Propeller Extra Special Bitter (ESB) | Propeller Brewery

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Propeller Extra Special Bitter (ESB)Propeller Extra Special Bitter (ESB)
Very Good
157 Ratings
Propeller Extra Special Bitter (ESB)Propeller Extra Special Bitter (ESB)

Brewed by:
Propeller Brewery
Nova Scotia, Canada

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bitter was originally a draught ale served very fresh under no pressure (gravity or hand pump dispensing only) at cellar temperatures. Lucky for you today its available everywhere!

Our ESB is a rich, full-bodied English-style bitter, brewed with carefully selected malts and hops. This copper coloured, English styled ale is our best seller. Smooth, Full bodied and All Natural, like all our beers.

Our most popular brew is not really a bitter beer, it's a better Bitter!

30 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-30-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 157 |  Reviews: 97
Reviews by djcreepshow:
Photo of djcreepshow
4/5  rDev +3.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of cam477
3.75/5  rDev -3.1%

Photo of merlin48
3.56/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This one is definitely a different brew than the Propeller ESB that I reviewed last year, even though "extra special" is in small letters on the label, above the larger "BITTER".
This 22 oz bottle pours a clear, mahogany body with a stunning, four finger, rocky, beige head. The head lasts for several minutes, and leaves some gorgeous, sheet lacing all over the glass.

Aroma is restrained, and is primarily of chocolate malt with a mild hops background.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

The taste is a dramatic departure from the brewery's ESB, that I raved so much about last year. This one is more of an English, brown ale than a Bitter. Chocolate malt is the major player here, with the hops playing a minor role. A hint of butternut is detected, but this is, simply, a brown ale, my least favorite style.

This is a well crafted ale, certainly, but not what I was expecting. If you like English style, brown ales, this one is for you. As a Bitter, or ESB, this does not succeed. I plan to contact the brewery with some queries about the change of styles in the past year.

 1,111 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a murky brown color with an off-white head. The aroma is full of toffee with a hint of grass thrown in. Definitely a malty beer. The flavor is similar. I get some toffee and biscuit malt, with a bit of grass and earth mixed in. Low bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. A nice ESB.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.23/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been meaning to try this brew for a while, after rave reviews from Halifax friends.

Poured a dark amber hue, orange when held to the light. Superb retention for a 6 pack pour: thin white head survived throughout, with generous, patchy lacing. Looks great.

The nose is earthy, with bread, light caramel, malts and juicy, herbal hops. Taste is much the same; earthy and hoppy, with a bitter, slightly astringent finish.

Mouthfeel is spot on: good carbonation, highly quaffable.

Very happy with this brew - glad I have the rest of the 6 pack to get through. I'll be back for this brew again! I can definitely see myself drinking this ESB for an entire evening.

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Photo of chickenm
3.25/5  rDev -16%

Photo of chinchill
3.79/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

On tap in Annapolis Royal, NS.
Deep copper body topped with a creamy, semi-durable bone colored head.
The aroma and flavor are both lightly spicy and slightly more hoppy than malty. Very mild bitterness.

Overall: very nice although not as bold a I'd like.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.53/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

341ml bottle. Good old-school RAF-friendly label on this one, unsurprisingly.

This beer pours a clear, dark brassy amber hue, with two fingers of puffy, tightly foamy, and perhaps a bit fizzy off-white head, which does not stick around for long, leaving some mesa-esque lace in its short wake.

It smells of bready, biscuity caramel malt, hard toffee, strange dry chocolate notes, and a subtle tart raisin and overripe banana fruit essence. The taste is more bready caramel malt, zippy and bitter berry fruit - cranberry now, or maybe even rhubarb, given how my side palate is trembling - and earthy, leafy, and well, zingy hops.

The carbonation is moderate, and mostly unobtrusive in its heady frothiness, the body a decent medium weight, and a bit airy in its quotidian smoothness. It finishes with a somewhat waning sweetness, and waxing fruity hoppiness.

Maybe my bottle is just a wee bit old, but I'm a little nonplussed by the hop character in this ESB - the bitterness is there, but manifests more in the fruit character from the (also not all that biscuity) malt, rather than from the hops. Wait a sec - is that what it's supposed to do? Maybe. Still, a decent enough, worldview-bending tipple, but yet not an eye-opener. Meh, so sad to, um 'say'.

 1,260 characters

Photo of mattguterres
5/5  rDev +29.2%

Photo of Sammy
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bitter all right. Your session ale. Medium mouthfeel, not a top English ESB, but quite nice balanced with flavourful food. Nice dark colour, nice carbonation. Drinkable for its style, easy mouthfeel. Bit of raspberry, liquorish. Make note of the refrigeration clause. Recommended.

 280 characters

Photo of socon67
3.58/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tried a bottle at St. John Ale House in NB.

Pours amber to red. Mild carbonation swirls around my pint glass. The smell is extremely mild. Maybe I couldn't get a fix but about all I could smell was a mild flowery scent.

Taste is that of a traditional ESB. Bitter, with a malty feel. A very good representative of the style. Not a heavy beer, and quite drinkable. I would have this again.

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Photo of traumaqueen
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Powers30
4.01/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of abust
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Photo of joemcgrath27
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle from a 6er purchase
A - clear deep copper with a tall tan head, dissipated slowly with plenty of sticky lacing up the sides
S - very earthy with pine and cedar, roasted nuts with a light smokiness and sweet caramel
T - nutty and sweet molasses malt, definite earthy and piney hops, slight smoky or mustiness, just a hint of lemon zest to finish, very strong in flavour
M - lower carbonation, smooth fullness, slightly bitter spicy finish
D - very full flavours but with a great malt-hop balance, very easy and pleasurable to consume again and again

 561 characters

Photo of DanielleLouise
4.75/5  rDev +22.7%

Photo of Orrshow
4.25/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks goes out to elricorico for handing over this bottle. Cheers!

Appearance – This beer is deep amber with a small amount of white frothy head. Plenty of nice lacing is left on my glass as it is consumed.

Smell – My first impression from this beer is a nice slightly fruity hop. I detect some toffee and caramel with hints of bread malt as well. Quite alluring.

Taste – Although I did not detect it in the smell, coffee is clearly a decent part of this beers taste. This compliments the crisp fruity hops and toffee flavors nicely. The tasty bread flavor doesn’t hurt either.

Mouthfeel – This beer has some good body to it being nice and creamy. The carbonation is toned nicely to make this feel great while going down.

Drinkability – Quaffable as any great beer I’ve tasted. This is easily savored but could be used in a session as well. What a session that would be!

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Photo of jbonapar
4.52/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of the most Underrated Beers available in Nova Scotia or Canada for that matter. Propeller brews some of the best British Style Beers in North America. (Quebec has the best Belgian/German styles). Moving on..

Appearance - Typical Dark Bitter, but less head. I think this is the weakest aspect of the beer. Very minimal head and you cant get this in Bottle or cask conditioned versions. I would love to see this in a Bottle Conditioned version.

Smell - Fantastic, you can smell the malts jump out in this. Tricks you into thinking its going to be sweet.

Taste - My favorite Best Bitter, maltier than a ESB but with just enough hops to satisfy an english bitter fan. I think the strongest aspect of this beer is the balance between malt and bitter, the malt is a bit more up-front but just delicious smoothness.

Mouthfeel - again, its matlier than expected and has a nice coating on the tongue. Just love enjoying this beer.

Drinkability - You can easily drink 6 of these and not even know...

Overall, fantastic. I recommend everyone coming for a visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia for some excellent beer and Maritime Hospitality. this is Nova Scotia's REAL beer.

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Photo of Mandrake
4.3/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Arrives deep red and with a thick and frothy off-white head that lasts well and leaves good lacing, very similar to the bottled version. Smell is fruity, with plenty of hoppiness and some nice caramel in the mix too. Taste is quite hoppy (Cascade?) with fruity notes of strawberry and plum, butter and caramel rounding it out. Quite a departure from the bottled version that I've gotten to know quite well. Mouthfeel is rich and rewarding, and drinkability is excellent. This has become my go-to beer in the bars around my home for the summer on the south shore of Nova Scotia. I was astonished by how different from the bottle this is, but in a good way. I plan to taste them side by side to make sure I'm not imagining or exaggerating the differences, as it's been quite a while since I formally reviewed the bottle.

Edit: I'm not. It's really quite different. Recognizable as being the same beer only if you're trying to find the similarities.

 949 characters

Photo of eat
3.85/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes taken at the Emmet Ray in Toronto; a great music venue with a quite decent bottle selection. Translucent ruby-amber coloured body with lots of visible carbonation. A thin cover of cream white head leaves some decent lacing.

Smells mostly of sweet caramel malt and light earthy hops. Seems like a sort of American-UK cross.

The flavour is simple but well-balanced, with earthy hops and a nice mineral character. Bitterness wins out over the slightly-sweet malt, as it should. I don't find most examples of this style to be particularly balanced but this one is right on.

The carbonation is fairly high but it works here. Decent medium body.

This isn't usually one of my favourite styles but I could see myself buying a six pack now and then. A well-made, very drinkable bitter.

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Photo of souvenirs
3.68/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Brown and clear with tan head
S: Nutty malt, just a bit of hops
T: Roasted malt flavours -- mostly coffee -- and grassy hops to finish.
F: Silky. Maybe a bit crisper than the style would suggest.

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Photo of elricorico
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brought up from BC by my folks, I was surprised to see it on the BC Liquor web site. Unfortunately my hometown liquor store frequently has old product. This one was best before Oct 30, putting it about 7 weeks past. I had one yesterday though, and found it to be in good shape.

A deep copper colour with a thin cream coloured head. Not a thick head, but lacing is left all around.

Sweet toffee and english hop aroma. A bit of coffee bean and herbal tea. Pleasant smelling.

In the mouth this beer is fantastic. Creamy body carries a semi sweet toasty toffee flavour through the front of the tongue and into an herbal hop finish. The balance is perfect and the taste is very good. Mild carbonation suits the beer just right. I would say the mouthfeel sets the bar for this style.

I can't keep this beer in the glass, it seems to beg another sip before you can even put it down. I have no doubt that I could down a six pack of this in one sitting, and still be pleased by the taste.

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Photo of Goldorak
3.25/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very dark red, slightly translucent, with good head of tiny bubbles that gave way to creamy ring.

Smell: Grainy and sweet at first, then a more pronounced hop character, with traces of pepper.

Taste: Caramel malt, not as bitter as I thought it would be. In fact, the finish was rather sweet, and with it's low carbonation, it almost made me think of an Alt. Or maybe it's just me craving an Alt! Pretty good Beer altogether, but I expected a bit more punch, and maybe a bit more biscuit.

 505 characters

Photo of DaveBar
4/5  rDev +3.4%

Got on a trade with Curtis. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- 4.25- Opens well and pours a ton of head that lasts forever. DARK brown.

S- 3.75- Caramel and malt.

T- 4.0- Very good. Bit bitter aftertaste. Nice. Caramel and malty

M- 4.0- Very light for a bitter. Nice and refreshing

O- 4.10- This is what I would give this beer. Nice bitter. Good break beer

Food Pairing

This wonderful little bitter went well with...... BBQ steak with blue cheese.


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Photo of Stocean1
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured a one finger head on an aggresive pour - very nice lacing spackling the side of the glass - mahogany - deep brown in colour - quickly down to a thin off white collar

S - lots of malt, chocolate, floral hops

T - malt up front with floral hops, chocolate note, dark fruit, slightly sweet ( a little like a light stout)

M - medium body with decent carbonation - not overly bitter and dry

O - a decent ESB although I would like it a little hoppier

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Propeller Extra Special Bitter (ESB) from Propeller Brewery
Beer rating: 3.87 out of 5 with 157 ratings