The Tower
Bull & Bush Brewery

The TowerThe Tower
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Bull & Bush Brewery
Colorado, United States
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #23
Ranked #17,195
3.88 | pDev: 11.6%
Jun 11, 2022
Jun 16, 2005
Very Good
The TowerThe Tower
Notes: GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL: Gold 1998, Silver 2001, Silver 2012
WORLD BEER CUP: Gold 1998, Bronze 2004, Bronze 2012
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of JZH1000
Reviewed by JZH1000 from Colorado

4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Poured from a 500mL bottle simply marked that it was bottled in 2022.

On the pour at first the carbonation looks quite light but by the end a 2 finger head forms that slowly recedes to about a finger over a couple minutes. The body is a dark amber to reddish brownwoth a very light haze and light lazy carbonation. No lacing.

Aroma is quite light, but largely dominated by ale yeast commingling with earthy hops, with a light grainy crackery aroma on the back of it. The hops and a general beeriness stand out in this one's aroma. As it warms more esters come through and the malts become sweeter becoming more balanced with some caramel vanilla notes but there still isn't a lot of smell and it's dominated by the yeast.

The flavor is much more balanced and brings more of a punch. On the sip you're met with a nice hoppy bitter front that quickly drops off and leaves a nice almost roasted malty quality with some nutty vibes. The hops never completely disappear, and a nice rounded welcome bitterness lingers with the malt flavor as everything slowly fades before the next sip. Hoppy on the front but bready malty and almost soft like a mild on the back with a slight hoppy reminder this is a bitter. Good flavor with lots of English yeast vibes as well.

Feel is surprisingly crisp for being a hoppy and malty ale, but it's easy to put down with a nice carbonation bite accompanied by a creaminess as well that makes it quite a versatile beer. Easy to drink and it brings hops and a big dose of malts without being heavy. Does linger on the palate a bit but not in an unwelcome way.

Overall a very good ESB with very nice balance, but aroma is lacking a bit. Nothing is off but the smell doesn't betray the malty goodness that the flavor brings. Definitely worth a try if you're curious and a very good ESB with no true flaws.
Jun 11, 2022
Photo of Fordcoyote15
Reviewed by Fordcoyote15 from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Straight 4.5s.

Super rich, dense, oily and vibrant orange/amber ale looking.

Smell is just popping with caramel maltyness and low key bittering hops. No dry hopping in your face here just very low key mellow old school smelling.

Taste im loving. Absolutely refreshing to drink older European styles that showcase the array of flavors without going to extremes with the beers we know today. Its got loads of caramel sweetness balanced but lightly floral, earthy hops. Just super crushable and easy drinking.

Feel im particularly impressed with. This beer was sent via mail and had a leak. I expected it to be flat but it still hiss and carbed up on the pour. It is on the lower end of carb and the mouthfeel is SUPER oily, dense and chewy for a 6.5% beer. It leaves your mouth feeling like a dank resinous oils that a huge huge DIPA does (without the extreme bitterness alongside).

Overall just exquisite. I can't get enough of these old school styles.
May 27, 2022
Photo of REVZEB
Reviewed by REVZEB from Illinois

4.17/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Had on tap. Orangey brown body, sudsy off-white cap and lacing. Aromas of malt with caramel accents, toast, herbal hops and citrus. Taste adds an element of honey and diacetyl almost imitating crystal malt sweetness, citrus more lemon centric, hops balance really well. Feel is medium bodied, hop bitters do their job well all the while the malt smoothness is omnipresent. Nice ESB for any time of year
May 25, 2022
Photo of Roguer
Reviewed by Roguer from Connecticut

4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Pours a mostly clear dark brownish-copper with a touch of haze; you can almost, but not quite, read through it. Head production and retention are excellent; nice lacing.

Very aromatic and hop-forward aroma, with notes of citrus, tannins, tea, flowers, leather, honey, and toffee.

Flavor follows, but with much more sweet malt than the nose implied. Caramel, brown sugar, pecan, and honey up front; strong tannins and a pungent bitterness in the middle; tea, lemon, and honey on the finish. Light toast throughout, including a very mild char on the aftertaste.

Very flavorful ESB. I don't particularly love the middle, as the bitterness comes across a bit earthy and pungent, but overall this seems true to style, and is a very enjoyable beer overall.
Apr 17, 2022
Photo of gyorgymarlowe
Rated by gyorgymarlowe from Colorado

3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
L: opaque burnt orange
S: citrus, cookie
T: marmalade, dark toast, hint of anise
F: firm carbonation, coating
Oct 24, 2020
Rated: 4.25 by COBEERHUNTER from Colorado

Aug 09, 2018
Rated: 4.25 by Rymish from Colorado

Jul 05, 2018
Rated: 3.84 by WDJersey from Colorado

Nov 12, 2016
Photo of Wasatch
Reviewed by Wasatch from Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
16.9 oz. Bottle
DTL: 5/14/14
ABV: 16.5%

Guessing this bottle might have 2 yrs. on it.

Poured into a Squatters true pint glass a cloudy brownish color, nice carbonation, with a pretty thick/creamy one-finger off-white head, which leaves some pretty nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, slightly yeasty, with some nice nuttyness. The taste is pretty good, malty, slight yeast note, nutty. Medium body, with a pretty nice bitter/dry finish. Overall, even if this brew has 2 years on it, it's still pretty tasty, but would like to get a fresher bottle some day. My first from this brewery, I believe I saw 3 other's by them, definitely will check them out.
May 21, 2016
Rated: 3.5 by Twal from Colorado

Dec 18, 2015
Photo of deleted_user_357747
Reviewed by deleted_user_357747

3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
Slightly hazy, brown-amber color, Thick head, nearly 2-fingers of lacy, hoppy-looking foam heads, good lacing. Smell is a good blend of toasted graininess and pleasant hop fruitiness. Flavor, too, is all about balance. A nice hops kiss rounds off the slightly caramel maltiness, a nice lasting coating on the palette. Balanced, balanced, balanced.

Across the board, quite good. Easy drinking beer.
Oct 22, 2015
Photo of tylerstravis
Reviewed by tylerstravis from Colorado

3.71/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5
I really love a good ESB, or at least what I think an ESB is. I've been drinking what I am used to for years and it's not this. Knowing Bull & Bush, maybe this is more true to form than what I'm used to. Unfortunately I like what I'm used to more than this. Tower is less of that light biscuit taste and more of that deep malt taste.

Not sure if this will help, but it's my review of expecting something different.
Aug 25, 2015
Rated: 4.19 by Sara24 from Colorado

Aug 23, 2015
Rated: 3.75 by a77cj7 from South Dakota

Aug 21, 2015
Rated: 3.84 by Dimitri from Colorado

May 23, 2015
Rated: 3.5 by LeeryLeprechaun from Colorado

May 19, 2015
Rated: 3.46 by aratcliffe from Kansas

Apr 01, 2015
Photo of traviseses
Rated by traviseses from Colorado

4.75/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Love their ESB, so tasty
Feb 14, 2015
Rated: 3.5 by GRG1313 from California

Oct 14, 2014
Photo of beergoot
Reviewed by beergoot from Colorado

4.09/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Revisited October 06th, 2021

Dark, clear, copper colored body; somewhat sparse carbonation yet a very thick, foamy bone-white head, creamy on top; Excellent toasted grain and caramel smell; mildly spicy. The taste flows along the lines of the smell; malty with a rustic sweetness; caramel with a oh-so slight bit of diacetyl presence; slight to moderate hop bitterness. Medium-heavy mouthfeel; smooth with a nice residual sugar feel; mild warmth throughout.

I found the aroma to be more prominent this time around. All the other factors remain much the same from seven years ago.

Poured at 49 °F; bottling info: BTL: 6/1/21

Original October 04th, 2014 ratings and composite score: 4.25 3.5 4.25 3.75 4.0 3.97

Dark honey-colored body with a very thick, long lasting, frothy head. Caramel and lightly charred brown sugar aroma. The flavor follows the aroma with a more pronounced presence of toffee and nuts; solid hop bitterness lingering beneath all the malt sweetness; some buttery diacetyl notes. Medium-heavy body; smooth with a low-key level of carbonation.

A palate pleasing malt-forward ale with a warm, nutty sweetness and an even-keeled hop bitterness to balance things out.

Inside the bottle cap: North Eolus 14,039
Oct 04, 2014
Rated: 3.25 by Moose90 from Washington

Sep 27, 2014
Rated: 3.85 by LotsofLupulin from Colorado

Sep 06, 2014
Photo of spoony
Reviewed by spoony from Colorado

3.7/5  rDev -4.6%
From a 500 ml bottle (bottled March 24, 2014) into a nonic.

A-A normal pour produces about one and one-half fingers of light tan head. Retention is pretty good and a sticky wave of lacing clings to the glass. The color is burnished, brassy brown. It is mostly clear and pretty dark.

S-The aroma is pretty intense for an ESB. I pick up quite a bit of zesty, almost orange-scented hops. The malts are medium-light roasted, nutty, and earthy. Sweetness is moderate to above-average. The whole thing is a little harsh, but interesting.

T-Like the smell, the taste is pretty intense. The zesty hops are still very apparent on the palate with a slight citrus twang. The malts are moderately sweet with a nutty, earthy, cocoa note. There is a bit of fruity alcohol as the beer nears room temp.

M-The heft is moderate to above average with a consistent carbonation that provides a nice lift on the palate.

O-This is a pretty aggressive ESB. The hop flavors are assertive and the malts pick up when the initial hop flavor dies down. The whole package is a little rough around the edges and not necessarily what I would reach for when I think "ESB." That being said, this beer has a great mouthfeel and packs a ton of flavor.
Aug 23, 2014
Rated: 3.5 by oldvines from Illinois

Aug 14, 2014
Rated: 3.75 by mrseano from Minnesota

May 30, 2014
Rated: 4 by afsdan from Colorado

May 08, 2014
Photo of mactrail
Reviewed by mactrail from Washington

3.08/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3
Warm brown brew with a dirty finish. Pours a handsome dark amber in the tall glass with a modest foam. Pleasantly sudsy mouthfeel. I can't make out much of an aroma.

Warm and malty, lots of roasted grainy flavor. Dark scorched sugar notes. An acidic, astringent note takes the edge off the sugar. Leafy, dank hops in the background. Woody notes and there's that bitterish, dirt flavor.

I really didn't like this much the first glassful, but a second pour later seemed to be at least drinkable. Overall, though, it's kind of murky and watery. Weird sweet aftertaste. From the 500 ml bottle purchased at Mayfair Liquors in Denver.
Mar 26, 2014
Rated: 3.75 by BillRoth from Maryland

Nov 18, 2013
Rated: 4 by OKCNittany from Oklahoma

Oct 09, 2013
Rated: 4 by famous_mortimur from Colorado

Sep 21, 2013
Rated: 4 by MinorThreat from Nebraska

Jul 07, 2013
Rated: 4 by crobinso from Colorado

Apr 07, 2013
Rated: 4 by edhaaslovesbacon from Colorado

Apr 03, 2013
Rated: 4.25 by stampfler07 from Colorado

Apr 02, 2013
Photo of sommersb
Reviewed by sommersb from Tennessee

4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Tasted On: 07-09-2012
Freshness: Unknown
Packaging: Draft
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: On tap at the Bull & Bush

A: Dark amber in color, with a decent sized head. Both lacing and retention seem good.

S: Breadiness from the malts, combined with earthy and spicy hop aromas.

T: Very nicely balanced beer, with the hops and malts playing back and forth.

M: Body and carbonation are moderate, with a slightly dry finish that is bitter, but not heavy handed in the hops.

O: Very delicious ESB that paired well with the fish and chips. I'd have it again.
Jul 10, 2012
Rated: 3 by hiphopj5 from Colorado

Jun 21, 2012
Rated: 4.25 by carteravebrew from Colorado

Jun 15, 2012
Rated: 3.5 by MarkyMOD from Colorado

May 16, 2012
Rated: 4 by Kirby from Colorado

Apr 13, 2012
Rated: 3.75 by rbrefbeerman from California

Mar 30, 2012
The Tower from Bull & Bush Brewery
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 54 ratings