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Extra Special Ale (ESA) - Yards Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Extra Special Ale (ESA)Extra Special Ale (ESA)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

596 Ratings
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 596
Reviews: 263
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 12.4%
Wants: 8
Gots: 59 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co. visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: pezoids on 12-01-2001

Our first ever and most beloved brew, ESA helped establish a following for cask-conditioned beer in the United States back in the ‘90s. East Kent Golding hops give this English style ale a subtle spiciness, which compliments its strong malt backbone. Hints of chocolate and caramel round out this deep chestnut colored ale. Floral, earthy, smooth.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 596 | Reviews: 263
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fresh bottle from Super Buy Right. Extremely generous off white head on a golden body. Creamy, yeasty on English hops. Great drinkability. Drying finish. Not the style bang on, but a good Englished up ale.Above average mouthfeel. Satisfying, and good by itself or with food.

Photo of djrn2
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of zestar
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a medium copper color with an off who're head. The nose is good yet fragile with some light caramel and some herbal and pine hops. The taste brings some slight bitterness to a toasted body with caramel and toffee. Light to medium body with flood drinkability.

Photo of metter98
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is very dark reddish amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high light beige head that gradually died down, leaving a thin head covering the surface and lots of lacing down the sides of the glass.
S: Light aromas of herbal hops and earthy yeast are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell, except that the malts impart light amounts of toasted malt flavors and faint hints of sweetness while the hops lend a very slight amount of bitterness.
M: It feels a bit more than light-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and seems to have a good balance between the malts and hops.

Photo of kylehay2004
3.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thick circumferential lacing on a c;ear amber body.

S: musty earthy hops with caramel malts and a light citrus note.

T: very nicely hopped ESB with a full toasted and caramel malt base. Very flavorful for the style.

M: medium body and light carbonation.

Overall: Flavorful ESB, true to the style for sure.

Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy medium amber color with a fluffy head that leaves a smattering of lacing behind

Smell: Caramel and earthy English hops on the nose

Taste: Starts out with a nice caramel malt flavor, with the earthy hops making their presence known by mid-palate; mineral flavors appear as well; after the swallow, the tea-like hop flavors continue to pair nicely with the caramel backbone

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Well-balanced example of the style; a great session beer

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of Knapp85
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer pours out as a brownish copper color that looks quite nice in the glass. The head in pretty good too, it kinda shrinks down to a thin film that lays on top of the beer as you drink. The aroma wasn't too bad. I found it to be pretty good on the nose. The flavor kinda disappointed me a bit. I felt that the bitterness of the beer wasn't all there. I feel that it was kind of avoided or forgotten. To me this just didn't taste much like an ESB. The mouthfeel is pretty good, it's a medium body with some light carbonation.

Photo of mikesgroove
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a cloudy dark burnet amber, almost brown in color. No real head, but there were some visible chains of bubbles streaming up the sides. No lace present on the glass, although there was a decent film left on top for a little while. Smell was a little light, but what was there was not too bad. Breads and grains predominated, as it warmed a slight caramel sweetness started to come out, as well as some hints of spices, maybe a little cinnamon, overall not bad. First impression of the taste was a bit slick,oily, and somewhat watery and thin. Aside from that which would be more of a mouthfeel observation, there is a decently bitter hoppiness to be found here, albeit a bit muted. Bread flavors as well come into the fold, and it did leave a slightly lingering aftertaste which was nice. Again though the feel fell a bit flat, with no real carbonation, and the slick feeling, was a bit of a let down. Overall I could see this as a sessionable brew, though a little flat for me.

Photo of oberon
4.43/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I reviewed this in the bottle and finally tried this out of the machine,very very nice.Poured a amber color with nice medium sticky head the aroma was nice and fruity with a chocolate background.The taste shines in this form very sweet and chocolaty up front with that fruitiness in the rear and the hop dryeness in the wonderful finish.A definent malt based beer just 10 times better on cask a great experience for a beer geek.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yards ESA shines on draft, and a fresh cask or keg can can deliver a marvelous pint that draws you back again and again! This dark amber/copper ale reveals slightly-hazy orange highlights when held to the light, and a creamy dollop of short but long-lasting off-white froth atop. Bright, grassy, leafy, and floral hops greet you in the nose along with the signature Yards fruit and mineral yeastiness and wafts of hop-laced, caramel-accented malt. It's smooth across the palate with a medium body and a delicately zesty, gently restrained carbonation. Fruitiness and malt combine upfront in the flavor before it becomes a bit more complex as the leafy/grassy/floral hop flavors and a solid bitterness arrive to dry things out. It's not overly complex, but this is not a one-sided beer by any means, and that leads to a great drinkability. When it's on, it's on! And it's always worth the price of admission to see if you've found your pint for the night! Always delicious and sometimes brilliant, this is a slightly strong session-ale that's not to be missed!

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired from Tiklmelmo courtesy of the Hometowm BIF, so a big "Thank You" goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a medium brown color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, nuts, honey, a good amount of hops and a touch of citrus.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty malt character that is quickly followed by mildly sweet flavors of caramel, honey and a little bit of citrus. The hops presence is decent for the style and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly bitter.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, although there are better beers in the style, this is still a solid beer worth drinking for a while.

Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%

Photo of Kegatron
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask, via hand pump, @ Local 44 (Philadelphia, PA) on 4/3/11. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a clear dark copper, topped with a finger of smooth and foamy eggshell-white head. This retains with a rich ½ finger of froth, soaping the sides of the glass with heaving lace. The aroma smells grassy and citric, with a rich underlying mix of caramel and buttered bread. Some earthy hop character adds a touch of bitterness to the nose. As this warms, more and more butter flavor starts to emerge.

The taste is a smooth tangy mix of caramel malts, light toast, and earthy citrus. A light green and spicy bitterness gives this a gentle kick, leading into a mostly dry finish of lingering roast, sugars, and even a light smack of butter. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a lighter feeling smooth crispness that keeps this flowing easily in the mouth.

This was easy and flavorful drinking here on the cask (especially for the size) and I'm glad that I gave this Yards take on an ESB a shot. I think that I could have put a couple of these down easily.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clouded amber that has strong orange tones and a bit of brown in the mix as well. Nose is a slight sugary leaf. Flavor is pretty smooth with a staying power that holds a mildly mature sweet woody tone. Very slight bitter edge on the end. Feel is smooth on liquid and pretty standard on the carbonation. This is a very drinkable brew. Nothing wild or crazy, but it is fairly even and smooth. Would probably be interesting on cask.

Photo of mendvicdog
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.53/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appears amber ruby brown with a vibrant fluffy copper white head and I must note the marathon head retention leaves a nice trickled lace. Aroma is a full bouquet of pine cone scented hops along with tones of caramel malt underneath the hops. Taste is predominantly hops of earthy, pine cone variety with a trace of buttery caramel malt to complement the bitterness. A little off balanced just way too much hop bitterness in my book. Mouthfeel is medium bodied fluffy textured with hop resins creating a slightly oily texture in each sip. The drinkability is kicked down a notch due to the fact that the hops a tad overbearing, but overall this beer should be experienced.

Photo of Slatetank
3.61/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I had this from the bottle, enjoyed chilled in a teku purchased from Giant Beer Garden & eatery

The color is walnut brown with translucent clarity and thick beige head with average bead and lace. The smell is toasted grain with mild yeast esters bringing a slight creamy sweet aroma. The feel is good with moderately high carbonation mild roasted texture and creamy semi-dry finish with mild sweetness in general.

The flavor has a subtle toffee and toasted malt presence with yeast bringing out a woody hop flavor near the middle with a slight alcohol warmth in the taste with slight spice and creamy caramel. Overall not a bad beer, pretty malty example of the style and on the high end of the alcohol for and ESB, but pretty tasty I would enjoy this on draft if offered.

Photo of russpowell
4.14/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cheers to GomeKing for this one!

Pours amber/copper with a 1 finger offwhite head. Minimal lacing & head retention

S: Some fruittyness & earthy hops

T: Caramel malts, fruittynes & herbal piney hops up front. Grainyness fills in as it warms along bitter chocolate notes. Breadyness & fruittyness dominate the middle. Finishes fruitty & bitter (down the throat especially) & dry

MF: Medium bodied with medium carbonation & excellent balance

Drinks pretty easy, a nice english-influnced ESB. This would be easy to session on if the 6.3% abv doesn't sneak up on you!

Photo of mactrail
3.01/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Large and malty. Great big flavors of juniper, resins, dank malt. Tastes like it's been sweetened and spiced, like some kind of holiday grog. Tastes good at first sip, but gets weirder as you drink.

Served in a big English imperial pint nonic. Pulled from the fake hand pump. Plenty of carbonation and a nice sudsy foam, with lots of lacing in the glass. No aroma to speak of. Winey and tastes like some new kind of Long Island Iced Tea. On the cask at Local 44 in Philadelphia. Interesting but I don't get it. [Transcribed from notes written on 05/30/2012 visit.]

Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev +1.1%

Photo of Rifugium
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from a sampler case

Surprisingly, I don't see this one available much on tap or single bottles for take out. Oh well. Pours a slightly hazed amber with a good-sized fluff of white head that recedes a bit, leaving some moderate lacing behind. Nice smell, basic, caramel malts and a good balance of non-threatening hops. Good caramel hops on the tongue, earthy and herbal hops, giving a great mild bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. I really like this beer. Medium body and quite good for a relaxing session.

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Extra Special Ale (ESA) from Yards Brewing Co.
84 out of 100 based on 596 ratings.