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Schlafly Winter ESB - The Schlafly Tap Room

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Schlafly Winter ESB
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very good

313 Ratings
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 313
Reviews: 157
rAvg: 3.78
pDev: 12.96%
Wants: 6
Gots: 26 | FT: 0
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:
Beer added by: maxpower on 01-09-2002

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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 313 | Reviews: 157
Photo of JoEBoBpr
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at the Schlafly Bottle Works on Southwest Ave.

A - A Nice warm reddish dark copper hue with an off-white head that sticks around for a bit and leaves some nice lace.

S - Leafy hops and earthy tones with some nice grain sweetness on the back end.

T - Taste is of sweet caramel malt almost roasted with nice grassy and leafy hop spiciness. I can almost taste the leafy cones in my mouth. There is a slight bitterness but not overwhelming. Carbonation is on the low side but it still is very balanced. Nice all year beer really.

M - Medium body with lower CO2

D - Higher than some other ESB.

Photo of BigBry
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Visited the Schlafly Tap Room on my latest trip to St. Louis.
Pours copper gold color, with a puffy beige head. Lots of retention and nice looking lace. Lots of malt smell, with a some nice hop spice. Not overly bitter, but the earthy hops taste great. Slightly sweet malt to finish. Medium body, cask keeps it from being too carbonated and perfectly smooth. Great balance between the malty sweetness and bittering hops. Slightly spicy, yet dry finish. Soft and smooth, rich and creamy, a great sessional, this is what I was hoping for in a bitter.
I could drink this all day long. Glad that my timing was right to catch it on cask.

Photo of jsh420
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottled 11/02/09

pours clear copper orange with a 1+ finger head that left no lacing

smells of fruity/orange plus tangy english pale malts

taste is again tangy english pale malts with a good amount of fruit orange/peach

mouthfeel is nice and light with ample carbonation

drinkability is good - while not very bitter this beer is very tasty

Photo of MTNboy
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The aroma is very mild with hints of caramel and toffee. Maybe some hops. It has a hazy brown body with lots of tiny bubbles and sediment. It had a rocky head at first that settled nicely and quickly. Overall, I would say this is a mediocre beer. It has a bitter taste that is more in the aftertaste than the primary flavoring. Nice malt flavor with some spiciness! The mouthfeel is smooth and pretty slick.

Photo of bhalter8
3.76/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with a slight haze to it (I know its not carbonation I see in there). About a one finger foamy, white head that leaves a bit of lacing around the glass. The nose is rather faint, hops may have faded a bit, as all I am left with is a bit of spice and malt. Taste is a well balanced caramel malt, with a nice zesty kick of spice, some piney hop is still there too. A pleasant light, creamy mouthfeel. A nice well balanced beer, I guess the spice is what makes it a Winter ESB, as it is summer, and I enjoyed this thoroughly.

Photo of dismal
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance is a orange/really light copper color and has a nice white head that has nice retention. Leaves lots of lacing down the glass. I can't quite put my finger on what the smell is. At first I wasn't impressed but after smelling it a few more times it smells not bad. Hint of spices, kind of bready? Taste is kind of bitter but won't turn you away from this beer and has a sweet taste to it as well. Not very hoppy but you can taste them sneaking out a bit. Really don't know what to say about the taste of this one, but all I can say is it's not bad at all. Like most Schlafly beers I've had it's not amazing but it's not bad or even average, it's good and worth trying. Also bottled on date was 8 months ago, don't know how well this ages but I would like to have tried it more fresh. None the less I still enjoyed it.

Photo of RickS95
3.15/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Medium white head, fluffy. Copper in color, just dark enough that you can't see through it.

Hops and rye in the nose, malt in the background, along with other cold weathers spices.

A crisp feel in the mouth, leave it too long and you'll feel a burn.

Taste is similar to most bitters, but the rye element adds a little something. Like all bitters, I could drink and enjoy one, but no more than one in an evening.

Photo of littleshamrocks
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Copper with an impressive two inches of frothy off-white head. Body is mostly clear with ample carbonation. Good looking brew.

S: Full aroma of bready/sweet malts, rye, and floral/herbal hops. Caramel malt undertones.

T&M: Medium body brings flavors as advertised in the nose. Welcome complexity to the malt profile that is more than admirably supported by a peppery spiciness and lingering hop bitterness. Finishes a tad chalky.

D: Quality across the board. From the first pour to the last sip this was an enjoyable beer to consume. I consider myself a fan of The Saint Louis Brewery, and this is one of my favorites from them. I particularly like the balance in the ingredients. At 6.2% it's a little strong to be considered a session beer, but the drinkability is certainly high. I look forward to picking these up every winter.

Photo of Birchgrove77
3.31/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle gifted from a friend in St. Louis.

Appearance: Dark amber/copper color with a quite a bit of cloudiness. Looked similar, but not as sparkling as other ESB.

Smell: Horrible almost leather-like smell. I really thought the beer would not be tolerable based on the smell.

Taste: Pretty good. Nice hoppiness in the aftertaste. A bit of maltiness, but not enough to be out of style. A slight bit of diacetyl, but that seems to enhance the taste, not detract from it.

Drinkability: Quite drinkable and I definitely enjoyed the beer. Didn't discern any spices, but that may have faded over time. Good beer, but I also have trouble with ESB's because I really enjoy some Goose Island Harvest Ale.

Photo of Jayli
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer was served a burnt orange/copper, slightly hazy. There is a nice pillowy white one finger head that retains well. Nice wispy lacing the whole way down. Nose is of sweet caramels, some roasted malts, and a bit of spice. Taste is fantastic. Malted backbone on this beer gives is a nice strong feel - pretty full bodied. There are definite spices and hops present. Slightly hoppier than I anticipated but was so well balanced with the malts! Mouthfeel is outstanding, smooth with a good kick, full bodied - perfect amount of carbonation. This is a great beer!

Photo of acrawf6
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 10/23/08, so app 4 months old.

Pours out a just slightly hazy orange amber with a white head that drops to a thin layer over the beer.

Smell. Malty with caramel notes and a little bit of a yeastiness. There is a small metallic similar to a hoppiness, but i wouldnt consider the aroma hoppy at all. It's a bit boozy to me.

Taste. Good balance, but definitely in the maltier side. Sweet with some fruit notes and caramel. It seems the hops are present just enough to balance the flavor out, as it does seem to have a nice balance to it. Aftertaste is a little spicy of bittering hops.

Mouthfeel. Body is at a solid creamy medium. Good balance and good amount of carbonation.

Overall, a solid, but kinda forgetful esb. As it warms, i get more of a fruitiness in it. A good one to try, and one i wouldnt mind having again, but i will not seek out for it, and would pick others ahead of it. Maybe the 4 months have worn out the hops in it, but i was just hoping for something just a little more hoppy.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Classic Schlafly 12oz brown pop top...the ditty on the bottle says this brew contains a small amount of rye as well...clearly marked "bottled with love" date of 11/24/08.

Appearance: This beer pours a dark golden color with a slight orange tint and the slightest haziness. The cap is white, fairly fluffy, and has good retention and leaves nice chunks of sticky lace.

Smell: Nice ESB-style mix of malt and hops, but the hops tend to dominate here...they're earthy and pungent, yet delicate at the same time...there's an incredible freshness to the hop character, much like hops right out of the light barrier bags I use to homebrew

Taste: Awesome balance between malt and hops. The malt character is bready and not overly sweet, and the hops lend a medium bitterness and a very nice earthy twang on the finish...this finishes somewhat dry and crisp...simple, straightforward, and delicious.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied

Drinkability: I dunno the abv, but this could be sessionable

Conclusion: This reminds me of England and all those English beers (I was something of a novice and not a true BA at that time) that I couldn't remember the names of once I got home, but the impression of which I'll never forget. This beer is like a trip to a Yorkshire pub...classic English ESB...I know this is utter blasphemy, but I like it better than Fuller's by a wide margin

Photo of Tone
3.71/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color. 3/4 inch head of a white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, grass, slight fruit, and a hint of spice. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Bitter. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with a low carbonation level. Bitterness in noticeable. Tastes of sweet malt up front, then strong grass flavors, then there are nice floral hops with a slight fruit finish. Overall, well balanced beer that was easy to drink and full on the palate.

Photo of Yetiman420
3.08/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Consumed 10 months from bottling date.

Light copper color, foamy one-finger head.

No initial aroma of note. Unable to detect the "plenty of hops to balance the sweetness" as indicated on the label.

Clean finish with a touch of sweetness. Pedestrian for a winter ale - lacked the complexity and robustness I come to expect with this style.

Easy to drink, to a fault.

Photo of Gehrig
3.36/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One and one-half fingers of white foam on a dark golden body with burnt orange trim; moderate lacing is a plus. I smell apricot and lightly toasted malt and, despite persistent coaxing, little else emerges. Caramel joins apricot in the taste, yet the flavors are...meek, just like the smell. It isn't just that the flavors of Winter ESB--whatever the hell that is--lack gravitas; they lack even decent presence. No component takes charge to define the taste. The mouthfeel is a saving grace for Winter ESB, creamy and smooth, quite nice texture.

When I had this, I felt that it smelled and tasted somewhat like Schlafly's Kolsch, just a tad maltier and darker in color. I don't think that's too far off. I expected some spice and malt heft with the moniker "Winter" preceding ESB. The ESB part I get and it isn't bad. The Winter part mystifies and disappoints me. I'd beef up the malt and spice considerably. That would get it rocking. As it stands, it's just OK.

Photo of SpecialK088
4.07/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a willy

A-Nice light amber no read head or lace to speak of.

S-Notes of hops, honey and malt with minor bitter citrus notes

T&M-Great flavor good malt/hop balance with a very nice bitter finish, nice mild ESB. Medium body pretty thin in the mouth.

D-Nice and easy to drink this is one i'll look forward to grabbing a 6 of at least once a year

Photo of naterock
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a dokel with a one finger head. Deep Copper and crystal clear.

smell is rich barley, Pale malt and just a kiss of hops.

taste is smooth, malty and rich, Well rounded and balanced. Nutty and slightly citrusy hops in the finish.

mouth is medium and smooth, crisp. Highly drinkable, just a very enjoyable beer.

Photo of jcompton
3.86/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from a bottle into a Schlafly pint glass...

appearance: pours a nice amber color with i good 2 fingered head.

smell: a small amount of hop and rye sweetness

taste: the rye flakes are strong up front, mellowing to a moderate amount of hop bitterness that stays on the back of the tongue. the rye is the breadwinner of this brew, and i'm a big fan of rye beers

mouthfeel: this beer is not too thin, too carbonated, or too heavy. a nice drinker

drinkability: this is one of my stand-by session brews when available. i can easily put back a few and not get tired of it. too bad the abv isn't posted...

Photo of echdk3
3.9/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a mug

A_Glowing orange color, very translucent, bubbly white head, very inviting. Nice light lacing

S_Strong citrus hoppy smell

T_Wonderfully warming citrus, ultra hoppy, flowery dark aftertaste, very great

M_High carbonation, mouth-washing feel

D_Very hoppy and flowery, slow drinker

Photo of russpowell
3.68/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review based on notes

Pours an effervescent amber with 3 fingers of tan head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Apricot & not much else

T: Slight fruittyness, chalky dryness & leafy hops up front. Orange peel & leafy hops as this warms. Finishes dry, a bit of sulphur, apricot & a touch of honey

MF: Medium bodied with slight carbonation. Good balance

Drinks easy enough, nice intro to the style

Photo of SmithwicksNut
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: A cloudy amber beer with a terrific white head. Lacing showed on every drink. I love that about a beer.

S: A little rye malt in the aroma with some flowery hop smells.

T; A very easy drinking beer with the rye malt on the tongue and the sweet hop in the back of the mouth.

M: A medium light bodied beer with medium carbonation. Clean.

D: this beer is a great session beer. One can drink a few of these and not get tired of it. Very enjoyable.

Photo of elfcounsul
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this beer by accident. I bought a six pack of Schlafly Dry Hopped APA and somehow two bottles of this winter ale was mixed in. Nice reddish brown appearance, with good lacing.

The malt was apparent in the nose, but not at all heavy.

Nice smooth taste, some malt, and little bitter.

Nice flavor, goes good with food. It doesn't overpower the dish.

Will buy again. Good ale to have with dinner, with TV, Radio, checkers, or your friends.

No fancy labels, no clever names, just good beer.

Photo of meatmallet
3.6/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Copper colored with a small head an a litle bit of lacing.

Smell: Malty and light. A little sweet but not overpowering.

Taste: Taste is great! Starts sweet and finishes a hoppy bitterness.Also has a dry lightly toasted malt flavor with a little pine as well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: To look at and smell its nothing special but once in the mouth its not bad.

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

This was poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

A - slightly hazy orangish amber color with that thick head that settles into a fine lacing

S - earthy hop aroma with a mineral-like malt backing

T - up front biscuity malt but then come the hops finishing strong on the finish

M - medium body, moderate carbonation

D - This is a decent ESB and very sessionable - another fine beer from Schlafly.

Photo of orangemoustache
3.39/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright copper with some light golden accents around the edge. The bone colored cap is light and fluffy and leaves some nice even lacing marking my pace with each sip. The nose is rye bread lightly toasted and buttery,with some light hoppy esters. The flavor profile is not nearly as bitter as I had expected,nor that flavorful either. It is good and not offensive in any manor of the word,I just expected something a little bolder in flavor. Subtle caramel and rye offset one another in a sweet and salty sort of way. Not a lot of hop,but just a touch of citrus keeps this interesting.An odd subtle spinach tang on the finish is unique and enjoyable,something I've never tasted before in a beer. The mouthfeel is velvety and course at the same time and is really where I think this deserves its highest marks. Not what I expected,yet very interesting and enjoyable.

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Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
85 out of 100 based on 313 ratings.