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Full Sail ESB - Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub

Not Rated.
Full Sail ESBFull Sail ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

75 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 75
Hads: 226
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 10.13%
Wants: 5
Gots: 29 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 12-28-2011

'A nicely balanced small batch bitter concocted by our own Barney Brennan, featuring five different specialty malts and aromatic Challenger hops'

35 IBU

Originally a pub-only beer, Re-released in January 2012 as part of the Brewer's Share series.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 75 | Hads: 226
Photo of XCOR
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was a little sweeter and a little less bitter than I expected, especially with the title "Extra Special Bitter." Was that supposed to be "extra bitter" beer that was special, or "extra special" beer that happened to be bitter?

Either way, it was pleasant. (262 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
2.79/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

"Available for 90 days only." Doesn't trouble me, as given the style and brewery I'm expecting it to be subpar. Orange label and standard branded pressure cap. FS Pub Series. 6.5% ABV confirmed. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle acquired at Trader Joe's Culver City and served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are low.

Served cold, straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger head of beige colour. Slight cream, nice thickness, nice (~2-3 minute) retention. No bubble show Light even thin lacing as the head slowly recedes.

Body colour is a clear textbook copper. Translucent. Fair vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's rather average.

Sm: Badly executed toffee and candy floss. Heavy diacetyl. Sweet malts. Minimal floral hop character. Some cream. Extremely light toasted character. Bubblegum. The general character of the beer is a turn-off. Not looking forward to trying this. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. Mild in strength.

T: Toffee, candy floss, and bubblegum right off the bat. Malt body is mainly caramalts and pale malts. Balance is okay. No complexity or subtlety. Not very flavorful. No yeast character or alcohol comes through. I'm not a big fan. Nice cream. Quite underwhelming. Too sweet.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and of decent carbonation. Unrefreshing. Okay thickness. Okay presence on the palate. Suits the flavour profile in a generally okay sense. Not oily.

Dr: Drinkable but largely unimpressive. I wouldn't bother with it again. Another disappointment from Full Sail. Hides ABV decently. Wouldn't recommend it to friends. Underwhelming. I definitely wouldn't buy this again, even at its relatively low price point.

(1,837 characters)

Photo of tempest
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Label says, "Enjoy by 7/20/13," and "available for 90 days." That's a shame (about the availability). Mmm. Big malty aroma that's rich enough to remind me of a maibock. There's a mix of sweet toasted bread with mild cherry and a touch of strawberry. Then a mild lemon spice hop character kicks up as the beer finishes to give a lovely balance to the fruit and barley. Very nice beer overall. Fruitier than other ESBs I've enjoyed, but well balanced, if a touch thick. I'd love to try it from a cask. (499 characters)

Photo of BeerAficionadoMCMXC
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- The head is light and doesn't retain for more than a minute, The carbonation seems light. The color is a dark red to amber.
Smell- I can get strong malty notes out of this A rich candy-like malt is what I get followed by a hoppy, resinous or piney, aroma. I also might get some toffee notes, but that could e a result of the malty tones as well.
Taste- Finally! IT's got a good balance for the style. The malt is downplayed by the hoppy finish which takes over the flavor. It tastes like a hoppy beer with a medium long finish but it balances nicely on the palate.
Mouthfeel- Medium light body. It's nice for the style.

Overall- I'd say a solid 7/10. For the most part, I feel Full Sail offers a good quality for a good price. THis beer is just that. It follows the style, is a good beer, but I prefer to drink ESBs in either early Spring or Autumn. I think for the rest of the public, this beer's idea to offer for the summer months may not be as profitable as possible. (984 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.59/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best by 8/16/13.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, grain, and nutty aromas. Taste is much the same with malt and hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I think it smells slightly better than it tastes. (553 characters)

Photo of FairyFunBoy
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- Burt orange with a crisp white two finger head. Decent lacing down pint glass.
S- Toffee and carmel grains, finished with a light orange citrus.
T- Sweet malt with orange and raisin notes.
M- Abundant micro bubbles with a lingering mouth coat.

O- A great ESB that is paired nicely with the hops. The sweet toffee and carmel balance the orange citrus bite of the hops. (371 characters)

Photo of Jason
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz brown bottle with a freshness date.

Deep amber hue, good lacing that leaves some stickage on the glass. Malty aroma, faint ripe fruit and caramel ... earthy hops in there as well. Smooth, medium bodied. Leafy, earthy herbal hop flavor, balanced bitterness. Grassy with mildly toasted bread maltiness. Hint of sweetness, dried apricots and mild alcohol. Finishes semi-dry.

Pretty big for and ESB, but coming from and American brewer it is nothing new. Balance is this beers most noticeable trait and it works from start to end. (533 characters)

Photo of jimmah120
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into hourglass glass

look is a medium caramel color, small sudsy head. smell is sweet and savory with herbal piney hops. taste follows, semi sweet enjoyable amber style malts/grain, with a good amount of very bitter herbal hops. feel is light and syrupy.

solid beer, but nothing to write home about (313 characters)

Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel malts, nuttiness, fruity english yeast, and some citrus hops.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet caramel malts with some nuttiness, citrus hops, and bitterness. Through the middle, some fruity english yeast comes through with a bit of floral hops and a bit more bitterness. The finish is a mix of fruity english yeast, caramel malts, nuttiness, and bit of hops.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a fruity and sweet finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice ESB with a bit of extra hops flavor. (696 characters)

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a perfect pint.

3.5 A: Mildly hazed dark orange color. A little over one finger of frothy off-white head. Retention doesn't quite meet average, but a small ring of lacing is left.

4.5 S: Solidly malty with a deep toastiness. A touch of yeasty breadiness. Good caramel presence. Fairly simple, but really nice.

4.0 T: Like the nose, this has only a few flavors, but they are done really well. Caramel, lots of toast, malty sweetness. Light bready yeastiness.

4.0 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Savory light chewiness. Super smooth.

4.0 D: Well made beer. No faults and great flavors. (619 characters)

Photo of Mora2000
3.01/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours an orange-amber color with a white head. The aroma is full of biscuit malt, with a hint of pine and earth from the hops. The flavor is very similar. There is a good dose of sweet biscuit malt, as well as some toffee, earth, grass and a hint of pine. Low bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. (321 characters)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.35/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear orange, quick cascading bubbles effect. Cream colored head looks soft and creamy. It settles into a nice quarter inch crown. Not much lacing left on the glass, just a small spot here and there.

S: Caramel, toffee, and a light grainy scent. Orange marmalade, cedar chips, slight vanilla impression. Grassy and floral hops.

T: Orange marmalade and orange peel, tea leaves, wave of toffee and chewy caramel. Honeyed sweetness. Slight flavors of wood and ghost-like peppery spice. Hops are floral and grassy. Drying finish is a bit abrupt with toffee, woody, nutty, and grainy tastes.

M: Medium bodied. Very full and creamy with a soft and slightly chewy texture. Low carbonation. Very smooth. Great mouthfeel.

O: This is a great beer, and a very good representation of the style. Very tasty, and high marks for drinkability. This is an absolute steal at $3 a bomber. Now I wish I'd bought a case. I'd love to see this in regular production someday. (997 characters)

Photo of corby112
3.31/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very hazy, dark golden amber color with burnt orange edges and a half finger off-white head that quickly settles into a lasting ring.  Sporadic spots of lace left behind.

Sweet, slightly earthy aroma with a strong malt character and a subtle crisp hop presence. Hints of bread/biscuit as well as some caramel and toffee countered by slightly grassy hops.  As it warns, a subtle fruit character comes forward.   Not bad smelling but kind of bland.

Medium bodied and much more flavorful and interesting that the aroma suggests.  Surprisingly hop forward providing a nice dry bitterness that counters the strong malt sweetness. Resinous with a grassy/piny flavor along with a slight citrus character.  This is countered mid-palate by sweet malt with hints of caramel and toffee.  As in the nose, the fruit notes become more apparent in the finish as it warms.  Decently balanced and easy to drink with a slightly dry finish.   (943 characters)

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

22oz. Bomber
Best By: 05/13/12

Pours a very nice hazy dark golden amberish color, nice carbonation, with a little fizzy off-white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is mostly malty, with a hint of hops, with a nice touch of caramel. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, a touch of hops, bready. Medium body, with a nice dry/bitter finish. Overall a nice brew for a HOT day. (390 characters)

Photo of ElCommodoro
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Colour was a beautiful amber to copper colour with a smell of malt and balance. There was no head, but that's OK with me.
The taste was not quite what I wanted. It's more bitter than I'd like for an ESB. I prefer more balance. The variety of hops is not one I'm particularly fond of either. However, given some breathing time, I got a bit more malt flavour out of it. It went well with pork. So, it wasn't at all a bad experience. I just wasn't particularly impressed with it either. It's just got that typical American craft hoppiness to it that annoys me. (557 characters)

Photo of 2beerdogs
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Yay! Impulse buy. Grabbed this, along with many others, for my nieces graduation gathering at OSU. Listened to a great commencement speech given by our First Lady Michelle Obama, and followed her advice about "being present" with those who are special to us.

Well, I was very present sharing this ESB. Very well recieved, which I enjoyed because I was explaining the differences betwwen the beers I brought ranging from this easily approachable treat to Parabola.

This beer pours a beautiful dark copper meets brown. Slight head retention. Nose is light and mildly sweet...caramel, maybe a hint of fruit.

The taste comes through with a pleasing malt, a bit of caramel coupled with a hint dark brown bread. Mouthfeel is fairly typical of this type, but I prefer a a bit more of a fullness--just my bias. Finishes clean with a lightly sweet aftertaste that makes you want to lick your lips again.

Very good session beer. Very approachable and good to meet the range of a broad beer audience. It went over well, and now there are a few more people who declare themselves interested in ESB's. My job as a BA was done. (1,117 characters)

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From notes, drank this one a while back when fresh. 22 oz bottle pours a superbly clear light copper color with a great looking cap of beige head. Nice retention and lacing. One of the best looking beers I have seen in a long while.

Toast and astringent alcohol hit the nose first with some sugar coated fruit in tow. Grassy, herbal hop tone is lurking in the background. I hope it tastes better than it smells.

Taste shows none of the astringency I was smelling...just a nice, toasty bread-biscuit malt with a nice sidecar of hop flavor. Finishes balanced and mild. Mouthfeel might be the best part of this beer; Full Sail nailed it. Its full-bodied but not sweet and has a awesome creamy mouthfeel. I really like this one. It is one of my favorite beers in the ESB category and also one of the better Full Sail offerings I have had. Good price as well...I'll have another please, sir! (888 characters)

Photo of shand
4.39/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint. The "enjoy by" is very muddled and appears to read 12/15/11, which makes no sense seeing that this was first brewed a month after that date. Just a warning to potential purchasers.

This beer pours out a very hazy brown color with a small head. The aroma is a fantastic maltiness, it's got excellent toasty, bready, and caramel notes. There's also some earthy hops in the nose. Very appealing. The taste is, again, excellent for the style. The malt flavors in here are outstanding, it has a very firm malty presence with plenty of caramel. There's also plenty of earthy and slightly fruity hops. Seriously though, this is a malt lover's dream. It's got a nice amount of bitterness to round everything out. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and medium carbed, and the drinkability is very good.

Overall, this is a very good ESB from an American brewery. It doesn't stray too far from the style guidelens while still throwing it's own twist into the mix. It also donates some proceeds to charity! Check it out if you see it, it really is quite good. (1,104 characters)

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

Pours a light fizzy fluffy almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with bits of lacing, fairly clear amber honey orange color.

Nose had some toasty malts but light overall, with some earthy slight grassy hops, light juicy sweet malts, with light caramel and toffee.

Taste starts semi sweet with more malts, reddish slight creamy and toasty caramel toffee malt flavors. Hops come earthy and slight grassy with a touch herbal, a decent bitterness, and some mild mint and tobacco coming later on the palate. Finish is slightly drier but not a lot, fairly bitter with earthy grassy hops lingering, a bit more mint, slight caramel creamy malt lingering.

Mouth is med bodied, decent carb.

Overall not bad, better than a lot of other esb beers, decent copper reddish malts, toffee and caramel, and decent earthy hops, fairly drinkable with interesting hop characteristics that get a bit interesting and weird and a bit bitter. (929 characters)

Photo of larryi86
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- A nice clear copper with an orange tint and a two finger white head.

S- Nice citrus and tropical hopes, toasted malts, caramel malts.

T- Toasted bready malts, some caramel malts, balanced with citrus and tropical hops.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A very nice and easy drinking beer. Will pick this up again. (353 characters)

Photo of burnerfinger
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from the 22 oz bomber into my new belgium goblet:

Generous, persisent head. honey colored brew with lots of clarity but very deep color. thin but nicely sticky lacing

S: strong hops to the nose...strong malt back

T: (see above) Very nice indeed! almost a barelywine.

M: just a bit watery, (note the lower mouthfeel marks) but still this is a GOOD one.

D: super drinkable, for sure I will go looking for more of this one.

CHEERS! (446 characters)

Photo of stckhndlr
3.97/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A cloudy apricot orange beer with a pale white 1 finger head.

S- fruity and malty

T- A fruity malty beer with just a bit of bitters at the finish. Tropical fruits.

M- Good body, full and well rounded.

O- This is a good tasting beer and very enjoyable. (258 characters)

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

I've skimmed the previous reviews, and I'm surprised at the amount of people saying "this is sessionable". It's 6.5%! This is not a session beer.

Anyhow, I loved this take on ESB. A bit Brit with a slight American/West Coast twist. All Challenger hops brought out some sweet earthiness, and added to the authenticity. Mild orange and creamy feel/flavors, lovely malt presence. Beautifully balanced, a bit more bite on the hop end than I would expect, but still just so smooth and drinkable. I do wish these were available in 6 packs . . . or on cask??? Heheheh. (562 characters)

Photo of meeekyh
4.57/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really like beer that is priced below the competition, which is what made this one stand out. Full Sail is rather famous for their ability to produce a very good product without producing a price tag to scare us away.

Great label. The initial smell is that of spicy hops. The ale pours to reveal a dark amber color and sparkling clarity, topped with a light tan head that displays both a foamy appearance and a remarkable staying-power.

The smell is thick and dark, yet rising, with fruity esters and toasty malts. My direct comparison to barleywine (another review) is in the semblance of this beer to Bigfoot from SN in Chico. I will presume the grain bill is similar, and the yeast. As for the hops, I was floored by the initial hit of spicy, floral goodness, and am pleased that it continues underneath the malt column that is the backbone of this ale.

Taste is full, balanced and round. There are tropical and dried fruits. There are also the charred-wood-caramels of aged spirits. The bite from the hops is clean and sharp without taking the star roll.

The feel of this ale is both silky and crisp. Carbonation is well suited to carrying the nuances of this ale across the palate and into the olfactory. The finish is sweet and the aftertaste is slightly like dried fruit and a bit like melon, with sweetness and a bit of tart dryness.

This is a beer worthy of re-visitation. I love the price-point (under $5 for the bomber), the flavor and nose are both complex and balanced, while the overall feeling one is left with is that of both satisfaction and of getting away with something.

Kudos and slainte! (1,619 characters)

Photo of Bfarr
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light copper with thin tan head and no retention. Clean malty aroma with a light lemon zest aroma. Sweetness followed by hop bittering to quick clean finish but even a slight linger afterward. Caramel and nutty with light toffee and alcohol notes. Good body and fairly crisp.

Good drinking with simple complexity (oxymoron?). It’s really a deceptively simple beer that can be an easy drinking spring day beer or a good sipping, clear flavored beer to be enjoyed slowly. Nothing gets lost or muddied and is enjoyable form beginning to end. (541 characters)

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Full Sail ESB from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
85 out of 100 based on 75 ratings.