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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.

323 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 323
Reviews: 174
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 14.04%
Wants: 13
Gots: 16 | 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)
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Ratings: 323 | Reviews: 174 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dogfish7


4.75/5  rDev +33.4%

07-25-2012 00:57:09 | More by dogfish7
Photo of chocosushi


4.73/5  rDev +32.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Unibroue Tulip
A ~ Pours a copper-hued Amber. Crystal clear clarity. Cream colored head with great retention & little globs of baby swiss style lacing.

S ~ A melange Roasted Corn, Yeastbreads, Rain-soaked grains...orange zest & other fruits...very floral & enticing.

T ~ Wow. Soft toffee with Crisp apples...mellow Blood & Bitter Orange notes with touches of berries & toast with jam midpalette. .Hops are light with apricot & mild pepper notes...cooked peaches after some warmth...

M ~ Very very balanced. Medium-light body & very light on the palette. Faint spice. Juicy fruit flavors. Carb is fine, but not abundant. Perfect balance for the style.

D ~ Best American ESB I have ever had, HANDS DOWN. Literally could drink this anytime or any where. Supreme Craftsmanship.
Thanks Gawnphishin!!!

Serving type: can

02-29-2012 03:33:00 | More by chocosushi
Photo of gleemonger


4.58/5  rDev +28.7%
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.

Serving type: can

06-13-2013 19:59:12 | More by gleemonger
Photo of alexipa


4.5/5  rDev +26.4%

02-26-2013 22:15:13 | More by alexipa
Photo of sooner961


4.5/5  rDev +26.4%

05-18-2013 01:46:23 | More by sooner961
Photo of pmcadamis


4.47/5  rDev +25.6%
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.

Serving type: can

11-28-2007 00:27:54 | More by pmcadamis
Photo of Grabbin2nd


4.43/5  rDev +24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Notes: 7/1/09
Ska Brewing Co.
ESB Special Ale
5.9% Abv.
12oz. can into Stone Old Guardian Glass (not sure why I picked this glass)

Appearance= Cakey white 1 finger head. Plenty of carbonation. Slightly darker than I would have expected for the style. Orange color. Excellent head retention.

Smell= Bready, citrusy ESB smell.

Taste= Love this beer, seriously! Hoppy, crisp, clean, citrus, biscuit.

Mouthfeel= Perfect for the style! Lively carbonation, thin, refreshing mouthfeel.

Drinkability= Super tasty ESB in a can? Hell yea mang! Love this beer. Extremely drinkable. This is it.

Serving type: can

07-15-2009 21:34:14 | More by Grabbin2nd
Photo of ByTor2112

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +21.6%
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!

Serving type: can

10-01-2007 02:29:13 | More by ByTor2112
Photo of omnigrits


4.33/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into a perfect pint glass.

A. A light copper-colour with a moderate head and not too much lace.

S. Primarily sweet nutty malts with some nice hop aroma.

T. Very much like an English ESB - malt is the main player with hops in the background. Sweet, but not too much, and with a little hop bitterness cutting through the malt. Nicely balanced hop flavour against the malts, but malt is the main player here.

M. Medium bodied.

O. Well, I've downed one of them far more quickly than I probably should and I'm about to open another. Very easy to drink.

Serving type: can

04-12-2011 23:14:13 | More by omnigrits
Photo of JuicesFlowing


4.28/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a standard pint glass.

The beer is a nice pure copper color. A frothy creamy head stays afloat or a long, long time and recedes to a nice film. Loads of lacing stick to my glass.

The beer smells malty, hoppy, and slightly sweet.

The taste is exceptionally well balanced. Sweet caramel and bitter hops come together for a perfect sweet-tang.

Moutheel is very bitter, slightly dry.

Overall, a deliciously well balanced brew. Maybe the best brew Ska makes. Maybe ...

Serving type: can

08-12-2012 04:07:45 | More by JuicesFlowing
Photo of Franticc

4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

08-17-2012 16:42:42 | More by Franticc
Photo of sirtommygunnah


4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

09-26-2013 03:12:54 | More by sirtommygunnah
Photo of jgarvis


4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

09-04-2012 23:20:55 | More by jgarvis
Photo of Molson2000

Ontario (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

05-31-2012 00:06:38 | More by Molson2000
Photo of MarkyMOD


4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

06-03-2013 01:51:05 | More by MarkyMOD
Photo of EddieJoe


4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

07-06-2012 23:13:55 | More by EddieJoe
Photo of binx


4.25/5  rDev +19.4%

05-15-2012 16:05:56 | More by binx
Photo of jyeast101


4.22/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber with an off white, 1/4 inch head. Plenty of carbonation bubbling up. I get the grains right away with a light citrus smell. The taste is also light and very refreshing. An incredibly balanced beer. I could see this easily as a session beer. Very easy to drink. I like this beer. I also like that it is in a can.

Possible a good gateway beer because you have a bit of complexity without the fear (for some) of a heavy, high alcohol, possibly too dark, craft beer, that may turn away your neighbor, wife, long lost friend (fill in the person that you desperately want to share good beer with.)

Serving type: can

01-03-2009 02:07:31 | More by jyeast101
Photo of LittleDon


4.22/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A pint served at Lady Falconburghs's in Durango.

Golden to slightly amber in color. Dense head with good retention and lacing. Aroma is lightly toasted bread with some lactose sweetness. Toasted grain front with light carbonation tingle. Maltly middle with bitter finish. Mouthfeel is a tad chewy, consistent with style. Very drinkable in anything but very hot weather.

Serving type: on-tap

08-21-2010 16:33:02 | More by LittleDon
Photo of tjsdomer2


4.19/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

Serving type: can

06-23-2013 23:34:47 | More by tjsdomer2
Photo of Domingo


4.15/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Not sure why I've never bought this before, but I'm glad I did.
Pours a deep gold to amber color. Like their IPA, the head from the can is pretty rocky and does a good job of sticking around.
Smells like graham crackers and toasted grain.
Up front, the graham cracker flavor really carries through. Lots of bready flavor in the middle and a finish that's clean, with just enough earthy hops to keep it from being overly sweet. A little bit of a tea flavor in there adds a little UK authenticity, too.
Mouthfeel is ideal for drinking on a warm day, but not watery in the slightest.
This stuff goes down like water, though...seriously.
Wish I'd bought this earlier. Reminds me of a better Fat Tire moreso than a UK special bitter, but I'm okay with that. I really like this one a lot.
Along with 90 Shilling and Laughing Lab, this is one of the best session brews in the state.

Serving type: can

05-10-2009 01:45:42 | More by Domingo
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
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!

Serving type: can

06-18-2007 20:22:56 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of rtratzlaff

North Carolina

4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An unfiltered amber body with steady carbonation flowing to support a slightly off white head comprised of very small bubbles. It has a nice look in the tulip glass.

Smells are caramel malt with some slight hop character.

Taste is pretty sweet with caramel, fruit, and a mineral like quality to the hop flavors that cleans things up from the malt and leaves one ready for the next sip.

Mouthfeel is light side of medium with carbonation also on the light side.

Serving type: bottle

07-17-2008 18:58:40 | More by rtratzlaff
Photo of goodbyeohio


4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

super huge thanx to UnionMade for this treat (and Kristi)

brilliantly decorated red can, listing 'love' as a primary ingredient of this beer. ESB in a can. who would've thunk it.

can opens without a sound and the beer pours nice and orange with yellow around the edges, big foamy head that you usually get from vigorously pouring a canned beer. webby lacing. bubbly.

smells very fruity. passionfruit and pineapple here as well as a nice hop addition and slight rindy hint of bitter malt. light mouthfeel and smooth down the throat makes this extremely drinkable, but this beer refuses to suffer from flavor loss.. it's bitter and malty with a very dry, crisp finish. subtler notes of honey and cantaloupe. after drinking, hop oil resin is detected on my cheek walls. the aroma is balanced equally with the flavor as i drink this from an imperial pint. lighter style ESB but that makes this the perfect craft beer for a can. wish i had five more.

looking forward to trying more of these ska beers (and lucky me, i've got a boxfull!)

Serving type: can

09-07-2005 14:39:01 | More by goodbyeohio
Photo of kkipple

South Carolina

4.1/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ahh yes, an ESB -- in a can! This is a first for me. Kudos to Ska brewing for doing something different.

The can pops open with a fizz and some beer leaps out; it can't wait to get into my glass. I oblige it and pour into a pint, and watch as a 2 inch tall frothy head springs up, then dwindles to a manageable half inch of light tan bubbles. The ESB is a hazy light copper that's has a surprising amount of little particles floating in it. Head retention is good and leaves a small amount of sticky lacing as the beer is consumed.

Smells pretty solid, albeit basic. Toasty grain and a metallic hoppiness blend with a solid caramel smell and a little bitter crispness reminiscent of mineral water.

I'm happy to report that the beer was nearly finished before I got around to taking tasting notes. It's a crisp, light, malty brew with a toasty character and just enough hop bitterness to make it palatable. Indeed, it's extremely drinkable, and the light body and fizzy, mildly sweet finish make it wonderfully quenching. I could have another of this, or 5 more... it just goes down like water.

Ska's now holds claim to producing one of the better ESBs I've had, and certainly the finest canned version of the style to date. Recommended for camping trips and hot summer days when a pilsner just won't cut it.

Serving type: can

12-30-2007 18:44:39 | More by kkipple
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ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 323 ratings.