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)

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.

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Reviews: 573 | Ratings: 643
Photo of Sammy
3.72/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A well-malted ESB, with light grapefruit colour and a generous initial ivory head. Some hop aroma,centrally Fuggles, very toned down compared to your west coast IPA. Drinkable, middle mouthfeel. I have had bolder ESBs. Teeth sensitivity afterwards from hidden hopness.

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Photo of t0rin0
3.51/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass and produced a 3/4 inch fluffy white/yellowish head that disappeared quickly but left a little lacing behind. The color was a moderately deep copper color and was very clear. I would give it more points but there was so little head retention.

The smell was nice but very weak. It was of british malts and possibly some yeast but there wasn't much of a nose on it. The taste was pretty big for how little it smelled like anything. It had the typical ESB bitterness and there was plenty of pale malt balancing everything. There was a touch of hop flavor and it blended very well with the other flavors present. Its hard to tell what malts are used in achieving that nice color.

Very drinkable beer if you want something with a bite but not over the top. Very well rounded, would like to have it on tap sometime.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very upset to see this has been retired. This beer pours out as a really nice copper color with a fluffy white head. Excellent lacing down the glass. The smell of this beer was fresh and very hoppy. Floral and citrusy, very good smelling brew. The taste is sharp and crisp, very hoppy and really refreshing brew. The mouthfeel was light and clean. Overall it's a real shame that this one is no more. This was easily one of Sierra Nevada's best.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Well, Ive gotta admit this is not my favorite style by any means but I have yet to have a sierra nevada product I haven't enjoyed.. and I did like this one. Pours a light copper color with lots of little bubbles dancing and great head and lacing. While the taste is very malty, there's a nice kick of hops and bitterness still in there as well. While it wouldn't be my first choice for a SN product, this is one of the best ESB's I've ever had.. whatever that means.

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

Hazy copper in color with a finger of white foam. The nose is clean and mild with an earthy hop presence and a hint of toast. The taste mirrors the nose; very earthy, a bit of citrus and mineral. Biscuity malts come out in the middle providing a hint of sweetness, but this is otherwise quite dry. Very clean and crisp in the finish with a mild earthy hop bite.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a copper colro ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and great lacing. Aroma of dry English-style malt with some citrus hops. Taste is also a mix between some dry caramel tasting malt with some west cost hops which provide a citrus bitter finish which clash against the malt. Average body with some good carbonation. I cannot say I overly enjoy the mix between the malt and the hops and this is definitely not the best from a usually pretty good brewery.

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Photo of zeff80
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a hazy, copper color with good carbonation. It had a foamy, off-white, two-finger head that left rings of foamy lace.

S - It smelled floral and grassy. Also, notes of caramel malt.

T - It tasted very hoppy and bitter. Good roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This was really good but it tasted more like an IPA than an ESB.

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

One of my favorite styles from one of my favorite breweries it has to be great right?Poured into a standard pint glass clear copper with a bit of deep orange tint a white 1/2 inch white head atop that left broken lace as it settles pretty slowly.The aroma although packing a decent citric hop presence doesnt really hammer it home a little English biscuity malt presence and some iron as well but really it fades quickly,like a few others have noted the beer doesnt pack a whole lotta punch actually pretty mild.A mix of caramel biscuit malt and grapefruit-like hop flavors meld well but they just dont hit hard enough,a tad watery in the mouth and it seems to take away a little of the flavor.Hmm I thought it might be better its flavors are good there just isnt enough punch in my opinion.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In typical Sierra Nevada fashion, they've taken an English style beer and made it all their own (well, ESB is not really a style, but that's a discussion for another time). And I'm not sure how, but it smells like a Sierra beer as it's got a touch of citrus to it. According to the website, the only American hops in it are crystal, which is a Hallertau derivative, and U.S. grown Challenger and Goldings. It's certainly not coming from the Goldings, so it must be the Challengers; and perhaps some yeasty fruitiness (although Chico is very clean, but perhaps it's been fermented warm enough to bring out some fruity character - ?).

It pours a clear amber-orange beneath a creamy cap of off-white. The head retention is good and it leaves thin walls of lace that erode into tiny spots and splashes as you progress.

The nose is lightly citrusy, floral, and grassy over a mild, slightly biscuity and straight-forwardly grainy malt base.

More of everything appears in the flavor, but the maltiness really spreads out. It's just slightly caramelish, expressing softly crystalized sugars amidst a more grainy base. And that grainy base also remains in the finish ...such is Maris Otter. The hops are more grassy, and leafy, but still floral and slightly citrusy. The citrus appears upfront, followed by a wash of maltiness, and then rising bitterness and leafy/grassy hop flavors. As it crashes in the finish, drying bitterness emerges, and with it grassy and floral notes backed by dusty, grainy malt.

The body is medium, and it's got a standard carbonation.

Overall, interesting and enjoyable.

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

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a cloudy golden light amber with 2 fingers of billowy off-white head. Pretty nice looking retention that leaves just HUGE rings of sticky lace down the sides of the glass. The aroma is a well balanced and quite biting mix of light, tingling, earthy hops, citrus, and a sweet maltiness.

The taste is subtle earthy hops and tangy citrus, with a silky base of caramel sweetness behind it. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a slick oily feel surrounded by a fairly smooth and creamy carbonation.

This wasn't bad. The earthiness of the hop profile and realatively smooth nature reminded me quite a bit of the spring time. This should work quite good as a flavorful and thrist quenching selection well into the summer.

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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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a darkened amber body with a full, frothy white head.

Smell: Sweetish, biscuity malts with a full spicy scent and notes of leafy herbs and citrus.

Taste: Sweet toasted, biscuit malts. Spicy, herbaceous, and citrus hop flavors. The medium bitterness is distinct, though in no way overbearing. Lingering spiciness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Overall, it's surprisingly nice and would be a fine choice for a session beer.

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

Bright apricot that becomes incandescent apricot when backlit with morning sunshine. The firmly creamy cap looks fantastic. It's lightly toasted marshmallow in hue, and is almost as sticky, depositing loads of high-quality lace.

The nose is true to the style in that it features lightly toasted malt and herbal-citric hops. The fact that Sierra Nevada has decided to use American hops as well as English ones is defensible, since they're an American brewery and this is an American beer. A lack of power and personality keep my enthusiasm in check.

Early Spring Beer is not as good as expected. There's nothing wrong with it, it just doesn't reach out and grab me. Maybe because it's balanced to within an inch of its life with regard to malt and hop flavor. That isn't always a negative, but it seems to be in this case.

The malt backbone consists of sugar cookies and toasted caramel notes. The English hops (Challenger, East Kent Goldings) hold sway, though the brighter and more citric American Crystal hops contribute as well. Orange and pink grapefruit are especially prominent. On paper, ESB should be very good. In actuality, it's merely pretty good.

As they almost always do, the boys from Chico deliver the goods when it comes to the mouthfeel. It's medium-full for the style, with a firm creaminess and an ideal amount of carbonation.

Sierra Nevada ESB is a welcome addition to the lineup of one of America's finest, and most widely distributed, breweries. I hope they continue to tinker with the recipe because the potential for something extra special is definitely there.

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Photo of russpowell
3.9/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a semi-effervescent bronze with 2+ fingers of rocky pearl white head. Above average head retention & average lacing

S: Bready malt & citric hops

T: Biscuitty malt, citric hops (grapefruit & lemons). As this warms I get more citric hop action, dryness, a touch of honey & a whisper of grainyness. Finishes fruitty, with a nice spread of citric hops crispness

MF: Nice rich medium body with soft carbonation. Pretty fair balance

Drinks too easy, a pretty good Americanized ESB. More malt & fruittyness please

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Picked this one up at Whole Foods today along with a bit of Pizza. I figured it had been long enough without me trying it so in I went. This one poured a nice orange colored amber, a bit on the light side, but crystal clear. Very nice carbonation was evident with tons of bubbles springing up from the bottom of the glass. Nice rich head of white foam, perhaps three fingers deep was clearly visible from the top and slowly faded and left behind just a touch of side glass lace.

The aroma was full of hops, which I fully expected, but it was nicely done, and quite light with a nice grassy feel to it. Light grain and a touch of pine rounding it out nicely. The flavor for me was very similar to the Pale ale, which is a very good thing to be honest as that is a fantastic beer. Light hops that overode a light grain front. Really well done I have to say. Nice slightly citric taste to it, but much more earthy then I was expecting. Very nicely done. Nice dry finish and crisp clean carbontion just capped off an extremely sessionable ale.

Though I cannot say this was one of my favorites, it is definitly solid as everything they make really is. I will now go out and purchase a sixer of this, its totally worth it.

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Photo of smcolw
4.17/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Extraordinary head that dissipates slowly and rockily. Neutral amber color with a subtle chill haze.

Fresh, floral hop aroma; good lighter malt in the background. Attractive and inviting.

True to style, this is a realistic bitter that has strong American overtones (i.e. the style of hop). The malt provides a good starting point and okay body, but the bitterness is the primary flavoring profile. The bitter aftertaste is not overpowering but does last. Solid flavor without any extremism.

This is an easy beer to regularly consume. Perhaps this would be a good introduction for those who are wary of IPA's. Enjoy the bitterness.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured cool into my Samuel Smiths nonic, picked this up at Quick six west on Thurs.

A - A light honeyed amber w/ a frothy tan cap. This ale instantly sticks to the glass and won't budge, it looks nice and inviting in the glass.

S - A very pleasing mix of malt w/ a noble English hop note. Very creamy aroma, slightly lactic w/ a hint of mineral odors as if this has calcium carbonate added in the mash.

M - So masterful in its balance - the textures are sweet, then spicy w/ slight grassy and piney hop textures.

T - The creamy flavors are nice at first, but become off putting as it is continually tasted. Not enough to spoil the delicious flavor overall, it is clean w/ a deft use of sweet fruity malt and English style yeast. The hops make this an excellent Western American tribute to the Special English style.

D - So good it shows that SN still has the notion that English styles that put them on the map or at least the American interpretation thereof is still alive in the brewhouse in Chico. I consider this a great product for those who want to experiment by trying an ESB. It is a style that deserves more focus and respect in these extreme high/low end abv/style times. I can say that I would drink this year round since it has such great balance - I have always loved Esb's since I had Fuller's for the 1st time almost 13 years ago.

 1,350 characters

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

From old notes.

A: The pour is amber-orange in color with a large white head and some streaky lacing.

S: Very crisp on the nose. Clean citrus hops, toasted malts, and a nice clean breadiness. Some yeast notes to it as well. I also pick up some floral hops and maybe just a touch of grass.

T: Decently bitter with good citrus, floral, and grassy hop flavors. Clean bread and toasted malt flavors to go along with the hop profile. A touch of yeast and slightly dry on the finish.

M: Medium in body with a moderate carbonation.

O: I really liked this beer and I wish that Sierra Nevada hadn't retired it. Really easy to drink and good clean flavors.

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

Caramel tinted ruby malts with a large deep beige head, rings of lacing settle with each sip. The combo of the English malt and American hops reminds me of the Boulder Beer Cold Hop in some regards. Pine, citrus, and herbal hop qualities with mild funky caramel malt presence. Flavor comes off much more balanced than I was aniticipating and before you know it the glass is nearly drained. Sweet with caramel and biscuit malts with a mild tartness finishes assertively hoppy with citrus and pine hops bringing a fulfilling resinous west coast hop buzz. Mouthfeel is medium bodied evenly carbonated bottle conditioned slightly hazed light slick hop oils noted as well great drinking Early Spring Beer. Drinkability overall satisfying and flavorful a beer that may even be available in West Virginia. I enjoyed it and like I said it disappeared quickly.

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

Now you know I must have some love for Sierra Nevada if I put the Green Flash IPA on the "next" list and opt to try this one first.

An early spring beer you say? Well. It's January you know. Oh! Global warming, right?

Pours a clear golden amber with a nice creme head that is leaving some good lace. Minimally woody nose that brings just a minor earthy tone to it. Not much else going on besides that. Nice rounded flavor. Almost tastes like woody apples? There is a definite fruit tone there. Noticeable sweetness. Overall more earthy than any other defining feature. Feel is smooth with carbonation and the liquid is nice too. A pretty easy drinker, though there is a bit of an earthy edge. Nice production.

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Photo of jwc215
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle:

Pours golden amber with a thick white head that descends to a lasting cover, leaving some broken rings of lacing.

The smell is of a malty graininess (Otter Maris malt), lemony and slightly spicy.

The taste is a bitter tea-leaf, lemon and grainy sweetness combination. Pretty well-balanced.

Medium-bodied. Borders thin at times. Not bad, but nothing special, IMO. The blending of the hops seems a bit "off". The malt that peeks through is good but gets over-shadowed by a bitterness that goes in and out. Not bad overall, a bit restrained. I know SN to make better, tastier brews.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Acadia Cafe.

Lightly hazed amber hue, long lasting finger of foam.
Aroma of toasted malt, bread, notes of apple, citrus from the hops, more sweet than anything else.

All that arrives again on the tongue, more hops up front, a slap of bitterness, then fading back into toasty, caramel-y malt. lean bodied, with never ending flavor. Long finish.

Great session brew. Nice one.

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Photo of Tone
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy, copper color. 3/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells strongly of hops, some sweet malt, slight earthy malt, and slight spicy aroma. Fits the style of an ESB. Mouth feel is smooth and slightly thick with an average carbonation level. Smoothness is easily the most dominate feature; throughout the beer the feel is amazing. Tastes of hops up front, slight spice, some fruity flavors are noticeable, then the earthy malt come through. Wow, another great brew from SN. Well blended (bitterness is low for a Sierra Nevada), smooth, and the flavors are complex. This beer is definitely worth the wait and worth trying.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

04/09/08- Purchased at Safeway in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with no freshness info found. Poured into my Sierra Nevada Summerfest pint glass.

Appearance- Deeper golden colored pour. About a 1/2 inch head with relatively good staying power. Leaves behind light streaks and spots of lacing.

Smell- Quite bready in malt category, but also a nice light pine and sour grapefruit nose.

Taste- Pretty much on cue with the nose except the malt tastes less bready than expected and the hops are more pronounced with quite a large pine flavor. Oddly I get a ocean kind of taste, or shall I say it tastes like what the ocean smells like. Not sure if that adds to the intrigue or subtracts.

Mouthfeel- About the average carbonation level with a decent bitter bite in the aftertaste.

Drinkability- Sierra Nevada did a pretty good job with this seasonal. Pretty much fits the description of an ESB and may lead me to buying a six pack down the line. A nice drinkable beer.

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Photo of Gavage
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a clear light orange color. A thick and fluffy 2" head lasts quite a bit and some thick lacing paints the glass.

Smell: malt sweetness and some soft hop bittereness is what the nose pulls in.

Taste: bready malt, grapefruits, caramel, and a mild bitterness make up a straight forward and enjoyable session beer.

Mouthfeel: crisp from start to finish. Short bready aftertaste. Medium bodied.

Drinkability: easy to quaff session beer. Several of these can be had back to back without getting bored.

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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.82 out of 5 based on 643 ratings.
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