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

very good
570 Reviews
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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 | website

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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User Reviews
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Reviews: 570 | Ratings: 640
Photo of caminiti
4.38/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a growler at Westmere bev, $7, couldnt pass up, though I usually go for something more exotic via growler. Pours into typical stolen pint glass copper, nose a bit of pine, maybe, and some citrus, but hard to find (not much of anything) tasted a little less bitter than an ESB, but its an early spring beer, not a typical ESB. Feels a bit oily, but very drinkable. Im most of the way through the 1/2 gallon, and feeling pretty OK. Ive had it in a bottle, and as an exception, I think it was better in the bottle.

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

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a slightly hazy warm orange body with a thin film of tan bubbles that is supported by a gentle carbonation of big bubbles.

S- The soft dry green herbal hops aroma has a slight bitterness to it but is still pretty soft.

T- The dry crisp bite of hops have some dry earthy greenness to them and a citrus rind pungent note follows. The finish is a soft bitter hop note. As the beer warms there is a dry biscuit malt note that comes through.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with a crisp texture.

D The dryness of the malt really hides the great Marris Otter flavor but the hops have a good unique character that helps with the flavor. However the beer is pretty clean in flavor and the malt is even softer.

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Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Canterbury Ales, Huntington, New York.

Poured a medium copper hue with a one finger foamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a subtle hop spice and a grainy malt.

The taste consisted of a grainy yet sift malt and a spicy herbal hop.

The mouthfeel was of medium fullness.

Overall a tasty and well crafted unidentified ale.

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Photo of CHADMC3
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The copper body sports ruby hues and gives way to a big bubbled, foamy white head, which patiently dissipates leaving a frothy lace in its path.

Caramel malt floats from the head with secondary hints of spice and underlying sweetness, and hop bitterness at the end.

Immediate hop bitterness, likely floral, which the malt takes a back seat to in the palate. Not picking up much else here.

Thin to medium in body, medium carbonation, on the bitter side (no s**t), and slightly drying at the finish.

Not my favorite style, but a good example regardless. Not something I could drink much of, but this was certainly a good beer.

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Photo of mralphabet
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass

A: Dark amber color. About 2 fingers worth of off white head. A good looking beer.... with good lacing throughout.

S: I'm getting a malty sweetness, with a very nice citrusy hop note. A great mix .... Love the smell.

T: Great roasted malt upfront with a great balance of mild hoppy bitterness. The light hop presence is very nice (not a big Hop fan.... This is great....Balance is very nice.

M: Med bodied, mild carbonation.... Very nice

D: Little high in the ABV but over all a very drinkable beer. Roasted Malt up front with a nice and light bitter hops...

Very good Spring Brew...

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Photo of CBills428
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my first time trying a SN beer other than their Pale Ale and I must say I was very happy with it. Highly recommended.

The appearance is slightly hazy with a reddish amber color. The nose was pretty good, but not exceptional. Very clean with notes of citrus dominating. This beer is very well balanced with no noticeable flaws or characteristics out of proportion. The carbonation, alcohol and malt flavors all come together very well and the finish has a nice dry bitterness.

Very drinkable, easy to put down a couple and not even notice. Looking forward to drinking more SNs. Again, highly recommended!

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Photo of PaleAlien2
3.41/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy amber in color with a one-finger white head. Nice head retention and tons of lacing.

Malt is the dominant smell. Some notes of spice.

Nice balance between malt and a kind of zingy malt spice in the swallow.

Medium bodied. Semi-dry finish.

A good session beer. Though not great. Almost nondescript.

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Photo of markaberrant
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - amber, slight haze, creamy off white head, good retention, good lacing.

S - subdued aroma, clean, grassy hops, mild biscuit malt (looks like it was bottled in early January, so this likely explains the lack of hop aroma)

T - floral, grassy hops, typical SN "bright" hop flavour, crisp clean malt backbone, snappy bitterness in the finish, fruitiness is very low, barely detectable

M - med body and carbonation, dry finish, no alcohol, what a session ale should be

D - can't say I've come across an SN beer that wasn't drinkable!

Interesting American spin on the ESB style. Very clean, with jacked up bitterness and hop flavour, but still very drinkable, and no C-hops to be found (I'm sure they had a hard time restraining themselves). I love the SN lineup of beers, but their pales and IPAs have a lot of similarities, so this is a nice changeup.

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Photo of Scriba
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2009

Served in a large, tulip shaped wine glass.

A: Pours an amber coloured liquid with a large, almost white head. After a couple of minutes the head turns into a finger thick lid with a lot of lacing. Not that many bubbles.

S: Nice smell of American hops. And perhaps a hint of rye bread.

T: A candy like maltiness (without getting to sweet). Well balanced of the fresh and citric hops, A nice bitter aftertaste with some alcohol present.

M: Very smooth. Mildly carbonated with small bubbles.

D: This one went down very fast, and I wouldn't mind another one. But the alchol in the aftertaste stops me from giving this beer a higher drinkability score.

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

The colour is amber with a tint of red; the two finger head slowly sings leaving lots of lacing.

The smell is medium strong with fine hoppy notes of apricots, grapefruits and bitter oranges. Some bitter notes and malty flavours of raisin and rye bread.

The taste is balanced with an elegant rounded bitterness, balanced by a creamy semi-sweet malty flavour with some light roasted notes. They are replaced by a drier, bitterer flavour of dried fruits, raisins and a touch of butter. The aftertaste is dry with a distinct malty sweetness and a neutral dry bitterness.

The carbonation is mild-medium, the small bubbles are smooth. The liquid is creamy.

Still a very nice elegant American ESB.

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

This one has a very nice appearance. It's a clear coppery amber with a very full, fluffy and thick white head that leaves some good lacing. Very appealing thus far.
The smell is fresh and raw, a mix of citrus, raw hops bud, some underlying grains and a sweetness in the back.
The taste follows suit quite well. Hops up front, then lingering all the way to the finish adding a clean, bright bitterness. There's a sort of earthiness from the hops and a malt backing compliments nicely, adding subtle notes of caramel. Citrus is evident the whole way as well. There's an herbal quality in the bitterness that leads to a dry, tea leaf-like finish. Citrus rind adds a bit of freshness to the bitterness as well and ensures it as the dominant flavor.
The mouthfeel is smooth, with carbonation at a low level. Body is light to medium.
This is quite a drinkable beer with a low enough ABV to make for a few at a time.

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Photo of JAStheAce
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a hazy pale copper/amber with an inch of real nice foam that stuck around for a bit. I smell some citrus and some sweet. Very balanced beer we have here from SN. A little bit yeasty with some sweet maltiness which is rounded out with a hoppy bitter that's quite pleasant and not overbearing. The bottle tells me that this beer in unfiltered and I'll never argue with that as it provides us a medium to full mouthfeel and that's a nice choice here that is right on. Very happy with this little brew which I just happened to pick out on my way out of the store and I'm really glad I did. This beer really reminded me a lot of Anchor's Liberty Ale and I must make a note to try them side by side for further observation.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz, 2009. Rocky, foamy creme colored head stands tall on a bright, but slightly hazy orange-copper colored ale. Leaves a nice sticky lacing on the glass. Aromas are sweet with caramel and toasted grains - hints of earthy citrus from the hops. Tastes are earthy and sweet with notes of caramel, fresh rye bread, and toasted grains. Hop character adds bitterness and provides some citrus notes of bitter orange and grapefruit rind. Finishes somewhat dry and bitter as it should, but the added hops kick it up to another level. Great take on an Extra Special Bitter with an American twist. I love when a brewer knows what they are doing! Excellent.

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Photo of thecarster1
4.13/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a- bottle poured into a pint, nice fluffy two finger head, orangey amber brown coloring, everlasting creamy bubbly lacing, leaves great rings around the glass with each sip, really attractive brew.

s- hops right away, floral, little pine, sweet malt, lemon rind.

t- great smack of hops, roasty caramel malts underneath, obviously bitter in a good way though, light citrus.

m- medium bodied, not overly carbonated, goes down very easily.

d- very drinkable, i can see myself buying a case of this, i could session this easily, very tasty.

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Photo of Risser09
4.16/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic - fridge - 2009

Appearance: Pours a slightly golden yellow with orange hues. A 2" ivory colored head that shows excellent retention. Craterous surface and gobs of foamy lace make for a perfect visual.

Smell: A healthy dose of citrusy hops. Grapefruit, lemon, and a smell of fresh malt. This beer really smells like an IPA.

Taste: A pinchy forefront of hops that are a bit citrusy. Then comes a nice, refreshing malt flavor. This really tastes like a hoppy ESB. A finish of alcohol and lingering bitterness make a finish that begs for more.

Mouthfeel: Bitter start and finish. Some booziness. This is a medium bodied, sharp beer that is easy to drink.

Drinkability: Very good as a session beer. This is a great ESB that certainly takes on a West coast twist.

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Photo of Gatch
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-Tap at Bison Witches in Tempe, AZ.

I was very surprised by the smooth taste as well as the finish in this beer. It was very easy to drink and at the right temperature. Great balance. Clean, a little hop presence, and very satisfying. I would recommend this to anyone.

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Photo of ricke
3.57/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear, amber color with brown hues. Medium sized slightly beige head that settles into some lacings.

S: Some citric and peppery hops, floral notes, fudge, earth and boiled vegetables. Nothing spectacular, and rather week smell, but still kind of good.

T: Not very powerful, but again, it's still quite good. I was afraid that there would be lots of flavors of boiled vegetables (considering the smell), but that wasn't the case. Tasty citric hops quickly develops into a flavor of sweet malts with a gentle caramel character. Some grains, fudge, earth and boiled carrots (but as notes above, the taste of boiled vegetables is neither strong or irritating). Diacetyls are present, but restrained. The finish is gently bitter with bready malts, grass, peppery hops and just a hint of minerals.

M: Moderate body, quite smooth. Very low, almost too low, carbonation.

D: Not bad at all, easy to drink and quite refreshing. I could definitely see myself drinking this one again.

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

Quick review: it is what it is and it is what it says it is. Calling itself an Early Spring Beer, I was sort of hoping for an ESB crossed with a Bock.

I picked this up in a six pack from the grocery store. I poured it into an American style pint glass hard enough to produce 2+" of head. The body has that tea look I've been noticing lately: totally transparent oranegy amber. The head dissipated over the course of a few minutes, leaving almost nothing on the walls of the glass. No nucleation whatsoever (surprisingly clean, dust free glass).

Hops immediately on the nose; piney, flowery hops. That's all I can smell in this beer.

The taste is smooth but hoppy. I can't really detect any malt in the flavor and no sweetness to it. I can taste the hops just as I smelled them, with a bitter quality building up as I drink it. This is almost an unsweetened ice tea of a beer, but not quite as bitter.

It's a little thicker in the mouth than I expected as there is no fizziness at all. I seem to have poured the carbonation right out of it.

I could drink a few of these. I could drink a few more if I liked it more. I'd say it's sessionable if it's your style. Unfortunately, it's not mine.

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Photo of dismal
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the bottle pours a nice hazy orange color with a nice big white head. The head stays for a while, nice retention, and leaves some good lacing on the side of the glass. The smell is hoppy, mainly citrus hops, and a bit grassy maybe floral. The smell isn't amazing but it's still good. Taste, it's good. I'm not all to familiar with ESBs so I'm not to sure as to what a good one is or a bad one but compared to the other(s) I had it's seems to be pretty good. It's slightly piney, citrus, bready, and a bit sweet. Has that Sierra Nevada taste to it which is not bad at all! Pretty drinkable. I found this in a mix a six while on the road. Never seen it available in my area so I decided to try it and I'm glad I did. I'd pick it up again for sure.

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Photo of cjl1209
3.2/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

"Early Spring Beer"

A - Pours a hazy copper color with a small off white head.

S - Very grassy hops accompanied by an odd metallic copper scent.

T - There's a noticeable hop bite right off the bat with some light malts coming through after that. Tastes of wood, bitters, and a dash of spice. A little bit boozy on the aftertaste. This beer seems to be a bit more focused on bitterness than on flavor.

M - Medium bodied.

D - Pretty good but the bitterness does outweigh the dull malt backbone.

Final Thoughts: Solid enough for those that want their bitters.

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

A- Pretty deep orange color with small white head. Head fades pretty quickly and laces moderately.

S- Floral hops, some citrus, some carmel/toffee. Nothing too strong, but good.

T- Strong citrus flavor that fades into sweet caramel-y malt. Nice hop bitterness. Well balanced, kind of like a nice barleywine actually.

M- Well carbonated, a little prickly. Dry finish. Not bad for a hopped/bitter beer.

D- I'm really happy with this one. A good drink, worth sessioning.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy orange gold color with a decent white head. Plenty of lacing on the glass.

Smell is a little grassy hops plus some malty sweetness.

Taste is the grassy hoppiness balanced with the caramel, bready malts. This is a fairly balanced brew.

The mouthfeel is towards the middle of the spectrum. An enjoyable amount of carbonation.

This is very drinkable in my opinion.

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Photo of basscram
3.66/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice gold dark yellowish color. orangish. Head is slim, lacing down glass is minimal. Smells of spring flowers and a tad hoppy, but not too much.

Taste is very light for a sierra nevada. I notice their hops taste in this. As all the beers I've tried from them, I notice they have a similar hops taste. It has a honey and slight grass taste to it.

It feels very good on the tongue as well. I could really drink more than one of these and say I enjoy it.
I have to say this is a tasty esb! Recommended.

As the beer goes down the throat, the bitter taste comes through as you breathe out.

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Photo of SeattleBeerBlog
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Looks absolutely delicious. Great head retention and ir pours a nice hazy copper, perhaps dry hopped hmmm.

S- Smells of sweet malt and citrus hops. Very nice.

T- Very citrusy with some good bittering hops as well. the flavor is excellent and this goes down good. well balanced though and not overly hopped.

M- perhaps a bit too carbonated but is great, medium bodied and very refreshing.

D- this is a great ESB, different enough from their Pale ale and is probably my new go to SN when I can't get torpedo. Man this is good.

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

Went a little over the top today at the store and was in a SN mood with the good weather. Got packs of this, Torpedo and the Pale Ale.
12oz bottle poured into Dogfish shaped pint glass.
Bottle Graphics: 4/10

A: Orange amber with a light filmy foam on top, not too much but super lacing.

S: Sweet malts and adjacent hops. Bready and toasty like a red or amber ale. Modest yet flavorful aroma.

T: Slightly more hops and bitterness than the aroma leads. Relatively crisp flavor with the breadiness coming to the front. Whatever style it is, I would like the hops to come more on the balanced edge, I have to seek them out in the taste as I drink through it. Slightly too much sweetness.

M: Moderate mouthfeel in all ways. Tight and crisp.

D: Pretty high, pleasure to have with a bag of chips or walking down the Vegas strip. Mild enough to go down like water. Not SN's best, but still tasty.

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Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 570 ratings.
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