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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

362 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 362
Reviews: 177
rAvg: 3.57
pDev: 13.17%
Wants: 14
Gots: 24 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 362 | Reviews: 177
Photo of tempest
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a can at Chip's Wine and Beer in Kill Devil Hills. I like a good ESB, but this came off more like a smooth Americn amber. In fact, it reminds me of New England Brewing's Atlantic Amber which is also from a can. It's basically a smooth caramel malt beer that finishes dry and with a moderate spicy hop kick. Nothing really stands out here, but it's certainly not a bad beer.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light copper color with a white cap. Aroma of stewed hops, mineral and wet dog. In the taste, toffee, herbal hops, butterscotch. Mild but persuasive bitterness adds a good character to the taste. Medium to light bodied, medium carbonation with good retention. Overall, this is a nice little esb, that actually packs more of a punch than most.

Photo of afsdan
3.5/5  rDev -2%

Photo of DoubleJ
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So...why not a can with Ska's other offerings? At least I don't need a bottle opener for this one. On to the beer:

Poured out of the can, it looks good at first look. Muddy orange colored body, with a thick layer of soapy suds that continues to hold up. A pretty solid aroma, one that works for me. Honey, buttery, fruity, husky grain. Hints of metal from the can. To taste, it is a lighter tasting ESB. It has a mild diacetyl character which is rounded off by a dominant honey flavor. A little grainy, a little fruity. Processed bitterness poses a backdrop to it all. The liquid is medium in feel, but easygoing. A pleasant honeydue and light buttery flavor linger on in the aftertaste.

After dissapointments with my first two Ska offerings, their Special ESB delivers. It must be the cans.

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 Mebuzzard
3.69/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Zorro
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber colored ale with a good tan head.

Smell is lots of roasted malt and caramel with a spicy and herbal hop scent. Faint scent of citrus here too. Spicy alcohol note in the scent.

Taste is a little sweet with a strong vanilla and caramel flavor. Hop flavors take 3-4 sips to catch up with the malt sweetness in this one. Hops are both herbal and citrus in nature here with a woody hop taste at the end. OK bitter in the end but the flavor is really more pale ale than ESB.

Mouthfeel is good.

Not a bad drinker here and one of the few micro-brews that comes in cans especially for camping and the outdoors.

Photo of Wasatch
3.56/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this one.

Pours a very nice cloudy golden orange color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus creamy head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slightly bitter, with some slight spice. The taste is malty, slightly bitter, with some slight spice. Medium body. Drinkable, not a bad brew.

Photo of plaid75
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a medium copper hue with a three finger creamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a forward herbal hop with a soft doughy malt.

The taste consisted of a soft malt, some metal and a dry herbal hop.

The mouthfeel was toward the thinner side of the style.

Overall a tasty and certainly hop forward ESB.

Photo of Tone
3.67/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, copper color. 3/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of pale malt, pale hops, citrus hops, slight sweet malt, hint of wheat, and hint of spice. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Strong Bitter. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of pale hops, citrus hops, sweet malt, pale malt, and hint of wheat. Overall, good complexity and blend.

Photo of ZEB89
3.25/5  rDev -9%

Photo of WoodBrew
3.55/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The ESB from SKA is a true English Bitter. The beer pours a orange copper with thin white head that leaves a spotty lace. The smell is english bittering hops. The taste is a light malt trying to balance against a english hops. The mouthfeel is a medium body with good carbonation. Overall it is a taste beer.

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.

Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to woodychandler for the trade.Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a caramel color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of hops and grains. Taste is a good balance of malts and hops, some grains. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this makes for a good quality beer.

Photo of Bitterbill
3.91/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3.5/5  rDev -2%

Photo of glid02
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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

The disembarks the 12-ounce can a cloudless amber with a portly light tan head that is frothy in texture, after its eventual demise the lace forms an obfuscating sheet upon the glass. Nose is fresh fruit, sweet malt, crisp and clean with the start sweet and the malt profile adequate, the top is middling in feel. Finish is mildly acidic and the hops personable in their spiciness, aftertaste is quite dry and long lasting, a decent drinking beer and would make a fine session beer.

Photo of scruffwhor
3.69/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Hardly any bubbling, light head, but a little sticky lacing on my glass. A preety average looking English ale. The aroma is a light bread carame and pale malt ith some subtle hops. The taste is just as Engihy subtle. You can taste the malts the best, but their not heay or bland. Just enough to notice the malts and hops. So you can keep driniking this beer over and over again. Smooth malt and hops, with a tangy and sticky finish that tays on the tongue fr quite some time.

Photo of bark
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The smell is mildly sweet with quite a lot of bitterness. Sweet bread, some fruits and hints of grass, flowers and touches of alcohol and butter.

The colour is amber with a touch of red (25 ECB). The liquid is clear. The warm beige head is finger thick and compact. It sinks slowly leaving some lacing.

The taste is a bit bitterer than I am used to from British ESBs. Otherwise, I recall all the flavours from the “originals”: Some caramel, butter, sweet fruits, hay and flowers, some passing alcohol. Medium to full body. The aftertaste got bread-like flavours, some alcohol, fruits and bitter herbs and notes of dandelions and buttercups. The lingering aftertaste got malty flavours of French loaf.

The carbonation is strong but rather short-lasting with lots of very small bubbles. The liquid is semi-smooth.

A splendid British ESB with an very gentle American twist!

Photo of dirtylou
3.36/5  rDev -5.9%
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

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.

Photo of BMart
3/5  rDev -16%

Photo of thagr81us
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to tr4nc3d for this one as an extra in a past trade. Served from can into a Dogfish Head Signature glass. Poured hazy yellow orange with a minimal white head. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, hops, and a slightly nutty note. The flavor was of only sweet malt and hops. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty nice ESB. Had a very well balanced flavor and nice aroma. However I feel the flavor and aroma was a little simple and not very complex. If there would have been more complexity to this one it could have been something quite special. Still a nice brew that I am glad I got the opportunity to try.

Photo of MSandahl23
3.75/5  rDev +5%

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ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 362 ratings.