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

very good
643 Ratings
no score
Send samples
Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer)

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

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.90%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 01-09-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Ratings: 643 |  Reviews: 573
Photo of nrpellegrini
2.4/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle poured to serving sample.

A: clear orange color, thin tan head
S: strong smell, hoppy, amber
T: full up front hoppyness, bitter, fades to bad bland aftertaste
M: not good, huge carbonated bite
D: can't be to easy with all that carbonation shocking the mouth

I'm glad I didn't have more than the serving sample.

 319 characters

Photo of JAHMUR
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

Photo of jophish17
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

Photo of mightyhef
2.55/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

a light copper appearance...sweet smell that wasnot apparent at all in the taste...a malty ESB that doesn't rise to the top of the pack. Overall a weak sister to western ESB's with not a not of hop bitterness. This might be a good session beer as an intro to the style.

 269 characters

Photo of seanyfo
2.55/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

33cl bottle poured into imperial pint glass.

A: Pale cloudy blonde body, full creamy 3 finger head, reducing quickly with poor lacing

S: Faint hop floral notes, nothing leaping out

T: Flavours very subdued, a floral citrus quality with a dying faint biscuit malt, watery finish

M: Refreshing although watery

D: Poor subdued flavours make this pretty forgettable, although crisp and refreshing. Boring

 405 characters

Photo of goodbyeohio
2.57/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz stubby, new to CT.. new in bottles, methinks. label design is SN-revamp, along the lines of the harvest (font, shield, etc.).

brilliant clear gold with orange hues, zesty. impressive lacing in thin-yet-clingy sheets. the nose reeks of soggy cereal left in the sink overnight with a pat of butter on top. perhaps a saving sliver of toasted almond. body is nice enough, flavor disappoints with a weird sharp bitterness. i like my esb's bitter, but it seems the use of american hops alongside milder british ones throw a lemony edge into an otherwise subtle beer... bitter in the wrong way. ends up leaving me with a sour face, much like a skunked macro lager. warmth evens the thing out a bit.. still, overall.. this beer suffers because it's american and because it's sierra nevada making it. not enough roasted fullness, not enough earthy malt.. seems like the pressure to 1) make it sessionable 2) live up to the sierra name (ie: pale ale) and 3) make it crystal clear killed the concept before it even had a chance to fight for its life. bought two bottles of this and really have no idea what i'll do with the other one.

 1,129 characters

Photo of wheelinshirt
2.66/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz stubby bottle, pop off cap, poured into a pint glass.

Very clear amber with a modest off white head that has moderate retention and lacing. Nothing bad here, but it just seems very...sterile.

Smell and taste didn't do anything for me, taste was a bit too bitter and didnt have a rounded malt sweetness. This one seemed to be too highly carbonated with a medium thin mouthfeel that, combined, made it a bit harsh. Didn't like this one.

 442 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
2.91/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. stubby, unfiltered. Brewed with two-row, Maris Otter and crystal malts; Challenger for bitterness, Challenger and East Kent for finishing, dry-hopped with Challenger, Crystal and US Goldings. It pours a lightly-sedimented orangey amber, with medium carbonation and an inch of light-tan head that lasts for some time. Resiny hops and traces of grassy malts in the nose, with a late sweetness. On the palate, sharp orange peel and earthy/resiny flavors from the hops impart way too much bitterness and mask the malts. Nowhere near balanced, and even a bit watery at times. It has a medium body, crisp and tingly at first, with a dry finish. This is too bitter to be an easy quaffer; if it had a thicker body or more sweetness it would be much better. I'm a fan of Sierra Nevada, but this one is not for me.

 811 characters

Photo of bboven
2.92/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Beautiful copper hue, clearish with a thick lasting head. Nice lacing to boot.

Way too hoppy for the style, although there is a nice biscuity malt here as well. This would almost work as an English IPA except for the very obvious American hop presence.

Great malt backbone as it should be, but way too hoppy for an ESB. I like it, but it's not to style.

Again, nice carbonation but way too drying for the style.

A great beer, great beer. But if they insist on calling it an ESB, I'm going to have to ding it for not being to style. Nowhere on the bottle does it say 'Extra Special Bitter', so they may be having fun with acronyms, but this site says it's so, so we'll rate it accordingly. All in all, though, a very tasty beer that I will certainly seek out again if it becomes a regular release.

 801 characters

Photo of JMScowcroft
2.96/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Look - Almost clear, reddish brown, definitely unfiltered.

Smell - Clean, refreshing, in line with other beers of the same caliber, not that distinct.

Taste - Bitter and crisp, goes down smooth.

Mouthfeel - Aftertaste is bitter and strong, stays with you a couple of minutes and then fades fast.

Drinkability - This is more of a one-glass beer than anything else.

 367 characters

Photo of AlphaKing414
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of Andrewtfox
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of rab53
3/5  rDev -21.5%

Photo of hwwty4
3.03/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've had this in my kegerator long enough. Poured a 12oz bottle into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a copper orange with a good 2 inch head that leaves some pretty spotty lacing. The aroma reminds me of a American Pale Ale mixed with a ESB. Big American hops present themselves on the nose. Big orange citrus, caramel, biscuits and just a bit of toffee. The flavor is just muddled to me. Nothing really stands out. Slight fruits with just a bit of toast and yeasty biscuits. The mouthfeel is fine. Thats about what I can say about it. Sierra Nevada puts out some great beers. This is just average.

 609 characters

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.08/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Eh. Who knows what style of beer this is, but whatever it is I'm not all that impressed, it doesn't really work for me. Pours an orange amber with an okay head that fades to a broken cap and leaves some spotty lacing. Smell is somewhat light and crisp and quite biscuity. There is almost a grainy meatiness too it, something a bit too savory (as opposed to swweet) for the beer. Taste is similar with that meaty graininess and a dry malt profile. Earthy hops clash with the very dry malt. Not all that bitter, there is a lack of sweetness to deal with the hops. The finish is slightly soapy. Decent body, and the mouthfeel is about right if nothing special. tastes a little bland, and the specific hops combined with the dryness and lack of sweetness create a confusion of styles that just doesn't satisfy.

 806 characters

Photo of HardTarget
3.1/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle Inspection: 2008 vintage. Notes Maris Otter malt, English and US hops, and that it's unfiltered. 5.9% abv.

Aroma: Bready yeast with a mild citric note, orange peel.

Appearance: Orange amber glass with some chill haze sports a thick finger of white head that lasts and laces a bit.

Flavor: Very mild, very well balanced. The orange note is there, a bit more pith in the taste, but not really experiences like a citric hop flavor. Malt is lightly toasted and there are some mild toffee notes. Mild mild mild, but what flavor is there is pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation seems too high and the beer gets a bit fizzy and light, it goes to foam in my mouth.

Overall Impression: Great session beer and one I'd like to try on tap, but I don't think I'm making this a regular beer in my rotation. The carbonation level borderline annoying and while it's a nice delicate beer, the flavors just don't do a lot for me.
Worth a try.

 933 characters

Photo of sliverX
3.1/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured a cloudy amber light copper tinged, film for a head bigger bubbles around the edges, little bits of lacing
smell is all cirtusy hops with hints of caramel and biscuit malts
taste all i really pick up is citrus hops, not balanced at all not to style
mouthfeel is bitter and drying, medium bodied
drinkability would be great if this was an IPA not an ESB...
was hoping this would be a solid ESB not an Americanized bastard...

 432 characters

Photo of PatrickJR
3.11/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Slight haze, a half a shade lighter than amber. Two fingers of light tan head with decent retention fall to a thin cap. Decent lacing.

S - Fairly odorless. Touches of tropical fruit and grass, with hints of sweet grain fading in and out. Bland, and not very ESB-ish to boot.

T - Pineapple-esque hop flavor starts the brew off. There is a sprinkling of semi-sweet, bready grain in the middle, though quite bland. Late palate citric aspects of the hops shine through with big emphasis on the grapefruit. Grassy notes pull through heavily as well before leading into a pith-like bitterness in the finish.

M - Medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation. Body is good, but I would prefer the carbonation knocked down a little.

D - Wow, pretty disappointing stuff from Sierra Nevada. Perhaps I'm looking at this too much as a traditional ESB...I'm not sure. For the style the hops are amped way up and it's a bit much for what could otherwise be a delicate brew. It's not bad, but it's not an ESB and furthermore isn't a melding of flavors that I find particularly tasty.

 1,130 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.15/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is kind of faint but contains citrus, caramel and some pale hops.

T: The taste is malty up front with flavors of citrus, caramel, nuts and some spice. There's a decent presence of pale hops bitterness that comes in quickly to provide some balance but it seems to lack harmoniousness. The after-taste is slightly bitter.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, clean and dry finish.

D: Tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, decent representation of style, although it's not a style that I frequent, there are definitely other ESB's that I would pick first.

 783 characters

Photo of eberkman
3.16/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3


Pours a clear copper-gold with a thick firm off-white head with excellent retention. Appearance is really where it's at for this one. Aroma of floral and citric hops with little else. Not much malt presence in the nose. Or on the palate for that matter -- again, this is a bitter, hoppy beer with little of the biscuity malt presence you expect to dominate in an ESB. Too unbalanced for it to be really drinkable. I finished it with no problem, but didn't really crave more.

As another reviewer said, more of a West Coast APA than an ESB. Really mischaracterized by SN.

 577 characters

Photo of MerkinMan
3.16/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Copper color -- very clear.

There is a very faint rotten smell. This beer is fresh, so I doubt it is damaged. On second smell, I could not note this smell again, but it does appear in the taste. This may be the quality some call "earthy".

Taste is nothing better than average. This is good beer, but nothing compared to SN's other offerings.

Mouthfeel is average -- body is nothing worth making special comments. Not thin, but not noteworthy.

I will finish the sixpack with no problem, but will not be likely to buy another. This beer is easy to drink, but very average. I would opt for Harvest Ale or the good old standby Pale Ale.

 636 characters

Photo of riversider76
3.16/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours golden with a thin white head. Decent retention,and good lacing.Aroma is of earthy hops,and spice. Body is medium with some carbonation. Taste is of grassy,earthy hops,with a malty,somewhat spicey finish.Not bad,but,nothing special in my humble opinion.

 259 characters

Photo of pmcadamis
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Honey/amber in color and slightly hazy in clarity, this brew lives beneath a fluffy three finger eggshell head. some nice foamy lace is left clinging to the sides of my pint glass, and head retention is outstanding! I'm sitting outside on my deck in this ESW (early spring weather), drinking this ESB and loving the way that the sunlight shines through this orange tinted brew.

S - Honey and orange marmalade on buttered toast. This has some light orange rind and sweeter apricot notes on top of loads of buttery diacetyls and toasty caramel malts. Pleasant aromas for a fresh spring day.

T - Bitter orange rind and tons of really leafy (like bitter salad greens) hops. After the initial bitter hop blast, buttery, salty, and sweet notes wash over the tongue, and the aftertaste is all hops.

M - Medium bodied and prickly. This has a very similar mouthfeel to SA lager in that it's dry to the point of almost being harsh.

D - Not so hot. I like real British ESBs better that this ultra-hopped American version. I think that ESBs should be more about toasted malts and powerful, but restrained hops. This is more like an IPA IMO. Not a bad beer by any means, it's just not what it could be.

 1,198 characters

Photo of brewerburgundy
3.17/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tasting notes from 10/26. 12oz bottle into weizen glass.

About the same orange-red, light end color of my homebrewed IPA that I had before this. Little cap of light tan foam. Good lacing. Low spice-like hops. Less aroma than my IPA and Great Divide's Titan. Ooh a little peach now. I'd better let this warm a good bit. Body seems very thin. Nothing remarkable unfortunately and thats the first Sierra Nevada I say that of. Bit o biscuit, assumed from the Maris Otter. All big bubbles around the edge. Little tiny carb though. The bread builds and the foam cap stays. Mouthfeel seems a bit heavier now. I won't buy this again, Sierra Nevada offers so much hoppy goodness.

I assume this bottle was quite old, bought as a single.

 728 characters

Photo of hopsleeroy
3.18/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The ESB poured a very nice amber-a little darker with some copper in it that the usual Sierra Nevada offerings. Decent head retention-look good in the glass. Smell was West Coast hops-piney a little grape fruit floral-you know what I mean. Flavor was malty, bready, and a bit of caramel with the hops balancing out. Put on the back of the mouth on the swallow there was on odd flavor to me. Something didn't mesh-almost a soapy kind of flavor. Each sip was good on the front and didn't taste so great on the backside. Big Sierra Nevada fan but not a huge fan of the ESB.

 570 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.82 out of 5 based on 643 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.