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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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 179 | Hads: 382
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 Vancer
3.3/5  rDev -7.6%
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. (467 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
3.38/5  rDev -5.3%
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. (478 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 jazzyjeff13
3.58/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 355ml can with a BB of Nov 2012, so it's a little out of date. Picked up from Trembling Madness in York a while back and stored in my garage. Hopefully it's still in good condition - I'm interested to see how an ESB made by a US brewer turns out. Lip Up Fatty...

Poured into a tulip pint glass. Can conditioned. A hazy orange-amber hue with medium carbonation and visible sediment. Yields a decent head of creamy white foam that lasts for a few minutes before settling as a surface layer. Aroma of grainy malt with hints of caramel, fruity ale yeast, faint sugar, earthiness and stewed hops. Slightly sweet, with subtle undertones of pine resin.

Tastes of grainy caramel malt with a dry bitter finish. Notes of caramel, mild brown sugar, fruity ale yeast, subtle pine, earthiness, husks and stewed leaves. A restrained bitterness upon swallowing. Mouthfeel is smooth, tingly and slightly spicy, with decent carbonation and nice body. Somewhat astringent, with an aftertaste of caramel malt, ale yeast and faint pine.

A solid brew that goes down nicely. The aroma and flavour are primarily malt-driven, though a hint of hoppy pine makes itself known. The body is lovely and velvety-smooth. It doesn't quite fit the profile of an English ESB - the malt character is less fruity and complex than it should be and the aromatic hops don't match the style either. However, it is certainly very drinkable and well worth sampling if you should come across it. (1,456 characters)

Photo of arizcards
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a single at AJ's in late July for $1.59.

Beer pours a honey amber color with a nice two finger white head that has sustained well. Nose is malty with hints of sweet fruit. Taste is of caramel malts with a hint of sweet fruit lingering in the background finishing with a very light hop. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, nicely carbonated and somewhat smooth. Drinkability is good. I am glad i recently picked up a sixer for my next tailgate. This makes for a nice session beer! (491 characters)

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. (300 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 Redrover
3.88/5  rDev +8.7%
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! (642 characters)

Photo of matjack85
3.85/5  rDev +7.8%
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. (1,141 characters)

Photo of nickd717
3.26/5  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. (437 characters)

Photo of Crosling
3.89/5  rDev +9%
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. (275 characters)

Photo of beergoot
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Solid honey-colored pour; sticky, white head with lacing down the glass. Light, sweet aroma, slightly spicy, slightly fruity. Nicely balanced malt and hop flavor character, closely following what the aroma hints at. Smooth, medium-bodied; clean and dry finish.

A well-balanced, very drinkable beer. Malts and hops mingle well together and offer a delightful, well-rounded beer for those looking for a fuller bodied ale. (420 characters)

Photo of atsprings
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
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. (291 characters)

Photo of rawfish
2.44/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear dark amber with mild orange highlights when held up to the light. Yellowish head is small and sickly looking and peaks at one finger. Decent retention and lacing on the glass.

Whoa where's the bready malts here, smells more on the sweet side with molasses, toffee and a bit of cocoa on the nose. Add to that some citrus and apples with adjunct grain that gets in the way as well. Odd.

Not a fan of this. Medicinal hop bitterness has no balance and I detect flavors of grape skin, dark fruits and citric acid. The bitterness is rather persistent throughout the drink but the herb and medicinal hops drag on with the tartness. Grape children's tylenol syrup with burnt grains that ends bitter.

Rather well carbonated with a sticky mouthfeel despite being a bit thin. Lots of flavor for the thin body too bad it's not pleasant.

Ugh, the bitterness was there but not accompanied by any balance or pleasant flavors, I would contend that the malt is here due to the color and sweetness but there's no real mesh with the herbal hop flavors and odd citric notes. (1,072 characters)

Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
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. (543 characters)

Photo of BretSikkink
3.73/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Lightly tanned, frothy head over top of a clear amber-gold color. Decent lacing. The nose is quite floral, mostly on the hoppy side, with a hint of sweet malt. Lots of fruit here.

The flavor is similarly light and pleasant. Sweet overall with enough berry and citric fruit to make it interesting. Good use of a British yeast to add a little complexity, but overall it's pretty middle of the road. Not a bad session beer. (422 characters)

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

Acquired this from TheManiacalOne so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!

A: This beer pours a hazy burnt orange color with a one finger of white sudsy head. Head retains nicely leaving ringlets of lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is bready, yeast, grain, caramel malt and a hint of grassy hops.

T: Taste starts with with a caramel and pale malt flavoring that quickly lends in to the bready, toasted flavoring that fills out the middle. Subtle grassy and a hint of floral hops finish out this beer.

M: Light body, medium carbonation, crisp with a clean, dry finish.

D: Goes down easily, decent representation of the style, not a blow your mind away beer, but a nice one to sit with for a bit. (692 characters)

Photo of Bierguy5
3.9/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz can. Pours a clear light copper color. Creamy off white head. Nice retention and lace.

Bread like malt aroma. Maybe even a little doughy. Slight amount of fruit. Floral and herbal hop aroma, however slight.

Soft bready, slightly toasty malt. Some caramel. Fruity undertones, but still clean. Balanced very well with some earthy hops.

Medium body, lower carbonation. I really like this malt character. Nice beer. (423 characters)

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

pours light copper with a nice light creamy head. nice retention, light lacing

up front, floral and biscuit like. after as bit, more malty

nice and sweet. bitterness lingers through out with a nice floral hoppy tone that keeps this fun. has a very english feel to it. not overly bitter and could use a bit more but nice.

light and smooth, light carbonation. body has a bit of bite to it.

i enjoyed this up and down. easy to drink, delicious, and there are just not enough bitters these days. i cannot wait until this comes to MO. (533 characters)

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

Poured into a Nonic.

A: Medium amber with nice clarity and mild carbonation. A dense eggshell head slowly settles to a pillow of foam. Leaves a fair amount of lace.

S: The beer's strong suit. Sweet biscuits and black tea do most of the work. A light amount of diacetyl comes across as being about right for this style.

T: A toasted bread flavor starts things out. A well balanced pepper and black tea bitterness comes on quickly. The beer gets metallic late and finishes with lingering pepper and tea flavors.

M: The medium-light body is slightly dry and slightly over-carbonated.

D: This is a nice beer overall. Not the best ESB out there, but a very easy drinking beer that was quite refreshing after a long mountain hike. (729 characters)

Photo of JoEBoBpr
3.98/5  rDev +11.5%
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. (680 characters)

Photo of Ryan011235
2.88/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a nonic pint glass on 11/1/12

Very clear, rustic amber color with a one finger cap of foam. The head doesn't last too long, but leaves swaths of lace along the way.

The aroma is rather fruity with bready notions, too. Raisin bread, figs and hints of fruit cake. Earthy hop overtones. The taste has more of a hop push, but there are is a lot of toasted bread and mild dark fruit tones to off set any bitterness. All in all, it starts to come together with warmth. Mild hop grit on the finish. The feel is medium-light with soft carbonation.

Overall, this has grown on me. I'd like to give a shake on tap sometime. (628 characters)

Photo of pmcadamis
4.45/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - A big solid finger of creamy meringue froth rests atop this golden bronze amber brew. In fact, this beer is much the same color as the can when not held to the light. It's more gold when in direct light. The head shows some really nice retention and leaves a good deal of lace on the glass. This is a looker!

S - Sweet as hell in the nose! Brown sugar, maple syrup, mandarin oranges with the syrup and can included in the smell.

T - Again, sweet and syrupy. Brown sugar and maple syrup with some mandarin orange hop tones. Starts out extremely malty with a lot of complexity, and it's really hoppy and fruity on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, pretty dry, and conservatively carbonated. The finish is a work of art! The dry grainy and gritty feel is complimented by the smooth carbonation and round but not quite full body. Awesome!

D - I'm in awe of this brew...and it's in a can! A kick ass session brew, and one of the best ESBs I've ever had! Honestly, this may be my favorite session beer of all time...other than Dead Guy. (1,035 characters)

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. (354 characters)

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