Minnesota Special Bitter - Badger Hill Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Minnesota Special BitterMinnesota Special Bitter

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BA SCORE
84
good

19 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 19
Hads: 79
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 5.07%
Wants: 0
Gots: 13 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Badger Hill Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mjryan on 08-05-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 19 | Hads: 79
Photo of Bravak
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%

Saw a list on Beer Info that listed this as the best ESB brewed in US. Had to give it a try. Also saw it won a Gold Medal at US Beer Open.

Copper color with fantastic clarity and one finger head that laced continously. Aromas of warm bread and earthy marmalade. Complex and full flavor quickly recedes with a surprising crispness. Seems heavier at first but actually is quite refreshing. Had it paired with BBQ and is outstanding with food. A little estery but in a good way.

While most American versions of ESB's seem to be disguised ambers, this is like the British ales I have had across the pond. Really good and highly recommend. (640 characters)

Photo of Metalsnota
4.25/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Damn good beer from Badger Hill. I can see why it won gold for ESB at the U.S. Open Beer Championship. It is very comparable to ESBs that I've had in the UK. (157 characters)

Photo of NuclearDolphin
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Pint Glass

Appearance - Darker Orange and hazy with tons of carbonation initially before it becomes mild. Head width pours in around 2 fingers and has some soapy retention.

Smell - Floral Hops, Bready/Biscuits, Orange Peel, and Malts. Has a slightly resin scent to it; Interesting...

Taste - Floral Hops, Resin, Citrus, and Yeasts. Surprisingly Hoppy considering my past experience with ESB Ales. Still very tasty to drink with a more robust flavor as it warms up.

Mouthfeel - Moderate body with mild carbonation. Slightly crisp but not what I would call refreshing. It had a very slight creamy feel to it though.

Overall - It's always fun to explore the ever-expanding Minnesota craft beer scene and beers like this prove to me why. It's easy to enjoy, quite good and provides a unique twist in ESB style ales. I look forward to trying out more from Badger Hill in the future! (896 characters)

Photo of MNAle
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very good attempt at a bitter, not much hop bite as expected for a bitter in the British style.Very good malt flavor, again, in the British style. This is very nice actually, and fairly true to style. (200 characters)

Photo of Taybeh
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a single into an imperial pint

A: clear light copper, 2 finger puffy off-white head, great lacing
S: toasty and toffee maltiness, orange, jammy berries
T: very nice, couple layers of breadiness and crystal malt sweetness, some round fruity notes, and some mellow herbal earthy hoppy bitterness. Very nice integration of flavors.
M: medium carbonation, medium body, really nice feel.

Overall: I was excited when this first came out b/c English bitters were few and far between in these parts, and it is a style that I love...this one seemed to have a lot of the parts, but they weren't entirely integrated. Now, these guys seemed to have figure it out; MSB is a real pleasure. Would love to try it on cask. (716 characters)

Photo of mjryan
4.06/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ESB. Extra Special Bitter. Sure. A new world interpretation of a strong English pale ale. A Minnesota interpretation to be exact, hence it's name, Minnesota Special Bitter. Amber, not red. Golden hued. Freshly baked brown bread, hay and citrus fruit on the nose. I'm guessing these aromas are coming from the malt, hops and yeast. Perhaps maybe even the water. Malt dominates the first sip. Bready, as in freshly baked. The hops come along and play a floral, slightly green grass tune. Caramel flavours follow, then it finishes with a mild grapefruity bitterness with some toffe notes in there as well. Very nice. I didn't feel the Earth shake when I took my first sip. I'm not going to wait in a line for days for it. I won't fill a bottle of it from a glass in the toilet of some bar and trade it to a guy in Rotterdamn for some "Westy 12". I will however order it again. Gladly. (881 characters)

Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Biscuit nose, hop aromas, earthy
Bright dark amber with a ferocious pillowy off white head. The foam is outrageously dense and rocky.
Palate: Balanced malt and bitterness. Earthy and resiny hops, hops more prominent as it warms.
Medium to medium high carbonation. (265 characters)

Photo of match1112
3.98/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Minnesotaryan sent this bad bay as an extra, and for that I thank him!

a: crystal clear dark amber body. finger and a half of thick creamy dirty white head slowly settles to a quarter inch cap that stays till the end. Plenty of spotty lacing is left behind.

s: bread, spice, floral notes, a touch of bananna and some earth tones.

t: has a wow factor to it. big bready body with touches of spice and flowers, guessing that's from the hops. Slight citrus twang on the finish.

m: real creamy, medium body, excellent carbonation and a bone dry finish.

o: really, really like this take on a ESB. Easy to drink and great to look at. (632 characters)

Photo of J-Rye
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I have been curious about this beer for a while, but didn't pick it up until today, when, at Bottle King, this six-pack was on "Super Sale" for $5. The 12 oz. bottle poured a hazy golden orange/brown, with a finger or two of head into an English pint glass with lacing up and down the side of the glass. Smells like a biscuit with some apricot jam and maybe some burnt marshmallow skin ground into soil and leaves. There's nothing sharp about it, very welcoming. I am really impressed with the smell. The taste is a little underwhelming at first. There's a smoothness about it and the malt, which really made the smell great, seems a bit muted, but the bitter finish shines nicely. The mouthfeel is very impressive. Sharp carbonation turns frothy before swallowing and tingles for a while thereafter. Nice body. A good find. I may have to pick up more of these. Most certainly more than worth the sale price. (919 characters)

Photo of jimmah120
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 5

12oz bottle with no date, into hourglass glass. there is a code on the back.

very foamy, semi hazy, medum amber tone. smell is very faint wheat. taste is bitter, leafy, off hop notes that remind me of homebrew. some sweet malt, but mostly malty in feel. waaay, way too much carbonation.

reminds me of home brew in a appearance and taste. still, tasty stuff and cheap. (370 characters)

Photo of jera1350
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Valley Tap House.

Served in a pint glass. Light coppery brown color with just a trace of foam on top. No lacing really.

Earthy, grassy hops with a nutty malt scent.

The flavor is very approachable. Nutty, bready malt flavor with more of the hops coming in to play. Grassy and earthy with a noticeable bite.

Smooth and nearly crisp feeling with a light-medium body.

Overall, a very drinkable beer that has some nice flavor to it, but nothing that will knock your socks off. Fits the style profile pretty well. (528 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had a pint at Republic at Seven Corners. Appeared a clear orange-red with a thick off-white head. Interesting beer, it's got a very nutty—like walnut and almond—malt character with a sweet, candy yeast character from what I assume is an English ESB yeast strain. While the beer itself isn't thick or feel sweet, that candied herb taste probably isn't for everyone, but I was glad to raise a pint. (400 characters)

Photo of NilocRellim
3.66/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer had a nice yellow/golden colour, which had a nice haziness to it. The head was minimal and average. The smell had a little more hop-nose to it than I expected from an ESB. There were also notes of citrus, nuttiness, and yeast. The taste was not as bitter as expected and much more balanced. There was more of a hop taste than expected, but not intense at all. The yeast taste that comes with bitter beers was not over-the-top either. It was surprisingly balanced and not as strong as expected.

Would I get it again? Yes. (531 characters)

Photo of Mdog
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Deep amber, good head.

Smell: Yeasty, belgian style.

Taste: Dry, Belgian-IPA like. Black pepper. Mild fruitiness. Dry, citrus astringency.

Overall: Seems more like a Belgian IPA than an ESB to me. Yeast notes definitely remind me more of Belgian beers than English. It does give a shot of good bitterness, and some different flavors to make it stand out from the crowd. Worth a try. (398 characters)

Photo of sonata2008
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: About 5/8" of cream-colored foam. A bit cloudy in appearance. Orange copper in color. A fair amount of lacing.
Smell: Bread and hops and a little bit of spice. Smells like floral hops.
Taste: A very interesting, unusual taste, but it's good. Very dry and a little astringent. Can taste the hops. Some bitterness, but the bitterness doesn't linger. Doesn't have a bitter after taste. It's interesting that I can smell the bread, but I don't taste it.
Mouthfeel: The effervescence gives it a nice tingly taste on the tongue.
Overall: Quite drinkable with a unique taste. The dryness, however, may not appeal to some folks. (633 characters)

Photo of zeledonia
3.48/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Another newish Minnesota brewery I've been wanting to try. Tasted 23 November 2012, reviewed from notes.

Pours a medium amber, almost clear but hazy enough that I can't quite see through it. One finger of yellowish off-white head, good retention, and really nice lacing. Good-looking beer.

Smell is malty, complemented by a vegetable hop crispness. Lightly toasty, with an herbal overtone. Has a soft, lightly bitter sense that's almost chemical.

Taste is clean, malty, and mildly bitter. Nothing jumps out at me; has that same herbal sense, which, combined with the bitter, gives it the air of a bitter herbal liqueur. Not bad.

Mouthfeel is interesting - quite slick, almost oily, which feels like it's lifting off my tongue. Medium-low carbonation, and could use some more.

A decent beer, just what I'd expect for the style, but nothing more. Toasty malts, mild bitterness. Most notable characteristic is the herbs, almost like a bitter liqueur. (952 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.17/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. single picked up recently.

Pour is polished oak, on the light side, no knots, no haze, clean. Nose is a bit weak & as such my attention wanders. It might be a bit nutty, bready, bitter, or something else. All those things come in & out of the light, but it's the hop bitterness that is the mainstay.

Minnesota Special Bitter need some Mr. Clean applied. Just like my sample at the brewery, there's a rasped edge of moist dankness to this, an underlying dead-leaf note that corrupts the rest of the taste. Nice hop kick, floral & bitter, baked bread, acorns. But that undercurrent really hurts the taste & how much of it I want to drink. Not only that, it's becoming more pronounced as the beer warms.

Without the spring leaf pile, this would be a winner. As is, decent enough. I'd love Badger Hill to get this one right, because an excellent local ESB would be marvelous, but this one still needs a Brillo pad taken to it. Too dirty. (946 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.06/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an attractive pale copper color (darker than amber) with just over a finger of head that had good retention. The head settles to a thin cap. Moderate amount of spotty lacing is left down the glass.

When I think ESB, this beer will not come to mind. Weird aroma. Floral but it smells almost like a cleaning agent. Anticeptic. Really have to dig to pick up the malty notes. When I do that is what saves the aroma. The malt gives some caramel, bready, and nutty notes.

Seems way hop dominate for and ESB. Drinks more like an IPA. Not well balanced despite the label claims. Quite bitter. Not a fan of the hops used here or in the execution. Get more of this anticeptic/band-aid taste and not enough of the malt. Too bad because what malt flavor I get, is very good and reminds me of British beer.

Carbonation is too low. The body feels deep enough but just undercarbonated.

My first experience with Badger Hill and I was letdown. I would try this beer on-tap sometime and I will try other styles of their beer as it becomes available, but like their brewing partners Lucid, they are on probation with me. (1,111 characters)

Photo of garymuchow
2.86/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Start isn't so good. I'm catching a strong vegetable quality, especially right away. It seems to diminish in time and move towards a not unpleasant crisp malt character and a very faded hop.
Couldn't pour the whole bottle into a shaker glass as the head was too big. Very clear body and a nice amber color.
Interesting hop malt mix that resembles nicely an ESB. I do catch the vegetable in the taste. Subtle, but definitely there. Nice hop flavor towards the finish and stretches into a long and good bitter finish.
Soft carbonation and moderately light feel.
I've had all three beers now from Badger Hill. Seems like a work in progress. This one isn't quite there yet, but there are qualities I like. I wish them well. (719 characters)

Minnesota Special Bitter from Badger Hill Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 19 ratings.