Old Man
Tree House Brewing Company

Old ManOld Man
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #21
Ranked #17,916
3.89 | pDev: 11.31%
Tree House Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States
Very Good
Old ManOld Man
Notes: Our classic English-style Bitter returns to pay homage to a great man and an integral part of the Tree House team - Nate’s father, Dan! Dan has been spent his work-tirement assisting Tree House on the canning line and in many other ways both physically and spiritually. This beer is an homage and a thanks to a great man - and more broadly to fathers everywhere. Thanks, ‘Da’.

Don’t be fooled by the name - our interpretation of an Extra Special Bitter carries light bitterness and a gentle earthy noble hop character from Fuggles hops. The hops are balanced by an airy fruitiness and a rich base of flavors evoking caramel malts, brown sugar, and hazelnut. It is a wonderful and simple beer we find best paired with fish and chips, smoked meat, roasted chicken or, ideally, a day on the river.
Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 368 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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orcrist_cleaver from New York

3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A not so indecent frolic through a field of knee-high grass sweetened by the dew dripping from wildflowers supercrystallized into dark honey; unsweetened pecan bread, maple-walnut decaf coffee. Fuggles contribute a nice seedy, earth element like fresh cut alfalfa. Resiny bulgur and a sticky, hemp resin finish that favors hops/bitters, but not at a level that detracts from drinkability. The hop level is compatible with the malt until the finish. Rather high carbonation from can pour doesn't contribute toward modern mouthfeel exchanging drinkability in favor of prolonged flavor.
I think it's a good tasting beer in regards of style; the malt profiles well; it is highly drinkable; it is flavorful, but not enduring.
I know I've treated other ESBs more lenient, but I judge TH a little differently because it's a destination. I'd like this beer a lot better on tap...please?

Jan 31, 2021
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BEERMILER12 from Maine

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a reddish brown color with 2 fingers of head that fades down to a thin cap

S: Toasted malt, caramel, dark fruit, light spicy and earthy noble hop, brown sugar, and a touch of nuttiness

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with some toasted malt, dark fruit, and caramel. Picks up the brown sugar, spicy and earthy hop notes, and nutty undertones. Finishes with lingering toast and caramel maltiness

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. On the husky side

O: A solid ESB that is very easy to drink. Worth checking out

Dec 28, 2020
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brewandbbq from New Hampshire

3.97/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

16oz can dated 2/10/20.

Pours clear, dark copper with an inch of off-white head. Average retention and lacing. Roasted caramel with a hint of maple-drizzled malt in the nose. Medium bodied with a tacky mouthfeel. Sweet malt with toffee on the palate. Finishes a bit sweet with plump malt, minimal fruity esters, and zero hops or bitterness.

May 16, 2020
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BeerBaronBear from New York

3.84/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A really nice ESB, but just not my favorite style of beer. Had an attractive copper color - smell and taste just didn't carry a whole lot of depth, but again, for the style this was actually pretty high-end in both categories. With lower ABV than many Tree House beers, this made for a nice lunchtime beer that won't knock you out or destroy your taste buds. I don't think I would seek this out again, but I wouldn't turn it down either.

Apr 18, 2020
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mnj21655 from Massachusetts

3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear reddish copper in color with a finger plus of long lasting off white head that leaves behind decent lacing. Aroma is malty, some caramel, fruity, a little earthy. Taste is earth forward with the caramel and fruity notes falling into the background, finish is fairy balanced but leans bitter. Medium bodied with moderate plus carbonation. Overall a decent bitter, drinkable.

Apr 17, 2020
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woodchipper from Connecticut

3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 16oz refrigerated can dated 2/17/20 to a Nonic. Copper colored body lights up nicely when held to the light. Medium to low white head fades to scattered and eventually scant lacing. Sweet and earthy in smell like caramel and fully composted mulch.
Taste is sweet in front, dry at the end. Some caramel, raisin, charcoal and dare I say a hint of umami.
Carbonation is light, as per style. No sense of alcohol or any off-tastes.
Nice representation of the style.

Mar 15, 2020
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beersampler6 from Michigan

4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite a nice English strong bitter. Not normally my go-to style of beer but this one was very easy to drink and enjoy. 2/17/20 date printed on can. Pours an amber-rusty color with just a little fluffy white head and some minimal spotty lingering lacing. Smells of bready malts, caramel, toffee, vanilla and some nuttiness. Taste follows the nose, nice balance and very tasty. Smooth mild mouthfeel with just the right amount of carbonation. Very easy to drink, great refreshing quality despite being more malty.

Mar 14, 2020
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kevanb from Illinois

3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can, dated 11.14.19, poured into a 16oz tumbler glass.

The beer pours a dark amber color, caramel and copper hues, decent clarity with a finger of bone colored head that has modest retention but yields nice sticky lacing. The aroma is very nice, toasted amber and caramel grains, a slight nuttiness and light citrus peel. The flavors are nice and echo the nose, strong toasted malts, amber and caramel grains, nice and bready with light citrus peel, a modest nuttiness and a bit of sweetness, light caramel and fruitiness. The mouthfeel is nice, coating with a lively medium body that still feels smooth and finishes with a crisp bite.

Verdict: A nice ESB from Tree House. Simple and to the point, but this style isn't one for being overly complex. Quaffable and refreshing with a nice heartiness that makes it great for cooler days.

Jan 07, 2020
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear, caramel-amber color with two fingers of foamy, light-tan head. Solid lacing.

Sweet, malty aroma with hints of cherry and carbon dioxide.

Sweet tasting as well, with cherry-malt the dominant flavor. Maybe a hint of coffee and buttery nuttiness, too, but they’re pretty far behind. There’s a mineral element, as well, then a nice, refined earthy bitterness in the finish.

Full bodied and creamy for the style.

This is a solid ESB with some interesting depth to the flavors. I get a big whiff of carbon dioxide whenever I tip the glass back for a drink and that makes the experience less enjoyable. I don’t want to have to decant my beer.

Dec 14, 2019
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EMV from Pennsylvania

3.96/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a tallboy can into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Clear copper pour with foamy off-white head. Great retention and lacing.

S: Toasted malts and grains. Light fruit and citrus.

T.F: Caramel malts and toasted grains. Biscuits/bread, earth, and grains. Light citrus and fruit. Caramel, grass, and tea. Medium to light bodied... creamy carbonation.

O: A very interesting take on the style. Not sure how faithful it is, but this is a quality beer. Well executed with delicate flavor. Easy drinking.

Sep 30, 2019
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angrybabboon from Massachusetts

3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Consumed 9/21/19

A: Medium to burnt caramel color - some chill haze, but not hazy - pours with a small, off-white head, fades to a few wisps, retains small collar and leaves some lacing

S: Nicely grainy - pale grains, caramel grains - bread, bread crust, pretzels - mild hop aroma (an interesting change of pace for a Tree House beer) with some herbal notes and some grass - some caramel sweetness

T: More grainy than bready - pale and caramel grains, multigrain bread, biscuits, crackers - mild bitterness, some grassy and herbal malts - some light sweetness, notes of caramel candy and toffee - slightly nutty - finishes with lingering maltiness

M: Medium body, smooth, low carbonation

O: Part of Tree House's Man Bear Pig series

I've had Old Man more than a couple times but never got around to reviewing it. I suppose part of my procrastination is because I have mixed feelings. It's a perfectly serviceable ale, but it does not really fit into a style. It's not pale. It's not amber enough to be amber. But what concerns me is that I would not label this as an ESB. It simply does not taste "English" enough. The water is lacking hardness and minerality that is necessary to cut through the grain tea.

Sep 22, 2019
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Gatch from Massachusetts

4.52/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed at the brewery on a Saturday. When a brewery of this magnitude makes an under-appreciated style, I’m all for it. Haven’t had an ESB in so long but this is better than any other example I can remember. Wow. The malt flavors, finish and feel, and the slight hop presence are all incredible. Level of sweetness and breadiness is perfect.

Picked up a can during a visit, canned 11/14/19. “give me things that won’t get lost”
A seriously good beer and a pleasant break from the hop onslaught. Also for a great cause, both dedicated to a family member and proceeds going to the MJF Foundation, which makes drinking this even better.

Sep 07, 2019
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JerzDevl2000 from New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pretty sure I picked this up when I was in Massachusetts late last summer, along with the other Tree House beers that I never had before. This got lost in the shuffle in my basement but thankfully, I was able to find it and have it relatively fresh. Sure, I thought of "Old Man" by Neil Young when I drank this and maybe it had something to do with the label. As for the beer itself, it felt as much like a Brown Ale as an ESB and even though Red Hook is the one that I'm accustomed to, this was a decent take on the style that had enough hops and flavor to hold my attention...

The hue to this beer was a cross between plum and brown with enough light seeping through around the edges, as the khaki head was "liquid bread" that took it's time to settle. Lots of apple, caramel, nuts, and Fuggles in the nose as this felt quite fall-like and rustic. A bit of sediment settled at the bottom of the glass but there wasn't much in the liquid itself, as the beer was pretty much free of floaties. A toasted and caramel presence to the malt came in as this warmed up and lingered om my palate, with a bit of spicy teat thrown in for good measure. The carbonation was light and so was the body, although it never felt weak or watered-down...

Never felt the alcohol here and this went down pretty smoothly and mindlessly for a Tree House beer. Canned on 8/28 of last year with "AN ANGEL WITH WHISKERS - R.I.P. LILY" written above it, this was a decent take on the style that was a welcome respite from their more typical offerings. Balanced and enjoyable, I'd reach for this when the leaves were changing over a nice roasted meat and pumpkin pie. For the rest of the year, this would be a nice, relaxing diversion!

Mar 28, 2019
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hoptheology from South Dakota

4.09/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16 oz can from connecticutpoet into Goose Island Nonic Pint.

Nice pumpkin color with an almond colored head of 3 fingers. Lots of lace and legs. Great clarity. Good stuff.

Lots of pleasant general fruitiness on the nose. Blueberry, orange, and a wallop of marshmallow. Nice vanilla notes, graham, more berry, sarsaparilla too. Just inhale this thing...go ahead.

Flavorful and nice. Bread crusts, both wheat and white, bright blueberry, tangerine, blackberry, nuts, and slight general sharp (saaz?) bitterness. This resembles a Marzen quite closely.

Feel is real crisp up front, with a mild creaminess followed by resins, starch, and dryness. The starch remains on the palate but due to the style it's welcoming.

Overall, this beer is another fantastic adventure from Tree House. The low ratings are probably due to expectations being set so high, but honestly I'm just approaching this as a beer and it's a great example of the style and highly enjoyable. That's all a guy can really ask for.

Feb 02, 2019
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2beerdogs from California

3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to akatz821 for this one.
This was originally tried as a blind tasting, not knowing style or brewer.
Burnished amber in color. Sandy head. Slight lacing.
Slightly nutty at first but then a gently bready malt comes through. At first I was guessing a Marzen, maybe a nut brown ale, but it was a tad light for that.
Taste is bready malt, a nuttiness still comes through, some caramel malt, and a slightly fruity and almost floral honey note. A slightly dry hop bitterness finishes. Still thinking Marzen or nut brown ale.
Mouthfeel is medium, moderate yet consistent carbonation.
The reveal shows it to be this beer, Old Man ESB.

Overall, a very nice take on style. Not many breweries are doing ESB's.

Jan 21, 2019
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JBowenGeorgia from Georgia

4.24/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a cloudy dark amber with a finger of off white head.
Smells of caramel malts, bready, a little fruity. I know it sounds odd but I'm definitely getting hints of green apple. 
Taste follows with the caramel, bready notes, and getting a bit of toffee as well. 
Medium to full body, smooth, and well carbed.
Overall a quite enjoyable ESB!

Jan 06, 2019
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hopsputin from New Jersey

3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: murky dark ruby red/ light brown

S: caramel, toffee, huge bready notes, fresh bread and some dark fruit

T: follows the nose. Huge bready and caramel notes. Some dark fruit and earthy grains as well. Really smooth and easy to drink

M; medium mouth with mid-carb

O: easy to drink esb. Tasty sweet and crisp

Dec 31, 2018
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Hyptochrons from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

has wonderfully mellow sweetness to it, hinting at caramel, toasted nuts, brown sugar, but never approaching that level of sweetness. also some mellow woodsy bitterness to it and a hint of light citric and leafy green earthy character. very clean and crisp, light mouthfeel is appropriate.

Dec 10, 2018
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papposilenus from New Hampshire

3.87/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 16oz can, dated 11/13/18. Served in an imperial pint pub glass.

Pours a hazy-almost-muddy copper-almost-acorn colour with two fingers of beige suds. Retention is pretty good, leaving a fat, creamy cap-and-collar and thin rings of lacing.

The aroma is sharp and tangy, toasted malt, Tetley tea, a tart fruit note and a little metallic character.

The taste is tart and tangy rather than bitter, similar to the nose, mostly cold, damp, sweetened toasted-malt tea with a squeeze of lemon or, maybe, cranberry or tart apple. Earthy and dry, some decent lingering sour apple bitterness.

Feel is crisp and dry, medium-light bodied with bright, zesty carbonation, a little aggressive relative to the style but no complaints.

Overall, as ESB's go, this is a good one if, in fact, it really is an ESB, which could be argued... ah, hell, it's an ESB, why not? It's pretty tasty, and drinkable as the dickens but, let's be honest, it's not the reason I drive an hour and a half to Charlton.

Dec 01, 2018
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dms from Connecticut

2.46/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Meh. It tastes a lot like many other ESBs I've had. There's nothing really special about it. It's somewhat malty and "brown" in flavor. Kind of sweet and just OK. I've had this beer or its equivalent at many other, lesser breweries that couldn't seem to whip up a decent IPA of pilsner and it was just as good there as it was here at Treehouse in its "Old Man" clothing. It could be that I just don't like ESBs . . . I don't. But I sort of expected this one to be special in some way. And it wasn't.

Nov 30, 2018
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CTHomer from Connecticut

3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A: unfiltered; bronzish amber in color; 1 finger off white head that receded quickly to a thin collar; very little lacing;

S: nutty, doughy, metallic;

T: sweet malt with sourdough and nuttiness; no bitterness;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation; moderately dry finish;

O: unimpressive for the style; the metallic aspect of the aroma was a turn off;

Nov 30, 2018
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Billolick from New York

4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Tall can, fresh from the brewery....11/13/18 canning date

Pour with a medium haze, darker amber, almost brown. Looser bubble mini cap left behind on the glass.

MIld and leafy malts on the nose.

Tasty n malty brown ale, smooth and easy drinking, delicious creation...well worth a try...surprise surprise...Tree House can make a great brown ale...go get some

Nov 21, 2018
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scotorum from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


Poured from the 16 oz. can into an English nonick pint.

a: Translucent copper with an inch thick offwhite head which receded to thin patchy surface foam .

s; Dark fruit such as plum.

t; Mild caramel malt with dark fruit overtones and moderate bitterness over a mixed sweet/dry finish.

m; Medium, good body and some carbonation tingle.

o; A flavorful brew but seems overhopped and with unusually strong fruit notes for the style. Apparently this American take on the hallowed English ESB is to hop it up a bit and push up the net fruit flavor profile to mute the normal caramel malt notes. Ends up being closer to a lightweight (5.4% ABV) barleywine than an ESB IMO. As such though it is not a bad year round brew.

Sep 10, 2018
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fitzy84 from Massachusetts

3.89/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Bought a can at Tree House. Beer pours with copper brown, murky color with no head. Malty aromas which definitely come through with the taste. Very sweet too. Good, medium mouthfeel; almost silky but not creamy. Overall, pretty good. Very drinkable and sweet.

Sep 03, 2018
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mikeburd1128 from New Jersey

3.72/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Canned 8/28. Drinking 8/31. Poured into a Tired Hands pint glass.

Looks how you'd expect. Deep mahogany/copper color with a relatively thin off white head.

Smells strongly of copper to the point where it's borderline off-putting. A bit of a twang. Maybe some sourdough/pumpernickel bread kinda thing going on. Maybe some clove or something too.

Taste is much of the same as the nose. Much cleaner though. Bready. Maybe some semi-sweet chocolate sprinkled in there as well. Finishes clean though. A touch of vanilla.

Moderate+ feel. Wouldn't mind a bit more, but it's fine.

Overall I'm not entirely sure how much I'm digging this - which honestly I'm thinking is a good thing. This isn't really the type of beer to be fussed over, but it's got enough to keep you interested. Drinks relatively clean and stays out of the way.

Sep 01, 2018
Old Man from Tree House Brewing Company
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 368 ratings