Dragonmead Sir William's ESB | Dragonmead Microbrewery

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Dragonmead Sir William's ESBDragonmead Sir William's ESB

Brewed by:
Dragonmead Microbrewery
Michigan, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Another fine example of the English style. This Bitter is more robust than the best bitter but still with an excellent balance between hops and malt. Pale Ale Malt along with Aromatic and Crystal malts combine with the Galena and Fuggles hops to create a sure-fire favorite.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-14-2002

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 62
Reviews by granger10:
Photo of granger10
3.43/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Starting my ESB day out with the most expensive and I believe will be the most "English" ESB on the lot.

Pours a hazy copper color with some light auburn hints on the sides. Medium tan head rests atop the glass. Modest to moderate lacing.

Aroma is a bit herbal and earthy at first but then takes on more of a fruity sweet character. Finally it gets really bready and buttery. In the end I'm left with a burnt toast kind of smell. Odd.

Taste is definitely malt dominated. Lots of nutty, caramel maltiness in there. A robust slick taste comes out. Some bready notes and butter notes are in there along with an herbal earthy aspect. The finish is almost vinous but I would say chocolatey even. Quite different.

Mouthfeel is decent. Body is too thick and malty for my liking but there's a roasted character which is agree with and the moderate carbonation is spot on.

This beer was ok. Not really my type of ESB. It needs more hops really and less of a robust malt character. Plus the price was a bit ridiculous. I'm glad I only got a single.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.18/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a nice medium bronze with a very tight one finger head that settled quickly leaving a light sheet of lace behind.Lighter aromas of caramel and brown sugar with light herbal notes that became more noticable as the beer warmed,spot on ESB flavors let me tell yah,juicy fruity and sweeter caramel malt that intertwines with a big drying herbal hop finish.Wow a great ESB spot on and oh so quaffable,would love to have on cask..

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Photo of tectactoe
2.75/5  rDev -23.8%

Photo of jaminjohnson
3.25/5  rDev -10%

Photo of goast8127
4/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of Sammy
3.25/5  rDev -10%

Photo of emerge077
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Single from Siciliano's.

Poofy head that billowed up to the lip of the Duvel tulip, leaving random lace all around. Very dark brown, nearly opaque.

Toasted malt aroma with some vegetal notes.

Rough but sweet malt, mild green apple, earthy plant matter, with an astringent feel that tends to distract from the overall experience. Medium bodied, dry roasty aftertaste. Drinks ok, but it lacks a certain something to make it unique. I'd try it again on tap before fully passing on it.

 487 characters

Photo of CRJMellor
3.68/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark copper with a dull white head that kicks off small specks of lace.
Aroma of wheat bread, cracked grain, some pale malts and an earthy herbal note.
Flavor is dominated by blanched pale malt, light caramel and toasted biscuit. Taste is somewhat cut short.
Mouthfeel is smooth and malty with a subtley, mild, herbal hop finish that has a sharp jolt of gritty bittering right at the end.
Drinkability is very solid. Bit bland for an ESB on the front end but all the other characteristics are very pleasing.

 519 characters

Photo of chrisbokmuller
3.25/5  rDev -10%

Photo of mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another gem I received as an extra recently. I was thrilled to get a hold of a good portion of the lineup here and decided to start with this one. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 06/02/2009.

The pour was very nice. Rich amber in color with a light brown, mineral like look to it. Smooth, even head of creamy white capped off the top quite nicely at a height of an inch and a half before settling down into a nice firm layer that stayed throughout. Light aroma of citrus and green tea. Hints of a mineral like quality wash across the tongue at first before a chewy tea like flavor takes over from there on out. Smooth, sweet caramel note in the finish wraps it up nicely while overall the light feel and nice light carbonation made for a very session able addition.

Not bad at all here. It was more in the traditional vein of the style for me, but I have to admit it came across quite well. I would have no issue at all with trying this one again.

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Photo of srv33
3.56/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very dark brown into my tulip glass with a quickly dissipating head and decent fine lacing. Scent of apples, malt, and coffee, an interesting combo. Taste is a good balance between bitter hops and a decent malt backbone. Mouthfeel is medium light with little carbonation. Overall a good brew but nothing to get too excited about, my least favorite of the Dragonmead brews i've had to date (Under the Kilt and Final Absolution, both fine beers.)

 452 characters

Photo of Chimneyman
4.25/5  rDev +17.7%

Photo of trumick
3.98/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark red color with a huge off white head and lots of lacing all around.

Scent is carmel malts and spicey hops.

Taste starts off with a nice carmel malt base, buiscuty and a very nice spicey hop finish.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, refreshing with just the right amount of carbination.

Drinkability is above average. This is a beer that I could put away all night long. I would buy this beer again if not for the price.

 448 characters

Photo of Buck_Jones
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of detroitpat
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%

Photo of BellsFan
2.5/5  rDev -30.7%

Photo of GbVDave
2.81/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a 20oz imperial pint.

A: Pours a clear reddish brown color with the faintest skim of off white foam. No lacing.

S: Yikes! Weird aroma of butter (not butterscotch, but butter). Some spicy hops shine through for a moment and then I'm hit with a heavy, oakey red wine smell.

T: More oakey butteryness that eventually fades and allows nice toasted malt and spicy hop flavors to pop through. Nicely dry and bitter hop finish.

M: Bitter and dry mouthfeel that feels just right for the style.

D: Aside from the strange aromas coming from this, this is actually sort of drinkable.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.2/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a decent ESB, and so far it is the best of the Dragonmead beers that I tried, in my opinion. Pours a little bit dark, but still fairly clear. A nice nutty brown amber color with a thick off-white head that recedes to a centimeter and stays there, thanks to a good carbonation.

The smell is nice. Has a high fruity ester profile. A bit grainy along with some spicy hops. Definitely not an American hop strain, as would be expected for this English style.

The taste also has a slightly high ester profile with hints of candy apple and berries. Nutty malt profile with a gingery brown sugar finish. Also has a mild sourness to it that gives me the feeling of a good cask ale on the brink of turning (right when it's at its best). Almost seems like a brett flavor, like an Orval. This mild sourness works perfectly with a subtle dry, bitter finish from the hops. The more I drink it the better I like it. It's about time I found a beer I enjoy from this brewery, and I'm not entirely sure if the sour brett flavor is intentional!

If so, damn good stuff. A bit odd at first, but it grows. I will have to try another sample in the future, but I will probably avoid the other Dragonmead beers I've already had. Like all the rest of their beers I've tried, this tastes like an extract homebrew, but I'm really loving it.

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Photo of zdk9
2.68/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a rich mahagony color with just a faint whisper of foam on top, no lacing.

S- Sweet malt, carmely, with noticable diactyl. Not much hops

T- Same as the smell put slightly more powerful. Sweet carmel malt with diactyl. Where's the hops? Can't seem to get much bitterness out of this one even with some forceful tasting over the back of my tongue.

M- Good thick syrupyness, I do enjoy this aspect of this beer.

D- Not a great taste of smell. The really only redeeming quality is the good mouthfeel. I'm left unimpressed.

 531 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.82/5  rDev +33.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with CRJMellor. Thanks for the opportunity... Has a "12 16" sticker, maybe brew date, maybe not.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" light tan head over the slightly cloudy reddish brown brew. Head fades slowly, with ample bubbly tan lace. Aroma is dry grain husks, light fruitiness. Taste is has the same malt doing a little dance over the tongue, with a light hoppiness that makes its presence known, but doesn't shout out its name, and then revisits in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is soft and smooth, and drinkability is incredible. Wish I could keep revisiting this one...

 622 characters

Photo of Goldfoot
5/5  rDev +38.5%

Photo of Reneejane
4.33/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I just loved this beer. It poured a rich brown color with a great fluffy head that retained quite well over time. It had a definite hop flavor, which was predominated by English hops. The malts balanced out the hops nicely. The malt flavor was not sweet but rather distinctly smokey. It wasn't a very strong smoke flavor, just a slight nuance that created a satisfying character in the ESB. The beer finished with a refreshing bitter final note.

 445 characters

Photo of Supergenious
3.25/5  rDev -10%

Photo of SaltofOH
3.43/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle, no visible date. Bought this at that crappy place in Ann Arbor downtown where all the singles are out of date, not refrigerated, and in the sun. But I was there less than 24 hours and had work to do, so that's the best I could do. May be years old, some bottles were. Tulip pint.

A: Pours a hazy light brown with three fingers of foamy off-white head. Can't really see whether there is carb or not. Outstanding head retention. Some spotty lacing.

S: straight out of the fridge there is a little toasted grain and butterscotch. As it warms the butterscotch becomes caramel, and there are some mild fruity esters there in the background.

T: holy diacetyl, Batman! Arrives sweet, with loads of butterscotch. A little toasted malt on the middle, but mostly sweet grain, buttered popcorn, and butterscotch. A touch too sweet for the style. Finish is quite clean, though, with a little flash of an Earthy and woodsy English hop that finishes quite clean.

M: lighter side of mid-weight, moderate carb, somewhat astringent on the finish. Probably the best part of this beer.

O: I can't get this where I live, and I love ESBs, but I'm not heartbroken. This is a bit too sweet and although I like diacetyl in English beers, this takes it too far. Perhaps due to age; it really foamed up when I poured it, and there were bottles in that shop that were literally 4 years old. IPAs even. Glad I tried it, would not buy again.

 1,426 characters

Photo of SupaCelt
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This strangely exhorbitant bottle of beer purges a mahogany coloured liquid, not quite the shade I had expected, into my English pint glass. It formed a small cola tan head that subsided quickly. No lace follows behind. The nose is brown sugar, cinnamon, and sourdough. Almost like an elephant ear, but a bit more earthy. There goes that earthy thing again. Nutty. Oily smelling. Baked. Toasty. Nice. The taste is laid back. Pleasant brown sugar sweetness with a bready quality. The toasted characters come through well in the flavour as they did in the nose. This is a nicely balanced beer. The spice and sweetness profile contribute to a winter holiday feeling for me. This would hit the spot in the cold season. Mouthfeel lingers around medium. The drinkability is good, but would be better for colder periods in the year. What is the deal with the price? I am never buying another one of these. There are plenty of cheaper models that suit just as well or surpass this one in greatness. Seriously.

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Dragonmead Sir William's ESB from Dragonmead Microbrewery
3.61 out of 5 based on 62 ratings.
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