1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

349 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 349
Reviews: 175
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 349 | Reviews: 175 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BMart
3/5  rDev -16%

BMart, Dec 16, 2013
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got this brew from kiltedtxn for winning SNF-Week 11, Thanks Chris!

12oz can served in a standard pint glass.

Hazy copper color with an off-white head that left it's fair share of lacing.
Caramel malt and floral hop is what I smelled.
Malty flavor upfront before a nice shot of bitterness hits leading up to a dry, bitter finish.
Medium bodied with a crisp feel.
Drinkability is just above average.

JoeyBeerBelly, Dec 11, 2009
Photo of cdwil
3.5/5  rDev -2%

cdwil, Dec 29, 2011
Photo of morimech
3.28/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with two fingers of white head that had good retention. Not as dark as I would associate with an ESB. The head settles to a thick cap. Heavy lacing is left on the glass. The first thing I noticed about the aroma is the mint. I did not know Galena hops had that characteristic. I also noted some earthiness, citrus, and caramel as well. The flavor is really earthy and bitter. The malt does not give enough input into the flavor. Any sweetness is quickly overpowered by the hops. Not that good of a flavor for an ESB. Not a fan of the single hop profile here either. Good body and a nice soft carbonation that seems really good for the style. This beer nees some tweaking to take into the good category. Still worth a try plus it comes in cans.

morimech, Jul 18, 2010
Photo of MSandahl23
3.75/5  rDev +5%

MSandahl23, Sep 22, 2014
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 Vancer
3.28/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good ol' can of frosty goodness. Poured out into a nice Maredsous tulip glass a deep amber with copper edges. Thin tan head.

Woody caramel in the aroma. Changes into a sweet malt with the wood resins kicking in at the finish. Tad harsh drinking brew, not as smooth as I would have liked in this brew, but still a fairly proper balance.

Overall, a decent ESB, and nice to see a canned version of it. But unless I need a can, I'll stick with the local (STL) versions.

Vancer, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of cbutova
3.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Full notes taken to my phone at Morefield Campground, Mesa Verde National Park, CO.

A- The second ever canned microbrew is poured into a goblet with a fairly clear golden orange body. A frothy white head builds on the beer to a finger. Head retention is decent and a foamy ring stays behind. Lacing is a mix of spots and streaks.

S- Malty overall but the hop presence certainly makes itself known. Toasted, toffee and light caramel malts. Hops lend herbal, grassy and spicy qualities.

T- Lacks the sweetness I find in many ESBs but still packs malt flavors of caramel, toasted nuts, toffee, sweets and cereal. Notes of light fruits, slight raisin and bread throughout. Hops on the back end bringing grassy, spicy and earthy notes. Overall balanced between all of the above with each aspect taking precedence at times.

MF- Fairly light end bodied with a moderately high carbonation. The overall texture is creamy, just a bit chewy and foamy. Finishes with medium bitterness.

Malty but plenty of hops to balance it and at times the hops take over. A nice interpretation of the style with ample malt flavor lacking an overriding sweetness.

cbutova, Aug 06, 2014
Photo of williamjbauer
3.5/5  rDev -2%

williamjbauer, Mar 16, 2013
Photo of homebrew311
3.35/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into DFH pint glass. Appears a clear orange with 1 cm of white head that dissipates quickly. Decent lacing left behind. The aroma is heavy with earthy hops along with notes of pine and cedar. The taste is somewhat subdued with mild earthy bitterness followed by caramel malts and a bit of sweetness on the finish. The body is medium with moderate carbonation. Overall, there is a decent amount of flavor in this brew but it does not stand out as being particularly tasty.

homebrew311, Apr 23, 2012
Photo of crobinso
3.25/5  rDev -9%

crobinso, Apr 05, 2012
Photo of birchstick
3.35/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - pours a clear copper color with a billowing white head

S - smells of piney hops and loads of caramel hops. Spot on for the style with a little more hop presence than normal

T - Some caramel and bready malts are followed by a piney hoppy bitterness. I was hoping the smell would translate to the palette a little better (this is way more malt than hop forward), but oh well - this is still very good.

M - big and full and goes down smoothly...nice

D - this is a pretty good ESB. I don't know if I would particularly seek this one out, but I know I will buy it again at some point.

birchstick, Oct 27, 2010
Photo of Jspriest
2/5  rDev -44%

Jspriest, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of ncstateplaya
3.5/5  rDev -2%

ncstateplaya, May 15, 2012
Photo of emmasdad
3.05/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the can into a shaker pint. When I popped the tab the beer rushed out of the top and down the sides; WOW, a gusher. Medium gold color with some off-white foam. Somewhat bready and sweet, with no real hop character. Pretty disappointing actually, after some of the beers I've had from Ska.

emmasdad, May 26, 2010
Photo of aztraz
3.75/5  rDev +5%

aztraz, Apr 27, 2012
Photo of nickd717
3.25/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz can from Chip's in Kill Devil Hills.

Pours slightly hazy golden with a gigantic lacey white head.

Aroma is very bready and mildly floral. Decent, but not too appealing.

Flavor is okay, but a little off. Lots of sweet honey and pale malt, maybe a little too much, with light floral hops.

Pretty nice palate, medium-bodied and crisp with a hoppy bite.

Overall though, a middling beer. Not great for the style. Drinkable at least.

nickd717, Apr 05, 2010
Photo of Crosling
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Light copper.

Canned.

Juicy and Fruity aroma with notes of flowers, medicine, toasted bread and melon.

This is a pleasant ESB.

Very fruity and well balanced with notes of caramel, herbs and flowers. Nice malt backbone and a nice hop selection.

I like this one.

Crosling, Jun 05, 2004
Photo of Falcone
4/5  rDev +12%

Falcone, Sep 30, 2013
Photo of Molson2000
4.25/5  rDev +19%

Molson2000, May 31, 2012
Photo of matjack85
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I found this 12oz aluminum can at the Binny's store in Plainfield, IL for $1.49. They do have a best by date on the bottom rim of the can, but you'll need a magnifying glass to read it. Mine says Best by 12-23-11, so it's plenty fresh. There is also a pair of dancers on the can with the words "Lip up fatty" above them. I have absolutely no idea what that means.

The beer poured a burnt orange/amber/copper color that turned light orange when held to light. The 1-finger white head lasted several minutes and it left tons of lacing.

The beer had a heavy fruit smell along with sweet caramel, malt, and even hops lurking in the background.

The beer was nowhere near as bitter as the name would imply. Instead, it's nicely balanced with sweet malt and caramel on one side, with mild bittering hops on the other. I don't know where all the fruit went that I found in the smell, but it wasn't noticeable in the taste. I liked the balance of flavors in here.

This is a light, spritzy beer with high carbonation. It also leaves a light, lingering bitterness after the swallow.

Very easy to drink with no trace of alcohol. I enjoyed this one.

matjack85, Aug 13, 2011
Photo of atsprings
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can a cloudy copper brew with a mid sized off white head. Aroma was mild with caramel malt and earthy hops. Taste was also caramel malts and earthy hops, decent balance. The beer is light on the palate with decent carbonation. This is a drinkable beer, but far from the best.

atsprings, Mar 08, 2007
Photo of Redrover
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I bought this one on the recommendation of Travis the beer guy at the Downers Grove Sam's Wine & Liquors. I was going canoeing and needed a tasty beer in a can.

Poured into a pint glass, the beer is very hazy amber with a very stick beige head.

The nose is of lightly roasted malts, a hint of brown sugar and floral hops.

Nice crisp taste. It is slightly sweet with malty notes all backed by noticeable hops. There is a hint of nuts and some backend pine notes. This is a nice ESB!

The mouth is slightly thickish & is very smooth. Extremely easy beer to session that has both taste and character.

Thanks for the recommendation Travis!

Redrover, Dec 01, 2008
Photo of jsh420
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

this is the only craft beer in a can that i can find in IL. and i was glad to find it

pours clear golden yellowish orange with a 1/2 finger white head that left no lacing

smells of sweet malts and grassy hops

taste is a decent balance of sweet bready malts and grassy hops - and a tiny bit of alcohol and metalic flavors come through

mouthfeel was a bit to flat for me - light body

drinkability is so so - i only picked up a single but the beer has a good full flavor just wish it had a little more life - i will check this out again

jsh420, Jun 30, 2009
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. can into my nonic pint glass. Appears a beautiful golden amber color with about two fingers of off-white foam. The head leaves a small amount of lacing on the glass. Smells of sweet caramel malts, followed by biscuit and fruit (apple) notes. Taste is malty at first, followed by a nice dose of hops, more malts, and maybe some tropical fruit. Medium in both body and carbonation. Thanks to limesmut for this fine beer. It's not too often you see an ESB in a can. I would certainly drink this one again if I have the chance.

ClockworkOrange, Jun 05, 2007
ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 349 ratings.