Belk's ESB | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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545 Ratings

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Inspired by the classic “Bitters” from Great Britain, our Belk’s ESB is an innovative take on the style. With a deep, golden hue and big malty foundation, the spicy, herbal hop aromas and crisp, bitter bite give a West Coast flair to this classic recipe.

Formerly Boont ESB.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 04-25-2001

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 545 |  Reviews: 356
Reviews by Ego:
Photo of Ego
4.68/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am an admitted ESB lover. this is a striking attempt by an american brew at an english favorite (fullers, adnams anyone?). The difference here is the hops and carbonation signature. Where a lot of ESBs may seem "flat" to a lot of people this one certainly is not. It has the classic ESB flavour but more bite on nose and pallate, more american I suppose. Excellent lace of head on the glass, smells like it tastes and yet after leaving it out for awhile smells like a clasic brit ESB. Beautiful color, amber/brown mixed hue, though very clear. This is an american take on an english standard. The english types tend to lack the bite this does.. so imagine your sierra nevada pale crashed a fullers party.. and you have this brew. If you leave it out to breathe (for 15 min at least) it settles more into a traditional ESB all around but still has a better hop signature than most ESBs. Hop lovers will love this out of the 12 oz typical bottle as is and immediate, ESB lovers/traditionalists should let it sit for a while in a snifter before imbibing to enjoy it fully. Recommended. (note this is a 6.8% brew... barely noticeable in the taste)

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had tried this on tap over a year ago and wasnt really all that impressed with it but I have to say I like it alot better out of the bottle.Poures a burnt orange color with a nice almost creamy-like head head that leaves a nice sheet of lace behind as it settles,some citrus and piney hop really come thru in the nose with some light caramel as well.Taste seems to be more well balanced out of the bottle there is still a big west coast hop profile pine and grapefruit but thereis a nice big firm slighty sweet maltiness to it that makes it a very solid well rounded ale.Glad to not only try the bottled version but to find it here in Greensboro.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a good-lookin’ ale. The body is a hazy orange and the head was big and puffy, showing exceptional retention and leaving some nice lacing all along the inside of my glass.

Smell – The aroma here is light. I can pick up some bitter grainy notes along with some grassy hops.

Taste – This is pretty damn good. There’s a funky grainy aftertaste that I could do without, but other than that this is a big ESB. The bitter, citrus hops are nicely mixed with a touch of pine and a good, smooth, malty backbone.

Mouthfeel – This one is medium-bodied with a nice, dry finish and some light carbonation that kept things interesting.

Drinkability – A pleasant surprise. I’ve avoided this one for a while because of the cheesy label (“Gold Medal Winner”) but this is a quality Americanized ESB.

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Photo of brownbeer
4.27/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Copper in color with a frothy head.

Well balanced aroma of doughy, biscuity malt and spicy hops with a touch of yeastiness.

A nice, sweet dose of caramel and hop fruitiness with a soft, comfortable medium body. This could almost be an English strong ale.

Overall, very tasty without trying to hard with great drinkability. My only problem would be letting the 6.8% catch up with me as it's not noticeable in the flavor.

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Photo of ArrogantDeadGuy
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew was a hazy amber pour into my pint glass carrying a frothy head with visibly active carbonation. The muted floral notes on the nose and pallet are very nice. There is a good amount of fruit presence, again, both in the nose and pallet. This ESB is top end with with a great crispness and sticky feel as it is drank. This is a wonderfully drinkable ESB.

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Photo of Shakerman
3.25/5  rDev -14%

Photo of FadetoBock
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of Doomcifer
4/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of iemailjack
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of Jason
3.91/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz brown long-neck bottle with no freshness date. Blurb about the beer on the back label.

Appearance: Gold with a deep orange hue, dense fluffy white lace does a great job of leaving rings all the way down the glass.

Smell: Clean to the nose with a mix of a little raw hop and biscuity grain.

Taste: Medium to full in body, big malty palate with a creamy and slick mouth feel. Lots of malt with a huge sweet grain presence. Alcohol and hops come hand and hand to leave a cutting spicy and bitter character. Hops are more or less a quick in and out bitterness with a leafy finish. Alcohol is fruity, warming, estery and quite boisterous. Vague hop leaf and lots of grain in the finish.

Notes: Big beefy American Style ESB these guys have dished out. Close to a strong ale in my opinion, alcohol is very noticeable. Certainly one of the biggest ESBs I have ever had the pleasure to try.

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Photo of merlin48
3.53/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy, burnt-orange, amber color with a two finger beige head. Leaves patchy rings of lacing all down the glass. Aroma is initially of toffee and butterscotch, then comes an assault of westcoast hops with pine and lemony citrus. Mouthfeel is creamy, tart, and medium bodied. Plenty of carbonation here. Taste has a few complexities. Toffee and lots of bittering hops up front. Sweet caramel malts fight a losing battle with the big hop profile. Some buttery and nutty flavors seem to be present, but are, unfortunately, subdued by the massive hops. Finishes dry and very bitter. This could use a better malt profile to balance the hoppiness and come closer to matching the style.

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Photo of mrquartetman
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber in color, decent head that dissipated quickly

S: Distinct hop, not much malt, fairly floral

T: Quite hoppy, balanced nicely by the maltiness. Citrusy.

M: Hop all the way across the palate, a bit of a malt follow

D: Drinkable, certainly, but not in preference to lots of other highly drinkable beers of the same type.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A gift from a co-worker I helped move yesterday...thanks Tim.
Pours a clear dark amber color w/ a full finger and a half of tan head...pillow-like and slowly recedes as I enjoy the pint. Quite thick, sticky lacing forms on the side of the pint glass...much better than expected.
Aroma is pleasant...sweet malt in the nose at first w/ some fruity hops in the finish as well as a mild spice.
Taste is pretty darn impressive w/ a plentiful dose of bitter hops dominating the flavor...malt is there, but this one is not sweet and it stays true to the style w/ the bitterness smacking you from start to finish. No alcohol detected during the duration.
Mouthfeel is a tad thin and the carbonation is nice...making this one quite easy to consume.
Overall, a nice representation of the style...glad to try this one.

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Photo of olradetbalder
3/5  rDev -20.6%

Photo of JupiterJesus
5/5  rDev +32.3%

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Capital Ale House.

A cloudy, dull orange in color. Thick and creamy white head distinctly laces the glass. Aroma was of....sweet iced tea. Call me crazy but that's what I smelled. Taste was sweet at the start. Finished delightfully dry with a very noticable and pleasing bitterness. Alcohol well-hidden (6.8%) but peeks through from time to time. Medium-bodied with a very crisp and dry finish. A "right tasty" ESB (thanks to AKSmokedPorter for his eloquence). Good combination of flavors and the finish make for a much better-than-average ESB.

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Photo of NOLTERN
3.75/5  rDev -0.8%

Photo of Osiris9588
4.17/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz brown bottle, no date. Rusty orange color, fluffy white head, decent retenton and a ring of small-bubbled, sticky lace.

Aroma is orange peel, malt, and floral hops. The flavor is malt, orange, some cherry phenols, and a strong presence of alochol--bold.

Medium-bodied and pretty complex, going from bright on the front palate, to a sweet middle act, but the hops are present throughout, yet provide different sensations on the way. Dense but drinkable and unlike any ESB I've had.

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Photo of Thrasher
3.45/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bright amber with full head that leaves lace. Mellow nose with some pleasant mustiness and good, grainy malts. Flavor is much too hoppy. If this was an IPA I could understand the bitterness, not to mention the alcoholic strength. I guess AV already has their IPA (and what a huge one it is) and this so-called "bitter" is just a step down from it. Doesn't qualify as a bitter, though, even though it is very bitter. A true English bitter is more balanced, with the malt playing perhaps the dominant role. Here, it takes a back seat to sharp spiky hops that are grassily pungent. Small sips as the beer mellows and warms give evidence to a nicely diverse malt profile, but you have to dig down deep to get past the blatant hops. Not being one who loves hops just for the sake of hops, I can't say I'm crazy about this. A true hophead may appreciate it much more.

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Photo of far333
3.55/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Hazy orangey color with big brown flecks of something or other floating around in it. Big beige foamy head about an inch high just sitting there and not moving. Lots of spider web oily lacing all around the glass. Aroma is sweet malt and hops and citrus and pine. Flavor is hoppy and piney and citrusy and has an odd malt flavor to it, like it's spoiled. The malt is a bit off. Not at all what I think of in an ESB. More hoppy and citrusy and lighter colored.

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Photo of doremite
3.25/5  rDev -14%

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.57/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Well damn, if Anderson Valley ain't a cool brewery, and the what is it Buckhorn Saloon (not sure on the name) sure does act as the de facto brewpub in town for these guys. Very hospitable.

Appearance, looks like a decent English ESB. Nothing coming across aroma wise, taste, sweet and tasty, a little thin, doesn't last, but doesn't disappoint and devolve to something lesser. Drinkable, if not for the other (and better) Anderson Valley brews, like the IPA, Oatmeal Stout. . .

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Photo of ADR
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Slightly hazy, amber/brown. Big bubble, thin head that lasts. Robust impact taster, hop bitterness, quite alcoholic. Lots of flavor front to back but a little on the "too bitter" side and needing some balance to me. Real sticker of a mouthfeel, a little overdone, almost as if Anderson Valley is showing off too much.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.03/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not as caramelly as most ESBs, this one leads more toward the hop end of the spectrum. Appears a slightly hazed copper amber tone with an off white lucious two fingered head leaving lace as it settles a magnificant looking brew. Aroma consists of floral hops combined with a decent amount of balancing malt. Taste is piney with hop resin yet a contrasting bitterness balances out the brew almost perfectly, not completely characteristic of an ESB, but I love this beer a great counterpart to most any food the hops complement so much. The mouthfeel is medium bodied fluffy with some oily resins sliding on the tongue this beer is seductive. The drinkability for me well if I found it on tap at the right place this could be dangerous for me, but either way this is a great beer.

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Photo of Zonian1
4.5/5  rDev +19%

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Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.78 out of 5 with 545 ratings