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ESB Special Ale - Ska Brewing Co.

ESB Special AleESB Special Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
81
good

308 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 308
Reviews: 173
rAvg: 3.56
pDev: 14.33%


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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 308 | Reviews: 173 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

3.33/5  rDev -6.5%
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

Serving type: can

10-10-2010 23:43:21 | More by dirtylou
Photo of Tone
Tone

Missouri

3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Serving type: can

08-17-2010 14:27:59 | More by Tone
Photo of thagr81us
thagr81us

South Carolina

3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Serving type: can

11-09-2010 13:06:32 | More by thagr81us
Photo of Bitterbill
Bitterbill

Wyoming

3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

Serving type: can

04-22-2007 15:24:39 | More by Bitterbill
Photo of scruffwhor
scruffwhor

Illinois

3.65/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

Serving type: can

01-02-2008 04:35:18 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of tone77
tone77

Pennsylvania

3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Serving type: can

09-02-2010 14:11:07 | More by tone77
Photo of bark
bark

Sweden

3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
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!

Serving type: can

04-28-2011 18:38:23 | More by bark
Photo of jrallen34
jrallen34

Illinois

2.1/5  rDev -41%
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.

Serving type: can

11-05-2009 14:32:39 | More by jrallen34
Photo of blackie
blackie

Virginia

3.53/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

appearance: A big, fluffy off white head fills half of the glass when I pour...so I have to wait for it to recede before I empty the rest of the can. Moderate lacing is left behind. The beer is a hazy golden amber in color.

smell: There's a light and fruity grainy sweetness that is opposed by a mild but obvious hop aroma. I'm getting some hints of apricot, honey, and mild green herbs.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the low end of the high range, and the body a heavy light.

taste: The grain gives a mild sweetness that is reminiscent of summery fruits...apricot and peach maybe. Little hop flavor, but the finishing bitterness cleans and dries the palate perfectly.

drinkability: Well balanced, as an ESB should be, though a little lacking in character. Still, easily drinkable.

12 oz. can received from Zorro in BCG BIF. I wish more micros around here would can a beer for us outdoorsmen.

Serving type: can

01-22-2006 00:28:18 | More by blackie
Photo of alexgash
alexgash

Connecticut

3.68/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice to see an ESB in a can.

Peachy copper body with a thick, creamy, off-white head that crawls up the glass. Mildly buttery biscuit malt, light apple, and citrusy (orange, lemon) hops. Orange hoppy bitter (marmalade) on toasted bread malts. Pineapple. Slightly chalky and minerally. Some yeasty bread twang going on as well. Finish is drier and tinny with orangy hops and traces of toffee malt. Not bad. Moderate body with a soft feel.

Serving type: can

03-24-2007 23:38:14 | More by alexgash
Photo of AgentZero
AgentZero

Illinois

2.15/5  rDev -39.6%
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.

Serving type: can

11-05-2009 21:09:14 | More by AgentZero
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

3.98/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

Serving type: can

06-19-2012 22:00:48 | More by tdm168
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

3.03/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz can that I poured into a pint glass. Dark orange color and cloudy. Smell was malty. The taste was metallic, yeasty and not pleasant. The mouthfeel had a grittiness to it that I did not like. I hope this was an old one or something cause it was not good at all.

Serving type: can

04-09-2007 16:32:50 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
JoeyBeerBelly

New York

3.58/5  rDev +0.6%
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.

Serving type: can

12-11-2009 00:38:19 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of merlin48
merlin48

Kentucky

3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

Serving type: can

09-05-2009 23:55:33 | More by merlin48
Photo of Vancer
Vancer

Illinois

3.28/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

Serving type: can

01-22-2010 01:08:23 | More by Vancer
Photo of morimech
morimech

Minnesota

3.28/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

Serving type: can

07-18-2010 18:43:38 | More by morimech
Photo of emmasdad
emmasdad

Colorado

3.05/5  rDev -14.3%
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.

Serving type: can

05-25-2010 23:12:49 | More by emmasdad
Photo of homebrew311
homebrew311

Illinois

3.35/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

Serving type: can

04-23-2012 07:46:48 | More by homebrew311
Photo of WoodBrew
WoodBrew

Illinois

3.55/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

Serving type: can

02-21-2012 03:01:20 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of nickd717
nickd717

California

3.25/5  rDev -8.7%
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.

Serving type: can

04-05-2010 21:47:52 | More by nickd717
Photo of Crosling
Crosling

Colorado

3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-05-2004 05:38:58 | More by Crosling
Photo of atsprings
atsprings

North Carolina

3.73/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Serving type: can

03-08-2007 02:29:35 | More by atsprings
Photo of Redrover
Redrover

Illinois

3.9/5  rDev +9.6%
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!

Serving type: can

12-01-2008 21:22:50 | More by Redrover
Photo of ClockworkOrange
ClockworkOrange

Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

Serving type: can

06-05-2007 18:04:08 | More by ClockworkOrange
ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 308 ratings.