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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

358 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 358
Reviews: 177
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.45%
Wants: 15
Gots: 22 | 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: 358 | Reviews: 177 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wnh
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. can poured into a pint glass.

Pours a crisp, clear, bright copper with a frothy and slightly sticky ecru head.

Nutty on the nose--walnuts, perhaps--with a touch of earthy and leafy hops and just a hint of yeasty funk. Quite a range of malty subtleties, showing caramel, cocoa powder, biscuits, and more. Mild, but smells promising.

Smooth and subtle-but-rich on the palate. Malt dominates, though particular flavors are hard to pinpoint. Finishes dry with a moderate lingering bitterness hinting at dried leaves.

Eminently quaffable. A great session beer.

Photo of mychalg9
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of Falcone
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of bfields4
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Large frothy head slowly fades to a lace above a crystal clear amber body.

Pale malty with light fruity and flowery flavors. Nothing too ostentatious.

Malt stays on balance with the nice pale sweetness to complement the fruity yeast qualities and a light floral hops.

Very balanced and drinkable great session beer. Nothing that will blow the beer world away, but a classic stand by that will appeal to everyone.

Photo of hundo
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of Mtnbeerman
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of brett_arneson
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of StoneTSR
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: This is another very good looking beer from Ska. It pours an slightly pale orange-copper and the head on top of my Delirium Tremens tulip glass was about a half an inch thick allowing the 12 oz. can to be poured into the glass for a near perfect fit. The head dissipated very gradually until a thin film remained on top, concentrated in the center of the glass. Some lacing stuck to the top of the ring, but not much else after that.

SMELL: The aroma was noticeable as soon as I poured. The one drawback to cans, in my opinion, is that it can be tough to smell a beer through the top of a can and too often I drink Ska’s beer directly out of the can with no glassware. On the rare occasions I drink a Modus Hoperandi out of a glass I am always reminded that while it is great out of the can once it opens up in a glass, it is a simply outstanding beer. I can already tell the ESB is going to be better out of the glass. The aroma is a fairly strong, sticky pine.

TASTE: Like the nose, this beer is a lot more piney than most other ESBs I’ve had. It also happens to be pretty bitter for the style as well, a rare case of an ESB actually living up to its name, which I like. The pine is followed by a pleasant hoppiness that mellows just before the end of the sip, leaving a little malt and citrus on the tongue. As it warmed I began to pick up a faint hint of caramel as well. Very solid.

MOUTHFEEL: I’ve found that most of Ska’s beer is pretty well carbonated and this one is no different. It is a lively beer that sparkles like crazy and does an excellent job at cleansing the palate. I am eating some Triscuit-like crackers with cheddar and Black Forest Ham and one sip of the ESB is clearing my palate. It is a nice pairing by the way. As for the weight of the ESB, it sits very lightly and at 5.7% would be sessionable for an IPA/Double IPA fan like myself.

OVERALL: This has got to be one of the strongest flagship beers out there. Well, that is, if Modus isn’t now considered their flagship beer. Either way, this is a strong, readily available beer. If I am having a hard time deciding what to get at a bar I almost always go for either the Modus or the ESB, they are excellent beers, particularly for the price point. At $8.99 a 6-pack and usually $5 or less at the bar (in Chicago) you could do a lot worse for your money.

Photo of bump8628
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice ESB, definitely Americanized with more aggressive hops a less of the subtle malt depth of the British variety. Pours deep Amber with an off-white head. Big herbal hoppiness, grassy with an earthy note. Nice thick caramel and biscuit malt backbone. Bitter edge on the finish. Another good beer from a can at an even better bar. Star Bar Denver, CO.

Photo of ncvbc
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An overall good experience from a beer I didn't expect much from. A dark amber in color with a nice head and good carbonation leaving some lacing. Smell was of caramel malts and a slight hop presence. Slightly fruity also. Taste was solid all around. Caramel is again present with a biscuity flavor that is well pronounced. A little bitter hop bite does well to provide good balance. Close to a medium mouthfeel and very good drinkability. I could definitely have a few cans of this one.

Photo of whartontallboy
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a nice clear and dark copper color with a thin .5 inch head that is off white and recedes rather quickly.

S - Mild caramel malt sweetness with some nice hop backbone. Slight pine aroma. A bit subdued for my nose.

T - The taste is more like it. Very nice and bready caramel malt flavors show up first. Very delicious malt profile in this beer. There is a nice crisp and dry hop bitterness that shines through the back end of the beer even though all the bready and sweet malt dominate.

M & D - Mouthfeel is very creamy and crisp at the same time with good CO2. The body is light-medium with very nice balance in the flavors. Very drinkable.

Photo of beer2day
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange pour with thin large bubbled carbonation. Thick, light cream 1.5-finger head. Nice retention and thick, but sparse, clouds of lace.

Malty nose with bread and yeast. Slight orange citrus trace sneaks through.

More malt than bitter here. Bread and light orange marmalade combine for a flavorful glass. Not much in the way of bitters, but very mindful of the English style.

Feel is appropriate, slightly chewy.

Very, very easy to drink.

Photo of AaronBurr
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of Rick0685
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of CountOverride
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of bootsandbeer
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of NCbeerpirate
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of ssjkyle
4/5  rDev +12%

Photo of Duvel
4/5  rDev +12%

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.

Photo of zeff80
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a clear, copper/amber color with a small, tan head with some big bubbles. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of grass, citrus and burnt toast maltiness.

T - It tasted bitter with grassy hops. It had a good burnt toast malt backbone.

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

D - This is a pretty good ESB and yet another great canned craft beer.

Photo of Bitterbill
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one pours from 12oz can a clear medium gold witha large head of foam that slowly shrinks to a fine layer with some lacing.

The smell has some caramel malt notes with some hoppiness in the background.

The taste on first sip has a strong caramel malt flavour that is sweet but not too sweet. There's also some grain up front with some hop bitterness moving in as I take further sips but the finish definitely ends up on the malty side. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and at times a bit watery but over all, the positives outrank the negatives for me. This is a good ESB.

Bottom line: I've had this one before and I'll have it again.

Edit: A bought another 6er recently and there's some nice fruity tones I did not notice during my original review. I'm guessing that these are fresher samples and man, the fruitiness combined with the delicious maltiness and just a slight bitterness near the finish makes this much more tasty. New scores implemented.

ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 358 ratings.