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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
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 109
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

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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.

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Photo of maximum12
3.05/5  rDev -19.3%
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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1.54/5  rDev -59.3%
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

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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.3/5  rDev -39.2%
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.

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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.

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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

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Photo of taez555
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
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.

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Photo of JTSingletary
3.46/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Photo of sulldaddy
3.33/5  rDev -11.9%
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.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.42/5  rDev -9.5%
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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of SFLpunk
3.51/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

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Photo of glid02
3.48/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Extra Special Oak (ESO) from Element Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.