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Schlafly Winter ESB - The Schlafly Tap Room

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Schlafly Winter ESB
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very good

279 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 279
Reviews: 147
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 12.07%
Wants: 6
Gots: 15 | 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:
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: 279 | Reviews: 147 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass the liquid is amber with a nice fluffy 2 finger head and good carbonation.

The smell is light yet hopy, a nice balance seems to be evident.

The taste is good, mildly hopy with a very good caramel malt. I'm liking this brew plenty, Thanks Vancer!

The mouthfeel is reall good velvety smooth rich and creamy, quite noticable, indeed,.

The drinkability is very good I would have more of this easy.

Prosit, MK

MuenchenerKindl, Mar 29, 2008
Photo of tmitch75
4.05/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light orange color with creamy head and tons of lacing all around.

Toasty malt smell with some fruity hops.

Tastes similar but a little sweeter. The hops are still fruity but also a little piney and spicy. The rye is noticeable and distinctive.

Medium body is just right for the style.

Very drinkable. The spicy rye is a good addition to a style that I already like (I also like rye!). I could definitely drink this on a regular basis. Is Schlafly coming to IL any time soon?

Tasted on 3/9/08

tmitch75, Mar 14, 2008
Photo of SMark
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was poured into an Imperial pint glass at 55° from a 12 ounce bottle. A 'Bottled With Love on' date was on the bottom of the label. Three fingers plus of an off white head were produced from the pour. A lingering lacing effect was left on the glass as the head dissipated into the clear, amber colored beer.

I sensed more malt aroma than hops. There were no off odors and the combination of the malt and hops kept me sniffing away more than once.

This was smooth and not as bitter as I would expect an ESB. There was a little bit of bitterness on the tongue with a good grainy sweet taste developing.

The hops were more evident in the aftertaste once the beer had been swallowed. They found their way into the back of the throat and then exited through the nose. The beer stayed slightly bitter with a bit of syrupy taste at the end.

This was a comfortable beer with a good marriage of the hops and malt. It is smooth and easy to drink but could sneak up on you at 6.2%.

SMark, Mar 10, 2008
Photo of bigone4
3.1/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured a clear light orange yellowish color. Decent carbonation. Thin one finger egg shell white color head that dissipated rather quickly. No real solid retention. Smell was rather light and malty slight hint of rye in the back ground. Mile scent of hop oil and a slight citrus touch. Hints of dough and a mild fold of caramel. Decent taste. Upfront caramel malt flavor followed by a nice hint of rye with a strong dry hop finish. Leaves a nice hop essence in the back of the mouth. Rather light bodied but also makes up for that in the nice after taste. Over all a very drinkable brew.

bigone4, Mar 09, 2008
Photo of jkrich
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle bottled on November 5, 2007. The beer poured an orange,clear light amber color with an attractive sustained half inch white head; nice prominent lacing.

A faint grapefruit odor was evident as soon as I opened the bottle; it almost reminded me of a fruity white wine.

This was a remarkably balanced, nuanced bitter with that slight grapefruity taste as well as an ordinary grape like flavor. A little bitterness lingers on the tongue. This ale's flavors are enhanced as the ale warms in the glass as more of the maltiness comes through with the hop bitterness. I am not sure I could detect the rye flakes the bottle label stated were in the ale. Perhaps this is what gave this ale such a unique flavor.

This is a solid medium bottled ale with an appropriate amount of fruity hop flavor on the tongue.

I expected a darker, more robust ESB as this was a "winter" ESB; but I was certainly not disappointed as this would make an excellent year round bitter. This brewery makes very solid beers.

jkrich, Feb 24, 2008
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.93/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear and bronze, creamy off-white head.

Nice aromatics, fragrant hops, perfumey, delicate, and deightful.

Crisp, malty, juicy, ending dryly. Bready malt, toasty, tasty.
Mild fruitiness in flavor, apples and berries.

Medium bodied, light finish. Goes down easy-peasy.

Absolutely drinkable, a prince of a sessioner. I could go through a lot of these, but, I only have the one.
Thanks, Will!

feloniousmonk, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of zeff80
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a burgandy/amber color with a two-finger, white head. No lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and some grassiness.

T - It tasted slightly bitter with a hop kick. A nice compliment of burnt toast maltiness and some caramel sweetness.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - An average ESB. It makes a nice session brew.

zeff80, Feb 21, 2008
Photo of bluejacket74
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. The beer pours an amber/orange color with an inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. It smells like citrusy hops, toasted malt, honey and grain/bread. Taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of pine and butterscotch. Mouthfeel/body is medium, slightly creamy with medium carbonation. Drinkability is good, the beer is nice and smooth and easy to drink. It has a good mixture of bitter and sweet, and decent balance too. Overall I think this is a good all-around beer. I'd buy Schlafly products more often, too bad they don't distribute to Ohio yet.

bluejacket74, Feb 16, 2008
Photo of birchstick
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It poured from the bottle a pale orange, with a nice frothy head that stuck around for a little bit. It smelled of sweet kind of fruity/earth, then of hops. Very nice mouthfeel to it. Tasted of a nice blend of malts with hops at the end for a bitter aftertaste.
All in all, a good beer to have.

birchstick, Jan 27, 2008
Photo of cameraman
4.2/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A light amber color with slight signs of carbonation in the glass. a small white head forms, but quickly dissolves away. A cracked roasted fragrance of barley comes out at first. That is followed by bread and biscuity scents anf finishing off with light cirusy and pine fragrances. The taste starts with a mild malt flavor, with a touch of sweetness. Then halfway across the palate, a mild citrus bitterness takes over, but does not overwhelm the palate. A medium bodied feel at the start, and gains weight as it crosses the palate, finishing much heavier than one would expect. This is a very good beer, the aroma and flavor are strong qualities in a bitter. Which makes this an excellent selection as session beer.

cameraman, Jan 20, 2008
Photo of jar2574
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Orangish beer, with whitish head. Large bubbles dissipate pretty quickly. More carbonation than an average beer.

Smells of booze and honey and hops.

Damn tasty beer. Sweet tasting, with a good blend of hops and malts that make it smooth upfront, with a nice little kick in the aftertaste.

It isn't the most exciting brew, but it's really enjoyable and very drinkable. One of those that you could enjoy all night.

jar2574, Jan 14, 2008
Photo of John1985
4.08/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Schlafly has made Nashville's limited beer selection much more bearable.

A-Amber color with a half inch white head that settles and laces nicely.

S-Distinct malty aroma, I can already taste the rye!

T-starts off with sweet malt and the rye comes in the middle to rough you up and make things a little more complex. Finishes with a tingle of hop bitterness on your tongue. Yum

M-I found this to be full bodied and satisfying without being too filling. Good balance.

D-I could easily have three of these (my limit) and enjoy every drop.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. It is a drinkable ESB session-ale that would be enjoyable sitting by the fire or watching a bowl/playoff game.

John1985, Dec 21, 2007
Photo of pmcadamis
2.98/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Slightly hazy orange/amber brew with a big three finger off white head. Some lace sticks to the glass, and the head has really good retention. I took quite a while to drink this beer, and there was always a thick cap on top of the carrot juice hued brew.

S - Big pine hops with a touch of lemon grass. I can't really smell any malt notes, but the Pine-Sol hop aromas are nice enough.

T - Again, pine is the major player here without much support from the malt tones. Christmas tree needles and sap. Grassy, acrid, and very bitter.

M - Light in body with quite a bit of carbonation and an extremely bitter and acidic finish.

D - A very average and uninspired brew IMO. Nothing really wrong with that, but I don't really see why it's considered a Christmas beer.

pmcadamis, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of 1fastz28
4.22/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a light copper color with a medium sized head. has a hoppy scent to it with malt undertoes. taste is really damn good. has a pleasent mixture of bitterness as well as a sweet maltiness to it. easy to drink, mouthfeel is nice and full and drinkability is high, one of my favorite winter beers

1fastz28, Nov 15, 2007
Photo of homebrewhawk
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz. Brown bottle poured into a shaker pint. Dark gold with a thick, white head. Fine bubbles. Lightly hopped aroma with some malt. Nice malty mouthfeel with a little caramel malt. A little tanginess from the rye. Subdued hop finish. Very easy drinking.

homebrewhawk, Nov 15, 2007
Photo of Monkeyknife
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle a clear amber-gold with a thin beige head and light lacing.

Aroma is malty and sweet with a lighter side of hops.

Taste is on the malty side with a punch of hoppy bitterness. The rye flakes add a nice character as well.

Medium mouthfeel is drying with a moderate carbonation.

I like this beer. It's very sessionable and quite enjoyable.

Monkeyknife, Oct 28, 2007
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)
Brewed on Dec. 14th 2006
A- This beer has a warm golden orange body that is clear showing of a strong carbonation of big bubbles. There is a thick film of yellowish-white head that last and last through the beer.

S- This smell of smooth pint hops dominates the smell with notes of lightly toasted malt buried in the background.

T- This beer has a nice flavor of dry lightly toasted malt with a slightly tart pine hop flavor in the finish. There are notes of dark toasted malt that comes through as the beer warms.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slightly creamy texture for a bit.

D- This beer has some nice malt flavors but not much depth. This is a nice ESP that is very drinkable and there is no palate fatigue even after a few pints.

rhoadsrage, Aug 29, 2007
Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.63/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - reddish orange hue, nice off white head.
S - rich malts overlayed with spicy / citric hops. Not quite what I would consider ESB but tantalizing.
T - about what the nose idicates with a nice underlying caramel note to round out the brew.
M - medium bodied, crips and nicely carbonated.
D - Of the ones I've been able to sample from this brewery this is my favorite.

barleywinebrewer, May 16, 2007
Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Found a sixpack of this at a Schnuck's(St Louis based) grocery in Evansville. Bottled Dec 14 2006, according to a stamp on the label. Pours a lightly hazed amber body with a small offwhite head. Very good retention with some spotty lacing on the glass. Aroma is toasty malts, citrusy and floral hops, and a hint of spicy rye. Medium carbonation supports the light medium body. Taste is ruled by a floral hop bitterness that is complimented by toasty toffee maltiness, some citrus, and a welcome bite of spicy rye. Nice! Not exactly an English style ESB but very nicely done and highly drinkable.

merlin48, Apr 14, 2007
Photo of udubdawg
4.1/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle...looks like this is my last of this for the year.

Pours a lightly hazed coppery amber color. A airy thin head that recedes to a thinner ring, but leaves decent spotty lace here and there.

Nose is a bit more toasted than I expected. Carmel malt, lots of floral hops along with a bit of tropical fruit and some earthiness. Nice. Trying to convince myself I detect a hint of spicy rye, but not sure.

Very tasty. I want to call it woody but I know this wasn't oak aged or anything of that sort. Again some toasty flavors mix with overall a more biscuity malt profile. Beautiful floral bitter finish that lingers along with a mildly sweet aftertaste. I dig it.

Better on tap, but from the bottle the mouthfeel is nonethless quite good. Pretty full bodied, smooth and rich. I recall carbonation was a bit varied on this sixer, but all when left to breathe a bit ended up at a pleasant modest level.

I'd definitely have this again, and several if possible...but evidently not until late fall. Bummer.

udubdawg, Apr 13, 2007
Photo of kimcgolf
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured to a hazy reddish-orange color with medium thick, off-white head with decent lacing. Aroma was a pleasant mix of hoppy citrus fruit and a sweet earthy smell. Flavor was tasty, although I had trouble picking out anything in particular. Mouthfeel was tingly, and the palate was smooth and refreshing, but nowhere near the biter that I would expeect from an ESB.

This was a good beer, although I struggle to call it either a winter beer or a bitter.

kimcgolf, Apr 07, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.68/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Faintly foggy tangerine with butter rum edges. The three finger manilla cap looks as creamy as the pour sounded. The foam is nicely sculpted as it melts and is beginning to leave a thick blanket of lace on the glass. This is a good looking beer.

The nose is more muted IPA than ESB. There's quite a bit of style blurring between APAs, IPAs and ESBs. When there's this much citric hoppiness, though, I tend to think of the first two more than the third. Orange and grapefruit peel share the stage with a whiff of cheesy funk.

I expected more flavor and more bitterness (note: bitterness increases nicely with warming, while hop flavor doesn't keep up).There's a sugar cookie-like, pale malt sweetness present, along with a small amount of caramel malt (unless I miss my guess). Unfortunately, the hops aren't able to rise above their support and contribute in any meaningful way. I was excited when I learned that rye flakes are in use... and disappointed when I found out that their contribution is minimal at best.

The finish is probably the best part of the flavor arc. At that point, the malt has faded away and the fruity hops and spicy rye shine with a little more brightness. The jury is still out on whether or not it's enough to bump the flavor score. And the verdict is... not. This isn't bad beer, it just fails to excite my taste buds.

The sound test rarely lets me down. The mouthfeel is everything I'd hoped for after listening to beer entering glass. It's rich and creamy for the style and allows what flavor is present to linger. The fact that it's also expertly carbonated helps.

I'm not sure what makes Winter ESB a 'winter' ESB, other than the fact that it was brewed in late October and was released in time for the season. I was waiting for a hoptastic, rye-filled experience that never really materialized. Adding twice as many hops and twice as much rye would be a great place to start and would turn this beer into something to be reckoned with. Thanks jpm30.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 21, 2007
Photo of markgugs
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a hazy golden copper, with a very nice one-finger white foamy head. Some very nice lacing too.

S: Though subtle, some striking citrusy hops and toasted malt scents get through, quite an enticing scent.

T: Now we're talking! Nothing extreme, just a quality, tasty beer. Some very juicy citrus & grapefruit hops produce an excellent amount of bitterness, balanced quite well with a spicy sweetness.

M: Nice medium-body, crisp and refreshing in the mouth, yet still creamy enough to provide some ample chewiness.

D: The bitter roastiness of this beer might prevent it from being an all-day drinker, but I could easily put back a few of these. Quite a nice beer.

markgugs, Feb 20, 2007
Photo of OatherS
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a mix a six and this was one of the beers I chose. Have always liked Schlafly beers and this one was no difference.

A: Light amber color....not much head.

S: Light fruity aroma.

T: Very good hoppy and bitter flavor. slightly spiced. Very good beer.

M: Leaves behind a slight bitter taste.

D: Could easily drink several of these.

OatherS, Jan 08, 2007
Photo of BEERchitect
3.83/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good beer. Better than most American attemps at this English classic style. The beer begins with moderate, yet pronounced bready, malty-sweet, lightly syrup aromas and flavors. Soon followed up with a light nutty character; soon giving way to solid, but not over-bearing piney hops. Hops offset the malts well, while contributing a defined bitterness that cleanses the palate and contributes a light dryness. Though moderate flavors, the body seems to fall apart a little too quickly, leaving a sticky feel and a 'cola-like' finish. Though a bit less than clean in the end, its certainly a beer worth trying.

BEERchitect, Dec 26, 2006
Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
86 out of 100 based on 279 ratings.