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ESB Special Ale - Ska Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
ESB Special AleESB Special Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

351 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 351
Reviews: 176
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.45%
Wants: 15
Gots: 21 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Ska Brewing Co. visit their website
Colorado, United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Bitterbill on 10-26-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 351 | Reviews: 176 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by gleemonger:
Photo of gleemonger
4.58/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Crystal clear organge yellow color with a super effervescent look and a large creamy white head that dissapates quickly, but leaves a small cap of head throughtout and some good lacing.

Grainy and sweet malts, with not much of a hop aroma. Very English from first impression, as it should be with this one. Light and refreshing smelling.

Like the aroma, very light biscuity and grainy malt taste, not as sweet as I thought it would be. Just a touch of some good citrusy malts to balance it out. Very nice for the style.

Light body with moderately heavy carbonation. Very refreshing and makes me want to sit out by the pool with a six pack of these for sure. Very creamy, which is a nice bonus.

I've come to really love this brewery and this was no disappointment at all, given the subdued nature of this style. They totally pulled it off as far as I'm concerned - it tastes very refreshing and very British from start to finish. I could easily drink this one all day given the desire. I don't understand the low marks on this one, frankly, unless people were just expecting something other than an ESB.

gleemonger, Jun 13, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this ay Sticks and Stones last night.Poured a hazed peach-like color with a tight 1/2 finger white head that held well.Aromas of caramel and fruity malt,just a hint herbal,grassy hop.Well rounded on the palate starting out with caramel/biscuit malt with some fruity esters,the hops come through in the finish giving off some citric and herbal qualities.This is very much an American version of the style with a decent hop profile in the finish,very nice.

oberon, Oct 17, 2009
Photo of Beaver13
3.03/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz can. Pours a hazy golden orange with a creamy white head that retain fairly well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet corny caramel malts with some fruits and floral and metallic notes.

The flavor is sweet toasted caramel malts with some decent bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with smooth carbonation, slightly watery.

Overall, a decent bitter with good balance of sweetness and bitterness. I don't normally care for the toasted/nutty notes but this one was better than I remember.

Beaver13, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of merlin48
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Twelve ounce can pours a hazed honey amber body with a small offwhite head. The head has some staying power and leaves some attractive patchy lace.

Aroma is subtle, with faint notes of toasted biscuit, caramel, and spicy hops.

Medium body is nicely carbonated.

Taste has a dominant spicy and earthy hop bitterness. Toasted caramel malt and a vague hint of ripe pear provide a nice balance.

Nicely put together and spot on for style. Very sessionable.

merlin48, Sep 06, 2009
Photo of Mora2000
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to blutt59 for sharing this can.

The beer pours a yellow color with a white head. Not quite what I was expecting from an ESB. The flavor is toffee malt with some earthy hops mixed in. The flavor is grassy hops, earthy hops and some bready malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Mora2000, Aug 17, 2010
Photo of mattster
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Opened 12 fluid ounce can, poured into Nonic pint glass.

Pours a small head of ¼" atop a clear golden brown brew. Head reduces to lacing across top of brew and sides of glass.

Smell is of Hops, and slight fruitiness. Taste is somewhat subdued, but definitely a refreshing change from some of the hop monsters I've grown use to. Bubbles are a bit sharp, but beer finishes nicely and has a very refreshing lack of major aftertaste.

It is nice to see something different in a can. Well done: Another good beer from SKA (and I didn't get a glass full of wax as often happens with the bombers).

mattster, Jun 04, 2008
Photo of avitallo
3/5  rDev -16%

avitallo, Aug 24, 2014
Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 355ml can with a BB of Nov 2012, so it's a little out of date. Picked up from Trembling Madness in York a while back and stored in my garage. Hopefully it's still in good condition - I'm interested to see how an ESB made by a US brewer turns out. Lip Up Fatty...

Poured into a tulip pint glass. Can conditioned. A hazy orange-amber hue with medium carbonation and visible sediment. Yields a decent head of creamy white foam that lasts for a few minutes before settling as a surface layer. Aroma of grainy malt with hints of caramel, fruity ale yeast, faint sugar, earthiness and stewed hops. Slightly sweet, with subtle undertones of pine resin.

Tastes of grainy caramel malt with a dry bitter finish. Notes of caramel, mild brown sugar, fruity ale yeast, subtle pine, earthiness, husks and stewed leaves. A restrained bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and slightly spicy, with decent carbonation and nice body. Somewhat astringent, with an aftertaste of caramel malt, ale yeast and faint pine.

A solid brew that goes down nicely. The aroma and flavour are primarily malt-driven, though a hint of hoppy pine makes itself known. The body is lovely and velvety-smooth. It doesn't quite fit the profile of an English ESB - the malt character is less fruity and complex than it should be and the aromatic hops don't match the style either. However, it is certainly very drinkable and well worth sampling if you should come across it.

jazzyjeff13, Feb 03, 2013
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A little darker than most esb's I've had this one came in a hybrid orange and dark amber. Caramel and a tiny amount of hops in the aroma.

Taste, pretty good, some bitter and hops, really couldn't differentiate this between an esp and a pale ale. Citrus hop, pale and caramel malt flavor, seems like a pale to me. Very well carbonated. A decent brew, nothing groundbreaking, maybe not dry enough to be a true esb, but I've always found esb's to be like pales with less hops.

Beerandraiderfan, Apr 28, 2011
Photo of williamjbauer
3.5/5  rDev -2%

williamjbauer, Mar 16, 2013
Photo of timontheroad
3.75/5  rDev +5%

timontheroad, May 27, 2013
Photo of ByTor2112
4.33/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a nice shade of Orange Blossom Honey with a one finger thick head.
Aroma-clean hoppy nose and this killer whiff of pineapple.
Mouthfeel-Oh yes this is going to be good! Light hoppy flavor with a subtle citrus note and a creamy mouthfeel. Finishes with a sharp bitterness. The malt profile is perfect for an ESB. Not too sweet but its there with a crisp hop bitterness that is not over-bearing. THIS, is Ale! I'm rating this high becuase it smelled and tasted great and is very quaffable! one of the best ESB's I have tried in a good while and Cheers to Ska for canning it!

ByTor2112, Oct 01, 2007
Photo of Zonian1
3.75/5  rDev +5%

Zonian1, Sep 11, 2014
Photo of glid02
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this on up at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours a clear orange-ish amber color with a one-finger white head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer on top leaving light lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with hints of bitter hops and nondescript fruit sweetness.

Tastes similar to how it smells. The sweet malt flavors are at the forefront with light amounts of fruit sweetness. The fruits seem a bit easier to pick out in the flavors - mostly berries with hints of pears.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness with good carbonation, pretty smooth.

Drinkability is good. I'll have no problem finishing one, and could have a few of these in one night. This could be a nice session beer when trying to get away from IPA's and APA's.

Overall this is a solid beer, though it's nothing to write home about. Still, it's worth picking up if you see it around.

glid02, Mar 06, 2009
Photo of LXIXME
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this from an inch or so above the glass, I like doing this, in that beers seem to release a better or fuller aroma this way and also it allows me to sit and watch the head settle into it's lacing and with beers that have a nice aroma and look, it's just simply fun to watch and build a little anticipation of whats to come. Anyway, back to this particular beer, it pours a big off white if not slightly tan head that settles nicely into a pretty nice lacing above a clear copper golden colored beer.

The aroma of this beer is a quite nice roasted caramel malt slightly on the sweet side with a slight influence from the hops in a slightly bitter and pine influenced background.

The aroma is transferred very well throughout the drinking of this beer, more sweet roasted caramel malt with some notes of bitter pine to almost citrus hoppiness coming through. This follows through very well in a dryish aftertaste with some caramel notes throughout.

I really enjoyed this beer for some reason, even though I kinda been taught that bottle beer is better, I can honestly argue that with beers like this coming out of a can.

LXIXME, Aug 29, 2011
Photo of RDW
4/5  rDev +12%

RDW, Mar 11, 2012
Photo of headyhardy
3/5  rDev -16%

headyhardy, May 23, 2014
Photo of dmlasp
3.5/5  rDev -2%

dmlasp, Apr 28, 2013
Photo of wmtxbb
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Can poured into a pint glass

Appearance: light level of lacing on top of a caramel colored brew. Nothing amazing.

Smell: Crunchy amber malts, sweet malts, light phenols and floral hop aroma.

Taste: Aggressive bitterness up front, followed by a caramel fruity malt flavor, the floral hops, biscuit, and a lemon zing. Interesting combination: the bitter character is stronger that usual for the style, but it suits this particular beer.

Drinkable, but not something I'm going to search for in the future, not because this beer is off-putting, but because ESBs are not a beer I typically enjoy. This particular ESB is moderately above average for an ESB; while it fits the style, it doesn't offer any new take and it doesn't distinguish itself from the others.

wmtxbb, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of biboergosum
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz can, from a King Soopers in Glendale, Colorado.

This beer pours a clear, medium copper amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and bubbly ecru head, which leaves some spooky webbed tree branch lace around the glass as things lazily recede.

It smells of bready caramel malt, a touch of wet biscuity toffee, earthy, herbal, and leafy hops, a bit of somewhat sour orchard fruitiness, and a subtle metallic booziness. The taste is gritty, grainy caramel malt, musty stewed apple and pear, a slightly buttered breadiness, and leafy, weedy, and mildly floral hops.

The bubbles are quite light and mostly just playfully frothy, the body a sturdy medium weight, and generally smooth, however that diacetyl character starts in on the clamminess after a spell. It finishes off-dry, and more generically fruity, than straight-up malty in its sweetness.

Not a bad brew, in taste or in presentation, but I'm not getting enough crisp, biscuity notes, or heightened noble hops, to take this one at its word. More of a typical (if still well-made) American-style amber ale - something I'd like in my corner when taking down a pile o' hot wings.

biboergosum, Oct 10, 2014
Photo of pmcadamis
4.47/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - A big solid finger of creamy meringue froth rests atop this golden bronze amber brew. In fact, this beer is much the same color as the can when not held to the light. It's more gold when in direct light. The head shows some really nice retention and leaves a good deal of lace on the glass. This is a looker!

S - Sweet as hell in the nose! Brown sugar, maple syrup, mandarin oranges with the syrup and can included in the smell.

T - Again, sweet and syrupy. Brown sugar and maple syrup with some mandarin orange hop tones. Starts out extremely malty with a lot of complexity, and it's really hoppy and fruity on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, pretty dry, and conservatively carbonated. The finish is a work of art! The dry grainy and gritty feel is complimented by the smooth carbonation and round but not quite full body. Awesome!

D - I'm in awe of this brew...and it's in a can! A kick ass session brew, and one of the best ESBs I've ever had! Honestly, this may be my favorite session beer of all time...other than Dead Guy.

pmcadamis, Nov 28, 2007
Photo of tdm168
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - dark orangish amber with a thick, dense, big, off white head that has great retention

S - bread, birthday cake, sweet, grapefruit, pineapple

T - bread, faintly sweet, light toastiness, faint caramel, pineapple, grapefruit

M - smooth, medium bodied, lightly carbonated, thins out a good deal over time

This is an interesting ESB. It has a rather bready, bold, forward malt character. It has a very citrusy hop character. It's also a bit sweet and not bitter at all. It's incredibly drinkable and incredibly refreshing. This could probably pass for an APA for most breweries. It's worth looking into.

tdm168, Jun 19, 2012
Photo of tjsdomer2
4.19/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Excellent white foam disippates into excellent white lacing on top of the beer. Beer is copper like all good ESBs.

Smell: Fruity molasses and caramel. Very syrupy. Heavy notes of vanilla.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Brown sugar in the head. Some raisins and other dried fruit in the background. Finishes with a spicy sizzle of black pepper. Feels a bit flat, but has enough body.

Overall Drinkability: I didn't expect a whole lot out of this, since ESBs normally don't wow me, but I would drink a few of these with no problem.

tjsdomer2, Jun 24, 2013
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ska's ESB pours a handsome amber robe beneath a short head of creamy off-white foam that holds well and leaves some nice patches of lace at the outset of the glass. It's hoppy and malty in the nose with a bit of caramel and some leafy/grassiness, followed by some very pleasant berry-like fruitiness. I wouldn't be surprised at all if they were using the Fuller's yeast strain (White labs WLP002?). In the mouth it's medium-bodied and lightly crisp with a moderate, fine bubbled carbonation (at around 2.38 volumes CO2). The flavor is round, and very well-balanced between delicate English hops and softly caramelish and biscuity malt. But there's also a delicate note of chocolate that gives it quite a bit of charm. It's moderately bitter, and finishes fairly quick and dry with just a bit of leafy, spicy, floral and grassy hops left behind. Very nicely done, and quite drinkable!

NeroFiddled, Jun 18, 2007
Photo of dirtylou
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz can, mixed 12 pack from Binny's in Schaumburg

appearance: another great pour from a Ska can into an imperial pint - cloudy copper body, fluffy full white head with strong retention

smell: fresh cut flowers, toasted grain, light hops, lemon zest

taste: kind of a flat flavor profile - flowers, sweet malts, grain, lemon, taffy.

mouthfeel: a little dry, medium-light

drinkability: fine

dirtylou, Oct 11, 2010
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ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 351 ratings.