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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 pjwilson
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

appearance: nice looking glass of beer here. pale straw, with a nice head that settles into about a centimeter and hold. Seems almost too light for a ESB, used to them looking more red. nice unfiltered look imo,

smell: caramal malts, and a little of that ESB butter. Just a kiss of the hops too. nice

taste: the defining character of an ESB, imo, is that yeast should provide some flavor, as opposed to an IPA or a pale ale. This one here is no exception. Buttery dialectl flavors are the dominating flavor here, fruity tasting stuff. a sweet malt is there to back it up and it's quite pleasent. Little hop flavor, but a nice bitterness in the back. More than any one flavor though is the fact that all the flavors just blend together to make a no-nonsense tasty beer.

mouthfeel: very clean and nice. Very full and no trace of the wateryness from lesser breweries. a nice carbination sort of liven's up the flavor.

drinkability: huh, 6.8 is a bit high for an ESB, but i'm not complaining. This stuff is gonna go down great. Not many breweries do an ESB, but I for one can enjoy a nice extra special bitter as a nice change of pace.

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

Honey gold with a slight haze and a head that is yummily frothy with very sticky relentless lacing. The aroma is light and clean - floral spicy UK hops and a little malt. Nice bitterness upfront - more British hops, a little grain, and sweet caramel malts. Medium body and slick in the mouth - lightly bitter finish.

Good ESB. Very drinkable, though probably a bit too strong to be a session beer.

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Photo of goodbyeohio
4.54/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bomba from half time

hazy pumpkin orange with lots of carbonation and a velvety pillow of hilly froth on top. solid sheet walls of lace. clean, woody aroma is offset by raw, grassy hop notes. mild and fresh nose. some final honey accents make me want to dive right in to a pool filled with belk's esb. bitter malt flavor contains a big spiciness evocative of freshly shaved nutmeg. hops stick to the fruity side, bringing some orange zest and banana into play.

still maintains a nice, clean balance, lighter body, and through the roof drinkability. while this is not the jesus christ of esb's, it's a good find and worth a buy. certainly must be smokin hot on tap.

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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.

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Photo of russpowell
3.29/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours amber/caramel with humungous white head that held a 1" head throughout. Lacing was very good

Smell: Some fruittiness and hops, but very subtle for style

Taste: Intense hops bitterness followed by some malt fruitiness. A butterscotch tast that detracts is also present then a very bitter finish

MF: Way out of balance, more malt should come through, slightly undercarbonated

If you ignore the style this is a somewhat drinkable IPA, but out of whack for an ESB IMHO

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.77/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Belk's ESB

A 6er cost me $12!!!

Appearance- cloudy orange with a thick head.
Smell- caramel/ molasses malt. Slight nutty hop aroma, very faint though.
Taste- sweet caramel with a touch of roasted nut hops.
Mouthfeel- sweet, too sweet.

Overall- a decent ESB unfortunately the sweetness practically ruins it.

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Photo of charlottebeerguy
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

served from a 12 oz brown bottle into a tulip glass

Pours a fairly clear orange color with a nice white head which soon falls.

Smell is clean with nice bittering hop aroma and maybe a hint of juniper berries.

Clean taste with a nice smoothe bitterness no hint of 6.8% ,

Dry at first but smooth on the finish

You can drink this on a hot day or when ever will drink again.

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Photo of BitterBrian
4.36/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It pours a deep cloudy orange with not much of a head. What was there disappeared in seconds.

It smells of bright hops, citrus and some mellow malts.

Wow! Thats a mighty fine beer. It's a nice hearty ESB, a full bodied, tart, lively beer. Some orange and tea tastes are evident. Nice sweetness and bitterness on the finish. The sides of my tongue are awake now!

I would drink this again if it were more available in my area. Are all Anderson Valleys this good?

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

Pours a little hazy deep golden color, some carbonation, small head which dissapates quickly. There is some nice lacing through out the drink. Scents of hops and malts. Very nice taste for the style, very malty with a bit of a bitter bite at the end. Medium body. Another excellent brew from Anderson Valley, do they even make a bad brew, if so, I've not had one yet. This is very drinkable at 6.8% ABV, I would highly recommend this one.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
4.33/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a nice little "Americanized" ESB from the AVBC folks.

It pours a great looking hazy orange colour wi tha foamy sticky head atop. It leaves a mess of goodness along the sides of the glass.

The aroma is a nice mix of sweet floral hops and a malty earth ruggedness, with the hops standing out just a touch more overall.

The flavour is also more hoppy than malty, although the malt does push in for a nice finish, the hops guide you for most of the way. There's a mice creamy vibe to this once as well.

This is a nice twist on a style that I enjoy. Simple and flavourful. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of LPorter33
4.19/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Purchased single bottle from Charles St. Liquors

Appearance = cloudy orange-brown, not much head, decent lacing.

Smell = Great pine and citrus hops, similar to what you'd find in a good IPA. Can definitely detect a bit of sugary malt too.

Taste = Pretty darn good. Nicely balanced with dominating bitter hops presence but enough sugar to come in and cancel it out so it doesn't overwhelm your tastebuds. Exceptional silky mouthfeel. I almost like the way it hits my mouth more than the actual taste.

Overall = Definitely recommended if you happen to see it at your store. I wouldn't necessarily go and seek it out as it's not that unique and you can find several other high quality beers of similar nature. Still this one is right up with the best.

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Photo of robertp1024
4.15/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This ESB pours a cloudy amber/copper color with only a slight head. The head stays around for a little while, but there is very little lacing. The aroma is sweet and citrusy. The flavor has a bite. There is a solid finish which stays with you for a while. Nice hops blend with the sweetness. The bite of the hops with the scent and flavor of the alcohol are quite noticable. Nice ESB.

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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 karst
3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a chill hazed amber orange with dense persistant 1-2 fingered head and sticky lace. Haze clearing as this ESB nears 55° F.

Aroma of citrus hops with caramel malt and fruity esters. A little alcohol in the aroma. Similar flavors with grapefruit hops dominating the crystal and biscuit malts and drying out the sweet caramel flavor.

Medium body, medium-light mouthfeel with good level of carbonation. Finish from Willamette bitterness lingers long.

Not your typical English ESB but still most drinkable. Must try.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A little more agressive that the average ESB. Look is fine, just a little lighter rust color than most. Low carbonation, dainty head, fair lacing. Smells malty sweet and biscuity. Light caramel tones. Good hop spiciness and bittering. Tastes lightly malty, caramelly, and a little toasty. Good dosage of spicy and bitter hops against light grain bill lends to agressive hopping for style, maybe American hop varieties...I like it. Warming alcohol rides from sip to swallow. Finishes crisply bitter, lightly sweet and alcoholic, and slick like buttered popcorn. A little less dry than expected. Alochol becomes a little medicinal in the aftertaste.

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Photo of OatherS
4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice label with a Cali valley scene with a bear in a lake.

A: One finger head with a amber color on the light end.

S: Hoppy, bitter, alcoholy.

T: Similar to the smell, strong bitter hoppy aftertaste. Very enjoyable drink.

M: Crisp.

D: Very good ESB, nice and strong.

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

Anderson Valley's ESB pours golden in color with some head that dissapates fairly quickly. Very minimal lacing. Balanced between solid malt flavor and strong hop bitterness. Nice crisp bitter finish. This is my first ESB, so I will have to try more to compare. But to me, it is like a light IPA with little hop oil flavor and more full malt flavor. This is a drinkable beer and I enjoy it paired with Jarlsberg cheese.

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Photo of DogFood11
4.06/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I thought the appearance was outstanding. I've purchased this beer many times but i'm reviewing this with beer in hand. Big head depletes into a nice coating and lacing. light caramel coloring. Very inviting. Smelled bitter with a distinct sharp hoppiness. I want to devour this beer but at almost 7% its a bit too inviting for a lazy saturday afternoon.

Taste: The bitterness really grabs the top of the palate. The aftertaste lingers a bit but it sharpens into some hoppiness. This is a solid beer and the drinkability is off the charts. mouthfeel is a bit creamy , fine carbonation means it probably was not forced or at least it feels that way which is fine with me.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
4.09/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark golden brown with a frothy white head. The foam falls flat pretty quickly but leave a bit of lacing along the glass.

The smell is pretty inviting - fruit notes of peach, apricot and apple accompanied by a bucketful of noble hops. There's a pervasive new mown grass smell with hints of floral notes as well.

The taste is quite fine - most of the fruit notes in the nose come through on the tongue as well, along with golden toasted bread and a light nuttiness. The hops are the main event here and AVB uses lots of 'em. This beer is right on the edge between 'hoppy' and 'bitter' which is about the right place for an ESB. I wish there was a bit more of a grain note to balance the hops but it's a minor quibble. Hops again are straight out of the noble family: mostly grassy notes with a wee bit of pine, floral and herb to round it out. It's a pleasantly complex hop mix.

Mouthfeel is dead on. This is a light bodied brew with plenty of carbonation; what was lost in the head stayed in the drink. The hops leave a pretty dry finish to each sip.

This is quite drinkable - the next time I'm hankering for a good dose of Euro style hops and there's not a high quality Pils nearby I'll most likely reach for a Belk's.

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Photo of bmills1608
4.22/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Color - Hazy, almost cloudy orange color with touches of rust
Nose - Heavy handed ripe fruits, kiwi and orange, red licorice, really nice nose
Taste - Wonderfuly fruity and complex, under the fruit flavors a solid, lightly bready toasted malt flavor foundation, fairly sweet. Tangy and snappy herbal flavors flood in towards the end, cutting the sweetness of the malts.
Mouthfeel - Smooth and creamy, easy tight and light carbonation

Overall - Great drinkable brew, very complex with several distinct flavor layers are succesfully intigrated into a smooth unifiyng drink. Great balance and a great ESB.

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Photo of IceAce
3.34/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Despite all the coaxing one could muster, it is virtually impossible to get this copper colored pint to disclose its contents by way of aroma.

The first sip eliminates any doubt that this will be a boring beer as a full mouthfeel and a wonderful dry malt profile mixes with hints of nuts and fruity sweetness. The finish commences with a floral hop bite and a long, slow Euro-hop fade.

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Photo of Luigi
4.23/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice clear amber color with a giant white head that sticks all over the glass. Smells rich with spicy hops, bready grains, and alcohol. Tastes very hoppy. Citrus and piney hops dominate at first but are soon balance by a big biscuity malt. The body is meduim and the drinkablity is great! What a beefy ESB! At 6.8% (and I do not know how I even found this in NC) it gets you buzzed really quick.

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Photo of silver0rlead
4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a light golden color with a big white head that leaves nice lacing down the glass. The aroma is caramel malt with a hop background that smells citrusy. The taste begins with a sweet molasses malt followed by an herbal and citrusy hops bitterness that lingers throughout the taste. The hops flavor has hints of grapefruit, pine sap and lemon rind. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with a warming effect. The drinkability is good but not great with an almost 7% abv.

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Photo of ybnorml
3.7/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An orange /amber beer with just a slight haze. Has a small creamy off white head, with a small amount of lace. The aroma has strong vanilla and fruit notes with a hint of citrusy hops in the background. The flavor starts out with a blast of hoppy bitterness followed by a nice caramel malty sweetness and finishing off with a smooth tea like bitterness.

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Photo of freed
4.1/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours nicely, rich copper to bronze with good clarity. Mixing of bubbles of various size slowly thinning to a whiff of foam. Minimal lacing.

Aroma wells forth with both authentic british mulled malts and mellow herbal hops. Nice balance and character.

The taste is clean - full, well rounded malt body combining traditional pale and darker roasted malts giving it just a hint of astringency but not too much that it hides the breadiness. The hops create a uniquely bright and somewhat grassy, somewhat lemony baseline bitterness. The same bitterness finishes the sip sharply and cleanly. You certainly know you've swallowed the beer, and you certainly know you'd like more.

There's somewhat of an accumulating effect by the hops though that dries the mouth out a little much by the end of the glass, so you're ready to move on. Delightful though.

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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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