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: 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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 643 |  Reviews: 573
Photo of Halcyondays
4.01/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. single bottle, why they're releasing a spring beer 2 months before the vernal equinox I'll never know, there are still Christmas beers out left in the stores, anyway,

A: Pours amber, with a thick puffy white head, which lasts all the way through the drink, limite lacing, spotty.

S: Quite light actually, hoppy predominately, grassy.

T: Taste has a nice biscuit character upfront, followed by very fresh tasting hops, quite bitter for this style, but quite complex - a mix of lemon, earth, pine, and grass, very tasty, one of the best tasting bitters ever for me.

M: Very drying, appetizing, low in carbonation, but crisp enough so that the flavours are allowed to develop over the tongue, medium-bodied.

D: This is a very good bitter and easily sessionable, even at 5.9% alc./vol, I should have bought more than one, as I wan't another now that I'm finished with it.

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

12oz bottle into nonic.

Crystal clear honey color with a dense frothy one finger tan head that slowly settles to a thin cap. Stringly lacing along the glass.

The aroma is a mix of burnt caramel and some leafy hops.

Smooth and biscuity malts start out, slowly becoming sweeter, until they are met by the bitter, but no so flavorful, hops. Medium bodied with high carbonation, giving it a very fizzy feel. The finish is mostly the lingering grain.

Not a bad American interpretation of the style. The hops are probably a little more assertive than in a traditional English ESB. It's a great beer that is full of flavor without being overwhelming. Recommended.

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Photo of wedge
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear orange-amber under a nice, thick two-finger head. Great lacing down the glass. The hops smell highly floral with a dash of citrus zest and earthiness. Flavors of spicy, resinous hops, citrus rind, and a lingering fresh maltiness. Solid grassy bitterness. A little thin overall, medium-light body with light, tingly carbonation. I could drink many.

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Photo of jaxon53
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served chilled in a pint glass, from a twelve ounce bottle. Pours out a beautiful golden copper color that is just slightly hazy. Tons of carbonation bubbles streaming up from the bottom of the glass. A solid two fingers of thick, frothy off white head formed from a somewhat vigorous pour. Decent head retention left plenty of clingy lace behind on the glass. The nose was filled with mild herbal hop aromas, lots of thick sweet malt aromas, a slight touch of yeast, and a faint caramel note. Very earthy. The malt flavors rule the taste, with a bitter hop bite. Has quite a grainy flavor to it, and a bit of yeast. Has a small metallic flavor in the finish. Perfectly carbonated, finishes crisp and clean. Nice medium bodied mouthfeel. Very refreshing and drinkable.

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Photo of Zorro
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear copper colored ale with a good tan head.

Smell is hoppy and herbal with a trace of orange scent. Quite herbal and a little woody.

Taste starts out stoutly bitter and dry in the mouth. Herbal, bitter and woody sum this beer up perfectly. Slight citrus traces.

Mouthfeel is OK.

A good ale for those who want a drier ale. Missing are the English aspects like butter in the flavor. Just a mellow dry ale here.

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

Picked up a six of this today at Olivers in Albany.

Pours a straw gold with some light orange highlights, excellent clarity and a big one and a half inch mousse like head.

Smells are of biscuity malt, warm bread, faint sweetness of corn bread, light herbal minty hops and a touch of citrus.

Flavor profile is clean, biscuity, dry light sweet note as almost a touch of bittersweet chocolate (really the interplay of the hop bitterness with the english malt character).

Very pleasing and drinkable ale. Just below 6% abv, so I will call it a session+ beer, but this one you could enjoy a couple of in an evening and feel like your palate is far from cheated.

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Photo of NCSUdo
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle

A: Pours a clear copper (bottle says unfiltered?) with a finger and halfs worth of white head.

S: Smells of a nice sweet malt and some floral hops. Some nice lace and retention.

T: Malty, cereal like up front. A mild bitterness in the back end. Malt really sticks out the most here though. Finish is eventually on the citrus side.

M/D: Body is medium, but on the light side of medium, holds up well though, carbonation seems about right. Drinkability is fine on this one, very refreshing This is a simple brew through and through. Nothing is going to knock your socks off, but you're probably going to want to reach for another when you are done.

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

Is it just me, or is Sierra Nevada really firing on all cylinders right now? There's some really great stuff coming from this brewery lately and the E.S.B. is no different. Borderline session at 5.9%abv, this beer comes off crisp, clean, but definitely not lean. The nose just hints at the amount of bitterness on the palate. Once you take that first sip, you are in hoppy heaven. Bone dry with just enough malt coming through on the finish to make it well-rounded. Very drinkable and very good!

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Photo of doboy
3.93/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A nice part of Sierra Nevada's Seasonal line. Pours a dark blonde color with a nice white head taht holds through out the beer. Carbonation is just right for a easy drinking beer!

Malty flavor in the front gives way to a nice hoppy finish that's not over the top, but just right for a late winter - early spring break from all of my dark beer favorites.

This will be a great session beer, even better to fill the fridge with for the Super Bowl or the ACC Tourney! Go Heels!

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Photo of argock
4.35/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a clear pint glass

A: Lighter copper with foamy off-white head and average lacing after first few drinks

S: Spicy and grassy hops with toasted malt with a touch of tangy citrus and melon aromas

T: Plenty of lightly toasted and biscuity malts with spicy hops finish that hangs on with a pleasant tanginess. Earthy finish with mild woody and nut flavors.

M: Very creamy and average carbonation. Medium-to-full bodied with a slick, oily feel that is pleasant and contributes to the long aftertaste.

D: Another seasonal winner from Sierra Nevada. I went to the store to buy Celebration Ale, and, after some initial disappointment, picked up the ESB. I'm very glad I did -- a tangy but earthy brew with a great feel.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a mug.

Apparance: Pours a clear copper-red hue with light white head.

Smell: Very minimal -- a few hints of grasses and hops is all I can make out.

Taste: Lots of grasses and some toasted grains with honey. Hops come out towards the finish, which is very piney, as is the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, light- to medium-bodied. Very light carbonation.

Drinkability: Nice to drink, but the piney flavor is sometimes a bit much.

Overall a nice beer certainly worth trying, but neither my favorite ESB nor one of the best from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of kleffman
3.96/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 6er at the La Jolla Bevmo and finally poured one out into a pint glass. Pretty excited to check out this new offering.

Pours a pretty golden copper color with a great clarity for being "unfiltered." They must at least whirlpool their beers because you can read a book through this thing probably.

Nice aroma I thought, although nothing over the top. Some pine hops of the west coast style mixing with a little toasted grain.

The taste is quite similar to aroma, with nothing over the top. Nice caramel and toasted notes with the pine and grassy hop flavors making for a pretty well balanced brew.

Nice medium to low body with a carbonation level similar to their pale, and really drinkable. There aren't a lot of problems with this from what I can tell, but it's also not the most memorable beer I've ever had. I would definitely buy it once in awhile for a change of pace.

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

Coppery brew pours with a nice big head that leaves some decent lacing behind. I hope this is just a bad sixer. Otherwise this is a real disappointment from one of my favorite breweries. The smell reminds me of old cat feces mixed with hops. The taste is a bit better. A bit of fruity esters, a bitter bite that isn't that pleasant, even for my huge hop head taste, some piney notes. Some odd off tastes here. I don't plan on giving this another try.

Edit: April, 2009

No more cat feces this year. I must have had a sixer with a shipping or storage problem or something. Plenty of caramel malty goodness balanced nicely with a crisp bitter hop finish. Lots of fruity esters. Definitely adding points. (previous score C-).

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Photo of MarkSCCOT
4.6/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I was pleased to be one of the first to review this new first time offering from Sierra Nevada. After reviewing this beer, I hope this beer is as widely distributed as Celebration was.

Poured from a brown standard SN bottle into a pint glass.

A. Deep copper red brew with a healthy finger and a half head. Great lacing and head retention.

S. Just like most SN brews, hoppy. However the hops are different...earthy and grassy hops. Hardly a hint of the strong pine. The malt is evident and pleasing.

T. Much as it smells. These hops are different than some SN but all in all very pleasing. Unlike many "in your face" SN brews, the malt is balanced and leads to a great clean finish.

M. Creamy finish yet clean. Good carbonation.

D. I certainly hope this is a regular seasonal for SN! This is a great sessionable beer.

An American take on the English ESB. An ESB on hoproids!!!

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Photo of oelergud
4.8/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Stubby dark brown glass bottle with the classic SN label, this one with a parchment like background.
Clear copper body. Huge slightly off-white tiny to large bubbled head with good retention and clumpy lace.
Earth, yeast, hops and malty scent. Harsh pine with a swirl of caramel.
Damn good taste and so well balanced, malty sweetness up front followed by a resin hop rush that keeps gaining strenght all through the aftertaste but never quite looses it's malty backbone. Earth, hay, yeast and mulch.
Great mouthfeel, full body with lots of coating and a slick feel.
This is session brew all the way. This beer makes up for the short Celebration period we had in '07.


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Photo of bluejacket74
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, 2008 ESB. Tried this for the first time at a beer tasting earlier tonight, I liked it so I bought a sixer of it. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours a clear copper/orange color with an inch and a half white head. Head retention and lacing are both very good. Aroma is earthy/grassy hops and some toasted malt and caramel. The aroma is light, but nice and pleasing. Taste is similar to the aroma (but a little stronger), and there's also a slight citrusy hoppy taste in the beer too. Mouthfeel/body is medium, there's definitely some substance in this beer. It's also a bit creamy with average carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good, it's easy to drink and nice and tasty. It's nice and sessionable, IMO. It's another good beer from Sierra Nevada. If you get a chance to buy this, you should. It's one of the best ESB's I've had in a while.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow.. suprised to see this at the brew store.. suprised to be the first reviewer... Neck ringer says 2008 ESB.

12oz picked up at the Boise Coop for about $1.35.. poured into my New Belgium goblet.

Nice 3/4" off-white head that left rings of lacing... crystal clear copper orange.

Aroma is earthy spicy hops and a touch of toasted malts with just a whif of caramel.

Flavor is suprisingly rich.. good body for the style and soft yet everpresent carbonation... sorta creamy. Flavor is again earthy hops with pale and toasted malt backbone... only enough sweetness to balance the lite/medium bitterness... only a slight touch of yeasty fruitiness... very drinkable for sure.

I love the Sierra Nevada annuals. The IPA and the Anniversary ale were fantastic, and this years harvest ale was no slouch... that being said, this American take on the "ESB style" is really pretty good and I will definitely be buying it again.... soon.

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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