Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown) - Grand Teton Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown)Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown)

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very good

710 Ratings

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Ratings: 710
Reviews: 330
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 13.6%
Wants: 10
Gots: 45 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Grand Teton Brewing Co. visit their website
Idaho, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bitch Creek perfectly balances big malt sweetness and robust hop flavor for a full bodied, satisfying mahogany ale. Like the stream for which it is named, our Bitch Creek ESB is full of character... not for the timid.

54 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-04-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 710 | Reviews: 330 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of cbarrett4
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured from tap, a good rusty reddish copper hue with a good level of head.

S - Very nice nose with some malt, spice, and a little hint of dry hops, very subtle and rewarding.

T - Subtle flavor with hints of malt and the spice with a touch of fruit to balance.

M - Medium + body though very balanced acids and tannins

D - The key to a good ESB is to have a seriousness to what is basically a Session style beer and this is a great example. Very rewarding and drinkable.

But seriously, this is what an ideal ESB made in the traditional English style should taste like.

Photo of scruffwhor
4.05/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you n8dietz, this beer is not available in Chicagoland.

Pours a rusty ruby and amber color. Very dark and very difficult to see any bubbling. The head is a dark khaki colorof two fingers after the pour and one finger of foam that stays with you through all twelve ounces. Not to mention all the stickage of foam hanging on to the inside of my pint glass.

Spicey bread aroma is all I can think of on first whiff. The aroma breaks down into more of a divison between heavily toasted malts and almost earthy, but also spicey hop nuances.

The first flavor I get is sweet crusted bread. Then the hops make a dash for the middle of my palate with dying fir trees and som damp earth with a few citrus peels on top. The finish is bitter and a little musty thanks to the hopping.

This was a great ESB. I am so glad I was able to get a sixer of this great Idaho beer.

My one qualm about this review is that its miscategorized. This beer is not at all a brown ale, but an ESB. That is what I'm basing my review upon.

Photo of UpNorthLager
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had enough hops to be interesting, but not as sharp as an IPA, a warmth to the flavor. For some reason the carbonation fascinated me - large bubbles settled into a soft smooth head with interesting topographic features. I would have thought this beer might have a little more heft, but it was an interesting try.

Photo of u2carew
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz Brown longneck.
A) Pours with an active head (two fingers thick). Slowly settles to a tan / beige head that is creamy and tight. Body has decent clarity even with it's dark color. Ruby to mahogany in color. Lacing is semi-sticky.
S) Orange and grapefruit mixed with nutty caramel. Hints of black pepper.
T) Biting hops up front then mellows slightly with a presence of toffee malts. Nuttiness liken to pecans and walnuts. Grassy hops in the finish and aftertaste. The bite mellows after the palate acclimates itself.
M) Medium body. Dry. Has a gritty feel, yet no sediment. Lingering bitterness in the finish and the aftertaste.
D) A decent brew. A cross between an ESB (with some extra hop bite) and an English Brown ale.

Photo of Tballz420
3.1/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown colored body, very big khaki colored head leaves some stickiness on the glass. Dark malt scent. Almost seems more like a brown than a esb. Dark malt front, some bittering hops balancing it out. Lighter side of medium bodied, very wet drink. Its not really a bad beer, but like i said, it reminds me a lot of a brown ale, which is probably my least favorite style out of the commonly found styles of beer.

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Having had a very good experience with this brewery on my first go-round (their sweetgrass APA), I decided to try another style.

Poured a very cloudy orangish-brown with a brown head and low to medium lacing.

Smelled of sweet, brown sugar, complemented with yeast, bready malts, hops, and some citrus and dark fruits. The smell improved as it warmed up.

Tastes of caramel, raisins, yeast, malted wheat, and hops with a fair amount of bitterness. Taste was pretty even across the range of drinking temperatures, which ranged from quite cold to about 55-60 F as I sampled this selection over two bottles worth.

In the mouth it's of pretty high carbonation and thus quite tangy, thick and slick on the tongue, with both a sweet and bitter hops aftertaste.

Drinkability is quite average, especially for the price. Not that impressed with this one.

Photo of bsp77
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Very cloudy dark brownish orange with thick tan head.

Smell: Complex at first with chocolate, caramel, citrus and spicy English hops, but then fades to a simple dry malt aroma.

Taste: Mostly dried-out chocolate and caramel malt balanced by a fairly aggressive dose of sharp floral English hops and maybe a touch of citrus and pine.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, very dry finish.

Drinkability: Not a true ESB as it is called an Extra Special Brown. It really is a cross between an English Brown Ale and some kind of bitter American beer - I would call it an American Brown Ale. Quite good, but the mixture is just slightly off-putting.

Photo of hardy008
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber to light brown in color, with two fingers of light tan head with good retention and nice lacing. The aroma has grapefruit, oranges, pine, and caramel malt.

There is a lot of bitter grapefruit, and grapefruit peeling in the taste, along with oranges, pine, and toasted and caramel malt. A nice combination of flavors.

Medium bodied, resinous, and properly carbonated. Another nice beer from Grand Teton Brewing

Photo of morimech
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle date of 03/25/10.

One very dark ESB. Dark chestnut color that I cannot see through. Two fingers of head that quickly settles to a thin cap. Not much for lacing. The aroma consists of a lot caramel malt. Slight citrus and floral notes. The flavor is on the sweeter side. A lot of caramel and some citrus. The body is also fuller than others in the style. Well carbonated. Quite filling. A bigger ESB that drinks nicely. But the bigger body and higher ABV lowers drinkability.

Photo of kels
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium to dark shade of brown with some ruddy, nutty highlights. It is more opaque than expected for the style, and the initial 1/2 inch of toasted cream-colored foam fades to a pretty substantial skim that leaves behind tons of sticky lace.

Caramelly, syrupy malts make up the whole of this nose, which is subtle at best.

Taste is primarily made of the same components as the aroma. It is sticky-sweet with caramel and toasted malts - bordering on roasty and coffeelike. There's a really toasted bready aftertase, along with a bitter citrusy hop presence. Feel is moderately carbonated, and the finish is quite sticky with loads of aftertaste.

Drinkability is pretty decent. Tasty beer, albeit a little too sticky, and very easy to drink.

Photo of udubdawg
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pours a murky brown color, topped with an impressive creamy tan head, which lasts nearly to the bottom of the glass and leaves excellent lacing.

The aroma is quite good, floral and herbal hops mixed with a heavy caramel, with more citrusy hops behind. Suggestion of fruitiness.

OK, so this is listed as an ESB. It says ESB on the label. On their website it is called an Extra Special Brown, and almost all their awards are for the american brown ale category. So...I'm not really sure what it is. It has some of the biscuity nature and plenty of caramel like I might expect in an english version, but has very high bitterness, which is quite sharp and I wonder what their water treatment involves. And I'm not getting anything really toasty or chocolate or otherwise dark and it's quite sticky sweet under that substantial bitterness. I find myself wanting to call this beer an English barleywine. *shrug*
It's not clear despite the careful pour, and relatively strong and quite sticky. anyway, it's tasty, but a little rough around the edges. The bitterness doesn't fit that well with my perception of ESB, the flavor doesn't fit that well with brown ale. Finally, it is too highly carbonated. These add up to a beer that isn't particularly drinkable, though I'd be happy to sip one again as it definitely deserves further contemplation. My current preference would be for less caramel malt flavor, little lower gravity, less stickiness, lower carb, and if any was used, perhaps less sulfate or whatever is accentuating the hop bitterness - perhaps it is just the hop variety. the current version reminds me of a homebrew we made called "WTF" where we combined many many different things and made a unique, flavorful, but not particularly drinkable, beer.

Photo of velmalikevelvet
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into glass straight outta the bottle.

Big, creamy head deflated fast, leaving almost no lacing. Slightly cloudy and a nice ruddy color.

Immediate hit of hop scent, followed by a caramel aroma.

Tons of carbonation and a peppery bite, lots of malt, and more hops than I expected. Not as bitter as other ESBs I've had.

Flavors stick to the tongue.

Overall not a bad little beer. I enjoyed the heavy maltiness more than I would have predicted, maybe because it was paired with such a big hop hit.

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My second beer at the Burger Bar (Las Vegas). I'm English, so I know all about ESB's right? Wrong, this doesn't look, feel or taste like any UK based ESB I've had (not that this is a bad beer).

Dark brown in colour, the head was an off-white tanned affair, half an inch to start with, but losing ground fairly swiftly.

The aroma was a good mix of both hops and malt molasses, these followed on into the taste, the two flavours blending nicely to give a strong and robust bitter/sweet intermix.

The flavours hung around for a pleasant aftertaste. My taste buds liked it, but I couldn't have another, my mission was only just starting!

Photo of popery
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I rather enjoyed this beer's limited bigger brother, the XX Bitch Creek, and this beer is similar enjoyable. This beer pours a cloudy mahogany, a nice deep color, full of promise, with a good ecru head. The aroma is bright and hoppy, a bit more floral than most ESBs but lots of mineral hoppiness, too. There's a big caramel and biscuit malt backbone. The flavor is rather bitter and a bit surprising. It could use some more malty sweetness to bring out more depth, but it's a mild complaint. If I recall correctly, the XX version had that depth and it was quite successful. The beer has a fairly creamy feel, probably better on tap. Easy to drink, if you like the style and don't mind a bit of American innovation.

Photo of ShogoKawada
3.18/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into Firestone Walker pint glass. 6.5% ABV, 54 IBUs.

A- Brown, maybe a shade lighter than Newcastle. Nice 1cm than head, pretty fair lacing. Good head formation, like a pancake.

S- Caramel malt, piny hop bite, pretty deep nose on this one.

T- Fruity, malty, with a nice hop kick. Cherries at first that get washed away with a pine blast. Not harmonious, but I keep drinking it. Molasses/maple syrup. Lingering bitterness.

M- Surprisingly deep. I wasn't sure what to make of this at first but as I drank the flavors grew and grew. Great hop flavor and a very strong malt profile. Perhaps a tad too sweet but the hops do a good job countering it.

D- Moderate. Interesting and enjoyable. I'd revisit it, would prob. pair well with food, lots of interesting flavors going on.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper pour, average head, minimal lacing, lacking enough ooomph on the sweet aroma.

It makes a greater appearance on the taste buds, a little bit of alcohol too, which seems odd for the style, and not as dry and bitter as I would like to see. This is one of the least like esb's I've had, is like an amber, brown, pale & bitter combined. Which is at least unique.

Mouthfeel, I liked the beer more as I got used to it, settled down, picked up more bitter feel, but still a little heavier than I like my esb. Decent price, just kind of one of those middle of the road beers.

Photo of gatornation
3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours a brown slightly hazy color with a tan head..i smell fruit toffee caramel some biscuit notes some brown sugar..the taste is hops and malt a little bitter with some toffee and malt some fig and brown sugar..the mouth feel is robust like a brown ale maybe.its ok drinkable its just not my style or one that ill buy..i will say try it if you like browns esb or wee heavys you might like this one ..worth a try

Photo of tjd112
4.5/5  rDev +20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation - Poured into River Horse pint glass

Appearance - Very dark brown, head is off white, not great retention, and it is well laced.

Smell - I detect notes of caramel and tea in this beer

Taste - Some citrus-y hops mixed with some fruitiness, figs, cherries, balanced with a bit of caramel, brown sugar, and biscuits

Mouthfeel - Medium to heavy, creamy

Drinkability - Very good for the style

Overall - A solid effort from Idaho!!

Photo of Redrover
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this one on tap at the Bitter Creek Ale House in Boise. What a great beer bar!

Served in a standard pint, the beer is brown with a tan head & fair lacing.

The aroma is of grains, a bit of citrus and brown sugar.

The beer is sweet with nice trailing bitterness. Brown sugar, bagel, floral and citrus hops. Very balanced with a great smooth mouth.

The 6.5% may make it hard to session, but I'm willing to try.

Photo of PintOHops
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Glass - Pint

A - Clouded ruby/brown color with yeast floaties, produced a 1-2 finger head, kinda soapy, retention was okay. Lacing was not worth a mention (very poor).

S - Dominant fig/blueberry aroma, very fruity hop aroma that's dry as well. I got a bit of pineapple in there, pine notes, sap almost. Strong hop aroma with little detectable malt, a touch of honey & cracker, and some alcohol.

T - Hops upfront as expected, fruity pineapple, fig, cherry thing going on, bright citrus character follows, that almost cuts the fruity notes. Finishes with very mild toast, biscuit, touch of honey, but what interrupts the mild malt character on the finish is that damn hop citrus note, cutting through pretty sharply. Malts are a little more detectable as it warms, softening up that sharp citrus flavor. Alcohol is more present when warmed as well.

M - A little heavy, smooth and almost oily, lite crispiness and around medium-full bodied.

D - Not to drinkable in my opinion, maybe 1-2 pints with an appetizer, not too much balance for me, I would of liked more malts in both aroma & flavor. There was this sharp citrus that sorta cut through anything in it's path. Gets a little better when warmed but still not great in my opinion. I would recommend looking for something, I know I wouldn't buy this one again.

Photo of Cresant
3.23/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle into a Samuel Adams glass. Bottled on: 11/19/09. The body was a deep amber body and hazy. There was a dark yeasty sediment. The moderate head settled to a film and collar which left light lacing.

Smell was earthy hops and a faint strange sourness. Rich malts. Bready. A little spicy.

Taste was bready and full. Reminded me a bit of Stone Levitation ale. Sweet cocoa-like bitterness. Coffee notes, tobacco. Dirty, not clean. Lots going on here. Not a beer I would seek out again.

Mouthfeel was medium in body. Adequate carbonation.

Photo of Spineypanda
4.63/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a strange color and consistency. I have had ESB's in the past but had not expected the cloudy dark amber... almost brown... color that came with this one.
The beer smells of a lot of citrus and hops but a lot lighter on the nose.
Great taste, light and refreshing but nicely bittered. Not easy to drink more than a couple however.

A good beer with the perfect taste in my opinion for its style.

Photo of WYVYRN527
3.78/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark amber with an eggshell-hued head that settles quickly. Carbonation and lacing are decent, but this beer throws way too much sediment for it's style.

S: American hop varietals dominate the nose of this beer. Citrus and pine, with faint caramel and bready malt in the backround.

T: Balanced flavors. Hops give this brew hints of pine, flowers, and some citrus. The malt backbone shows flavors of caramel and toast, rounding out the flavor.

M: Medium bodied, but for the style, it wasn't as creamy as I expected it to be. Finish is clean and somewhat short.

D: Bitch Creek ESB is a good beer, but there were certain things about it I just couldn't get past. It's worth trying, though.

Photo of DoubleJ
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Here's an appropriate beer towards Valentine's Day. It's been 10 years since I gave someone a Valentine, and to wash away my frustrations of not finding "true love" during this period of time, I've gone with a beer with the b-word. Bottled on 1/13/10, which was also the day my younger brother turned 21. On to the beer:

Pours easy and smooth out of the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Amber brown color. The head forms low, but has good retention and leaves some creamy lacing. Too much sediment floating in the beer for this style, and one that's a month old. The aroma restores my faith. There's evidence of toffee and fudge notes, and a little citrus from the hops.

NW hops distinguish this beer from a traditional ESB, yet there's still a good semblance of malty goodness. The hops aren't a powerful as say, Rogue's Brutal Bitter. Crisp pine comes right out. So does a little grapefruit. Fruity esters mix into a pine, creating a very pleasant flavor. Some minerals, plus toffee, smooth feel, easy to quaff....

It may look scary with all that sediment, but after that you get yourself into a good ESB. Well done.

Photo of taxguyjase
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Lighter head, but a thick looking auburn hue. Darker than the other ESBs I have had. 3.0/5.0
Smell -Malt, caramel, toffee - 3.5/5.0
Taste - Sharp malt, caramel, nuts, bit of sourness at the end. I detect a bit of earthy chocolate flavor, plus some fruitiness that balances well with the malt and hops. 4.0/5.0
Feel - Thick with great mouth coverage. The flavors roll through your mouth as it goes down. 4.0/5.0
Drinkability - I'd have this one again for sure - just be careful as its 6.5% ABV will not make it a session beer. But if you've had a hard day at the office, this one will feel real nice going down. - 4.5/5.0

Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown) from Grand Teton Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 710 ratings.