Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Extra Special Oak (ESO) - Element Brewing Company

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
85
very good

36 Reviews
THE BROS
94
outstanding

(Read More)
Reviews: 36
Hads: 107
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 16.71%
Wants: 10
Gots: 13 | 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: 36 | Hads: 107
Photo of RADRACING
1.54/5  rDev -59.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 1.5

Could be just a bad batch but it us spoiled

Lots of rubber and the bottle was a gusher which indicates infection

The oak is there but what ever the infection is, it's extremely over powering

This is my first element beer and I'll count this as strike one. Wish this was in 12 oz bottles 750 mils is a bit tough to swallow espically when the person your splitting it with sees your facial reaction first.

I have heard some great things about element. This is not one (471 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.3/5  rDev -39%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

A: Poured a copperish color with a lot of fizzy bubbles which quickly disappeard leaving no lacing.

S: Off. I smelled a little bit of rubber and some butter with a little oak, vanilla and toffee

T: Initial astringent alcohol with some rubber like notes, vegal at times, sordove green and young. The only saving grace for this beer was the booze and vanilla and toffee

M: Harsh. Medium bodied. Stinging sticky boze, felt thin and overcarbonated for this style. Rubber and funky notes.

O: Should have never been bottled. I detect some spoilage here. (552 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.05/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A long-time want showed up in MN & I saw the price tag & went “WTF?” But recently saw it marked down to $4.99, which is about what I was willing to pay for it. 750ML bottle wrapped in hobo newspaper split with my wife.

The pour is a dull orange/brown, a shade lighter than polished oak. Plenty of carbonation. The smell runs full tilt to toffee & wood: not subtle, but nice.

Extra Special Oak (ESO) is about as special as a $4M baseball player (i.e. not). The wood hits me upside the head like a right-handed Al Capone, drying, drying, drying. Lots of toffee in the middle along with burnt sugar, herbal toast, vague, it’s-OK-I-was-almost-done-with-you-anyway bitterness. The back end knocks down the appeal as it slinks into a weird, earthy, muddy aftertaste that sticks around like a bad C. J. Cherryh novel (sorry, redundant, or is that redumbdant?). Half a bomber is plenty.

I used to have quite an ESB tooth, but I’ve abstained for quite some time. This isn’t half bad, but that aftertaste, eh, it begs for a toothbrush. Just decent. (1,053 characters)

Photo of u2carew
3.06/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Cambridge Common. Consumed 5/23/10.
A) Poured with a finger thick head. Settles with thin, creamy, and sticky lacing. Some haze. Copper on color.
S) Subtle caramel malt. Some mellow hops lingering the mix but not pronounced.
T) Up front- astringent alcohol a bit more defined due to the warm cask temperature. Oak cask has rubbed off on this one, definitely some woody characteristics. Hints of whiskey. In the finish light malt sweetness.
M) Smooth. Mellow creaminess. Medium body but a little thin. Alcohol effervescence.
D) For me just an average brew. The body is a bit thin. Overall doesn't taste much like a beer - more like whiskey with beer consistency sans the alcohol kick. (693 characters)

Photo of taez555
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Oak in your face. Its a solid beer, nice caramel backboned strong ale, but as it warms it is just completely dominated by oak. I love barrell aged beers, but all I taste is barrell. Needs to either kick up the ABV, or tone down the barrell. It simply smells and tastes like a platform for oak. (293 characters)

Photo of ppoitras
3.21/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

750ml bottle purchased at Yankee Spirits, Sturbridge, MA. Cool informative paper wrap, corked and caged.

Poured into a DFH tulip, formed a 1/2" off-white head over the clear copper brew. Head recedes gradually, with slow-falling lace. Aroma is sweet with an off-seeming vegetal tinge.

Taste starts with clean malt character, then find the off part of the nose again in the middle, then closes with a floral bitterness. Dry bitterness clings to the tongue. Mouthfeel is very soft over the tongue, but drinkability is limited for me by the flavor and aroma. Not quite liking this one as much as their other offerings which I have enjoyed. (639 characters)

Photo of sulldaddy
3.33/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a cellar temp bottle into a large snifter. The beer pours a clear copper to chestnut color with frothy and loud eggshell white head of about 1 cm. Several small streams of bubbles rise to the surface. The head fades gradually with tight lattice and some large craters as it recedes to an edge layer and wispy islands.
Aroma is mild with some caramel malt and toffe, and maybe some red grape, but also very faint phenolic bandaid. This scent is very faint and not enough to ruin the nose, but I do get it, maybe Im just sensitive to that specific scent.
First sip reveals very fine yet tingly to almost prickly carbonation. Those little bubbles pack a punch!
Flavor is also mild, but malt driven with caramel and some dark fruit, red grapes I think. I also get a bit of brown sugar and general sweetness. The finish reveals just a bit of earthy hop note that actually lingers quite a bit and is actually a little bitter on the finish.
Overall the beer is very drinkable but not overly memorable. No flaws but Im not wow'd either. Worth a shot if you like english strong ales, just not as complex as I hoped when I bought the bottle. (1,143 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.42/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle into Delirium Tremens snifter. Thanks, wyllder. Bottled Feb. 18 2011.

A: Pours a dark caramel with a very active and fizzy (but very thick and frothy) off-white head that quickly bubbled away into a very very faint collar leaving almost no lace.
S: I get notes of English yeast, biscuits, lemony citrus hops, bread crust and a hint of caramel. Oak rounds out the entire nose.
T: Follows the nose with flavors of oak, yeast, lemon zest, and bread crust, but I also get some flavors of candied fruit. The finish is thick and a bit syrupy, and the alcohol is hidden well.
M: Fizzy carbonation, frothy tingly mouthfeel, and a slick medium-full body. A bit over-carbonated.
O: Not a bad brew but maybe not something I’d seek out again. Flavors weren’t anything outstanding and the carbonation was a bit much. (826 characters)

Photo of JTSingletary
3.46/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear, deep amber color. Fizzy carbonation that forms a narrow ring around the edge of the glass.

Aroma: Very mild aroma of oak and vanilla with hints of roasted malt. Toffee and caramel as the beer warmed. Somewhat phenolic.

Taste: Right away the taste is very solvent-like, but after that dissipates the malt and dark fruit character takes over. The aftertaste is floral and spicy (peppery).

Mouthfeel: Heavily carbonated with large fizzy bubbles (even though packaging described the beer as having "lighter carbonation"). Medium body.

Overall: Overall, the phenolic character is too over-powering for me. However, after the initial taste of solventy-plastic is gone there is a nice floral sweetness left behind. The second taste sensation makes me want more though, and I did enjoy the whole glass. (818 characters)

Photo of glid02
3.48/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle purchased from Wine & Cheese Cask in Somerville, MA.

Pours a very hazy dark amber color with a tan head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells of moderately sweet caramel malts with large amounts of harsh oak and lighter amounts of leafy and slightly floral hops. Also present are slight amounts of boozy medium fruits.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Sweet yet slightly grainy caramel malts up front are joined by hints of toasted malts and large amounts of oak. Midway through the malts fade a bit and booze-soaked medium and dark fruits with leafy hops come into play, carrying through with the oak to a moderately bitter ending. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall the oak was really heavy and made the beer not enjoyable for me. I’d like to try the base beer for comparison as it seems like an interesting beverage, but the oak dashed any hopes of that. (888 characters)

Photo of SFLpunk
3.51/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at Liquors 44, Northampton, MA. 750mL brown glass cork, caged and paper-wrapped bottle. Front dated Feb 16, 2011.

Pours with a couple inches of off-white head over a slightly hazy amber brown body. Nose is really mellow and focused entirely on toffee, coffee and caramel.

Palate is mellow and medium bodied. There's an immediate tobacco note from the oak, and some caramel/toffee from the malt interacting with the wood. No real bitterness to speak of, but there's a mossy, earthy undertone, almost mushroomy, like what you get in some old-world red wines. The oak seems to be adding this earthy aspect instead of vanilla, which is a nice change of pace and greatly appreciated. (No more vanilla bombs, please!)

A very smooth and mellow beer with interesting and unique flavors. I want to like it, but I think it's a little too loose on the palate, maybe just some bittering hops to tighten things up. The oak is somewhat odd too, maybe not the right barrell or staves (or the right toast level) for this recipe. Worth a look if you liked Sam Smith Yorkshire Stingo. (1,079 characters)

Photo of jmerloni
3.57/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

A - Amber to light brown colored and fully translucent. Not much head. Not much sparkle Decent.

S - Definitely can smell the oak, a lot of malt, not much hops.

T - Brown sugar sweet, tangy, some hops. Doesn't taste particularly fresh - a little musty.

M - Mouthfeel is all over the place. Goes from sweet to bitter, back to sweet. From flavor to flavor. Little organization. Not a dry finish.

D - Pretty drinkable overall. Pretty light. Nothing is repugnant about it. (473 characters)

Photo of Jwale73
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
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)

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
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 smcolw
3.78/5  rDev +0.3%
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 mdfb79
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
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 Reagan1984
3.87/5  rDev +2.7%
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 morebeergood
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
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 woosterbill
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Cheers! (772 characters)

Photo of WanderingFool
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
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 StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +5.8%
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 HattedClassic
4/5  rDev +6.1%
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 +6.1%
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 DIM
4.07/5  rDev +8%
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 Dope
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
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)

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Extra Special Oak (ESO) from Element Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 36 ratings.