ESB | Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company

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32 Ratings

Brewed by:
Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company

Style: English Bitter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.20%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jarmby1711 on 02-29-2008

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Ratings: 32 |  Reviews: 26
Photo of Beginner2
3.39/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I always thought the ESB was about a sweet malt bill. I suppose HH can reinterpret and experiment with a dry-hop finish, but they run the risk of getting low ratings from people like me who like their salivary glands stimulated by sweet malt.

HH's ESB is reviewed in Roger Prosts' "300 More Beers To Try Before You Die!" (his sequel to the CAMRA classic), perhaps you should read his positive review.

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Photo of doktorhops
3.22/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hargreaves Hill is one of those breweries who I’ve glanced at and thought “their marketing’s too posh for my tastes, and I’ve got far too many beers to review as it is, so: pass”. However at the very beginning of 2017 I was staying in Yarra Glen (Victoria) and I stopped by for a pint. It was called HOA (which stood for “Hop Oat Ale”) and it was so delicious and creamy textured that I drank a pint in about 5 mins. Then I had to drive 500 meters down the road, so I wasn’t allowed to try any more beers, poo. Fast forward to today and I’ve decided to give them a chance starting with their ESB - which I deemed the hardest style in their core range.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: Cloudy caramel/amber body with a boisterous 3 centimetre beige head that ever so slowly dissolves leaving lace on the side of the glass. A bit on the cloudy side for an ESB, and that’s one heady, err, head… but otherwise OK. 6/10.

S: Dulcet caramel/toffee malts and a hint of earthy/nutty tones rounds out an ESB that certainly fits the ESB bill fine, however I wonder when the “new world” hops on the bottle label will show up… Christmas? Probably. 7/10.

T: Earthy and dirty upfront (too earthy/dirty IMO), mid-palate comes in with some OK nutty/caramel/toffee characters… then it sort of drops off there with a light herbal bitterness in the finish. Certainly no hops of note - perhaps a bit of hop fade here? But let’s forget about the hops and rate it as a straight up-and-out ESB: It doesn’t compare favourably to most UK ESB’s, but then it does beat out a few Aussie ones… TBH us Aussies seem to be shit at brewing ESB’s… which is a shame because I do love a good ESB, my ESP goes wild for ESB. 6/10.

M: At least the body has a decent heft to it - medium bodied with a thin but active carbonation. 8/10.

D: First tinge of disappointment from Hargreaves Hill after HOA with this lacklustre ESB, and I can tell you exactly where they went wrong with this brew: Relying on the hops to carry a style that is malt-driven - there’s a reason all the tastiest ESB’s work: The malt bill. In an ESB hops are secondary to a decent malt bill and this ESB doesn’t have that. It’s got a slight bit of playful caramel/toffee/nuttiness, but then it’s also got a bit too much earthy/dirtiness… then that light herbal blip in the finish - give me a decent fruity/floral hopping any day in an ESB - that’s where it’s at! 6/10.

Food match: Poultry dishes for this averagESB, think: Duck, goose or pheasant.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From bottle, pours a clear dark Amber colour with a good off white head that hangs around.
Aroma good hops, citrus, toffee, malt.
Taste pretty much follows the nose. Very nice.

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Photo of kol89
3.81/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look - Amber/Brown

Smell - Light Hop aroma, not overpowering but nice on the nose

Taste - A nice balance between the hop and malt flavours and bitterness

Feel - Smooth in the mouth, fairly light carbonation

Overall - Just a nice drinkable beer that is well balanced

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Photo of Mosant
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had a 330ml bottle. Impressive beer. Very much like an APA cross with a bitter.
Appearance : pours as a nice golden tan colour with generous off white head and good retention and lasting throughout the glass to the finish.
Aroma: what a cracker. Considering this is an esb I was very surprised by the high amount of hop aroma. The Brewer says it is dry hopped with new world hops. I like it. There is good citrus tones coming out.
Taste: excellent for me. Immediate stringent hop bitterness from the front to the back of the palate and this stays with you in the mouth for a good while until you take your next sip. The bitterness flavour is dominated by citrus, mainly grapefruit. Good mouth feel with a dry finish.
Overall : a cracker. Very surprised. Not like any ESB I have had before. Glad I have another bottle. I'll be saving if for a special meal. Give it a try.

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Photo of Refloosh
4.07/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of dgilks
4.36/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Clear amber colour with a small white head and phenomenal lacing. Really good looking.

Nitty tones fade into a lovely complex ester profile. Touches of stonefruit and dried fruit. Nice.

Complex interplay of stone fruit, light malt and bitterness. Excellent balance and a delightful ESB.

Medium body with moderate carbonation. Very good.

A really solid beer. Excellent flavour and certainly no flaws.

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Photo of admiral
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

An ESB with a hoppy bite to it

More dry and crisp compared to a traditional ESB.

Aroma and Taste of toffee, malt, caramel biscuit and a little bit of citrus, with the bitterness from the hops standing out at the back of the palate and in the after taste.

Nice and creamy mouthfeel with good head retention.

A very nice ESB - they have achieved what they set-out to achieve: an extra hoppy ESB (even though I personally prefer a little more malt/caramel in my ESB).

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Photo of XsoldoutX
3.25/5  rDev -13.3%

Photo of vandemonian
3.36/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Hargreaves Hill ESB is a weak flavoured but pleasant beer. Not much more to say.

A: Clear orange colour and a nice 4 mm head that lasts ok. 4

S: Grainy aroma. Not much going on, really. 3

T: Grainy with earthy malt and some subtle fruit hop flavours. It's weak, but pleasant. 3.5

M: Good carbonation. 4

O: 3

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Photo of joecast
3.35/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy golden, medium/low carbonation of many tiny bubbles. Thin off white head.

Aroma of sweet malt and some spicy yeast character. Very light earthy hops. Label states new world dry hops but can't pick em to be honest.

Taste is a lot more smooth with nice malt character and good bitterness. Quite enjoyable.

Interesting. A drinkable beer with nice balance and enough body.

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Photo of VinoBeer
3.22/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A let down considering the reviews of others on this site. Poor head retention with little lacing. Earthy musty nose with some floral hops and orange. Crystal city in the mouth that is kind of checked by bitterness but in the end is all a bit of a mess really. What a shame, not the worst beer around by any means and 15 years ago it would have been a leader in the field. Now it is a beer that is trying to be big and bold but is merely a glass of confusion.

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Photo of Kornoms
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of bylerteck
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%

Photo of DrNo
3/5  rDev -20%

Photo of danieelol
2.5/5  rDev -33.3%

Photo of DocDownUnder
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very good ESB, though it bordered a Pale Ale due especially to a missing biscuit-y malt flavor. Strong fresh hop aroma, and enough bitterness to pair with some spicy foods (tonight was spicy pork po' boys). I would definitely drink this in larger quantities.

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Photo of dansmcd
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Huge, soapy, retentive head. Clear amber body. Sticky globs of lace.

S - Mango, caramel, bread, yeast.

T - Again, sweet caramel malt up front, backed by bitter hop (galaxy?) finish. Good depth of flavours.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation. Crisp.

O - Great balance, full flavour. A top Aussie beer.

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Photo of LittleCreature
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Note: full review to come.

Appearance - 3.5
Pours a finger of cream coloured head over an orangy-brown body.

Smell - 3.5
Odd, musky, mango-like aroma with a little toffeeish malt.

Taste - 4.0
Earthy, floral and fruity hop flavours, substantial bitterness, biscuity, toffeeish malt-.

Mouthfeel - 3.5
Medium bodied, lacks the smoothness of the best English examples of the style.

Overall - 3.5
A nice enough beer, perhaps not in the best possible condition.

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Photo of heygeebee
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours copper, one finger head. Subsides to a film quickly, carbonation bubbles initally there, also fades.

Aromas of English malts, apricot(!) - some lemon.

Taste is light, delicate, malt driven, some toffee/caramel and in line with ESB traits.

Mouthfeel silky smooth - could have a lot of these...

BUT - not at the price - one mark off overall - at over $7 per bottle cheap it ain't.

Would be very interested to do an A/B comparion with Punch and Judy

**** EDIT****

Next bottle in four pack.... hello American Pale Ale / IPA style!!!! All hops and in your face flavours and bitterness. Not a good second experience. Serious bottle variation. Sad.

Have not altered review scores.

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Photo of Stew41
3.62/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Certainly not an ESB as we know it and correctly picked here as an APA. Front palate has stacks of fruit and passionfruit from the yeast and floral hops. Malt played a more subtle role for me. Dry finish with plenty of hop tang. Really good beer and would surpass the Pale Ale, although to my tastes the 2 share some similar qualities.

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Photo of juju7
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Was really looking forward to this having heard so much about it. Not sure how old it is as there is no best before or bottled on date. This may explain why I don't see those big passionfruity hop aromas others have mentioned. Certainly a little more hop aroma than I'd expect from a beer labelled ESB but nothing to be thrown off by. A murky, deep copper and a tight head. Bitterness is really there along with some solid caramel malt backing. Quite full and upfront. Finishes long dry and that bitterness seems to hang around for bit. Pretty damn good. A tasty beer for when you're in the mood for a UK style ale that's fresher than the actual UK ones we get.

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Photo of gulden
4.51/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Not too much head retention in this beer, but it's a good looking beer nonetheless. Good head to start off with, bronze body looks good too.

Smell is very enticing, good bitterness, quite a sharp aroma with a little bit of fruit on the nose. By no means the most amazing, intense smell, but it's quite nice.

Taste is very nice - a malt driven beer, as expected by an English Bitter style, but it's followed up with a big whack of something that reminds me of pineapple or passionfruit. Great hop bitterness too.

Very well balanced beer. Medium carbonation and full flavoured. Good bitterness on the finish.

Very approachable, and I quite like it - I imagine it would be even better on tap.

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Photo of burnheartsMKE
4.4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This isn't your typical "English-style bitter", it's a funky-fantastic malt driven, hop-focused something-like-a-pale-ale, but not, interesting and truly unique.

I get tons of sensual tropical fruit notes from the Glaxay-hops that really seems to be the vogue of Aussie brewers these days and for good reason, it tastes great! Bitter, fruity, dry, but with a sexy depth that keeps me salivating throughout.

In addition, this thing poured the color of peach puree and smells heavenly.

To keep up with this week's favorite hashtag - #winning

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Local Taphouse in Sydney.

Pours a pleasant reddish bronze colour, with a fine and creamy head. Nicely clear in the body, although it sits heavy and still in the glass. Minimal lacing. Looks nice.

Sharp, pungent and a little earthy on the nose. A hint of acidity which doesn't sit so well with everything else, but it's perhaps balanced by a caramel sweetness. The earthy hops are good, however.

Taste is smooth with only a little sharpness, that comes across as a little bit metallic and medicinal, especially on the back. Some earthy tones, but not as pronounced as in the aroma. Not as good as the nose suggested.

Feel is surprisingly light, and the acidity adds a bit of sharpness.

It's drinkable enough. Not great, but not bad. In many ways it typifies off the generic and reasonably forgettable Aussie craft beer.

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ESB from Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 32 ratings