Belk's ESB | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

very good
355 Reviews

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

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 355 | Ratings: 544
Photo of DrDemento456
3.78/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Wow this seriously had the most impressive head I seen in a while. Thick and chewy with good lacing. Color of the beer was a kind of hazy amber brown.

S - Smell is mild yet has a good hop presence (not much herbal ESB notes) with bready bodied malts and touch of caramel.

T - Are you sure this is an ESB cuz this drinks great! Most ESB I have had are bitter and have an underlying herbal tea flavor yet this was clean and bready with a touch of citrus hops and a bit a caramel like sweetness. Tasty!

M - Medium and chewy it almost drinks like a brown ale.

Overall I would consider getting this again. Anderson valley has yet to disappoint me.

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

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

A: The beer is a deep gold color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick but spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, nuts, a good amount of hops and a touch of citrus.

T: The taste starts out with a touch of caramel and citrus sweetness that quickly fades behind the incoming strength of a grassy hops presence. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly hoppy.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is a solid beer worth pounding for a long time.

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Photo of MadeInOregon
4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: Orange-brown and dark gold color with a huge, thick foamy slightly off-white head.

SMELL: Vanilla, Cotton Candy, mild hops

TASTE: Cherry, Cotton Candy, Orange (a combination reminiscent of a winter warmer). There is a hoppy, pine finish in addition to these. It is less hoppy than I expected and quite a bit sweeter than other ESB's I've had.

FEEL: Smooth, malty and creamy with a dry, sticky finish

OVERALL: Excellent balance and execution. Definitely the best ESB I've had. Anderson Valley continues to impress me...

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Photo of mikeg67
3.72/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle. Pours hazy orange with a long lasting, foamy, white head. Aroma is of spicy hops, bready malt and ripe fruit. Medium, crisp body. Piney, spicy hops up front, followed by bready malt, caramel and hints of ripe fruit. Finish is long and bitter. Nice, flavorful brew.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.05/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: cloudy amber liquid with slight cream coloured head.

S: yeast, caramel malts, grassy hops, orange citrus.

T: bitter orange upfront, gives way to a caramel malt with grassy hops and grapefruit.

M: medium viscosity and medium to high level of fine cardination, dry finish.

O: quite bitter, yet it doesn't stay true to the style.

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

this one pours i golden orange hint with a creamy head. the smell is definatly hinting at what's to come. the taste is carmely malt and a smoothing out of hops. it is an extremely well balanced brew. is leaves a smooth mix of hops and malt. it is a sticky and bubbly brew. overall i like this one. it is very well balanced leaning towards the malty side. try it out if you get the chance.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Available in big supermarkets in South Korea now.

APPEARANCE: A cider like, dark gold colour. A few lazy strings of bubbles. Almost clear. Big white head.

SMELL: A small bouquet with caramel.

TASTE: Christ it's sharp. Very sweet but also very bitter. Lots of grapefruit but emphasis is on the bitterness rather than the bouquet. There's a bit of grapefruit skin in their too.

OVERALL: Pretty full on but unbalanced. Got acid reflux written all over it.

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Photo of WillCarrera
3.85/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours a clear golden amber color topped with a couple fingers of super creamy off-white head, leaves very good lacing.

S- Light floral hops, lots of bready malt and light caramel.

T- More pronounced hops than in the nose, grassy and floral with mild citrus, backed up with a strong biscuity malt backbone, has a bit of caramel and honey sweetness.

M- Medium bodied, very very smooth and creamy feel.

O- A pretty nice beer, maybe not the best ESB but it's very enjoyable and fun to drink nevertheless.

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Photo of samie85
3.25/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a clear orange color with three fingers of white head.

Smells of biscuity malt and light hints of peach and lime notes.

Bitter citrus notes with biscuity malt to back it up.

Very light body with medium carbonation and a light, prickly feel.

Very drinkable but a little lighter in body than I would like.

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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.

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

This pours an enticing crystal-clear golden copper color with an amber hue and a nice layer of foam. There’s a pleasing biscuity malt aroma with a hoppy kick at the end. On the flavor I find a sharp hop bitterness up front with a pleasing toasted biscuit malt backbone that comes through on the finish. There’s an underlying honey biscuit flavor, but ultimately it feels more muddled than crisp for the style.

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Photo of Adam5150
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear medium amber orange golden color with a average, frothy - creamy, good lacing, mostly lasting, off-white head. Aroma is moderate malty, roasted, caramel - toffee notes, moderate hoppy, grapefruit, orange. Flavor is moderate to light light heavy sweet and bitter with a average duration. Body is medium

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Photo of farrago
3.43/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Creamy microfoam head of eggshell white, doesn’t dimple as much as form rolling hills across the surface, excellent retention with thick and sticky lacing as well. The liquid is hazy and opaque, a glowing orange to yellow color, a few trace loose bubbles discernible within. The nose features honey, bread, cocoa dust, malts with some peat moss, dried lemons, coal tar, matted meadow grasses, some peach to apricot fruit, it’s not really that funky but by the same token the word “clean” does not leap into your mind either. Full-bodied, creamy attack which segues into a bitter finish with a light metal to iodine ring to it. All the apricot, peach, yellow apple, pear fruit as well as white grapefruit to lemon citrus feels pressed, ripe but all the juice forced out. Honey, maple syrup and cocoa fill in some blank spots, buttered biscuit more burnt than undercooked. The carbonation is perhaps too fluffed up to keep the whole clear and linear. It’s interesting at times but not the sort of brew you really want to invest a lot of time or gullet space to.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy honey orange with a 1 inch foamy off-white head that settles to a film on top of the beer. A thick curtain of lace forms on the glass during the drink down. Smell is of malt and herbal and citrus zest hop aromas. Taste is of malt and herbal and floral hops. There is an almost medicinal bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a crisp level of carbonation with a prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but not something I would probably get again.

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Photo of LtCracker20
3.46/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours an absolutely cloudy pale orange body with a 1-finger head that falls to a nice cap that sticks around for a while. Some white lacing.

S- Some sweet caramel malts, lightly hopped, and also some funk mixed with some skunky aroma. A little buttery as well.

T- Biscuity, a little skunky, slight grassy hop flavors, and sweet caramel. Some cereal flavors to it.

MF- Moderate to full bodied beer. A little lower carbonation levels then expected.

O- Received for Christmas in a gift pack with a few good beers, but a 60 Min IPA that was a year old, so this beer is at least that. But considering the age, not too bad except for the slight skunkiness and the malt being so forward.

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

12 oz bottle poured into mason jar

A: yellow-golden, clear but not too clear. there was some condensation as I left the beer in the fridge.

S: straw, light hay/barnyard aroma. not offensive, not overpowering.

T: as it should. light carmel sweetness and a crisp hop bite. slight bitterness lingers for a while after.

M: in the beginning the carbonation seemed a bit much. seems a bit thick, but I could be wrong. definitely a british style ale.

O: I like it. it feels like I could drink quite a few of these. at 6.8%, I don't think there is enough flavor to enjoy responsibly.

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Photo of timtwoface
3.65/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I first tried this beer last night, and I enjoyed it. Very easy to drink, nicely hopped (but not overly so), and a bit dry, too. Not my favourite ESB out there but definitely worth a shot. Check it out!

PS - I don't know if it's a joke, or a label misprint, but on the label it reads "Extra Special Beer" rather than "Extra Special Bitter". Interesting...

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Photo of ely2000k
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Good head. Lots of visible carbonation that settles as it sits. The color is kind of a pale orange. Looks a little bit lighter then was expected, but still appetizing.

S- Some citrus and a bit of a light floral smell. Mellow.

T- Does a good balance between mildly sweet and dry. Tastes floral, but not overly so, and the hops and bitterness help compliment the flavor but not overwhelm it.

M- Dry. Good carbonation. The after taste is a bit metallic which is my only minor complaint, but the floral taste does help with this.

O- I like this overall. Pretty easy to drink, and I kinda like the dryness of it.

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

bottle to pint.

A: Hazy bright amber, big head fades to 1/8" that stays for the lenght of the beer, nice sticky lacing.

S: Malt, biscut, caramel, hints of citrus and earth.

T: Big malty start that lingers sweet in the mouth, then out of nowehre comes a big hoppy bitter finish.

M: Medium body, smooth and crisp with a dry finish.

O: nice drinking, well balanced, tasty beer. If your a fan of the style then your a fan of this beer.

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Photo of soju6
3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy copper color with a good head that fades slowly to nice lacing.

S:Aroma is a blend of roasted malt, fresh grain with a bit of citrus. Easy on the nose.

T: Nice nip of bitterness , the some caramel sweetness with a continued bitter through to a clean finish.

F: Medium body, crisp and smooth, quite well balanced. The 6.8% ABV is well hidden.

O: Very enjoyable, good beer to relax with.

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Photo of ADZA
4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange,copper hue which leaves a two finger head that stays and leaves clingy lacing everywhere,the smell is boiled candy,grapefruit,toffee and citrus,the mouthfeel is light-medium bodied with medium carbonation and has tastes of grapefruit,paw-paw,boiled candy,toffee and finished with spicy,herbal hop bitterness and overall its a very nice ESB and would drink again cheers.

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Photo of nickd717
4.25/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review dated 9/28/2010. 12oz bottle from Whole Foods Los Altos.

Pours a slightly hazy copper color, with a one-finger-plus white head and good lacing.

Excellent floral and citrusy hops on the aroma along with a sweet honeyish malt note to it.

The flavor has a subtle bready pale malt base, with a great hop profile: floral, herbal, grapefruit, and other light fruit notes.

Nice palate, medium-bodied with a fairly lively carbonation level.

Really good for the style. Glad I got this before AV sold out.

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Photo of Samp01
3.8/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy orange/amber with a medium white head. Aroma of sweet malt, earthy piney hops. Taste is spicy earthy floral hops with some sweet malt and light fruity. Palate is a nicely balanced medium body with good carbonation. Finish is floral earthy piney lightly spiced hops ending with some nice caramel malt with some light sweet bitterness. Overall a very nicely balanced brew.

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Photo of notchucknorris
3.98/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Golden color with a really nice 1 finger head that has great retention.

S: Really sweet and malty on the nose with a little hops tucked in the background.

T: The maltiness hits first. Sweet flavors of caramel and a little peach. Citrus hops come in towards the finish and have a little spiciness to them. The mouthfeel is a touch heavy and wears you down a bit the more you drink. This was a tasty beer though. I'd definitely do another.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.88/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

vThis beer poured out as a brownish amber color with a light tan head on top. The lacing was scattered on the glass. The smell of the beer has a nice sweet malt character to it, with a bit of floral hops on the nose as well. The taste of the beer reminded me a bit more of an IPA than an ESB in my opinion. The flavors were a little sweet upfront with a touch of caramel that faded into a strong bitter finish. The mouthfeel I found to be pretty good with a nice easy going drinkability to it. Overall I like the beer, I would drink it again for sure. I wouldn't run out to buy a case though.

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Belk's ESB from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.78 out of 5 based on 544 ratings.
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