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 beergirlblog
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer pours a hazy orange, and smells like grilled sweet peaches. It tastes sweet and smooth, with flavors of caramel, dark honey, grapes and peaches, and wraps up with a nice, light hoppy bitterness that was well balanced in with the other flavors. Everything about this beer was really well put together-- it was lightly carbonated and felt smooth in the mouth, and I probably could have guzzled it. I was wary to try an ESB but it was a great introduction to the style and something I'll definitely order again. It's a pretty fantastic beer, something I've been recommending to people who are wary to try something too much in any direction.

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

Served on tap at Barcade in Brooklyn, NY.

The appearance is a light to medium brown color with a decent sized head. The smell is a bit peppery. It tastes full-bodied, some different flavors on the palate. The mouthfeel is strong and present. This beer would go well with a burger. A very enjoyable ESB drank in a fun environment.

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Photo of jdg204
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

My 2nd brew review from Porters Pub earlier this week. Hadn't really heard about this one before going in, but after my Founders Porter nothing else caught my eye on tap, so I gave this a shot.

A: Poured a golden-bronze with a thin white head that left a considerably amount of lacing despite its small nature.

S: BIG caramel sweetness, some honey and a light floral hopping.

T: The flavor was sweet toasted grains and caramel with a decent citrus hopping lingering in the background. The bitterness was light but noticeable and balanced well.

M: Good, smooth consintency with a light bitterness and light carbonation.

D: Pretty solid brew, I was glad I tried it and proud to see it was relatively local. Not one to go out of your way for, but definitely worth a shot if you see it on tap.

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Photo of hopdog
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the 2004 Kennett Square BF.

Poured a medium orange color with a small sized head. Aromas of oranges, a little fruity (I was getting apples), and some malitiness. Tastes of citrus, the same light fruitiness, and a little eartyh. Very lightly bitter.

Notes from: 10/11/04

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Photo of gdfan47
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

note: according to the climax webpage the abv for this beer is 5.5 ABV

A- pours a nice chesnut brown with a small but inviting white head, and lacing that hung out for awhile
S- toffee, hops, sugar, malt, honey
T- hops, honey, some malt, finishes with more hops, a little yeast
M- good carbonation , a good amount of hops, very pleasant on the tounge
D- just a good domestic interpretation of a bitter, a nice beer to drink alot of , not overly complicated but the hops really shine to and make it a great thirstquenching beer

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Photo of Nickls
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured with a decent white head that didn't last too long. Somewhat hazy golden deep orange color

S - Bit of a fruit aroma, with some citrus hoppiness. Not a whole lot to detect here, and very subtle.

T - Solid hop bitterness, and dry maltiness. A bit of dried fruit in the taste

M - Thinner MF, and decent carbonation. Bone dry finish

D - Very drinkable with some good solid ESB qualities, and definitely the dry finish demands another

Overall, this was a very good interpretation of the style and I will definitely revisit.

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Photo of Sigmund
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Cask at the Great British Beer Festival 2008, gravity dispense. ABV was 5.5%. Golden brown colour, no head. Moderate aroma of fruity hops, notes of blackcurrants. The flavour is first malty with notes of honey and caramel, then a hoppy bitterness takes over and lasts through the aftertaste - fruity hops first, then a "dusty" finish."

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Photo of bonbini26
4.23/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours a medium shade of orange with a thin head

S- Nice aroma of caramel malts and bitter hops together

T- The taste was of caramel, toffee and floral hops. All very fresh and very well-balanced. It was medium-bodied. A touch of alcohol came through. The taste was perfect for the style. Everything was very well-balanced.

M-D- The flavors were well-retained and it was very smooth.
This is a true classic and a wonderful, traditional interpretation of the style, one of the best ESB's ive had to date

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Photo of dacrza1
3.62/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I brought this growler to the PSU Brew Fest 2008 with the hopes of showing Ryan that NJ brewers aren't sleeping in the shadows of their Pennsy counterparts... cloudy orange brown bosy with slow effervescence... thick and chunky head that settles to a thin stable white line... slightly aromatic, softly malty balanced bouquet... bubbly, medium-bodied crunchy body--yet drinkable in this basement bar environment... smooth with suggestions of soft nuts and butter... pleasant and peaceful witht the hints of spruce and honey--reminiscent slightly of the Polish mead we partook in at the Fest... capping off another successful Brew Fest, this cushions the palate and encourages another... tough to critique this interpretation...

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a golden-bronze with a thin white head that left a considerably amount of lacing despite its small nature.

S: a big caramel sweetness, some honey and a light floral hopping.

T: The flavor was sweet toasted grains, honey and nuts with a light flowery citrus hopping lingering in the background. The bitterness was light but noticeable and balanced well with a sweet honey finish and sweet toasted malting.

M: nice and smooth with a light bitterness and light carbonation.

D: More sweet then then bitter but easy to drink and enjoy.

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Photo of callmemickey
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Amberish with an off white head...

S: The smell is mostly malty, but has hints of caramel and nutty goodness..

T: Here the flavor profile is mostly flipped with the nuttyness taking the front seat to the caramel and sweet maltness..

M: Smooth and moderate bodied.. a little thin at times

D: Pretty easy drinking and has enough to keep interest for a second...

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Photo of ommegangpbr
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

As an ESB it works all around, though perhaps a tad bit strong for an ESB alchol-wise.
The textures, the flavors.... it all worked really well all around.
The drinkability here is excellent. There is a quality to it that makes one want to keep hitting this stuff, and for a 64 ounce growler that is a happy thing to have happen.
This sort or reminds me of a really well made cranberry juice cocktail given the flavors here. The textures definitely come from a beer. Juicy, bubbly, a nice fruit presence without making you think "Fruit Beer!".
Try it out for a spin if you can. Top of the food chain for the style.

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Photo of jwc215
4.52/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured orange with a thin, off-white head.

The smell was inviting. Caramel malt and bitter hops intermingled.

The taste was of caramel, toffee and floral hops. All very fresh and very well-balanced. It was medium-bodied. A touch of alcohol came through. The taste was perfect for the style. Everything was very well-balanced.
The flavors were well-retained and it was very smooth.
This is a true classic and a wonderful, traditional interpretation of the style.

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Photo of Billolick
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a growler purchased @ Shoreline Bev. Pours a nice light shade of almond, light tan head, leaving well developed sticky lacing. NOse is of doughy malts with some soft hoppy notes. This beer is an easy drinking Brit style ale, balanced, understated and smooth.Velvety and coating. Biscuity malts soft and sweet on the tongue, hops muted and subtle, but well present and in the rear. Nicely crafted, a fine sessioner and a treat for lovers of British style ales.

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Photo of BillyB
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer had a nice orange to copper color with a massive thick white head. Pleasant citrusy aroma and a nice balance between light citrusy hops and very mild maltiness. Light body with low carbonation. Very drinkable. The only drawback was the awkwardness of the growler and it was a little sticky from bottling or packaging but I'd certainly buy it and enjoy it again.

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Photo of Ego
3.24/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

with all the belgians and what not out there I decided to tap into a little local flave and check this out, this is so uber available here that I forget about it sometimes !

$8.99 for da' growler @ buy rite, edison NJ (no freshness date whatsoever.. grrrr)

murkyish light brown, amply carbonated, fluffy head retreats from the field of battle like a frenchman... a good enough lookin' glass o' beer over all

pine notes (like subtle amarillo hops?) with a metallic twinge, dark honey flowers, malt, some weak chocolate notes down deep in there as well, not an all day sniffer but solid notes abound

taste etc...
starts with a full mouth feel but goes watery on some sips (on other sips the carbonation seems to take care of the watery sensation), very light and drinkable.. not too bitter at all imo, more towards the sweet, it somehow reminds me more of german malt beers than ESBs that I normally tap into (the usual: Fuller's, Adnams, Anderson Valley), the bitter notes are very hard to pick out from the sweet malt flavor, you almost have to "work" to get to any bitterness.. for me that is a dissapointment, this is supposed to be an "ESB" after all. it isnt that the beer tastes bad at all but it certainly is lacking in punch where it counts for this style.

the drinkability is quite good and the beer is enjoyable despite it not having the real bitter notes accustomed to the style. I would not go out of my way for this one as much better ESBs are very common.

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Photo of quasimoto
2.98/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It had a nice head on it, and smelled sweet and citrusy. The flavor though was unexpected. For an E.S.B. it was way too sweet. I narrowed it down to the flavor of a "bit-o-honey" candy. Could I drink this all day? No, it's way to thick and sweet. Do I enjoy it? With out a doubt. Even though It had a very "un-E.S.B." (or what I'm used at least) taste to it, Mr. Hoffman can brew a good beer.

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Photo of palma
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Barcade, Brooklyn. Cloudy amber with an orange hue. Nice size white head.
Smell was an unexpected pleasure. This beer has a stand out awesome fruity and floral aroma. Taste was exceptional as well. Caramel malt is very apparent with a pretty strong hop flavor following. Probably not the hoppiest ESB I've ever had, but up there, and still makes for a great session beer.

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

First of all, when the reviews say 64-oz. bottle, they mean a growler. Yes, unrefrigerated and sitting on a shelf, I bought a growler. That does not inspire confidence.

This is a good and solid beer. It has a nice amberish color. Some head up front which disipates.

The hops impart a nice citrusy flavor. The malt blends very well with the hops flavor. It's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. I want to mark it a little higher, but my gut is telling me no. Maybe it is just my reaction to that particular flavor. The malt should be more distinguishable up front. Most of the flavor is in the aftertaste.

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Photo of Dantes
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Package: 64oz. growler

Presentation: Beer mug at ~45º

Cost: $6.99 at Bottle King; $8.25 at Artisan

Appearance: An amber-brown semi-cloudy body similar in color to buckwheat honey. Generated a medium to large-gauge bone-colored head of moderate longevity. Head dissolved into a thin, lacey film.

Smell: An aroma that brings to mind an IPA more than an English Bitter. Nice leafy, floral notes with contrapuntal maltiness. Relatively weak aroma makes me think that the taste will be somewhat watery.

Taste: OK, so the nose wasn’t up to snuff today. No faintness of flavor here! A fairly complex fugue of flavors occurs in the mouth. Again, the hops are dominant, more in the British astringent style than the American citrusy way. A certain degree of “green” flavors leavened by some nuttiness, malt sweetness, and some faint biscuit (I wish there were a bit more). Definitely an ESB that shades to the IPA side. Has a medium finish, with a good bite.

Mouthfeel: Nicely smooth with a fine carbonation that almost mimics a true cask IPA. Light- to medium-bodied.

Drinkability: A very nice session ESB that makes for a great afternoon’s drinking. I would be surprised if this had a high ABV. In fact, I would guess that it was lower than the Fuller’s at 5.9%. Tasted more like ~5% to me.

This beer impressed me. It was more complex and well-balanced than I expected. Does a very creditable job of fulfilling the criteria of an ESB, while incorporating a few new twists. Reminded me a bit of Fuller’s IPA, which is almost more of a hoppy ESB than an IPA. Overall, not as good as Rogue’s Brutal Bitter, but probably better than Redhook ESB, Yards’ ESA, or Belk’s ESB.

Bottom Line: While not the best ESB either from America or Britain, this is definitely something of which New Jersey can be proud. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of ElGuapo
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A hazy orange colored brew with a nice white head that will remain on top for a bit and leave lace all over the glass. Nice hoppy aroma blended with fruits and citrus.

A very unique hoppiness dominates this brew. It later balances with a nice malt sweetness. Grains come in a bit, but the hops are really the winner here. There is a bit of orange that seems to blend with the hops all the way through. It is very smooth. The carbonation is light, which I thought would hurt such a hoppy beer, but it surely did not at all. A wonderful brew.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.67/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a half-gallon growler

Day one:
An orangey, slighty hazy body topped by a tidy, foamy white head. Excellent lacing. A very citrusy aroma: grapefruit, some lemons. A sip rolls across the tongue, sometimes alternating malt and hops, sometimes simultaneously. There is a sense of caramel to the malt, and the citrusy hops, but the beer is actually difficult to break down into components. Hop twang is strong, but not overpowering. Extremely smooth texture. I'm going to have to get down to my in-laws place more often, since I can't find this close to home or work. Everytime I have it, I appreciate this gem more.

Day two:
Aroma is now much more floral. The taste smoother. more traditional, as yesterday it hinted at IPA. Still great, just different. Next fresh growler, I may let breathe a bit.

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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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