McNeill's Extra Special Bitter | McNeill's Brewery

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McNeill's Extra Special BitterMcNeill's Extra Special Bitter
Very Good
118 Ratings
McNeill's Extra Special BitterMcNeill's Extra Special Bitter

Brewed by:
McNeill's Brewery
Vermont, United States

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bierman9 on 09-03-2001

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 118 |  Reviews: 94
Photo of wpreynolds
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of swierczt
3.06/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of jmdrpi
3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

on draft at the brewpub

mildly hazy dark amber orange in color, white head. mild earthy hop aroma. taste is fairly bitter, but thin, biscuity malt flavor.

 157 characters

Photo of SABERG
4.13/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of patrick802
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Noelito76
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of scotorum
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the 22 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English tulip.

a: Nearly clear dark gold, huge white head dissipated fairly quickly to surface foam and some lacing.

s: Strong pine with a curious fruit or spice undertone.

t: Pine hops forward, if I had not been told this was an ESB I would have taken it for a stronger than average American IPA. Much too hoppy for an English style ESB, likely to please hopheads. Surprisingly dry finish considering.

m: Light to moderate, good body.

o: Difficult to rate this because it's a good IPA, just not malty enough for a good ESB. Maybe this is the coming style given the popularity of IPAs: an "American ESB." Or maybe the new definition of "Strong Bitter" is "Hoppy Bitter." In any case it seems to me this beer represents a trend of more and more American craft brewers brewing out side the traditional style boxes.

Creatively speaking that may be very good, because it means an infinity of different tastes. But one consequence of that is that buyers can no longer rely on getting any particular ballpark taste from any craft beer described as in that style by the brewer unless they have already tasted it. I'm not objecting to McNeill's ESB, it's a pretty good brew. But in my style book, it's definitely not a traditional ESB.

 1,284 characters

Photo of HRamz3
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of REVZEB
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of jealmanzar
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of OriolesFan1008
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of jaxon53
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of sammy806
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%

Photo of Kelp
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of sacrelicio
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of Willytee3
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour a light amber orange with one finger of cream color head. Large bubbly carbonation that recedes quickly. Little if any lacing.

Trace of smell is clean and crisp with slight Carmel malts.

High carbonation with a little bitter bite up front. OK mouth feel. Slight malt flavor through the sip. A little fruity essence not much, finishes bitter on the tongue and lingers. A little malty sweetness is present with nice balance to the bitter.

 445 characters

Photo of fuzzcherry
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of Trail
2.62/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

This beer is not my favourite. It's labeled as an ESB, but, um, it isn't. A fair amount of hops - it's hoppier than SNPA, and in spite of being called an ESB it has predominantly American-tasting hops. I think I'm detecting a fair portion of Nugget, Cascade and (I think) Newport hops, none of which are remotely English in profile. There's no earthiness here, and the only thing bitter-ey about this is the diacetyl... which is nuts. So, uh:

Appearance: Slightly below average. It'd be fine for an amber, but it's miles away from being pale. Cloudy, there's an insane amount of sediment in the bottle (and this is coming from a homebrewer.)

Taste: Not terrible, not great. This tastes like an aggressively average American pale ale, and the only distinctive thing about it is the elevated bitterness. No malt profile to speak of save a brief, well-rounded sweet tang at the end of the sip that gives way smoothly to...

Mouthfeel: There is so much diacetyl here I feel like I'm drinking this out of a theater popcorn box. The first couple mouthfuls were novel but by the end of the glass it's getting to be a Goddamn chore. I've had several bitters with significant diacetyl where it worked, but they all had less than this - and they also had less hop bitterness, and the flavor was therefore better integrated with the beer.

Overall, this is a disappointing beer - doubly so because a good ESB is so hard to find in the USA. I'll admit that I do have a very... defined idea of what an ESB should taste like (Fuller's) but this is so far outside the style that I don't know what they were thinking. Marketed as a Pale I'd probably bump the taste and overall scores up half a point apiece, but this mosaic of attributes doesn't work no matter how they're described. Pass, and I would have to think about it if someone offered me one.

 1,837 characters

Photo of bigred89
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of RoryOMoore
3/5  rDev -20.8%

Photo of jsprain1
3.71/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours about the lightest color that I could still call brown. Head is thin, off white, retains well and leaves good retention.
S- The smell is pleasing but is a bit one-dimensional with sweet grapefruit.
T- The flavors are a bit more complex. Up front is a wave of grapefruity hop flavor, but some light caramel and toffee flavors fill it out. There also was a bit of lingering peach flavor.
M- Crisp, yet it finishes slightly slick.
O- A good bitter beer. It was easy drinking enough and was both interesting and balanced.

 526 characters

Photo of djrn2
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of MattyMcGovern
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of bennway
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of dunix
4/5  rDev +5.5%

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McNeill's Extra Special Bitter from McNeill's Brewery
Beer rating: 3.79 out of 5 with 118 ratings