Horseshoes & Hand Grenades American ESB Ale | Crazy Mountain Brewing Company

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Horseshoes & Hand Grenades American ESB AleHorseshoes & Hand Grenades American ESB Ale

Brewed by:
Crazy Mountain Brewing Company
Colorado, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by emmasdad on 07-28-2011

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 106
Photo of breakingbland
4.03/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Mango's in Red Cliff, Colorado.

The beer poured a light golden. This is a fairly sweet beer with a low hops presence and a hint of herbalness. The body is appropriate for the style.

Overall, this is a very nice beer, and I'll look for it again when I'm in Colorado again.

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Photo of chinchill
2.79/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

12 oz bottle is undated but purchased just yesterday from a cooler, but today it seems to be a bad sample. Gently pouring less than 2 inches of liquid produced a rapidly rising head that quickly rose up and over the top of the glass. The aroma is off and there's some off flavors.


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Photo of matcris
3.8/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

APPEARANCE: A dark amber, almost red. Two fingers of long lasting, creamy, khaki head that leaves a thick lacing down the glass. Lots of big bubbles streaming up the glass.
AROMA: Very malty, a cola like quality, lemon/citrus.
TASTE: Big bready malt, bitterness up front that lasts but is pretty mild overall, the beer as an acidic quality like lemon.
FEEL: Average carbonation, medium body, slick.
OVERALL: Malty and a fair dose of bitterness, but kind of non descript. Not bad, though.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.93/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A first for us from this brewery. This fine ESB pours a cloudy orangish amber with a very nice head of fine beaded off white foam that settles to a thick ring and layer with excellent lacing. Nose of subtle floral hops, sweet malts, and a moderate touch of tea. Flavors follow yet exceed by character alone with sweet caramel malts and moderately heavy tea flavors on the front and sides, floral and bittering hops hit nicely on the middle and back and finish off with a nice lingering bitterness from the hops. Nice mouth feel, medium high carbonation and a delicate creaminess that is not usually seen in the style but is welcome none the less. Overall and excellent brew.


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Photo of Tone
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a cloudy, copper/maize color. One inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of sweet malt, caramel malt, hint of syrup, hint of floral hops, slight herbal/tea notes, and slight alcohol. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Strong Bitter. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with a high carbonation level. Tastes of sweet malt, caramel malt, slight alcohol, hint of hops, hint of tea, and a hint of syrup. Overall, good appearance, decent aroma and body, the feel is too carbonated.

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Photo of Nickholland
3.04/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Warning: this is not an ESB. I'm not sure what this is. If you really like Belgian yeast and amber ales then you might like this. It just doesn't seem like a good combo to me. Ok, it's not terrible I just can't figure out what it is. It starts malty, but with the distinctive Belgian yeast flavor and finishes a little sour.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.71/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The plague of the American brewer falls upon them as they embark on styles, techniques and ingredients that they attempt to mimic, but done so with luke-warm success. Thinking they they can get close enough to those authentic brands to pass as such. But close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.

And with their heart in England but their home in the Vail Valley, Crazy Mountain's aptly named "American ESB" shares what's best about both worlds. Its deep golden and moderate amber glow is slightly hazy and capped with a sturdy meringue froth. With biscuit-sweet aromas swirling around, so do the light apple, orange and apricot esters that suggest British beer. And as the moderate sweetness layers onto the tongue, caramel and honey seem marmalade-like in its malt-forward upstart.

And then balance happens across the middle as the malts relax slightly and the hops begin to rise. While retaining the floralness of honeysuckle, the buttery toast and the nuttiness of cashew; the medium bodied ale allows for a charge of American hops to rival the malt rebuttal. Mildly juicy with pineapple pulls from the estery taste and delves into a light and resiny bitterness to close.

Medium, moderate and hitting all strides right down the middle, the beer is strikingly familiar to American amber ale, except with a more complex malt bill and less reliance on American hop character. Still, the ale trails with a bittersweet finish and a linger of citrus peel and caramel.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.32/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a murky dark honey orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Tiny particles of sediment are seen suspended in the beer after the pour. Smell is of malt, earth, dirt, roasted peanut, and peanut butter aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, earth, and roasted peanut flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a high level of carbonation with a crisp and prickly mouthfeel. Overall, this is an above average beer that is drinkable, but it's not very good for the style.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.37/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

On-tap 1/18/2015 at Pour Farm, in New Bedford, MA, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark gold color, with a thin white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains caramelized malts, nuts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a mild malt sweetness and flavors of caramel and nuts. The hops presence is mild for the style but brings a little bit of balance. The after-taste is slightly bready and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, decent representation of style, this is just a mediocre beer at best.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.25/5  rDev -10%

From the 650 ml. bottle. Sampled December 6, 2014.

The pour is an unfiltered cloudy copper-amber with this huge, fluffy tan head that never goes away. Leaves a head mustache on my upper lip. Sediments.

The aroma is big with malts, yeast, and a kind of melon-like hop bite.

Above medium body. Chewy.

The taste begins with roasted malts but the complex melon hop character tends to take things over. Bitter finish.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a very weird esb here, sweet as they come, without a ton of hops on the finish and an extremely peculiar and unconventional strawberry flavor running through it. somewhere between strawberry candy and jam, its not a brief flash but a presence, its so weird. the beer is a radiant medium caramel color with a nice inch of off white head in the pint glass but it settles quickly. nose shows sweet malt and maybe a touch of dried fruit, but definitely not the fruit intensity that arises in the flavor. some hops balance the finish, but they are subtle and not quite enough. strawberry is the first and last thing i taste. wondering if the line this was poured through needs maintenance or what, but really its not bad, kind of works well with the sweet denser malt build of the beer. not sure it fits the classic esb theme overly well, but the beer in the glass tastes pretty good.

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Photo of arizcards
3.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Received from a co-worker after his trip to Colorado back in mid-September.

Beer poured amber with a thin white head that dissipated quickly.

Nose is light malts and nothing much else.

Taste is toasted malts, light bittering and grapefruit floral hops. Finish is light biscuits and bitterness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and decently carbonated, slightly refreshing.

Overall not a bad beer but nothing special.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, no bottle dating. Pours slightly hazy orange/amber color with a small dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon zest, orange peel, herbal, floral, grass, light pine, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, light pear/apple, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Nice aromas with good complexity and solid balance of citrus/floral hops, dark/bready malt, and light-moderate yeast ester notes; with good strength. Taste of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon zest, orange peel, herbal, floral, grass, light pine, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, light pear/apple, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Fair amount of pine/grassy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon zest, orange peel, herbal, floral, grass, light pine, caramel, toast, biscuit, light nuttiness, and herbal/yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and balance of citrus/floral hops, dark/bready malts, and light-moderate yeast ester flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Yeast esters are very restrained in this, but still noticeable. Light carbonation and medium bodied; with a smooth, crisp, and slightly sticky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good American ESB style. Good balance and complexity of citrus/floral hops, dark/bready malt, and light yeast ester flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A bit too hoppy for the style, and I would have liked to see some more dark malt presence; but a nicely enjoyable offering otherwise.

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Photo of beergoot
3.74/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Honey colored amber body with thick, billowy, white head; spidery lacing (4.0). Mild grain aromas; old fruit (3.75). Taste mimics the smell with the addition of a fair hop bitterness from middle through the finish and a slight sense of alcohol warmth (3.75). Medium body; residual sugars coat the tongue; somewhat dry (3.5).

A fair little ESB. A little off-balance with the mouthfeel but still quite drinkable. Warm, grainy malt-forward beer...

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Photo of jimmah120
3.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

22oz bomber bottle (no date) into tulip

look is pleasantly cloudy (BONUS POINTS FOR SEDIMENT), amber-ruby, fluffy sudsy head with good lace. smell is bready, with peat moss and toasted malt. silky butterscotch malt, toffee/cocoa, floral hops all mix into a pleasant spiced esb.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.47/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orange-brown and a bit hazy, so-so head and lace.

Aroma and flavor are primarily malty, some toffee and caramel malt, some biscuit. A bit of hops for balance, but not pronounced.

Body is slick and finishes a touch sweet. Overall it's not bad but won't make my top three ESB's.

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Photo of allengarvin
3.7/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a standard American pint glass. This is a dark brown colored beer with a modest head. The aroma offers a light grassy hop smell backed with crackery malt. The taste offers a strong emphasis on the malt, with a little bit of roast and a lot of nuttiness. Bitterness is moderately high, though with not much hop flavor.

Pretty generic amber beer, but quite drinkable.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.14/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

16oz pint at the Alamo Drafthouse, in between showings of the Beer Diaries Colorado.

This beer appears a clear medium copper amber colour, with one finger of wanly foamy, mostly bubbly pale beige head, which leaves a thoroughly random patchwork pattern of splattered lace around the glass as things drop away.

It smells of semi-sweet biscuity caramel malt, a soft additional toffee sweetness, an apple and pear fruitiness, and crisp earthy, leafy, and grassy hops. The taste is more of the same, but duly amped up - big biscuity caramel notes, simmering drupe fruit, a hint of warming alcohol, and more, but now subdued, hay-like leafy hops.

The bubbles are supportive, without becoming cumbersome, the body a threadbare medium weight, and so-so in its smoothness and creamy quotients, to no ill effect. It finishes off-dry, barely, the crispness of the malt and the reserved sassiness of the hops more than capable of swaying favour.

An enjoyable American rendition of my favourite English style - as thankfully all things are preserved, and even enhanced at times, making me wonder if this could give Fullers a run for its Queen-backed money in a side by side competition. No matter, I shall just make nice with this offering in the more than pleasant Denver autumnal evening warmth.

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Photo of bennett_loves_good_beer
3.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Apperance: Pours a light brown with some amber red hues and a huge frothy and thick off white head. Head retention is quite impressive. Tons of lacing.

Smell: Buttery and sour tart notes. Cranberries and sugary malt.

Taste: Biscuity and buttery maltiness with a slightly tart finish and some mild hop bitterness. Not too complex but I love it. Really like how the tart finish melds with the malt.

Mouthfeel: Not much carbonation which I guess is typical of the style but the mouthfeel feels slightly watery and a little weak because of this.

Overall this is a great beer. Mouthfeel is a little weak. If it had a bit of a heavier body this beer would be epic. Still, a great tasting beer and I want to try more of this style.

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Photo of oberon
3.83/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Retired than not retired I guess....Pours into an imperial nonic a clear rich copper with a thinner white head that left a few broken spots of lace as it settled.Alot of fruity and caramel malts in the nose,very English in nature,nice aromas but I wants some amarillo's to come thru a bit more.This is true to an English inspired ESB on the palate,caramel/biscuit and alot of fruitiness,a light shot of spicy hops and brown sugar in the finish and aftertaste.The feel is a little light but the guys at Crazy Mountain made pretty good old school ESB more English than American like the bottle says,I'll be trying more of their stuff in the future.

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Photo of Dmart1223
3.91/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is a good beer that's on the verge of being VERY good. It's at least worth a try.

But if you don't want to buy your own beer, at least watch someone else drink it. That's the best part. The beer pours a crystal clear mahogany -- seriously, it's the color of personal libraries and 18th century banquet tables -- with a beige head that lingers and clings to the sides.

It's a sweet smelling beer, with bits of toffee, caramel and maybe a brush a pine. But it isn't strong, and it isn't too complex.

But the taste lies right in the middle quality-wise, starting bright and bready with a bit of toast biscuit and sweetness. The finish is clean and peppery with a bit of roast bitterness. Everything mellows as it warms.

It's not the most bold or complex beer, but it's square in the "good" and "worth a try" range. There's a lot going for it.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.44/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a bright, caramel-brown coloring with a frothy, low-profile, bright white head that quickly settles into a filmy coating. Aromas of subtle toffee sweetness and a hint of peppery and bitter hops at the end to clean it all up. Flavors are a bit watered down, with a tangy, roasted toffee backbone being rapidly enveloped by a slightly resiny, bitter hops character. Some cedar and grassy notes on the hops profiles, also. The body just isn't up to bolstering the off-balanced palate. Good core flavors, but lopsided and light. The aftertaste is bittersweet, with a touch of roast. Very quick, clean finish. This beer misses closely in a couple spots, keeping it from being really good.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.46/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle pours a fairly hazed copper color with a creamy cap of khaki head. Fairly nice retention and lacing....a good looking brew.

Nose is maltier than I expected with chinook and amarillo in the mix...heavily caramelized with some nutty biscuits and toast. Id rank even the yeast ahead of the hops on the detectability scale.

Taste is nuttier than many a Nut Brown I have had...nice. Toasted hazelnuts and caramel drizzled toast. There is a little bit of butterscotch in here, but it is not a bad style of beer to have that flaw in. I know ESB's are not necessarily hoppy, but this beer barely shows any lupulin. Mouthfeel is good...just enough sweetness to offset the toast and give it some heft. Its a good beer, I would buy this if they put it in 6-packs, but at $5 for a bomber I doubt it will warrant a repeat purchase.

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Photo of denver10
4.03/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours caramel with a nice full dirty cream colored head. Aroma is some nice maltiness with just a touch of some hops. Malts provide some nice doughiness, touches of some toffee, and some nuttiness. Hops provide some florals and maybe a tease of some fruit. Flavor is all about the unique malt profile with some buttered doughy bread, hints of toffee, nuttiness, florals, and closing out with some herbal grassiness offering mild bitterness. A light, velvety mouthfeel with some nice activity. Overall, I am digging this. Crazy Mountain hasn't left much of an impression with me from what I have previously tried from them, but this one certainly will. Very nice everyday drinking beer here. At $4 a bomber even the cost was done right, but do feel this beer doesn't fit the bomber format well. Should be in cans like some of their other releases.

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Photo of champ103
4.19/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A growler from Premium Draught in Houston, TX. They warned me ahead of time that the carbonation was just a bit light. I just had a taste at the shop, which seemed fine. Lets what a proper pour reveals.

A: Pours a beautiful bright and vibrant reddish/orange color. A one finger white head slowly rises, and sticks throughout. Lot of lace is left behind as well.
S: Up front is floral, citrus, and grassy hops. Followed by a wonderful biscuit malt with some toffee sweetness. Warm toasted malts, buttery and nutty as well. Not diacetyl at all, but instead the nutty/buttery aroma is very welcome.
T: Follows the nose with soft floral and grassy hops up front. Followed by a great malt character. Toasted malts, biscuit, nutty, and lightly buttery. A sweetness of toffee as well. I like it a lot.
M/D: A medium body that might bit a bit thin on carbonation. Though certainly not under carbonated. Creamy and smooth. Though to make this great, it needs just a bit more crisp bite. So easy and enjoyable to drink. I will finish this in no time, and need to get some more.

Very enjoyable for an "American" ESB, and a welcome surprise because I have never seen this before. A great balance of subtle hops and an awesome malt character. I hope to see this more often.

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Horseshoes & Hand Grenades American ESB Ale from Crazy Mountain Brewing Company
3.61 out of 5 based on 106 ratings.
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