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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)
Very Good
643 Ratings
Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 643 |  Reviews: 573
Reviews by gpogo:
Photo of gpogo
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Slightly hazy deep copper gold orange with tannish head.

A- Citrusy hop aroma with malt background. Slight biscuit aroma.

T- Hits initially with a wonderful malt hop flavor, continues to a slightly caramel malt flavor followed by hoppy bitterness. A little hoppier than other ESBs, though this is a West Coast ESB and the play on the style is quite welcome.

M- Medium body, with a nice crisp carbonation.

D- A very fun ESB to drink. If it was a year round release I'd definitely drink this constantly.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of katan
3.34/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle from the 2009 vintage

A - Pours a dark golden brown color. Head formation is light and white in color. Must be bottle conditioned as there is a hair of yeast "floaties" in there. Very hazy.

S - At best I can detect something I would say is a caramel malt. It is certainly a malt nose, but I have to say its lack of this attribute is very disappointing.

T - Taste is mostly a malt flavor at first, which is backed up by a combination of bitterness and just a little bit of hop grassiness. Mid-stream shows a stronger bitterness. Aftertaste is very light - good quality for a sessionable ESB.

M - Moderate body - has some carbonation bite on the tongue. Does leave behind a nice coating and clingy body.

D - Fairly drinkable. ABV is manageable. Flavors are in balance and not overbearing in any one attribute. Palette weight is probably the least appealing characteristic of this beer as it is filling me up.

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Photo of soupyman10
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color with a bit of white head on top and then a bit of lacing. Nose is fairly mild, but a good bit of malt and spicy hops. Some caramel. Taste is similar, but stronger. Lots of caramel malt, some spicy, salty hops too. A nice tasting ESB, fills the style well. Feel is fairly full-bodied, good carbonation. Not much to say about this one. Very tasty, good body and feel. Another good SN offering.

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Photo of RichBeer
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of RoyalT
4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - This is another Sierra Nevada beauty shop. It is a nice and solid orange-brown in color with a terrific, full, slightly off-white head that rose on an easy pour, showed great retention, and left a solid lacing film on the inside of my glass. Just gorgeous.

Smell - The sharp bitters jump out of the glass. It smells like bitters that bartenders use to make mixed drinks. I can pick up some light hopping and a heavy malt base as well.

Taste - The bitter malt is incredibly intense at the taste, much more so than I was led to believe from the nose. There's a good leafy character to the flavor profile and yes we do have some mild pine for balance, but it's the rich malt flavor that defines this ESB.

Mouthfeel - This is medium-bodied and quite bitter. This is not that English-style bitter that is full of yeast and super sessionable. This bitterness is smooth but firm and to the point.

Drinkability - This is a quick smack in the back and not for the uninitiated. If you are looking for an ESB that defers to the Mild style of sessionability than get something else, but if you want a firm, solid, very bitter Bitter than this is hard to beat.

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Photo of AndrewMichael
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of Stunner97
3.62/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Amber to copper color, pretty clear with moderate carbonation and bubbles in the glass

Smell- lots of citrus and hops jumping off the nose more then anything else

Taste- Lots and lots of hops in this beer really jump at you from the start and again on the finish, hops are the overwhelming presence in this beer, actually was even maybe expecting a tad more malts in this one to match out the hops and to keep with the style, but overall not bad beer as one who enjoys a good hoppy beer

Mouthfeel- medium to light with moderate carbonation

Drinkability- This isnt a bad beer like I said and certainly very session able, I only wish had tad more malt presence to it then it did to get what I was expecting but that said still a pretty decent beer worth a try if you enjoy some of there other hop heavy beers

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A vigorous pour yields an almost four-finger thick, light tan colored head that leave only a light dusting of lacing as it subsides. The beer is a cranberry tinged, light amber color that shows a brilliantly clear, dark copper, red-stained color when held up to the light. The aroma has an interesting hop character to it, herbal, with a light, green, yet distinctly dank note of hemp oil, a touch of green onions. This earthy, herbal note is lightly accented by toasty malt notes, a touch of whole grain bread crust, and biscuit-like malt. As the other aromatics dissipate a bit a soft, berry like and citrus accented hop character starts to become noticeable, a sort of mix of lemon zest and ripe, sweet blackberries perhaps.

Herbal hops and pine flavors greet my tongue at first and couple with a biting bitterness that continues on through to a lingering finish. Fizzy carbonation sees to get in the way of the balance and texture of this brew, but that is taken care of by a few quick swirls of my glass. Light bodied, yet has a certain fullness to it that adds a touch of heft, the beer now finishes with a light, zippy carbonation that adds just a touch of texture to the end of this brew. Clearly a hop dominated brew, but there is some malt character here that helps to support the leading role; light caramelized malt sugars, a touch of toasty grain, and a browned, bread crust flavor towards the finish round out some of the malt flavors. The dominant hop flavors also lend flavors of menthol towards the finish, a wisp of green, spicy, hemp / onion flavors and a light, bergamot notes in the middle.

A tasty brew, it is perhaps a touch unbalanced with the sharply herbal, green hop notes, but not so much that this is not a quaffable, enjoyable brew.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

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Photo of ncvbc
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a good amber in color. Decent white head, steady carbonation. Smells mostly of English hops with a small American influence. A little skunky scent. Taste is at first of sweet malt, good fruit flavors taken over quickly by a nice bitterness. A grainy aftertaste. Medium body with good carbonation and oily mouthfeel. Good drinkability. Pretty simple but I like it.

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Photo of tjsprague
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is much less hoppy than most of the Sierra Nevada offerings.

It pours a nice light copper color with a light, thin, wispy head. There is a good amount of carbonation present on the side of the glass.

The smell is slightly floral hoppy but not much, no real distinct or strong aromas.

The taste is very well balanced. Unlike most Sierra Nevada beers the ESB is not high on the hops (for me at least). The main flavor is a nice biscuity malt flavor. There are some floral hop flavors on the end and a nice bit of bitterness, but I would say less bitter than the Pale Ale.

The mouthfeel is good, slightly dry and with a nice malt flavor.

A good beer for early spring, a nice transition into the lighter beers of summer without sacrificing flavor.

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Photo of mentor
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Four finger light tan head over a brilliant oranged light copper liquid. Smells earthy hops and musty malt. Some flat esters. Mostly old cut grass.

Tastes mild malt sweet with strong hop flavor and some clean hop bitter. Carbonation is strong and helps lift the thick liquid from the palette. Carbonic sting and flat hop oils keep it dry. Dextrinous mouthfeel and strong carbonation.

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Photo of mattster
3.26/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Opened 12 Fluid Ounce bottle dated 2008, poured into Nonic glass.

Pours a nice head of 2" with retains at about .75" of foam atop a copper colored ale with slight haze. Some lacing on glass.

Smell is of caramel malts, not much else on nose. Taste is of bitter hops with some malts. No citrus but a bit yeasty. Finish is OK, with some acidic tones. Mouth feel is somewhat disappointing, with a slight aftertaste.

Beer doesn't have the flavor I feel it should. Not a horrible beer, but average, at best.

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Photo of bpfrush
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of indiapaleale
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice, clean golden orange color. The head is about a finger in thickness and perfectly white. It has a yeasty and sort of malty smell at first before a nice citrusy hop smell takes over. This is dry hopped with a boat load of hops so its not that strange for it to smell pretty hoppy...that is a good thing, right?

It has a nice bitter finish to go with the initial malty sweetness. Its not over the top in any way and is a very drinkable beer. By that I mean its got a lot of all around great qualities. Its nothing too crazy but its not boring either. Sierra Nevada has impressed me with almost all of their recent releases, with the exception of that IPA last year, which I thought was rather dull. Their Anniversary and the Harvest Ale were both excellent.

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Photo of illidurit
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

32 oz pour into a big glass. Crystal clear copper color with a small but lasting white head. No lacing.

Aroma is grainy sweet malt with a little bit of floral hoppiness.

Taste is mainly light and sweet malt with a hoppy, dry finish. The hops are rather bland, lending bitterness but not really any flavoring.

Carbonation is well attenuated, and body is light-medium. Very easy to quaff but the alcohol is too high for a bitter.

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Photo of ScottyC
3.47/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Clear with a light caramel and orange color. Nothing too fancy going on here. Head is retained for 5-7 minutes.

Smell: Yeasty. Smells like the CO2 given off when wort is fermenting. Slightly alcohol and citrusy.

Taste: Rich, slightly bitter first taste. The bitterness diminshes as the beer warms and it finishes pretty smooth. Has a prominent earthy-hop taste which isn't overwhelming.

Drinkability: Not as thick as some medium-type body beers, so it goes down pretty easily.

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Photo of Shaw
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lovely light amber in color with a big, thick foamy head.

It has a light aroma of biscuits and bread.

The taste is very good, with big flavors of citrus from the hops and a nice level of bitterness. This is a much hoppier and bitter ESB than a traditional English take on the style. And before you think this is a hop bomb, there is a nice level of malt flavor in this ale.

The body is light but with a bit of substance to keep it from being watery.

Overall this is a very fine ale, which should be no surprise coming from Sierra Nevada. It is better than I expected.

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Photo of ajmoody76
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bought this at the local beer store. pick a six 12 ounce bottles. poured into an imperial pint glass. one finger white-ish head that thins out leaving a fine layer. amber color, unfiltered so is a little cloudy. looks good.

flowery fruity hop aroma. a little earthy boquet. no off odors. i like.

hop bitterness up front. crisp. some sweetness. a little hoppy maybe for style- but i like hops. the us hops dominate. bitter aftertaste.

low carbonation. medium bodied and leaves some lace. i like this beer. good first effort. could do session and would love to pick up a six pack of this. could be a little hoppy for an esb but i am glad this early spring beer is out now.

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Photo of Jae27
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard Grumpy Dave's pint glass.

A. Golden yellow with a nice creamy head. No carbonation nucleation. Yeasty quality to head, and yeasty bottom poured into glass. Cloudy from the yeast.

S. Mildly hoppy, no real strong aroma. Some pine smell came as it warmed up a bit.

T. Pretty delicious bitter hoppyness. A very light malt sweetness. Pretty nice mild floral taste, but not overpowering. Basically a well balanced ESB. Very enjoyable flavor.

M. Medium bodied. Light to no carbonation present. Nice nose, and finish bitterness.

Really nothing special about this beer. Nothing bad about it either. Some cool lavalamp-like effect occurred when I ported the yeast into the pint glass. You should try this beer at least once.

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Photo of clemtig76
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 release given to me by a neighbor. Stubby 12 oz brown bottle. Pours a cloudy orange/copper color with a nice white head and some sticky lacing. Smell is of citrusy hops with some biscuity malt. The taste is very hoppy but well balanced by the malts. Not an English ESB for sure, but a nice Americanization of the style. I think I will go get some more.

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Photo of Atch
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Light golden orange, 1/2 finger head that stays a bit with ample lacing.Some small bubbles coming up, good carbonation. Says unfiltered on the bottle, but it's pretty clear.

Smell: I get green grapes,unripened citrus.

Taste: Good tasting. Nice balance. I like the bitter taste up front and it finishes smooth/sweet almost in the back of the throat.

Mouthfeel: A little thin, but almost walking the coarse line if thats possible. For me, perfect carbonation.

Drinkability: Overall I like this beer alot. Sierra Nevada may not brew the greatest beer in the country, but they were pioneers and we owe a lot to them.

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Photo of cpmau11
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Sierra Nevada
Early Spring Beer 2009 (ESB)

Poured into a Stella Artois glass, Very nice head, creamy, close to two full inches. Body is a red-copper color, not fully transparent, but slightly clear, I think its unfiltered. Aroma jumps out at you from the moment you pop the bottle. Hoppy aroma with a hint of some kind berry. Great robust taste, hoppy flavor with some spices but not overwhelming. Slightly bitter yet smooth. Good mouthfeel, slightly warming to the palate. Alright drinkability.

Overall a great strong bitter beer from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
3.45/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a glorified amber, not really an ESB. You can tell from the color of the beer that something isn't quite right. The best ESB's have a copper color. This is more orange. Good head and lacing counter-balance that though.

Bottle says this has a mixture of American and British hops. I assume that means Cascade and something else. Cascade seem to dominate to us.

Unbalanced taste. I think a good malt and hops balance is a hallmark of a good ESB. This has very little malt characteristics. A good ESB has biscuity notes. This has none. Or at least none that is discernible over the hops.

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Photo of andebrice
4.72/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

ESB 2008 bottle. Just got this in the store so being a fan of both esb and sierra had to give it a go.

Poured room temp into a frozen mug (I really need to invest in some good glassware) shows a bright amber orange color with a white 2 finger head. The smell is sweet over ripe grapes a touch of nectarine a bit of grassy hops presents. The taste is excellent and very complex. I love the way this beer rolls over my tastebuds starting sweet malts fading due to the medium carbonation to a bitter piney hops finish and the mouthfeel leaves a nice sweet feeling all over my mouth, the bitter pine taste does tend to linger as more of a grassy aftertaste but my tastebuds feel so smooth and sweet then too that I dont tend to notice, or care. The carbonation is hit right on the money, not too thin and not to big, just enough to hit you with the hops when you need it. I would definetely drink this beer again.

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Photo of Liverpool08
3.46/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice copper red. Not much of a head and it disappears quickly. Pretty good lacing. Nice
malty smell. Not much of any hop odor like you normally see in SN beers. Clean taste, malty a little hops. Nice and dry and clean in the mouth.
Drinkibility is ok, doesn't have a lot of character to make me want to drink a lot more.

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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.82 out of 5 with 643 ratings