HotShot ESB | Great Divide Brewing Company

156 Reviews
no score
Send samples
HotShot ESBHotShot ESB

Brewed by:
Great Divide Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 01-06-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 156 | Ratings: 169
Photo of ClockworkOrange
3.3/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my shaker glass. The ESB appears a hazed dark golden amber color with two plus fingers of white foam. Nose and flavors are of red grapes, slightly floral, honey, a bit spicy, sweet malt, biscuits. Light bodied with decent carbonation. Seems a bit sweet for the style and that carries into the aftertaste. Glad I tried it, not sure if I'd go for it again.

 389 characters

Photo of cadenwhitaker
3.97/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I bought this the same time I picked up their Denver Pale Ale, I let them cellar for about 6 months and am just trying them now.

Just like their DPA I'm getting loads of honey in the smell.

The taste has more honey, just like the DPA, but this has a bitter aftertaste that cuts away the sweetness of the honey. Actually, I'm enjoying this more then the DPA because of that... finishing their other brand (with all that sweetness) took a bit of effort.

Would drink again

 472 characters

Photo of natasharai
4.01/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: One of the best looking beers I have ever seen. Poured with a 1 inch creamy thick off white head that dissipated to a thin layer (1/4 inch) leaving amazing lacing all down my glass. The beer is a beautiful dark gold color. The head stayed at 1/4 inch through out the whole beer.

Smell: Sweet flowery smell up front, and a nice caramel malt backbone. Small alcohol smell.

Taste: Less of a floral hoppyness than expected and more of a spicy hop. Some sweet malty notes. Leaving a crisp slightly citrus taste in the mouth. Not as much hops as I would have liked.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy! Also has a nice hop tingle on the tongue. Leaves the mouth feeling very refreshed and clean. No alcohol burn.

Drinkability: Really easy to drink. Very refreshing and delicious. Great session beer, will be one of my go-to beers!

 831 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.01/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The whole damn 6 pack I bought of this stuff ended up gushing. The head would not go away, either! Looks like it might have some slight chill haze.

Big, sweet and fruity nose. Smells like a fruit roll-up, red grapes and plums. Not much mineral scent.

A bit spicy, like a four-peppercorn blend. Fruits are there as well. More mineral taste than the smell indicated. A bit of funk is detectable in here as well. Lingering resinous aftertaste.

Nose was a bit of a turn-off. Tasted ok, but was a bit disappointed considering some of GD's other fine beers.

Since all of my bottles gushed, I can only imagine that the batch I got had some sort of bacterial contamination. Would try this again to see if that was the case.

 719 characters

Photo of champ103
3.09/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Even before I begin to pour the beer out, white foam comes rushing out of the bottle. The head is so massive, that I can't really pour this beer into a glass. The color is a nice reddish/orange with gobs of chunky lace. The massive amounts of foam detracts from the appearance of this beer. Obviously a beer should have a good amount of foam and lace, but I can't even try to pour the beer correctly.
S: Very sweet and candy like. A bit of some cooked veggie aroma. Malty with a hoppy backbone.
T: Lots of caramel malt with a bit of hop spice to it. Candy flavors again though it is not to sweet. Average ESB flavor and aroma.
M/D: Smooth, creamy, and a light to medium body. Pretty easy to drink. It would not be hard for me to session a couple.

A sub-par to an average beer. The only thing that truly stands out is the massive amounts of foam from bacteria I assume, and that is not really something to write home about. I have given this a couple of trys (in two different states non the less). Every time I have had a gusher. Looking at some of the other reviews, I am not the only one. Purchase at you own risk.

 1,120 characters

Photo of Pencible
2.91/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

This poured a hazy reddish brown with unbelievable amounts of head (even with a slow, careful pour there was twice as much head as beer). It smelled like rich and sweet caramel, cotton candy, and some floral hops. It tasted super sweet as well, with dominant caramel malt flavors, and a bit of honey and floral hops. It was fairly thick with so much carbonation that you could barely drink it, and had an aftertaste that was obscured by lingering carbonation. Overall this was a crazy beer. I feel like it would have been good if they totally removed the carbonation (which would also solve the ridiculous head problem), and added a lot more hops to give the flavor some balance. Afterall, this is supposed to be an Extra Special Bitter, not Extra Carbonated Sweet.

 765 characters

Photo of rye726
3.18/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light amber color with a nice fluffy head. The nost is very malty with spicy hops and rich candy. The flavor has nutty malts with some caramel or toffee and bitter hops. Good balance amd a middling body. This is somewhat mild for the style but is smooth goes down well with a meal.

 281 characters

Photo of peck95
3.72/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a nice light orange color with a small head and little lacing
the smell ice very nice a good caramel malt with a decent hop backing
the taste of this beer doesn't quite fit the smell a much sweeter beer than i was expecting and the hops are barely noticeable
the mouthfeel coincides with the taste a very syrupy that is offset
mostly with a little bit of bitterness and some decent carbonation
like the bottle says this is an easy drinking craft brew but imo not an exceptional esb actually more reminiscent of deschutes cinder cone red (amber) but not as hoppy or balanced malt and texture wise.

 598 characters

Photo of Greggy
3.88/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Poured a massive head, it took quite a bit of time to actually get this poured... lesson learned. After I got it all in the glass it was a 3 finger head.

Smell- sweet citrusy hops with a small amount of sweet caramel. Pineapple comes through as well.

Taste- Less hops than I was expecting from the smell. A nice apple, citric hops taste that is pretty smooth.

Mouthfeel- Medium carbonation that works well with the nice smoothness of the brew.

Drinkability- Although the nose is a bit overpowering, the taste is great and easily sessionable.

 558 characters

Photo of dsa7783
4.05/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Single, 12 oz bottle copped from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
A hefty pour resulted in a dark-copper colored hue with a moderate-sized head that lingered on for a bit before slowly dissipating and leaving a fair amount of lacing around the glass...
Fresh, clean, clear aroma bursting with hops, vanilla, and caramel...
Clean, lucid taste bursting with a slight, subtle, non-cloying flavor - very mellow, yet at the same time, flavorful and very full of character with noticeable flavors that strongly complment the aroma with an added addition of fresh florals, grapefruit, and pears...
Slim, thin, moderate mouthfeel was complemented by an ultra-easy, super level of drinkability that went down as easily as water...
Overall, pretty good stuff from Great Divide...
A good representation of the style...

 834 characters

Photo of barefootbrewer
3.85/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a clear golden with a thick rocky head. It had a predominately caramel and malty aroma. The taste is also malty, but not sweet. There is a bitter flavor in this brew that is not overpowering - nice balance. The mouthfeel is full and slightly creamy with a dry/clean finish. Another delight from the guys in Denver!

 331 characters

Photo of brantadid
3.03/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a hazy honey color into a pint glass. 1 finger white head formed and diminished quickly.

Smelled of sweet malts initially and then floral hops. Some citrus notes.

Tasted of clean hops. Not overpowering. No real citrus flavors. Lots of vegetal and earthy flavors. I got asparagus on the far back palate.

Mouthfeel was light and somewhat watery. However, the hops fill the mouth with so much flavor that it give the beer a creamy quality. Very interesting.

 464 characters

Photo of Traquairlover
3.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12-oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A = Cloudy orange yellow with large foamy off white head, lot's of lacing.

S = Citrus, yeast

T = Smooth, nice bitterness without overdoing it. Good malt flavors, popcorn, oranges, very interesting.

M = Light to medium body, good amount of carbonation.

D = Definitely a drinkable beer, very pleasant. I will probably pick other ESBs when I am in the mood but would be happy enough if someone offered me one of these.

 459 characters

Photo of praufs01
2.96/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance –Clear amber color with a thick creamy off-white head and lots of lacing.

Aroma – Carmel and grass with a slight musty smell.

Palate – Light carbonation, very smooth.

Flavor –Malty with a light floral hop that finishes clean.

Final thoughts – Overall its pretty good but not special. I’ve had much better ESBs.

 333 characters

Photo of CortexBomb
3.54/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour is pale orange with a light white head on top. The nose is strongly citrusey, yeast...biscuits, mighty appealing.

The taste stats out nice and bitey with a citrus twang, this then goes into the background while the biscuits / malts from the nose and caramel show up in the mid. The finish is a citrus hop bit. Overall solid.

The mouth on this, well, nothing amazing. It has bitters in the right place and is about standard thickness, but it didn't surprise me in any way. Drinkability, about normal as well...a lighter, crisp beer like this is easy to drink, but that's standard for the style.

The bottom line: A nice mid-range ESB. This one has a pronounced nose, and the flavour is basic but enjoyable.

 712 characters

Photo of bboven
4.2/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Light copper clear body with good head retention and lots of lacing.

This is exactly what an ESB should smell like. Huge biscuit aroma with a background of roast. Wonderful.

Great malt profile with hops that you don't even notice bittering your tongue. There's a slight metallic twang here, though. Too bad.

Fully carbonated with a little bite. Very clean, doesn't hang around too long. Great.

Great beer. This will probably be my new ESB, truthfully.

 455 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.05/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

A: The beer is a light amber color with a thin white head that fades quickly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramelized malt, pale hops, nuts and some spice.

T: The taste starts out with a decent pale hops flavor along with some spice and then hearty but light malt character follows. There are some very mild background flavors of caramel, nuts a slight touch of fruit. The after-taste is bready and slightly bitter.

M: Smooth and very crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, the finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not very filling, very good representation of style, this is a good beer to drink for an evening when you're in the mood for a English type of beer with some substance that isn't going to get you hammered to quickly.

 839 characters

Photo of Gatch
4.15/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very hoppy with the right amount of carbonation. In a taste test, you might think it's a weaker IPA or maybe a strong Pale Ale. A very cloudy, amber-orange color w/ a crazy, foamy head. I don't know if the glass I was using was tainted, but the head shot up to the entire length of the glass w/ barely any liquid at the bottom. I washed the glass and poured the rest & it wasn't too bad. The smell is fairly alcoholic w/ a blend of sweet malt & fruit. A nice bite with every sip w/ a nice bitterness. A bread-like taste w/ a subtle, dried-fruit finish. This beer was a great accompaniment w/ pasta and remained consistent all the way through. The mouthfeel was smooth but still had some bitterness and the drinkability was as good as any beer can get. The lingering bitterness might get tiring after a few pints, but that's what comes with the style. A great offering from a great brewery.

 889 characters

Photo of matsputis
3.69/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - a wee bit cloudy. Amber in color. I bought a six pack and every one I popped open started slowly rising out of the bottle. When I poured them, the head would flair up - way over carbonated.
S - It had a solid hoppy smell with a malt backbone
T - Like other ESB's it reminds me of a mini-barleywine. This is mostly from the dark fruit flavors. They are more subdued in this, while the bitterness and citrus from the hops stands out. It ends with a malty sweetness.
M - I let the beer sit so the carbonation would calm down. Even after this it still had a fizzy feel to it, which clashed with the body.
D - It was pretty satisfying after it flattened out, especially towards the end.

 689 characters

Photo of Atlas1
3.97/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The folks at Great Divide have never really let me down, so I was hoping the HotShot ESB followed suit.

Pours a nice amber orange color with a decent two-finger head that settled quickly and left some lace. Nice looking, but nothing spectacular. The aroma is floral and fruity. Not what I was expecting from an ESB, but hey, I like it. Lots of light fruit, with some strawberry and banana too. Very pleasant aroma. The taste is quite satisfying. Clean and fruity up front, it mellows out in the middle, and finishes with a nice hop kick at the end. I'd be curious to know the IBUs for this one, because the hops are certainly not a dominant factor. Still, it's a very quaffable beer, with an excellent bitterness factor that plays in. Very unsuspecting in the aroma, it cleans up nicely in the hops department at the end. Very mellow and extremely tasty. Mouthfeel is rich and creamy, but dry as well. My new favorite session beer from Great Divide, for sure. Well done.

 974 characters

Photo of JayQue
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Huge bubbly slightly off white head. Very good retention. Thick lacing down the glass.Mild malty aroma. Taste is good. Mild but pronounced malty flavor and not sweet. Mouthfeel is rich enough for this style.

Tasty, crisp very drinkable. Would be a fine session brew for year round. Another one I would like to try on tap.

 324 characters

Photo of skillerified
4.1/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Copper-red in color and sharp clarity. Can get a little yellow as it moves through the light. Half finger tanish head fades to a foamy cap. Some lace.

Fruity and floral. Sweet fruits, non-citric. Some caramel. Maybe slightly buttery and with a little biscuit under that. Could be stronger and more distinct, but it's not bad.

Buttery flavor hits big on the palate. Tasty and sweet. Some caramel and a definite biscuity, grainy flavor. A mild grapefruit bitter bite on the finish. Medium body. Nice mild carbonation hit. Reasonably well balanced.

An easy drinker. Good flavor for a session brew. Goes pretty great with pizza too. Rated better than I expected it to as well. A modest everyday brew.

 706 characters

Photo of wagenvolks
3.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From the 12 oz bottle flows an orange-amber hue with a thick manilla head. The foam is patchy, the head splotchy. A weak aroma of pear, hops, and a belgian-esque note are present, but not anything special.

Taste has some caramel, spice, grain, and grass notes. A slight hint of grapefruit and lemon also hit the palate. Mouthfeel is crisp and light-bodied with a dry, bitter (surprisingly) finish. Not one of Great Divide's better brews, but it's okay.

 456 characters

Photo of PlaywrightSam
3.37/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottle into snifter. A: Hazy amber with hints of orange, lots of head. S: Good amount of maltiness underneath the hops, honey, vaguely citrusy. T: Very bitter and hoppy, the malt coming through strong. M: Lots of carbonation, a bit overwhelming actually. D: It tastes good, but the excess head and carbonation detracts some.

 324 characters

Photo of Monkeyknife
3.3/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle a clear copper color with a creamy head.

Much more malty than hoppy.

Much like the smell with a bitterness at the finish.

Medium bodied with a light carbonation to it.

It's tempting to keep comparing it to another Great Divide brew, Titan IPA. Titan is overall, a much better brew but then again, I tend to favor IPAs over pretty much anything else. As an ESB this beer is good but by no means great.

 435 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
HotShot ESB from Great Divide Brewing Company
3.59 out of 5 based on 169 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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