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ESB Special Ale - Ska Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
ESB Special AleESB Special Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

179 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 179
Hads: 382
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 12.89%
Wants: 14
Gots: 26 | 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:
Beer added by: Bitterbill on 10-26-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 179 | Hads: 382
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. (402 characters)

Photo of mwa423
3.84/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Recieved as part of a CAN-tastic trade from woodychandler, I'm a fan of lots of other Ska products, so I figured their ESB was worth a shot.

A - Pours a hazy burnt orange with two fingers of sticky white fluffy head which doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. The beer isn't nearly as clear as I expected and the color leaves something to be desired.

S - Tiny smells of hops and spice, but pretty much all sweet malt

T - A lighter taste then most ESB, but a very well balanced malt hits the tongue and the tiniest of hop bites chases it down the throat with a pleasant malty aftertaste.

M/D - Mouthfeel is a moderate thickness with the perfect level of carbonation for style. The easy drinking flavor of this beer really is the highlight. This is a perfect beer when you want a simple and solid beer that is good tasting and you can keep enjoying over and over again. (874 characters)

Photo of jacobseyb
3.93/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A=nice copper color little haze, with an off white two and a half finger head that laces enough, but dissipated pretty quickly

S=pine notes initially with some malty sweetness following

T=crisp and piney followed with some roasted malt flavors

M=crisp yet very oily, good carbonation

D=great drinking beer, very enjoyable, not too stout. (341 characters)

Photo of Monkeyknife
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can a clear reddish gold with a thin wet beige head.

The aroma is light with a metallic grain note and just a hint of hops and strawberry.

The taste is also on the lighter side with the same metallic-corn graininess and a touch of strawberry.

Light to medium bodied, wet and clean, with a moderate carbonation.

A decent ESB from Ska but nothing very special IMO. (382 characters)

Photo of fightingwords
2.29/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Bought a 6 pack on a recent climbing trip to CO.

A--poured a clean golden copper. Fizzy off-white head about 1 finger strong and it fell to a pretty characteristic esb style barely-there-presence. Looked rather classic to me.

S--very unpleasent corn and cheap grain odor. Picked up some spicy hop odors but nothing like the typical bready full on malt notes and fresh earthy hops I like in this style.

T--very similar to the nose. no real participation from any of the ingredients, just an ethanol and spicy flavor that is miles from the typical buttery smooth biscuity malts and earthy hops.

M--not bad, typical low carbonation and light body. might be a touch heavier than others but not way outside the range you'd find in others. Clean finish.

D-- not very drinkable in my opinion. Just not a beer that excites me.

Way bummed out. At 8.50 a 6 pack I was expecting way more, and I passed over Avery's 14'er for this mess. (933 characters)

Photo of Beaver13
3.02/5  rDev -15.4%
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. (518 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
2.19/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - It looks like a pretty normal beer, nice gold color with a good head and decent lacing down the sides.

S - I'll be honest, I'm not really sure what is going on here, smell some hops and spice, but this is not what I was expecting from a bitter, which I am a fan of.

T - I find this horrible. Too creamy, not a good take on the style, and the bitterness is lost in some sort of sweet, almost syrupy, taste. I find this to be fairly gross and am not drinking it after a few sips.

M - Good carbonation and goes down smooth.

D - Easy to drink other than it just tastes bad. (578 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Grabbed this can out of the fridge last night, hadn't seen it around before so it was worth a shot. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, it was consumed on 11/04/2009.
 
The pour was nice, light golden amber in color with a smooth even white head on top that held on for a good long while, dropping nice amounts of side glass lacing along the way. Aroma was light, hints of citrus hops, a touch of light grassy notes and a noticeable touch of light spice all coming together rather lightly, but pleasantly. Taste was light as well, clean and crisp with a smooth profile. Light touches of hops sprinkled throughout a light bready and grainy base that shone through pretty strongly. Light touches of peaches and pears actually popped up as well as a nice light touch of spice and hops. Quick and clean finish left me a bit dry and looking for a little bit more.
 
Overall not sure on the style but the effort was there. A solid and nicely session able little ale, would go for this one again.
  (1,005 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
2.16/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I drank this from the can into a pint glass.

The beer is medium clear gold with a decent white head, good lacing and retention.

The aroma is light hops.

The taste is really bad, all bitter, like a scotch ale with some very weird aftertastes. Mouthfeel is heavy but not drinkable. (282 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
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. (458 characters)

Photo of coldmeat23
3.51/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Kostritzer Mug
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

My can jumped to life when I pulled the tab. It didn't spray or anything, but it foamed up and over, very quickly. Somewhat like a nitro can.
It pours a medium golden color with hints of orange. Massive, craggy, head forms. Retention is very good and lacing is in large spots and very sticky.

Mild nose. Malty bread-like notes and spicey hop notes. Light hints of caramel and cherries.

Mild notes of hop bitterness, balanced by a touch of malt sweetness. Light hint of sweet fruity breads.

Medium body with good carbonation level. Smooth and slightly thick feeling.

Drinkable, but not really my style. (663 characters)

Photo of Brewsta
3.2/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Overall, a good beer to sit back with and enjoy on an overcast, cold Denver afternoon. The bitterness was fitting this style, although it might be pushing the limit for drinkability. The auroma seemed to disapate as the drink warmed in my glass and left a thin head.

I've had this beer in previous years and really liked the smoothness and drinkability. I was a little surprised at the level of hop bitterness that met my mouth, as I have had the impression, in the past, that this beer leaned more towards a English ESB. My mistake. (535 characters)

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

What a great beer! Nice looking amber colour, a few more bubbles that you might expect from an ESB but it is US after all, and from a can. I like the can, and hope more brewerys do the same.

Smell, earthy hop goodness, a touch of biscuit malt.

Taste, this is a true american version of an ESB, lots of hop character, but not over the top. A dry beer, but still some malt there to just balance the hops, but this is still a great hoppy beer.

This is super drinkable, wow, really nice. I am hooked, a great US interpretation of an English classic, well done and I enjoy this more than the original style. (606 characters)

Photo of merlin48
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
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. (454 characters)

Photo of rowew
3.75/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz can, no date or abv.

Appearance: Orange with a hint of brown, lighter than I expected for an ESB. Average head and retention.

Smell: Fairly subdued - bready malt, just a bit of spicy hops.

Taste: Nice amount of hop flavor, with some malt sweetness to balance it out. very drinkable.

Overall impression: This is a nice camping beer - plenty drinkable, available in cans, but enough flavor to keep it from being boring. (441 characters)

Photo of bfields4
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
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. (416 characters)

Photo of zeff80
3.97/5  rDev +11.2%
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. (402 characters)

Photo of bryanbrick
3.04/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra from CosmoHopHead, thanks Matt for a killer trade. I'll try and review more beers from the trade soon.

12oz can. No freshness dating.
Going to do the review by letters, my Girlfriend just texted to meet her at a bar after work. A rare occasion.

A-Nice big frothy head, stark white, on a tan hued gold colored beer

S-Not much here, simple aromas of charred malt and some tinny hops. Tinny in tone, not from the can

T-Most flavor is from the English styled malts. The bitter counterpoint doesn't really hold up. Quick to disappear.

M-Nice creamy feel with a sort of slickness to it. Feels almost synthetic, but not unappealing.

D-A beer for any place you want the ease of cans. Camping, Ball games, etc. But there are also a lot better beers in cans these days so? (790 characters)

Photo of mothman
3.21/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Sam Smith Pint Glass

Pours ½ finger of creamy white head. Color is a slight hazyed golden orange. Decent head retention, leaving some nice lace rings.

Aroma: Caramel and bready malts. Some dull hops are present as well. This reminds me a lot of a pale ale. Nothing special going on here.

Taste: I get a lot more hop bite here than I was expecting. Caramel malts and some citrus zest here. Now, it is reminding me more and more of a pale ale.

Mouthfeel: Some bitterness, but fairly smooth. Medium bodied with a well amount of carbonation. Ends with bready malt aftertaste, very dry.

Overall, not a very big fan of this esp. Reminded me more of a pale ale. Not something I would buy on a regular basis, but not something I would completely ignore. (766 characters)

Photo of joshuadlight
3.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the first beer I've had from Ska Brewing.
Good color that is a shade under orange, with a chunky head that leaves intermittent lacing. More floral hops in the nose than there are in the taste. It set me up for a hoppy brew that turned out to be malt dominated. Bready and sweet notes throughout, with a roasted malt type of residual aftertaste. Its good though. Carbonation leads to a silky smooth mouthfeel that I really enjoyed. Drinkable enough, I like the style and thought this was a good representation. Pick it up if you get a chance. (549 characters)

Photo of ThePeskyDingo
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured with a fluffy 2 finger light beige head that dissipated moderately. Color of the beer is of copper orange. Leaves a nice splattered lacing.

Smells initially of bready malts. Then some hops come in to play.

Initial taste is similar to the smell. Bready malts hit the palate first followed by a slightly bitter floral/grassy hop flavor.

Mouthfeel is quite smooth. Slightly light to medium body with a slightly bitter bite to it. Carbonation is somewhat light, and it leaves my mouth dry for the most part while the back end of my tongue remains a bit sticky.

Easy to drink this beer, went down quicker than I expected. This beer is a sessionable one. (659 characters)

Photo of Grabbin2nd
4.38/5  rDev +22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Notes: 7/1/09
Ska Brewing Co.
ESB Special Ale
ESB
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. (596 characters)

Photo of Crookedchris
3.46/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Poured crystal clear. Copper/golden in color. One finger, off-white head that left minimal lacing.

smell: Some malt sweetness comes through better when a little warmer. Herbal / grassy hops. Overall a subdued aroma.

taste: Hop forward when too cold but the malt comes out as it warms up. Toasty/bready notes as appropriate for an ESB. Some metallic flavor and definitely some notes of roasted or chocolate malts.

mouthfeel: Light to medium body supported by moderate carbonation. Easy drinking, but not watery.

drinkability: Good. Smooth drinking beer. Dangerously sessionable. (593 characters)

Photo of jsh420
3.42/5  rDev -4.2%
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 (539 characters)

Photo of natasharai
3.91/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured with a large white frothy creamy head that dissipated slowly leaving some lacing. The beer is clear with an orange/yellow golden color.

Smell: Sweet fruity (berry-ish) malt, grassy hops, light summery aroma, and a nice malty biscuit smell.

Taste: Nice grassy fresh tasting hops up front, then the sweet malt flavor takes over resembling honey, caramel, and berries (interesting sweet character), the followed by a toasted malt/biscuit flavor, and ending with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light body, nice amount of carbonation, slight bitterness, then a nice dry feel from the roastedness of the malt and grassyness of the hops, leaves mouth slightly dry and refreshed.

Overall: Good drinkability, nice sweet flavors balanced with bitterness and roasted malt/biscuit flavors. Nice and tame flavors that all combine well together. (858 characters)

ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 179 ratings.