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Schlafly Winter ESB - The Schlafly Tap Room

Schlafly Winter ESB
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very good

261 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 261
Reviews: 145
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 12.04%

Brewed by:
The Schlafly Tap Room visit their website
Missouri, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Our Winter ESB (Extra Special Bitter) may have the word “bitter” in its name, but the key to this style is balance. The combination of malts and hops creates a toasty, fruity flavor. Our ESB is dry hopped with a US grown hop varietal called Williamette, which has a pronounced spicy, lemon flavor.

In the early 1970’s, brewers in London and the south of England expanded the range of beers available in pubs, reacting to the wave of European lagers moving into the British pub scene. In addition to the ordinary bitters and pale ales, brewers developed recipes for stronger premium ales like ESB, special bitter and special pale ale. These beers contributed to the English traditional ale revival of the 1980’s, making their way into the beer portfolios of many American craft breweries.

30 IBU

(Beer added by: maxpower on 01-09-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 261 | Reviews: 145 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of rangerred


3.05/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy dark orange with quite a bit of sediment from the bottle making it into the glass. The saving grace is the thick, rocky head. Excellent retention and lacing.

Aroma is extremely fruity. Lots of orange with some grape and cherry as well. Maybe just a touch of biscuit but it is faint behind the fruit.

The taste has even more fruit. I know pretty much every Schlafly beer has this fruit note from what I assume to be the yeast but this is just a little overdone. Heavy dose of orange and cherry along the same lines as what is in the aroma. Lots of malt in the way of caramel and biscuit but it lends a bit too much sweetness. Mouthfeel is quite sweet and sticky.

Overall, this one just doesn't do it for me. Too much fruit and overly sticky make this a bit of a mess. Drinkability is very limited and it just doesn't seem that well put together. I'll pass next time.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2014 01:43:30 | More by rangerred
Photo of Franziskaner


3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Light brown hued with a good half inch head of khaki colored foam. Brussels lacing. I get a bit of biscuity malt and faint pine like hops in the nose. I get some dark malt on the front of the palate and it is quickly followed by sharp bittering hops. I get a bit of a dry chalky mouth. I get more hops and a copper penny like malt fade.

Serving type: on-tap

03-25-2014 22:53:16 | More by Franziskaner
Photo of rlee1390


3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-Cloudy yellow orange in the glass, one finger head that doesn't last that long

S-Starts with a very toasty/bread mix with some caramel. Lots of oranges and other citrus present as well.

T-Stats malty with bread and caramel. Then orange, citrus and green apples. Moderate bitterness. Rather sweet.

M-Medium in body, some carbonation.

O-The level of fruity flavor really caught me off guard. Was expecting a maltier beer but the fruit flavors were rather nice.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2014 02:07:51 | More by rlee1390
Photo of Henrich


3.45/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Woefully disappointing foam with no head retention. Color is slightly opaque copper. It appears quite carbonated, despite the poor foam characteristics.
Smell: Very fruity/citrusy and hoppy. The hops dominate everything. Great smell.
Taste: Basically the same as the smell. A mouth full of hops. Seriously, hardly any discerning flavor outside of the hops. Strong citrus with bitter and toasted grain (maybe) undertones. Quite enjoyable; this definitely showcases the hop variety.
Mouth-Feel: Fizzy and slightly thick compared to how it looks, but not lingering.
Overall: I don't think I'd buy this personally, but then again, I'm not really into highly-hopped beers. This one was very drinkable, just not really my cup of tea.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2014 01:26:59 | More by Henrich
Photo of spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

3.44/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle received in trade with cfrancis - thanks!

Appearance - Copper colour with an average size fizzy off white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some faint lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for around 2-3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel, hops

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel and malts mixed with light hops. There is also some toffee and a light nuttiness.

Overall - Pretty decent and quite drinkable. Seems to the fit the style well.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2014 01:09:33 | More by spinrsx
Photo of delta490


3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- a great deal of sediment mars an otherwise nice medium amber with a great big creamy white head. Nice retention and lacing.

S- some nice biscuit notes and hints of golden raisin

T- A little underwhelming. The flavors match the aroma but are dialed down and subdued

M- Very thin for the style

O- not a terrible beer, in and of itself, but lacking in the malt richness of a traditional ESB.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2014 00:55:18 | More by delta490
Photo of BerkM


1.18/5  rDev -69.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I love ESBs and most “winter beers” in general. This sounds and looks great. I was really looking forward to trying this. I’m from Missouri and I like to support the locals. BUT…. This is Awful, syrupy sweet and undrinkable for me. It seems purposely aggressively flavored to cover up any redeeming qualities. It reminds me of their Christmas Ale. They are both way too flavored and they both taste like how a cheap Christmas candle smells.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2013 02:00:06 | More by BerkM
Photo of taylor714914


3.06/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

I’m a schalfly fan boy, but  have to say, this was disappointing.  A rich translucent brown with a thin cap, this beers smells sweet and bready.  The flavor is somewhat off….there is almost a buttery characteristic to this beer midpalate that I can’t seem to shake.  Sweeness starts, but the buttery note cuts right through.  Finish is caramel with a touch of hop bitterness, but the butteriness just lingers forever.  Can’t say I’d pick this up again. 

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2013 19:30:49 | More by taylor714914
Photo of JuicesFlowing


4.36/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

The beer is a caramel-copper color. A cream colored head leaves nice soapy lacing.

The aroma is slightly hoppy, but spices, fruit, and sweet caramel come through making a lovely bouquet.

The taste starts out with sweet caramel then shifts into cinnamon spices before ending with tart fruits. So well balanced.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied, refreshing.

Overall, I just love this beer. Lots of variety in the palate, and not overloaded. Still a good ESB regardless of the month. Maybe my favorite Schlafly offering ever.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2013 23:47:49 | More by JuicesFlowing
Photo of StaveHooks


3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a Dogfish Head IPA glass

A - Pours a hazy amber, with 1 finger of yellow tinted meringue head. Very nice retention with below average lacing.

S - Bready, pureed peaches, caramel, honey sweet malt, hints of light lemon citrus.

T - Bready malts, light caramel, the peach fruit carries over from the aroma and melds very well with the soft bready malts. There's notions of crisp lemon in there lightly cutting through the bready malt. Hops provide a tannin-like bitterness. Finishes bright and semi-dry.

M - Nice doughy texture, heavy side of medium, super soft carbonation, very nice texture.

This is an all around well crafted beer. It has a rich doughy character with a bright fruity side as well. I would enjoy this anytime of the year.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2013 03:36:01 | More by StaveHooks
Photo of BryanCarey


3.74/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pouring to an orange/tan color, this brightly colored winter ESB features a nose of hops, caramel malts, and light fruit. There is a moderate amount of foam that tends to clump a little. The body of the beer is cloudy and the foam is slight, leaving little or no lacing as you drink.

This ESB offers the flavors of caramel malt, biscuits, bread, light grapefruit, and lemon. Hops add a good degree of balance to this beer and it remains sweet more than anything. The body is medium to light and the beer is easy- drinking.

This beer is labeled at an extra special bitter, but it is actually quite well balanced for the style. It also is not what I would expect in any beer that claims to be a winter seasonal. The taste is not spicy like other winter brews and it is actually more indicative of an everyday session type of beer. So, this is one of those beers that demands you leave your preconceived notions behind. It isn’t what you think it will be, but the results are still satisfying.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2013 03:40:18 | More by BryanCarey
Photo of Bosoxfan20


3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured 12 oz bottle into pint glass. Cloudy copper color with a 1 finger head that dissipates relatively quickly. Not a real thick head. Moderate lacing. Bottled on 1-30-13

S- A fruity aromatic splash hits me first. Maybe pineapple or peaches. Smells like i just opened one of those cans of mixed fruit that you take to lunch when you are in grade school. The malty base also comes through. Slightly toasty notes, but not as much as was billed on the label.

T- Once again, fruit flavor up front. Pineapple, tangerine, lemon. Still not detecting a ton of toasty bread flavors, but it does have a decent malt backbone. Some spice flavors let you know that it is a rye malt Moderate bitterness that lingers in the finish. Earthy hop flavors. Not overly dry. Balanced it is, complex it is not

M- Good drink ability. Average carbonation. Mid bodied. Smooth.

O- A nice brew. The aroma was probably the highlight for me. It was a smooth beer that was easy to drink. Would be nice to put a few glasses of these back while hanging with good company at a pub. It gets the job done for sure. Nothing i would insist other must try, but i wouldn't mind drinking again.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2013 03:52:40 | More by Bosoxfan20
Photo of scratch69


3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I poured a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance- Cloudy, golden-orange color with a half a fingers worth of head. Light amount of runny lacing.

Smell- Caramel malt and some floral hops.

Taste- Lightly sweet, malt flavor with some earthy hop bitterness and a hint of citrus.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied with an average amount of carbonation. Smooth and crisp with a slightly dry finish.

Overall- This is a tasty beer. It's not not what I expected from this style, but it is still a good brew.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2013 22:34:56 | More by scratch69
Photo of GossageBrewery


3.79/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ESB poures from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Poures a hazy golden color, produced a average white head, decent retention and it left behind a very nice amount of lacing on the glass. The aroma of the ale contains malted grain and caramel. Medium bodied, foundation of malted grain, sweet caramel and citrus/herbal bitterness. Well balanced in my opinion, a nice session beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2013 21:01:47 | More by GossageBrewery
Photo of KYGunner


3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a stiff creamy head that stayed for some time there was limited lacing and an amber hue.

The scent was a little too subtle. I might have detected cinnamon, nutmeg and malt but it was a struggle to find these notes.

The taste was a perfect winter variety. Cinnamon and nutmeg with a sweet malt backdrop the taste was well placed and well balanced. Very nice subtle tones this drank easy with little heaviness in the finish.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2013 00:23:56 | More by KYGunner
Photo of Profchaos20


3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a nonic pint glass. Bottled 11/5/12, reviewed 12/23/12

A - Pours a cloudy amber with a one finger head that dissipates quickly. Minimal lacing.

S - Sweet caramel and toasty malts upfront. Light floral hoppiness, hints of fruit, molasses, bread, and yeast.

T - Sweet and malty upfront, hint of hoppiness in the middle, finishes slightly bitter. Balanced, some fruity esters not as much going on in the flavor as the aroma.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Smooth and drinkable, almost has a refreshing quality. Would probably be great on tap or hand pump.

O - A tasty brew but the flavor didn't quite match up to the aroma. Would definitely get again.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2012 03:20:54 | More by Profchaos20
Photo of kylehay2004


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the brewpub in St Louis, reviews from notes.

A: single finger head with nice lacing on a slightly hazy copper body.

S: caramel malts, hint of brown sugar 

T: malty for what I have experienced for the style with caramel, light earthy hops, hint of citrus sweetness.

M: medium body and light to moderate carbonation. Semi dry finish.

Overall: malt forward for the style by my tastes and definitely full flavored whereas many of these are watery.

Serving type: on-tap

11-25-2012 21:04:53 | More by kylehay2004
Photo of DrinkSlurm


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from cask into nonic pint at the taproom in stl. Pours a murky burnt orange with thick white foamy head. Really sweet malt and lots of hop aroma. Taste is citrusy hop with sweet malts. Bready and mild. Smooth as silk. Really great brew and im sure cask makes this a bit smoother than bottle.

Serving type: cask

11-13-2012 23:28:46 | More by DrinkSlurm
Photo of tito42


4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle to an imperial pint. Bottled on 11/08/2011.

A: Hazy, light chestnut with some lemon yellow hues and quite a bit of particulate. Nice foamy, lemon-tinted head.

S: Biscuity malts, rye, lemon peel, and hops.

T: Well balanced between toasty and nutty malts up front, squeezed lemon, spice, and a touch of diacetyl in the middle, and a nice hoppy finish with a nutty aftertaste.

M: Very smooth and medium-bodied, with a bit of sharpness to the hops finish that doesn't linger too long.

O: A very enjoyable beer, and a nice representative of the ESB style. I'll be picking this up again next winter as it is readily available locally.

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2012 03:11:08 | More by tito42
Photo of abrand


3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at local bar.. Poured into pint glass.

This pours a hazy golden color with not much head. Some lacing is on the glass. Some visibility through the pour. Smells of lemons, soap, some hops as well as floral notes. Not overpowering but enjoyable. Taste is pretty smooth. Nice hop presence with lemons and doughs up front. Mouthfeel is fairly thin with mediocre carbonation from the tap. Overall this is a decent brew. Definitely sessionable.

Serving type: on-tap

03-04-2012 15:56:02 | More by abrand
Photo of daledeee


3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wanted to try this before winter ended and it was gone. So far I have had good luck with the Schlafly brews.

It poured a dark clear gold with nice white head and great lacing.

Nose is not real strong but has hints of malt.

Taste is nice and malty with some sweetness. Also some kind of a blend between orange and dark fruit for lack of better words. Very crisp and refreshing. A nice beer and very easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2012 22:57:03 | More by daledeee
Photo of TheWhiskerReview


3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, bright orange with a creamy 2-finger head that reduces quickly but leaves some wet, soapy lace even at the end of the brew.

The nose is malty, fruity and juicy all around, with fresh bread, orange and syrupy apricot aromas joined by touches of peach and hints of red berries.

Palate is medium bodied with bready malt and an instant hit of mandarin orange juiciness. A bit of estery white raisin is joined by the moderate hoppy bitterness, which is both earthy and spicy, while a little flourish of alcohol kicks off the finish- mildly bitter and juicy with vaguely tart flavors of unripe tree fruits and citrus rind.

Very delicious overall. The breadiness, fruitiness, earthy hoppiness and touch of booze near the end make this seem, to me, pretty damn spot-on for the style.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2012 23:56:26 | More by TheWhiskerReview
Photo of Thorpe429


4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Pi in DC. Served in a nonic pint glass.

Pours a moderate caramel-copper color with a good white head and some nice lacing on the way down. The nose carries a nice bit of floral and earthy hops with some light breadiness behind that. Flavor was nice and hoppy and had a good backbone, though the latter wasn't too heavy. Light-medium body with a semi-dry finish. Quite good.

Serving type: on-tap

01-21-2012 13:50:39 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of TheCondor


3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I grabbed this as part of a create-a-case at teh store the other day. I like winter seasonal beers, I like bitter beer, so what's not to like about this?

Appearance - Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Poured almost an orange color, quite hazy and difficult to see through. We're off to a good start here. One can easily see the particles floating around in the beer. Decent head, little lacing.

Smell - Nothing special here. Gives an aroma of fruity and floral. The face that it pours orange and smells floral is not lost on me.

Taste - The smell and appearance of the beer match the taste and the style. Strong grapefruit flavors throughout, only a hint of bitter at the very end. This brew is exceptionally fruity on the palate.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, which is what it's supposed to have. I really didn't like the sickly sweet aftertaste though. It didn't make me want to drink the rest of the beer. It was like drinking Mountain Dew when your mouth is really dry, with that stickiness.

Overall - This beer does match it's style well. The only problem is that I am not a big fan of the style, at least in the ESB's I have drank so far. I thought the fruit flavor was a little overpowering, although I am sure some find this to be a redeeming quality. Enjoy it for what it's worth, it's not bad.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2012 16:05:21 | More by TheCondor
Photo of Beasticles


3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at a local bar. Business trips are weak, while microbrews win big.

A- hazy as a mo facka. Head breaks into curd-like clumps with heavy cream texture.

S- lemons, pine and yeasty sourdough.

T- see smell. Lemon/light citrus sits on top throughout. Yeast has a big spicy pepper presence.

M- smooth and easy with a faint afterglow

All in all, solid microbrew. Think I'll have another.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2012 00:55:41 | More by Beasticles
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Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
86 out of 100 based on 261 ratings.