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Alaskan ESB - Alaskan Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Alaskan ESBAlaskan ESB

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very good

85 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 85
Hads: 202
Avg: 3.88
pDev: 9.79%
Wants: 12
Gots: 25 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co. visit their website
Alaska, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 08-20-2001

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 Alaskan ESB Alström Bros
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Reviews: 85 | Hads: 202
Photo of Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Small white head, very good grapefruit aroma, bitter more than malty but overall balanced. Decent nicely drinkable bitter, though a bit watery. A few days after expirey, though I wouldn't blame it on that nor on Liquid Solutions who shipped it with just a few weeks to go.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.52/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy tan head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, and nut aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, caramel, and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a nice malt forward presence all around.

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Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy amber color with a sturdy head that nicely laces the pint glass

Smell: Solid caramel aroma with a hint of earthy hops in the background

Taste: Starts out with a strong caramel flavor with some piney hops that kick in, mid-palate; after the swallow, the hops turn a bit earthier and provide a nicely balanced finish; at the very ending a surprising bit of fusel alcohol makes an appearance that was not particularly welcome

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; a bit of warmth down the gullet

Drinkability: Except for the alcohol jumping out at the end, this is a very nice ESB

Thanks, BeerRun13

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first beer that I had after getting off the plane in Las Vegas. This turned out to be a pure, simple, and very desirable beer. It pours a brilliant, sparkling copper / amber hue with a steady off-white head formation that laced well as the beer line fell. Moderate aromas of caramel malts, and ale-typical fruity esters. Mild fermented flavors swirl around the malts for a rich aroma, flavor, and feel. An herbal, pungent English hop character cleans the beer up a bit, while offering some complexity. The beer is very well balanced, not preferencing the hops nor the malts. The feel is also moderate, not too heavy or thick, but not watering either. Very easy to drink with a mild hop lingering and flavor. I certainly would not hesitate to buy this beer again.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Glowing coppery orange with juicy tangerine peel edges; a tremendous color when backlit with even weak sunlight. The cap is pretty impressive as well. It's as much pale orange as beige and is large and frothyfirm. The foam comes to resemble a windblown mesa as it loses altitude and deposits quite a bit of lace on the upper reaches of the glass.

The aroma easily meets the bar set by the appearance. Alaskan ESB smells exactly like an American-hopped ESB. In other words: toasted, lightly caramel-like malt underpinnings with plenty of Pac NW hops providing the excitement. I love Cascade and Centennial and applaud their inclusion here. They definitely steer the beer away from its English origins however. A hop lover's ESB nose.

Not quite so wonderful on the palate and I'm not immediately sure why. There just doesn't seem to be that spark when the beer hits my tastebuds that makes me sit up and take notice. All of the pieces are in place and they fit together reasonably well, but someone forgot to add the magic. The whole is something less than the sum of its parts.

The maltiness is sturdier than was appreciated in the nose. I'm reminded of well-toasted, lightly spicy brown bread with a thick layer of bitter orange marmalade. There are also barely sweetened tea-like notes. What are normally grapefruit-intensive hops are blunted somewhat by the Crystal malt and actually come to resemble some of the English varieties. I might have guessed Fuggles and Chinook if blinded.

Bitter supercedes sweet at all points from beer entry to beer exit; more so as each mouthful progresses and even more so as the beer warms. For whatever reason--probably the increasingly aggressive bitterness--the magic has appeared and I like this beer quite a bit more than I did during the first few ounces. It tastes much more vibrant as it approaches room temperature.

The body/mouthfeel is acceptable, but a bigger, firmer, more confident mouth presence would be welcome. I find myself wishing for the slightest bit of viscosity... that never arrives. I usually like carbonation to be subdued, as it is here, but a little more zestiness would be a good match for the snappy bitterness.

All of the Alaskan Brewing Company beers are solid and drinkable, although with the exception of Smoked Porter and Stout, I've never been overly impressed. It took nearly the entire bottle to come to this conclusion, but Alaskan ESB is my favorite non-dark offering from this brewery. If you're looking for a good ESB with an American citric hop edge, your search ends here.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Alaskan's ESB is a well-crafted and finely balanced dark amber ale with a malty, caramelish nose and similar flavor (the malt is a bit more bready than the aroma suggests) that's peppered with piney/leafy/grassy hops and backed by a brisk bitterness. The appearance is quite nice with a clear copper body that reveals gleaming orange and gold highlights beneath a creamy head of antiqued ivory. It's crisp in the mouth with a medium body; and it's balance leaves it nicely drinkable. Well done!

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Photo of Jason
3.96/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz short brown bottle with no freshness date. This bottle was from Liquid Solutions.

Appearance: A very appetizing off white head stands tall in the glass and leaves more than enough lace behind. The deep russet hue glows as it is brought to the light. A heavenly looking beer.

Smell: Some malt in the nose with a thick layer of semi-coarse hop and light fruitiness.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Smoothness has some depth within the medium body, malt flavours flare out with suggestions of cake, caramel, toasted biscuits and bread crust. An ample amount of hops throws out a serious bitterness that tries to clean house, lingering flavours of citric rind and herbs are in the end. Finishes a tad on the sweet side with enough malt to keep things balanced all the way through.

Notes: I love big malty ales with a muscular hop character, this is one of them and a perfect pairing at lunch time would be with a roast beef on rye with horseradish mayo.

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Photo of chinchill
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%

12 oz bottle consumed in Redwoods Park.
4.3 4 4 3.3
Red-amber; clear; very good tan head; excellent lacing.
Has a layered, appealing aroma that mixes sweet baked grains with herbal/floral hops.
Flavor: Given the aroma, there’s a rather bold hop note and lingering, moderately bitter aftertaste. Fruity and herbal.
Feel: Lively medium-high carbonation. Medium body.
O: bold and hoppy for style.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07/19/05- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA

Presentation- 12oz undated bottle. Poured into my Moose Drool pint glass.

Appearance- Amber pour with a 1/2 inch head and light lacing.

Smell- A lightly sweetened bready malt. Some hops are noticeable.

Taste- Just a bit sweet with a big hit of bitter hops. Very bready. Caramle toasted malt carries the beer.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation, bitter on the back of the tongue.

Drinkability- Very refreshing brew that I'm sure I will find myself having again in the future. Would be a good summer session beer while enjoying a camping trip.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It began with two finger's worth of rocky, medium-tan head with low retention, but a good bit of lacing. Nose had a good bit of caramel accompanied by a mild bitterness. Color was a deep amber with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium with a bitterness softly tempered by a caramel/malt sweetness. Finish had the same commingling of bitter and sweet that I got on the tongue. In fact, as it warmed, I got a really pronounced biscuitiness on the extreme finish. A very good ESB and a beer that nicely offset their Amber.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle Code of A082007, Sampled September 2007
Pours with a brilliantly clear, deep, ruby-red color and is topped by a frothy, initially three-finger thick, amber-tinged, tan colored head that leaves some lacing on the sides of the glass as it slowly recedes. The beer has an interesting aroma of strawberries that I notice as I am pouring this brew into my tulip glass. Closer inspection of the aroma makes out that fruity note to be hop derived, though it seems more like a combination of candied citrus peel and berries than of the initial strawberry note. A herbal / pine like hoppiness is also here, and at time is fairly noticeable. This really has an enticingly hoppy nose to it; I am quite enjoying it. Sweet, caramelized malt sugar notes and toasty grain aromatics form a backdrop to the up front, more dominant hop character.

A slightly creamy mouthfeel, that has a touch of fizziness from the carbonation. The beer is quite quaffable, fairly light, yet substantial enough to be noticed as it sits in the mouth. The beer finishes with a solid bitterness as well as a menthol like herbal flavor, both of which contribute to a lingering astringency on the tongue. The beer is only lightly sweet (though I had a lemonade recently so take that for what it is), but has a rich caramelized grain character. There also seems to be a touch of toasted malt, almost even chocolate character here; this is fairly subtle, but adds a nice, extra dimension to the malt. The hops and malt combine to give this beer a nice fruitiness that reminds me of oranges, berries and maybe even raisins.

This is quite a nice beer; it is very quaffable and I would definitely be happy drinking quite a few pints of these (before I know it, my 12oz pour is gone). I really like the hop character here and how it combines with the substantial, yet secondary, malt character.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.68/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle received in trade from BeerKangaroo, thanks for the opportunity!
Pours a crystal clear deep copper color with a huge bubbly off white head that persists forever. Aromas of brown sugar and caramel with hints of dark dried fruit and bits of sulfur and earth. The flavor is what I expected from the aroma. Light dark sugary malts with bits of earthy hop light fruit and hints of sulfur. Medium to light body with a moderate level of carbonation and a slick almost sweet mouthfeel. Nice drinker, not really my favorite style, but this is a well made brew.

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red brown brew.

Smell is lots of roasted malts and some biscuit. Nice chocolate and tea scents to this.

Taste is mild and a bit fruity with a solid hop finish. Very pleasant with no roughness.

Mouthfeel is full.

Another pleasant brew from Alaskan, I don't think they know how to make BAD beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark amber color, nice carbonation, nice small head, lots of lacing throughtout the drink.

S - Scents of sweet malts, hops, slight yeast, and slight caramel.

T - The taste is sweet/malty, nice caramel flavor with a little bitter finish.

M - Medium body.

D - Drinkable. A nice little ESB from Alaskan, would recommend.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Welcome back, old friend! It has been far too long.

An amazing clear deep copper produces a long lasting off white head that leaves behind beautiful lacing.... One of the prettiest beers ever.

Nose is big floral hops with some light grassy hoppiness... plenty of dry toast/dry caramel maltiness that helps balance but never smells sweet... perhaps a light fruity ester, but that could be in my imagination.

Flavor is very well balanced... dark caramel presence meshes well with the floral hops and some background earthy hoppiness.. significantly more bitterness lets you know this is of PNW origin and gives a nod to the Continental ESB's... With warmth a light nutty element arises and adds to the complexities.

Smooth with a light carbonation.

This is a great brew... Definitely "American", but still a great take on an ESB... Somewhere, DING is getting angry as I type this and he doesn't even know why. :-)


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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.77/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Chuckanut pint glass. Pours a medium to dark bronze amber with a fine one finger khaki head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of caramel and light biscuit malt, light earthy nuttiness. Flavor is biscuit malt, tea, faint citrus with a light grassy hop finish. Medium bodied with good carbonation. A nice light bitter with traditional tasting malt and a bit more hops than traditional, but without breaking character. A worthy domestic take on this style.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle(room temp) a reddish gold with a large head of foam that dissipated slowly.

The smell is a sweet malt that has notes of caramel.

The taste is a very nice balance between the malt and hops..both sweet and bitter notes are there but they work so darned well together that neither one takes center stage and that's the beauty of this ESB. Yum.

Bottom line: A very solid ESB that I'll gladly drink more of and recommend.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.74/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 355 ml. bottle. Received in trade. Thanks BK. Stamped: 20-CO42214. Sampled on February 15, 2014.

It has a handsome looking chestnut/mahogany brown pour with decent clarity and a modest tan head.

This is meant to be an ESB and so I would expect some caramel malts and mellow bitter hops. But in this case the hops are quite floral and in my face.

The body is about medium.

There is a vague caramel and biscuit malt character in the early sips but the floral and grassy hop bitterness comes pounding in from behind and taking over everything. Hopheads would like it.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a nice shade of scarlet red. A small creamy beige head recedes to a thin coating in seconds. Lacing is adequate. The aroma is about half and half between piney hop notes and caramel/biscuity malt tones. This beer displays some nice balance for the style and types of hops utilized (Centennial and Cascade). Hops impart some bitterness, piney tones and some rind qualities to a lesser degree. Malt provides a beautiful underlying and balance in this beer. Although bread like and doughy at times, the malt profile is primarily caramel. And very nice. Beautiful smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low. Drinkability is high. It's been months since I tried a beverage from Alaskan and they have picked up right where they left off (in my mind). Very good stuff.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The color on the pour is a limpid burnished copper, the head modest, frothy and the color a light beige with the lace a fine covering sheet. Nose is floral, buttery, crisp and clean, a real sniffer with the start sweet and full of malt, top is middling in feel. Finish has a delectable hop presence, acidity moderate and the aftertaste quite dry, and a real credit to the style.

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Photo of ZAP
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orangish, amber in color..creamy white head...very enticing caramel dominated nose..alsso some fruity notes of apples and pears on the nose...medium bodied fruitiness strong on the buds (apples and pears again)..a bit of a spicy hop taste emerges midway through...very good ESB..not exceptional but very good

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sample in the Alaskan tap room. This brew is a lightly hazed copper color with a medium thin and foamy off-white head that diminishes steadily. Rings of lacing on the glass. Hops, citrus and earthy malt aroma. Medium-bodied and moderately bitter with hops, caramel and biscuity malt flavors. The finish is hoppy and lingering, with a touch of sweetness in the mix. Above average overall.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.42/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes from a trip to Cordova AK June 2002

This is really one of the only brews by Alaskan that I didn't enjoy all that much. Color is a lighter amber, thin off-white head faded leaving minimal light spots of lace. Very acidic flavor and bite, bitterness should be sweet and nice, this had a taste of generic aspirin in the finish that I just didn't like. I highly doubt it was a bad batch cuz all the others I had by Alaskan were great. Had a good smell of floral sweetness and light malt but that didn't carry over in the taste department for me. I've diffenately had better ESB. But ESB's are not my forte'.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance – This one poured a nice, frothy, pitting head that went down nicely and laced the glass. The body was orangish-brown and a little thin, though.

Smell – Nice, bitter hops greet the nose along with a light, balancing malt aroma.

Taste – The hoppy bitterness is indeed balanced by a lightly-toasted malt. The hops are quite nice, but the malt tastes a little grainy and cheap. Otherwise, this one came together quite well. The finish is a sweet, orange-type of rind.

Mouthfeel – Light to medium-bodied with no carbonation.

Drinkability – This was much better than the Altbier attempt, but average still the same.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I loved the appearance: great amber-copper color, big frothy head which shrank down to about 1/4" and hung around all day. Lots 'o lace! Nice hoppy nose, fairly strong but not overwhelming. Also the lemony notes I picked up in their Pale Ale. Sailed smoothly over the palate...good mouthfeel. Some mild malty notes to start, but mostly hops, and in a pleasant way! A lot more fruity/less bitter than I usually find in an ESB. Lemony taste finishes things... Good brew!

overall: 4.1
appearance: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | mouthfeel: 4 | drinkability: 4


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Alaskan ESB from Alaskan Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 85 ratings.