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Belk's ESB | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

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Very Good
545 Ratings

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: 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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 545 |  Reviews: 356
Photo of jdhilt
1.83/5  rDev -51.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

No question this is an ESB, strong, hoppy after taste. Very little aroma its all in the taste. Alcohol not noticable even though it's on the high side. Low carbonation. If you like a bitter this one is for you but it is not my style.

 237 characters

Photo of everythingiszen
2/5  rDev -47.1%

Unbalanced. Too sweety-malty. Leads too sweet, becomes cloying by halfway through the pint. Wouldn't order again.

113 characters

Photo of brpendergast85
2/5  rDev -47.1%

Photo of TheBeerAlmanac
2.19/5  rDev -42.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bottle poured into a pint glass

A: Dark yellow in color and has a surprisingly thick and spongy head.

S: It does smell a little bitter but also metallic, much like a typical adjunct lager, not the greatest comparison.

T/M: Tastes malty like a traditional ESB with a slight hoppy bite and little bit of that bitterness in the finish.

Overall, it’s relatively bland.

 373 characters

Photo of PDXHops
2.29/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A hazy dull orange body makes a nice backdrop for the constant cascade of white carbonation bubbles. Off white head doesn't rise vertically much, but has nice retention and lacing.

Very floral with a slightly sweet bready and malty character.

Much more "busy" in the mouth. Crisp grainy flavor up front yields to significant yeasty sweetness and a noticeable alcohol burn (at only 6.8%?). Piny bitterness is significant- would be great in an IPA, but out of place for this style. Some sort of medicinal aftertaste lingers along with the pine down the throat. Not feeling this beer- it just doesn't come together nicely.

Overall impression- Disappointing ESB.

 699 characters

Photo of littlejon326
2.49/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Im not sure why this is even classified as an ESB.

Pours a very hazy golden straw orange. Huge head that I appreciate.

Aroma was hoppy and herbal with a slight malt backbone and sublte alchohol bite...6.8% for an esb?

Taste was, in my opinion, too much for this style. Slightly piney but a little apricote/clove notes, malt halfway through with a lingering bitterness. To me, this beer seems more to style as an american pale bordering a *balanced* ipa.

 456 characters

Photo of iemailjack
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of jaidenjb
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of beermanbrian
2.5/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of harrymel
2.52/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle date: nunya!
Pours an amber with a finger of light cream foam. This falls in a couple minutes to a beer with moderate lace. Smells of malts (english tone) with a bit of a hit of bitter, burnt caramel. This is the nose I generally look for in an ESB, but this is a little too subdued. Flavor is of malts and a weird, over powering flavor I place akin to sushi wrap (seaweed). Really this flavor is overpowering anything else I am tasting, unfortunately. The body is a bit thin with high carb and a semi dry finish. I'm a bit disappointed by this and would not likely order again on my own buck.

 600 characters

Photo of SmashPants
2.52/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle: 355mL blue can with an antlered bear (assumedly the Anderson mascot).

Appearance: pours a hazy orange amber with a thin white head that drops pretty quickly, leaving some lace.

Aroma: some herbal and grass hops with unrecognisable malts, with wet cardboard and some pine. Not the greatest aroma ever. I checked the best before, and it's still in date. Either it has suffered light strike (unlikely as it is a brown bottle) or this is a real ordinary beer.

Taste: again some malt and grassy hops - certainly nothing special. Also very flat in flavour - if anything, I would call this beer quite boring.

Aftertaste: a bit more hop bitterness comes through on the finish, but this is still one very disappointing brew.

Mouth feel: a light- to-moderate body with mild carbonation. A bit lacking.

Overall: this is the second beer I have had from Anderson Valley (the first being their Amber Ale), and neither are even a decent beer, let alone worth the top-end boutique price. One brewery to scratch off the list.

 1,022 characters

Photo of gdogalishus
2.64/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Serving from a bottle to tumbler
Serving temperature 47 degrees F
pH: 4.37
Alcohol Measured: 6.9% by Residual Extract Method

This ESB poured into my tumbler with a beautifully hazzy copper core surrounded by a cylinder of gold by the edges of the glass. The head was full and robust.
The aroma was cause for concern. I instantly noted a distinct yeasty/stale aroma that may be suggesting that this bottle has some oxidation issues.
The taste was mildly hoppy with little malt character. Bitterness was the main characteristic of this beer, and for an ESB is not out of character, but the oxidation made it through to the flavor as well.
I think I got an old bottle, and perhaps I should try another one before deciding that this is not a particularly good ESB, but the beer is whats in the bottle and I will review it as such. If I try another sometime and see a difference, I will update this review. For now, not a particularly good example of an ESB other than the appearance.

 988 characters

Photo of maxwelldeux
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%

Photo of NJBeer265
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%

Photo of Hopswagger
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%

Photo of zbloom
2.75/5  rDev -27.2%

Photo of Cresant
2.77/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured this undated 12 oz. brown bottle into a nonic. A semi-cloudy body of golden honey color supported a minor head. A ring of white foam remained throughout.

Smell was caramel sweet. Piney and citrus. Floral notes. Rather spicy.

Taste is very APA-like. Caramel sweet taste reflected the aroma. Balanced but not subtle like a British ESB.

Mouthfeel was stylewise appropriate with mild carbonation. Not a standout in any characteristic but drinkable.

 460 characters

Photo of littlesgtpepper
2.82/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had a 6oz taster glass at AVBC.

A soft off-white head faded fast on this beer but had some nice lacing. A rather pretty deep honey color.

Maybe I had a bad batch? The scent is slightly skunky which was weird for Anderson Valley and kind of overpowered the smells of hops and malt.

Good strong hop flavor (Cascade hops maybe?), but not enough malt flavor. Something slightly floral is here too but I can't place it. A nice ending spicy bite.

ESB's are all about balance between hops and malt and this beer tends to lean more toward and IPA style. Not a bad beer but I won't go out of my way to try it again.

 612 characters

Photo of SaltofOH
2.83/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Last week I was excited to be the second review for this beer; now there are more than 500, and they go back some time. Damn you re-branding! Bottle from a mix and match sixer. No freshness dating.

Appearance: Pours a hazy ornageish-brown with a 1/2" light tan head. Very foamy. Very little visible carbonation. Lacing goes all the way down as I drink. The best lacing I have seen on a beer in a long while.

Aroma: Something is weird here. Yeast fruitiness and sweet malt. Touch of earthy hops.

Taste: Dry arrival, full-flavored, malty bitterness across mid palate then POW big bittering hop finish. Cloying at the end of the glass.

Mouthfeel: Midweight with significant slickness.

Overall: This is not an ESB. This is an IPA without aroma hops. I cannot imagine drinking more than one of these. Out of balance.

 818 characters

Photo of ThirstyBird
2.94/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a challis..I know weird but too lazy to switch from my last beer.
A - Hazy honey colored. 1/2 inch of light tan head falls to a mottled skim.
S - Big caramel malt nose with some fruity hops.
T - Damn hoppy, I get the malt for a moment then quickly the hops bombard. This is the most bitter ESB I've ever had. This baby is definitely not balanced. Lingering spicy and bitter.
M/F - Medium body, more carbonated than I would expect for an ESB.
D - I don't know about this one. I seems like somebody mixed an ESB with a hoppy IPA. Weird, seems like a wild pitch to use a baseball analogy for me.

 625 characters

Photo of guityler83
2.98/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

A: An overy aggresive pour (oops) into an imperial pint glass produced a four finger head that sustained for a minute and laced the glass with a thick coat of off white foam. The beer itself showed a murkey copper / orange color a few shades darker then the half acre logo on the glass.

S: Sweet with toffee, caramel and a hefty toast vibe. Some fruity esters coming through possibly from the yeast and a spicy, earthy hop character that is almost missed with all the malt smells.

T: The big malt character expected from the nose: toffee, caramel with some gram cracker and bread crust. The bitterness is fairy strong with earthy noble hop flavors and lingers on the pallet long after it's been swallowed. A bit of a papery tasting in the middle (oxidation?) and a fruity almost german tasting yeast flavor

M: The bitterness in this drys out the mouth giving a slighty astringant vibe (or from the carmel malts?) Moderate body with moderate carbonation.

O: I'm not a big fan of many ESB's or english beers in general unless they are firkin (cask, real ale, etc). This one was a bit harsh and I think it had an oxidation problem. If that was fixed I might have scored it higher, but for now... meh

 1,200 characters

Photo of olradetbalder
3/5  rDev -20.6%

Photo of dertyd
3/5  rDev -20.6%

Photo of TheMrFarnham
3/5  rDev -20.6%

Photo of largadeer
3/5  rDev -20.6%

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