Extra Special Bitter Ale | Climax Brewing Company

very good
52 Reviews
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Extra Special Bitter AleExtra Special Bitter Ale

Brewed by:
Climax Brewing Company
New Jersey, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-08-2002

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Reviews: 52 | Ratings: 88
Photo of KTCamm
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12/6...served on tap. Pours dark copper with high fluffy white foam. Bready malt nose. :Light caramel. Rich toffee and bready caramel flavor. Sweet first and then cemented on with a tasty bitter. Chewy. Really darn good.

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Photo of nmann08
1.74/5  rDev -55.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

From a bottle, pours a dark gold copper color; super carbonated with a big head that fizzes above the rim of the glass.

The nose is a mess from the start. It smells like rotten flowers and melted plastic. That is all I can pull out. I barely get any hop content. The flavor is tropical fruit, but more like fruit by the foot than fresh fruit. It is very sweet.

This is gross, I wish I could be nicer, but this is terrible. I am assuming I had a bad bottle given the high marks on here, but cmon?

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Photo of MikeWard
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%

On tap last night at Funcks inn Palmyra, PA. Part of a 4.5oz flight.

When I ordered this, I was asked if I understood what "cask" meant. Being a Brit, I had a fair idea. Was very impresed that the beer was served at room temperature. In looking at it, there were quite a few floaties. Body was yellow with a small white head which dissipated quickly and left only a small ring. Lacing was minimal. Got some bread and a sour vinergary tone on the nose, which carried over into the taste. I'm guessing this is not how it should be. However, It was actually a quite pleasant taste, and I've found that in the summer, I quite like a sour beer.

Overall, was okay tih this beer. Would be interesting to try one fresh and see how different the taste is.

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Photo of MDDMD
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-orange amber color with a large off-white head and great lacing

S-caramel, toasted malt, slight herbal, slight floral

T-caramel, orange, bready malt, floral,moderate bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation, crisp and smooth

O-very nice ESB with great flavor and balance, easy drinking

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Barcade in Brooklyn, NY.

Deep Orange, copper color with a pillowy one-finger white head. The sweet, caramel and toffee aroma seemed to jump right out of the glass. Loads of caramel malt in the flavor with a slight roast to it. A buttery smooth finish that rivals any ESB I've had. I don't know if I could drink this all night long as the sweetness might get to me, but I could easily have more than one.

This is one of the best beers in NJ, hands down. Spot on representation of the style and more importantly, just delicious.

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Photo of chicagoish
3.55/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Climax- ESB

A- Light dark/ orange with a frothy rockey meringue like head. Thick chunky lacing.
S- Light hints of caramel/ toffee malt. Not too hoppy
T- Mildly sweet caramel and toffee malts. Buttery shortbread biscuit and light floral sweet hops. .
M- Smooth! Buttery smooth malt, crisp sweet hops. All evenly balanced. Envelops the mouth with a creamy malty aftertaste.

Overall- I nice ESB

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Photo of claspada
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber liquid with a white head drops quickly to a ringlet that leaves some splashy lacing behind.

Aromas begin with toasted bread and equal caramel maltiness. Earthy hops are more apparent as it warms but by no means as up front as you would expect for an ESB.

The tastes begin with big caramel maltiness with some toffee complementing the toasted bready base. I don't get much bitterness or flavor hops except for a hint in the aftertaste of earthy Goldings style hops.

The mouthfeel is medium to full body with moderate carbonation. Finish is less than stellar; could really use some more balance of hop bitterness to counteract the malty sweetness.

Overall this is a very tasty, sessionable beer but a bit off in style for me. Sweeter, more malty than any other ESB I can recall in recent memory. More like a Scottish mild/Amber style than an ESB.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 07/28/12 notes. Had on tap at Jimmy's #43 on the LES in New York. 16 oz. pint glass.

a - Pours a hazy amber-orange color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bready malts, sour dough, grains, light toasted malts, light caramel malts. Nice and malty with a light sour twinge.

t - Taste mirrors the nose a lot. Lots of malts with a sourness to it. Sour dough and bready malts, grains, wheat, toasted malts, caramel malts, and burnt malts. Pretty nice.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Body is smooth and definitely easy to drink.

o - Overall a pretty nice ESB. Lots of malts, little bit of a sourness to it that some ESB's have. Easy to drink and worth checking out.

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Photo of 57md
3.57/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy light copper with two fingers of fluffy head. There is good retention to the head and rings of lace as this offering goes down. The nose is bready but there is also a disturbing soapy note as well.

The taste is hearty with grainy notes as well. This beer certainly qualifies as full-bodied. The finish is semi-dry with mild hoppiness.

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Photo of msubulldog25
3.91/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle from my new bud and trading pal, Rifugium... one of several 'locals' (for him ~ Philly-area) sent last week. Poured to a pint glass (aptly grabbed: my 'Yards Brewing' one).

A: Surprisingly light, a shade shy of 'amber' even... that seems paler than most ESBs I've tried. Lovely head, well over a finger of off-white froth with a slowly ebbing laziness. Loads of carbonation and plenty of goopy lace banding. Hard to beat the looks of this one.

S: Has a malty 'amber/lager' scent: bready, malty, slightly spicy, touch of rye, too (?). Strength is pretty good, a little metallic tinniness later.

T: ESB has always been a laughable misnomer for me, only because there are so many more beer styles (now) that DESTROY taste buds in the 'bitter' areas. Caramel maltiness and fruity notes (red apple skin and muscat grape) greet my tongue right away, only then does a woodier bitterness follow.

M: Very nice crispness, mild carbonation and surprisingly refreshing. Medium for the style, I suppose, but lighter-seeming on a warm/hot mid-spring day.

O: What a good change of pace this was! After a weekend spent sampling a fair number of tart sours and punishing, barrel-aged monsters, this served as a wonderful nightcap before heading to bed on a Sunday evening. Good balance and easy 'sessionability' make this a beer I'd love to enjoy again.

Thanks again, Derek!

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Photo of jrfehon33
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: It pours a hazy light brown with white head.

Smell: The smell is even a little bit sweet with a hint of malt and a little bit of honey.

Taste: This beer is very crisp and not very overpowering at only 5.5% alcohol. However it does have a really nice flavor with slight hints of malt, pine and honey. Well-balanced with secondary flavors in the after taste.

Mouth feel: This beer has a really nice amount of carbonation which makes it feel very crisp especially at a cold temperature. 

Overall: This is an exceptional ESB and incredibly refreshing. If you're a fan of this style of beer you should seek this one out!

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Photo of Rifugium
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First had: on cask at TJ's, Paoli, PA

This has gotta be one of the best ESBs I've had, if not 'the' best. Served in a nonic, a hazy copper color, brilliant cascading, topped with a thick, creamy ivory head; excellent retention and lacing. Nose was dominated by sweet, vibrant honey, with notes of biscuity malts and fresh grass. (Unfortunately this trait doesn't translate as well in the bottle, but oh well.) The taste followed the aroma, with lots of sweet honey, toasted malts, biscuits, cereal grains, light hints of fruit, grassy hops, crisp and sweet in the finish. Pleasantly smooth mouthfeel, medium body, very well-made and extremely drinkable.

Serve this one fresh...and cask conditioned!

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Photo of Knapp85
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a nice golden color with a white head on top. The head retention was pretty good on this brew. I found the smell of the beer to have a nice aroma of caramel and some light hops on the nose. The taste of the beer was really nicely done I thought. The flavors of sweet malts and the bitter finish worked well together. The mouthfeel was very drinkable and could easlier have serval back to back. Overall this brew is pretty good and I wouldn't nmind drinking it again one day.

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Photo of CHickman
3.77/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy yellow gold with a 1 finger white head that faded quickly, leaving pretty lame spotty lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, syrup, light citrus hops, grains, biscuit, wet bread, sweet fruit like sour apple; a nice sweet malty aroma overall with hints of fruit.

Tastes of sweet malt, caramel, syrup, brown sugar, citrus hops, flowers, floral hops, grains, biscuit, wet bread, light yeast, coriander, sweet fruit like sour apple, grape or pear, and a slight metallic funk; sweetens up like cider as it warms with an overall mellow flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, with very light carbonation, a light to medium body and a slight sour finish. A very easy drinking beer that's sessionable and quite enjoyable; not bitter at all and I was glad to drink some fresh local beer while in NJ.

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Photo of thain709
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big thanks to Jecker for sharing this growler at Ffej of July

A - Poured a golden yellow body with a touch of dark honey to deepen the color...a bright white head stands about one finger and recedes quickly to a ring...some patchy lacing

S - Rich, sweet, toasted caramel leads the way...some toffee and bready malts as well...hops are faint

T - Again the caramel is the star of this one but it's rich and toasted caramel that adds body and depth to the flavor of the beer...the toasted presence is also with some bready malts in the middle...caramel ends the beer with a sweetness but the hops are trying to come through...some bitterness is apparent

M - Medium bodied...nice carbonation...caramel sweetness with a touch of hop bite

O - This was a step above the other ESB I had at the party...the caramel in this one presented itself as rich in flavor and had a toasted flavor to it...I enjoyed that aspect of this beer...it could use a little more bitterness though

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Photo of orangesol
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Jecker aka Josh for this one.

A - Pours out amber orange with a small one finger tall white head leaving light lace down the glass.

S - Smells of doughy caramel malt, dulled grassy hops, toffee, and some faint citric fruit.

T - Starts off with a big sweet caramel malt kiss slowly giving way to a mix of toffee and dulled out grassy hops. The malt really controls this one but it never really gets to the point of being overpowering. The finish is more sweet malt, lingering for some time.

M - Medium-Light body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Very malty feel, lingering throughout consumption.

O - I liked this one. It was very malt forward and it could have used a bit more hops to help even things out but it was still plenty enjoyable as is.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Josh for this growler. Jecker joins the select list of good things from New Jersey.

A: The ESB is a caramel brown color. Still transparent, the ale gets darker but never ends up opaque. A white head comes with each pour.

S: The nose is syrupy, plenty of caramel to go around. Toffee follows. Hops are an afterthought, rarely popping up.

T: Maltiness is comforting, toasted and caramelly. The breadiness is sweet and dominant, standing out amongst the rest of the ale. Hops are an afterthought, allowing the caramel, toffee and breads of the ale to shine through.

M: The mouthfeel never shakes its malty base, chewy and sweet glass after glass. Not that bitter but the toffee and malts add to the extra aspect.

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Photo of BeerdedEric
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my Cricket Hill pint glass from a 64 ounce prepackaged growler. I got this from Oak Tree Discount Wine and Spirits for $9.99.

Hazy golden orange body. Not much of a head with the first pour, as the growler sat, it produced more of a head; creamy at first, then more of a frothy appearance turning more into a film and then a ring around the glass.

I get a sweet grainy citrus aroma; I'm thinking maybe grapes, but the grape smell goes away after the first whiff. Not a bad smell.

The taste is in your face! The grapes definitely come through right away with grainy malt in the middle leaving with a sweet but very tart finish.

Carbonation definitely has some bite! Not a bad thing as it works well with this. Leaves the lips slightly sticky. Very easy going down despite the high carbonation. It leaves the mouth feeling dry from the tartness but moist.

I have to say this is quite tasty. Bitter, sour, tart, yet sweet and all in your face -- or mouth. Definitely a interesting ESB and worth every penny of my money spent.

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Photo of rgirl
4.92/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Climax ESB, my favorite example of this relatively obscure style!

A: Poured from the brewery filled growler into a pint glass. Nice sandy deep amber honey color with a very active white bubbly head. Very nice hazy unfiltered appearance with a great active, shimmering quality when held up to light. A nice amount of lacing remains inside the glass for the duration of the drink.

S: Prominent bready yeast and malt profile in the nose with some light spice and a light hops balance also apparent.

T: Wonderful! There is a beautiful malty flavor balanced by the complexity of the lightly floral hops and a nice honey sweetness that reminds me of non-processed raw honey. The taste finishes with a bready malt caramel and slight earthy bitterness that is wonderful This all balances very nicely as no one facet of the taste overwhelms. It's a great balancing act of fun flavor elements.

M: Medium bodied creamy goodness.

Overall, this is my favorite ESB of them all. It just may be the definitive version of the style. I've actively sought out this style after first tasting the Climax ESB at a gourmet coal oven pizzeria in Hoboken, NJ a number of years ago. It makes for a perfect sessionable pairing with great pizza or as a fine drinkable standalone at 5.5% ABV. I now regularly pick up the Climax growlers for our Friday evening pizza parties at home. Get hold of this one if you can.

Bravo to Dave Hoffmann for brewing a great beer! Climax is a true microbrewery and the ESB is their shining star. They are kind of like the brewery equivalent of a great local, tiny family farm.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Growler. Copper hue, slightly hazy, nice white head and lovely carbonation. Nose of dough, ripe fruit with hints of piny hops. Medium, smooth body. Bready malt, ripe fruit and earthy hops are nicely balanced on the palate. Long, earthy finish. Nice session beer.

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Photo of rfgetz
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a a nice orangy copper color, slightly hazed and creamy off white head from the handpump. Scent brings light carmel, biscuit, roasted nuts, light brown sugar, floral and grassy. Taste brings same components, wonderfully blended... starts off with a taste of toffee, brining floral and earthy hops on the backend with a nice biscuity backbone. Medium bodied, great cask carbonation. A true suprise, have seen around but never jumped on the chance to try, now I will make sure i have it on cask when i see it.

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Photo of Seanibus
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear orangy with a slight head. Aroma is strong and jelly-like, like a bitter orange Turkish delight. The flavor is smooth and light malty, like a smooth orange soda, though not sweet. There is apricot, some dark honey, and butter. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, mouthcoating and rich.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Barcade, Brooklyn, New York.

Poured a medium copper hue with a one half finger foamy white cap. There was decent lacing and retention.

The smell featured a toasted biscuity malt and a grassy hop. Touch of diacytl detected.

The taste was upfront toasted malts with a nice light caramel. The hops were grassy and slightly herbal in nature. Nice residual. Toasted malt.

The mouthfeel was typical of the style.

Overall a tasty ESB. One if the better ones available locally.

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Photo of timtim
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

really good esb here. gorgeous light orange/burnt gold with a very healthy, very dense, off-white cap that sits for quiet awhile and leaves big spots of lace. nose is spring wild flowers and soft caramel with a little cheerio tucked away in there somewhere. it's all in very impressive harmony, and the taste really proves it with the mix coming off as pleasant citrus marmalade at times and finishing with a pleasantly acidic bitterness that keeps the taste buds sensing for a really long time. very cool. beautiful, creamy, medium body with perfect carbonation for the style if you ask me. i give it a 5 for drinkability because i feel this is an exceptional beer worth taking note of, especially those of us within this tiny brewery's short reach. Awesome, totally true to style, small batch, gifted brewers, good people. what more can you really ask for? Sick.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
4.43/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Climax- ESB

A growler picked up from Joe Canal's (Lawrenceville) $12.

A- Light hazy yellow/ orange with a frothy meringue like head. Thick chunky lacing.
S- Light hints of caramel/ toffee malt. Slight mild floral hops.
T- Mildly sweet caramel and toffee malts. Buttery shortbread biscuit and light floral sweet hops. Nice hints of orange and apricot. Nicely blended.
M- Smooth! Buttery smooth malt, crisp sweet hops. All evenly balanced. Envelops the mouth with a creamy malty aftertaste.

Overall- This lived up to its high expectations of being in Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide. Only sold on tap or in Growlers. 1 of, if not, the best NJ beers out there.

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Extra Special Bitter Ale from Climax Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 88 ratings.
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