Schlafly Winter ESB - The Schlafly Tap Room

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Schlafly Winter ESB
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very good

293 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 293
Reviews: 148
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 12.11%
Wants: 6
Gots: 17 | 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: 293 | Reviews: 148 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of John1985
4.08/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

Photo of pmcadamis
2.98/5  rDev -21.6%
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.

Photo of 1fastz28
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
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

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Photo of Monkeyknife
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Photo of rhoadsrage
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Photo of udubdawg
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

Photo of markgugs
3.88/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Photo of OatherS
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Photo of BEERchitect
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

Photo of Realale
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Clear orangish-red. Extremely fine, just off-white head settles to a complete cap and leaves nice lacing.

Nose is citric hop over crackery malt, with just a hint of caramel. Some spiciness adds interest as it warms. Quite nice.

Medium in the mouth, with a lovely creaminess to the slightly caramelly malt. The spiciness comes through better on the palate than the nose. Finish is long, dry and nicely bitter. Well done.

Excellent mouthfeel on this one - the creaminess lends a substance that would otherwise be lacking. One of my very favorites from Schlafly.

Bottles with love on October 24, 2006.

Photo of Cresant
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this 12 oz. brown bottle with a born on date of 11/14/06, into a nonic. Body was a clear light copper color. A pithy off-white head eventually faded to nothing.

Smell was fragrant. Light floral, hoppy. Faint biscuity malts. Nice aroma.

Taste was husky and spicy rye. Flavorful. Very well balanced. Dry finish. One of my favorite Schlafly offerings so far.

Mouthfeel was medium bodied with zesty carbonation. Smooth finish. I will return to this one.

Photo of IntriqKen
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crystal clear golden orange amber with an amber tinged full 2 finger head that slowly melts to a ring of very sticky lacing of large bubbles.
Aromas are caramel with lager<?> yeasts scents and light citrus hops.
Taste is toasted amber malts that evolve to the citrus hops. Actually nothing overpowers...they just blend one to another.
Mouthfeel is creamy smooth with tiny carbination to keep it from becoming sticky.
Aftertaste is the same blend as the flavor with only a slight drying.
Slight alcohol warming as you swallow that fills the chest cavity with warmth.
Thanks jpm30 for this wonderful example of an American ESB

Photo of hckyfn9999
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled with love on Oct. 24 2006, four days ago. Pretty good turnaround from brewery to shelf.

Pours a nice clear amber color with a two finger off white head. Good retention of the head and good lacing as well.

Smell is of floral hops and citrus hops as well as some carmel sweetness.

Taste is of floral hops and plae malt. Pretty hoppy, probably should be a little more balanced, but I like it. Also some rye is present.

Mouthfeel is very good. Pretty smooth and medium to full bodied.

This is definitely a very drinkable beer. One of my favorites of their offering.

*edit* as beer warms, taste of alcohol is definitely present. Still stick by my initial review.

Photo of UncleJimbo
3.65/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, purchased at the brewpub in St. Louis (sampled Jan. 2006).

This ESB poured a clear, light copper color with creamy foam with a hint of yellow that persisted and clung to the glass. There was good carbonation. The smell was hoppy and biscuity malty. The taste was good and hoppy with a touch of grain in the malt flavors and a hint of tangy sweetness, almost like a lager. The mouthfeel was a bit coarse with medium body and good carbonation. The moderate hoppiness persisted in the finish together with a light biscuity malt. This was a decently drinkable ESB, though not as good in the bottle as on-tap.

Photo of bort11
3.35/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle pured into an Imperial pint glass. Massive chunky off white head. Had to wait a moment for the head to go down to finish the pour. Head receded to a light lace. Clear amber color. Sweet malt smell with a bit of hops bitterness. Taste is mildly bitter, mostly in the back. A little floral. Mouthfeel is very mild. No real carbonation bite, more of a creaminess. This is a nicely refreshing beer. It doesn't really seem like a winter beer to me though.

Photo of hoffman
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer makes the grade a nice amber hue from the bottle with an off white head that caps the beer and a thin lace that follows the beer all the way down the glass. The smell is faint a bit metallic sugary plums, sweet brown sugar/cocoa. An interesting aroma for this beer. The taste still has the powdery sweet malt flavoring the copper metallic is still present in the aftertaste but there is an endearing presence of full malts and some light hops. The finish is where this one dissapoints....there is nothing there watery and bland the finish is distant. This one is decent at best. My first from is enough to keep me coming back...The age has to be a factor here...cellared at around 65 degrees and subject to constantc light I am sure that it had been on the shelf for a while. If I could find more Schlafly in NE. I would definately drink more Schlafly in NE.

Photo of jokelahoma
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a bottle dated October 2005. This one went into the glass a lighter than expected brassy orange, with very little head. The little skiff of foam that stubbornly stuck around did cling nicely to the sides of the glass, making for a lace curtain that followed the beer down.

The aroma, as one would expect for an ESB, is a good balance of malt and hop. Not too much of either. I'm happy to note that instead of neither really standing out, it's a case of both standing out equally. Unusual, and a good thing. If you pay attention you can just get a small whiff of the rye that's in there. There could still be more aroma from this. Otherwise, it's well balanced.

Quite caramelly at first taste, with a spiciness I'd attribute to the rye. A slight oily coating of the mouth, but in a good way. The hops are not up front here. They're there, but they play a subordinate role in this brew. They keep the beer from being sticky sweet by providing just the right amount of bitterness. Not much hop flavor, which is fine for the style. Very well made and a good ESB-type balance. Excellent.

Mouthfeel is a tad heavier than one would expect, mostly due to the oily feel I mentioned above. Not chewy, by any means, but still substantial. You're quite aware you're swallowing something to be savored, rather than just throwing back a beer. I like that.

It's probably a little heavy on the rye to make it a quaffer, but then, it is a winter beer, meant to be sipped on cold nights. For what it is, it would seem to work perfectly. While I couldn't kill a sixer in a sitting, I'd pony up for this one again. Another good beer from Schlafly.

Photo of wcudwight
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an amber color with some ruby and golden hues. Fluffy cream colored lasting head that rises 1/4 ". Smell is a nice balance of hops and sweetness. Taste is very balanced the hops nor malts are overpowering. It's sweet yet nicely bitter. Feels good in the mouth. It's a very filling beer. The most drinkable ESB I've had. This is a fine offering from Schlafly, one of the best ESB's that I've had; and I have Dertbert to thank for it.

Photo of Bighuge
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pale bronze. Thin and airy dirty white head. Retention is good as is the lacing left behind. Crisp hop aroma. Floral and distinct. Toffeish malt notes give the nose some depth. This beer does have a good amount of body for an ESB. Medium-full or so. Lightly carbonated and no signs of alcohol in the mouthfeel. The flavor lends itself to a session beer. Quite nice. The base malts are sturdy enough. Toffeeish and caramely. Hops add a very noticeable bitterness. One that is even noticeable long after the sip. Hop flavors are mellow. The beer has enough flavor that'd grab a few more if I had the chance.

Thanks for the ESB MarkJR.

Photo of Enola
3.28/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this beer as a trade from wcudwight who got a couple from dertbert. Thanks guys.

The beer poured with minimal head. The color is a light reddish amber. The smell is fairly bitter. The taste reveals hops. Lots of 'em. As far as ESB's go, this is among the better ones I've had. The mouthfeel is lacking any harshness. The drinkability is good as well with one exception. This is the last one I got. Without driving to St. Louis. I could drink more if they were more readilly available. I would like to explore this brewer better.

Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
86 out of 100 based on 293 ratings.