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Schlafly Winter ESB - The Schlafly Tap Room

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Schlafly Winter ESB
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very good

273 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 273
Reviews: 147
rAvg: 3.81
pDev: 12.07%
Wants: 6
Gots: 13 | 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: 273 | Reviews: 147 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hoffman


3.63/5  rDev -4.7%

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 Schlafly....it 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.

06-13-2006 03:19:22 | More by hoffman
Photo of jokelahoma


4.1/5  rDev +7.6%

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.

05-13-2006 00:13:39 | More by jokelahoma
Photo of wcudwight

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +4.5%

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.

01-11-2006 22:01:11 | More by wcudwight
Photo of Bighuge


4.1/5  rDev +7.6%

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.

01-10-2006 23:03:03 | More by Bighuge
Photo of Enola

North Carolina

3.28/5  rDev -13.9%

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.

01-10-2006 21:59:01 | More by Enola
Photo of whynot44


4.13/5  rDev +8.4%

Very nice coppery amber color with a respectable creamy ivory head tha manges to leave some sticky lace.

The aroma is malty with a slightly peppery hops edge and some vague caramel and fruit tones.

The taste is rich malt, caramel, grain, citrus, pine needles. Nicely hopped. The finish is dry and slightly peppery with even a trace of alcohol warmth.

Full bodied and smooth, very drinkable.

11-19-2005 03:42:46 | More by whynot44
Photo of carln26


3.9/5  rDev +2.4%

Great alternative after being disappointed with the IPA. This beer is a very clear copper color with a fluffy off-white head. The aroma is mostly malt in the form of caramel and just a little apple. The flavor is light caramel, apple, and just a little tangy citrus to wake up the flavor. The mouth feel is slightly slick, but rich, and it is very drinkable. Nice interpretation of this style.

11-13-2005 21:09:28 | More by carln26
Photo of karst


3.85/5  rDev +1%

12oz. amber bottle. "Bottled with love" on Nov 10 2004. At first I thought it was the Centenial ESB.

Poured a clear honey amber. Thick and rocky off-white lace gurgles up then quickly subsides to a respectable finger thick creamy layer supported by beading. Patchy and sticky lace on the sides of the Schlafly pint glass(no doubt the effects of flaked Rye).

Hoppy sweet caramel aroma. A bit earthy - goes with the style.

Balanced but not very "bitter". This bottle has been well cared for but 8 months may be pulling the IBUs down a little.

Hops seem more american almost IPA to me. Finishes dry with faint hop bitterness lingering briefly. The finish improves with warming that also brings out the malty qualities.

Medium bodied. Mouthfeel medium. Although labeled as a Winter ESB ale makes a nice summer session beer as well.

07-22-2005 21:22:28 | More by karst
Photo of Vancer


3.65/5  rDev -4.2%

Number 1 of the six-pack was Bottled With Luv on 12/8/04. Very nice clear amber/orange pour with a good whitish head that left nice laces. Seemed very dry with a strong hop bite - the orange / vanilla spices still pulled through in both the taste and aroma. The hop bite eased on the next few, and the drinkablity increased dramatically. Another fine frosty from Schlafly (maybe I’m a little jaded since I’m in the STL area).

01-31-2005 16:25:54 | More by Vancer
Photo of nogoodreason


4.5/5  rDev +18.1%

Re - review.

Every winter I drink several cases of this gem. I love this beer, I really do. It must, must be served much warmer than it would be coming straight from your fridge.

It pours a khaki-amber with a smooth white head that clings stubbornly to the glass. Carbonation streams constantly to the top. Nose is of smooth, toasty malts, a subtle earthy, spicy hop and slight peachy sweetness..

In your mouth it's full-bodied, and creamy smooth with rich, malty depth peppered with a slight rye twang and lush, spicy hops. As it warms it's more or a malty sweetness followed by the omnipresent hops. The malt presense takes on a distinct aspect of peaches as it warms a bit. It's a fairly hoppy beer, not quite IPA hoppy but still rather enjoyable. The smooth toasty malt presence sticks around quite some time after the finish and the dirty, spicy hops build until the beer is gone and you crave another.

An excellent brew.

01-25-2005 19:55:48 | More by nogoodreason
Photo of meathookjones


4.1/5  rDev +7.6%

Reviewed from notes taken on 1/12/05 from a 12oz bottle dated 10/27/04. Appears a fairly clear copper with about a half-inch of cream colored lace. Head dies down quickly leave minimal scatterings of lace. Aroma is full of sweet caramel malt and a good dose of earthy hops. Notes of pine and grain, probably the rye, mingle about. Quite a great smelling ESB. Sweet caramel malt gets the taste started before the hoppiness kicks in. Great bitter floral and earthy notes help tame the malt here. Citric notes are present as is the rye flavor. Ends with a bittersweet aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium and creamy, overall a lot better than expected. For the style I can’t think of one I have enjoyed this much. Very good stuff you should give a try, thanks nogoodreason for this treat.

01-19-2005 18:57:13 | More by meathookjones
Photo of winomark


4/5  rDev +5%

Medium copper with a soft, light tan head. Good hop aromas with some mild malts sneaking in. Good and bitter palate, with malt and hops offering great balance. Rich mouthfeel. On of my favorite Schlafly offerings; even better on tap than in bottles. A great berr, IMO. Try this one without hesitation.

10-31-2004 13:32:59 | More by winomark
Photo of CRJMellor


4/5  rDev +5%

Pours a light amber color with minor white head. Lots of uneven lace on the glass.
Aroma of pale malt, floral, citrus and earthy hops. Very nice hop profile.
Flavor of light toffee, citrus, flowery but mild and flavorful bitterings. Citrus flavors really stand out.
Mouthfeel was medium-bodied, very refreshing semi-sweet malt upfront that transitons into a nice bitter finish.
Drinkability is very high, great session beer. Bro-in-law and I polished of the growler VERY quickly and were fighting for the last pint.

02-16-2004 15:50:23 | More by CRJMellor
Photo of OldFrothingSlosh


3.68/5  rDev -3.4%

Presentation: 12oz. amber bottle. "Bottled with love" on 11/6/03.

Appearance: Poured a clear dark orange in color. Thick and creamy off-white lace gurgles up then quickly subsides to a respectable finger thick layer. Patchy and sticky lace on the glass.

Smell: Hoppy in the nose. Some caramel sweetness, too. A bit of an earthy character.

Taste: Falls off a little here. Well-balanced but not very "bitter". More like an IPA to me. Finishes with a gritty aftertaste, slightly puckering.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability: Low-medium bodied. Fairly smooth. On the thin side. Still, it tasted very fresh and was easy on the palate.

Thanks to winomark for this offering.

02-02-2004 01:57:31 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
Photo of far333


3.88/5  rDev +1.8%

Light apricot color with a thick and frothy head that sits atop the glass, and creates deep craters as it sloooowly sinks. It leaves foamy webs of lace around the glass. Aroma is mostly floral hops, some sweet malt, and some honey. Flavor is hoppy, a bit tart and tingly. Some light malts shine through, followed by a citrusy pine finish, tinged with alcohol warmth. Bitter piney hops linger. Thanks to MJR for sharing.

12-27-2003 00:05:43 | More by far333
Photo of GeoffRizzo


4.03/5  rDev +5.8%

A dull orange hue, with a huge two-finger head, incredible retentiont! A malty and sweet aroma, some hops and fresh fruit detection, reminding me more of an APA. Up front, the sweet malts are followed by a definite hop presence. An underlying bitterness, with each sip. The Schlafly malts are brilliant as she warms, in fact, this brew is overall better as she warms; a tender dry hop finish. Questionable style, but another superb product from the folks right down the road, a beer to be added to the winter list for sure!

12-22-2003 02:41:34 | More by GeoffRizzo
Photo of Gusler


3.5/5  rDev -8.1%

As it sets in the glass a deep and limpid amber color with a portly head that is frothy in consistency and light tan in color, after depletion the lace is a fine sheet. Nose is malt sweet, fresh and pleasant to the schnozzle; start is overly sweet, full of malt and the top medium in feel. Finish has a crisp acidity and the hops spicy in their bite; also you get a hint of the rye bitterness in the aftertaste, a good drinking beer.

10-26-2003 16:28:33 | More by Gusler
Photo of jcalabre


4.4/5  rDev +15.5%

Originally sampled 4 January 2003. Exquisite clear amber color w/ a long lasting off white head. Slightly sweet nose, the flavor begins malty & finishes w/ a nice balance of hops. This is an excellent ESB; it's a great example of the style. Lots of flavor, but quite drinkable.

05-22-2003 08:27:42 | More by jcalabre
Photo of rastaman

United Kingdom (England)

3.33/5  rDev -12.6%

Nose is intense sharp hops and it shines through on the palate. Syruppy, sharp hoppyness, and a bit one dimensional, not really elegant or rounded or anything, just a bunch of phat, syruppy, cloying hops that kick you in the face. Let down by the lack of balance and complexity, there is lots of flavour there, but its a bit ugly, not too bad though.

04-15-2003 00:00:38 | More by rastaman
Photo of aracauna


3.83/5  rDev +0.5%

A lingering sticky cream-colored head tops a clear, bright deep amber body. The aroma is mellow malts, toffee and maple. The Hops offer up a slightly piney character. The flavor is sweet but not cloying. Reminds me of toast or biscuits with maple syrup or maybe just pancakes. The bittering hops balance the beer nicely. This is a great well-made beer but doesn't provide the chewy maltiness of the Fuller's.

01-23-2003 23:22:52 | More by aracauna
Photo of BeerAngel


3.93/5  rDev +3.1%

Pours a clear copper with a 2 finger off-white head. The smell consists of faint aromas of caramel and light roasted malts. The taste consists of diacetyl (but not too much), caramel, and citrusy hops. This is a light to medium bodied brew and finishes with a light dry hop. Not overly complex, but fairly tasty. Thanks to budgood1 for sending this brew! Cheers!

01-13-2003 16:51:56 | More by BeerAngel
Photo of budgood1


4.5/5  rDev +18.1%

pours out a clear dark amber. a big fine foamed head leaves a great deal of lace. aroma of citrus hops and earthy, smoky caramel malts makes for a wonderful nose. full bodied. big tastes of malt and juicy hop... the touch of rye adding a nice complexity. finishes hoppy, leaving lots of juicy bitterness dancing in the mouth. this is a damn fine brew. balanced. unbelieveably drinkable. the level of hops pleasantly surprised me. a beer worth seeking out!

12-12-2002 22:07:19 | More by budgood1
Photo of maxpower


4.97/5  rDev +30.4%

Man this is it, orange-amber color, fluffy white head that leaves a nice lasting lace. Sweet malt aroma, soft and creamy mouthfeel. Medium-Full bodied, very balanced with a taste of rye and caremel. The hops really stand out in the end. This is best one this brewery has to offer.

12-11-2002 16:12:02 | More by maxpower
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Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
86 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.