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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 32 |  Reviews: 26
Reviews by joecast:
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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More User Reviews:
Photo of CrazyDavros
3.64/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours orange/amber with a quickly fading head.
Nose shows a fair whack of hops, quite piney, spicy, resinous and earthy, along with a hint of tropical fruit. Underneath is a nice load of crystal malt.
Similar flavours but with an aggressive bitterness that shows up early in the piece. Could be an IPA really: enough caramel malt, enough juicy and resinous hops, all followed by a bold bitterness. Finishes a bit sharp.
Carbonation is suitably high.

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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 spicelab
4.19/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Burnt Amber, not a great deal of carbonation, however a resilient minimal almost gold head remains throughout.

Guava, Peaches, fruit slushies, a touch of lime. Wow, the candied toffee and treacle is big! Awesome stuff.

Caramel malt and marmalade bombard the front palate, fruit builds later with the bitterness, which is, um, pleasing.

Surprisingly full bodied for the ABV, drying and bitter in agreeable proportions.

Drinkability is high without a doubt. This epitomises what Australia does well. Only real criticism is elements aren't as balanced as they possibly could be.

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

This pours a murky dark golden colour with a thin covering of fluffy slightly off white head.

First aroma hit is resinous hoppiness. Behind that is some tropical fruit - pineapple? A vague maltiness.

And on the palate: well there's the malt and a whole world of hops. Much hoppier than I would normally expect from an ESB but in a good way.

A good whack of bitterness.

A very nice beer but I think some might be surprised if they were expecting something more in the vein of Fullers. A lot more American influenced.

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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 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 mulder1010
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330 ML poured into a Tulip. Retired??? Guess not
Thanks to Triple 5 for the beer

A-- Poured a hazy orange amber color. Some sediment in the pour. Off white one finger head that has some decent life, couple of minutes, before becoming a good layer of film. A little bit of spotted lacing.

S-- Carmel, candied Orange, passionfruit, and a small bit of grapefruit. Nose gets stronger as the beer warms up. Candied orange smell gets bigger.

T-- Carmel, Orange, and ripened grapefruit. Taste buds say this is a Pale Ale, not an ESB.

M-- Creamy but but a big and rich taste. Medium carbonation. Grapefruit gets more aggressive in the mouth. Good amount of carmel sweetness to go along with the grapefruit.

D-- Easy to drink and can not get tired of this beer. One of the best produced in Australia. Probably closer to an APA than ESB but does it really matter. Good beer either way and has a lot going on for a lower end ABV (5.2%).
So glad that they finally bottled this beer. if it can only get up to Sydney.

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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 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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Photo of bylerteck
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%

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 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 ADZA
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First things first i love the revamp of this bottle/label it looks pretty classy,this brew pours a beautiful non see through light copper looking hue with nice carbonation that leaves behind a creamy one finger head that stays with sporadic lacing,the smell is really fruity with aromas of stonefruit,citrus and some caramel,the mouthfeel is medium bodied and perfectly carbonated with the stonefruit taste first on the palette followed by some grapefruit,orange zest,lime,toffee and finishes with a nice bitter kick that makes you want another sip and overall a very decent drop and probably one of this breweries best beers that i have sampled and will definately always have a place for in my fridge.

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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 Kornoms
4/5  rDev +6.7%

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

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 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 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 jarmby1711
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I just love this beer. It is chock full of hoppy fruit with passionfruits leading the way.
It is lightly carbonated and not particularly bitter which mkes foe easy leisurely drinking.
Its darkish gold olour looks the part.
The sooner they get this in a bottle the better

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Photo of DrNo
3/5  rDev -20%

Photo of XsoldoutX
3.25/5  rDev -13.3%

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