clear. The beer has very strong oak notes when it's cold but the vanilla beans really come through and work well with the oak, which gives a bit a of a nice spicy note to it. The malts come out but not as strongly and give an interesting sweetness to the bouquet. The taste is similar to the smell notes but that the oak is much stronger than the vanilla bean and the malts are fairly sweet. The notes combine to give off a roasted coconut taste, which is pretty good. The mouthfeel is very soft and smooth with biting carbonation. Overall, a very good and unique beer; one that I will definitely pick up.

 741 characters

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

Had on tap @ Armsby Abbey.

A: A fluffy 1 finger head fades at a medium pace over the crystal clear toasty amber orange color.

N: Different than I expected from the appearance, some malts, dark malts and even a little roasted barley, touch of smoke, a slight tangy aroma, little oak and wood, strange musty earthy spicy hop character.

T: Smooth, creamy, lots of malt flavors, toasty malts, dark malts, some creamy chocolate milk and malt even, a little malted milk ball flavor, a little whisky flavor that comes out more as it warms, a little hop bitterness too. Lots of wood esthers with oak, some musty flavors too. A hint of smoke.

M: Semi thick, smooth and creamy, lower but decent carbonation.

F: Mostly dry with a touch of lingering sweetness, some minerality, slight bitterness, creamy flavors are there too as it's just starting to get the nitro feel. A little chocolate again, with a lot more wood esthers, oak and whisky late on the finish, coming on stronger as it warms. There's also a little weird bitterness that won't go away either.

 1,052 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a fun little beer here, very flavorful for an esb, lots of vanilla, lighter malts, and a toasted caramel sweetness towards the finish that is really nice. its oaky in a different way, this isn't in wine or bourbon, its new oak that still has a lot of its pop to it, sappy and full of flavor that's earthy and sweet, not tainted like some other alcoholic beverage. the wood goes great with the vanilla sweet malts and the effervescent carbonation makes it drink a lot lighter than it is. sweet flavor but does not stay sweet, the wood and English malt take over in a drying way. a light amber colored liquid that stays light even as it warms. a beautifully crafted beer rather fairly priced for what it is, about 10 bucks for a big bottle. get it if you can.

 757 characters

Photo of WanderingFool
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Extra Special Oak (ESO) pours a slightly hazy mahogany color, with a big, thick rocky head on top. The foam dissolves slowly to a sheet on the surface leaving behind a coating of lace on the glass.

The aroma is oaky with notes of vanilla and smoke. Caramel, bread, ripe fruit and alcohol are also detected.

Each sip of this medium bodied beer is dry and smooth with an effervescent fizz. The flavor has nice oak barrel flavors, mixed with sweet malt and a touch of hops. It begins with oak, vanilla and smoke. In the middle caramel and toasted malt appear. It finishes slightly bitter with floral. Once gone the oak and vanilla linger on the palate.

A lot of barrel age beers I've tried taste more like bourbon than beer. EOS has a nice balance between the beer and the barrel.

 781 characters

Photo of woosterbill
3.97/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Prime 16, served in a 25cl Duvel tulip.

A: Clear mahogany body under a creamy tan head. Ok retention, spotty lace. Not bad at all.

S: Very woody indeed, with tons of vanilla and coconut oakiness in front of some treacle, caramel, and toastiness from the malt. Quite nice.

T: Follows the nose pretty precisely, with wood up front, malt sweetness in the middle, and a bittersweet, vanilla-heavy finish. Perhaps a bit too sweet, but rich and enjoyable.

M: Creamy, gently-carbonated medium-full body. Pleasant.

O: I really enjoyed this one, although I wish I had checked the time before ordering it - happy hour had just expired, and this ~10oz beer rang up at $8. A bit steep for being under 8% and, while heavily oaked, not barrel aged. C'est la vie.


 772 characters

Photo of morebeergood
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased a bottle for $9.99 at Wine Nation in Millbury at the Blackstone Shoppes. Poured into a stemmed glass. Dark orange color, bordering on shades of burnt auburn. Not a lot of carbonation, but a nice sized head that surprisingly lasts for quite a long time. Smell has a subtle hint of wood and bourbon to its credit. Taste was very pleasant. It had a mellow bit of oak, along with hints of vanilla and caramel. Mouthfeel was on the thin side, but that would fit well with the style of an ESB. Drinkability was in the high range, as this beer was very smooth and tasty. The ESO was my first taste of Element Brewing, and if I can find more, I would certainly be willing to try another from this brewery.

 707 characters

Photo of Reagan1984
3.87/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Tried this beer at the Horseshoe Pub and really enjoyed it. Drinks almost like a Scotch or Bourbon vs. a beer.

Looks like a scotch. A dull clear brown color with no head nor lacing.

Aroma is full of tons of vanilla and wood...a slight sweetness in the background here.

Interesting flavor. This beer continues to intrigue me, as I drink it. Almost drinks like a light spirit vs a beer. Wood, caramel, vanilla, wood, caramel, vanilla, rinse.. Repeat. What's funny is there is as touch of a soapy quality.
It just hit me... Toasted coconut.

Slight carbonation but very smooth and almost velvety.

You have to take this one a little slowly and it seems better paired with a cold winter day. Or after dinner. But very nice...

 726 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 10/06/12 notes.

a - Pours a clear amber color with one finger of fluffy off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells roasted malts, toasted malts, some vanilla, and oak. Also some bready and burnt malts, and some earthy notes. Nose is nice and malty, and the vanilla from the oak is nice too. Barrel element seems heavy here, but I like it.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, cream, vanilla, toasted malts, light sugar, light sweet fruit, oak, and burnt malts. Nice, though not as good as the nose.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Smooth, and pretty easy to drink.

o - Overall a nice strong ale aged in oak barrels. It has some vanilla to it from the barrels which I liked. Not sure I'd want to drink a full bottle by myself, but splitting it with someone this winter would be nice.

 818 characters

Photo of smcolw
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is one beer that's hard to get into. The cork girdle is tightly wound; it takes awhile to remove. The cork is very secure in the bottle. I'm expecting a huge pop, but there is only a solid "poof" when the cork is removed.

Copper-amber color beer and clear. Good starting head which leaves lots of intertwined lace. It settles smoothly leaving a knoll of a dome froth.

Smell: First thought is earthy like fresh tilled soil. Second thought is moderately toasted malts. Third thought is metallic, particularly iron.

Quite British in the taste--lots of round malt flavor up front. There's an element of light brown sugar on the tongue. Good caramelized malt (crystal?) which lends itself to a rich body. I'm used to "oak" as coming across as buttery. I think the oak element (no pun intended) is understated. The carbonation is understated. Good (but subdued) hop finish. The aftertaste is short.

Indistinguishable from the classic English ESB, except for possibly a higher alcohol level. That's nearly imperceptible but I wonder.

 1,037 characters

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

Its name conjures up the image of a vanilla-kissed malty bitter. Sounds nice, but not exactly what I got with this.

Surprisingly voluminous mousse-frothy head for a bottle-conditioned English-style ale - replenished itself automatically. Peachy orange-rose color liquid, hazy - not as dark or as brown as expected for an ESB.

A whiff reveals a peculiar, particular woody quality looming over some rich fruitiness combined with a very lightly-toasted bready malt aroma. No booze, but perhaps some hop interplay with the wood.

What I didn't expect was the oak-aging to impart an unmistakably woody yet dank-old-newspaper dryness(?) (pretty sure it wasn't infection) which cut through the other flavors, kind of chopping down or leveling off the concentrated fruity esters and simulating a staleness in the malt.

Getting through the pint, the balance tips quite favorably toward the esters and malt, leaving me wishing they would just abandon the oak thing. I don't see what good it does. It has a great strong pale ale taste on its own. But that damn quasi-bitter, old 2x4, licking-a-tongue-depressor nuance never quite goes away. Astonished to see it measures almost 8% - doesn't taste or drink like it.

If you end up digging the overall buds offering, you'll also find it somewhat medium-full bodied yet somewhat light, easy to drink and refreshing. I thought it was alright - better maybe minus the above. I'd try it again w/o wood.

 1,438 characters

Photo of Jwale73
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Description from the website:

This innovative ale, burnished chestnut in color, contains the malt characteristics of an ESB without the typical bitterness. Lighter carbonation highlights the oak-aged flavor and its enduring tones of toasted vanilla and spice.

Thanks to Thirstybird for breaking this one out. Poured with the appearance of sweet tea - no head, just a skim and a frothy band around the shoulders of the glass. Nose was somewhat subdued - light, fruity esters and a little malt. Taste consistent with nose - a little oak with some buttery diacetyl and a slightly grainy character in the mix. Mouthfeel is light-medium, with a smooth, even carbonation. An easy drinking brew. Not sure how style consistent it is, but definitely solid, interesting and consistent with the brewer's description.

 808 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Extra Special Oak (ESO) from Element Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.