ESB Ale | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

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52 Ratings

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.25%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by stirgy on 04-13-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 52 |  Reviews: 48
Reviews by wyllder:
Photo of wyllder
3.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had a bit of a hard time with this one. My biggest problem being that, to me, it tasted much more like an English Strong Ale than an ESB.

Pours a clear, slightly brownish amber with a small head that quickly recedes. leaves a modest lacing on the glass as you go.

Nose smells of a deep, candied caramel up front with a mild acidic apple edge lurking behind it.

On the palate. Smooth, caramel malts come through. Just a hint of that fruity, musky hopping but it's buried really way back behind the malt and never really shines through on the palate for even a moment. Aftertaste is pleasant and malty.

Mouthfeel and drinkability are both ok.

Ultimately, this is an ok brew. It's just not a very good interpretation of the style at all.


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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.37/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought a variety pack of Weyerbacher today,this one poured a medium copper color with light head that left a little lace.The aroma was nice of toasted malt and some slight fruitiness,the taste was not quite as nice as the aroma,it lacked the toasted maltiness but did have some nice lingering fruitiness.Seemed a little thin for the style,not bad but have had better local ESB's.

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Photo of jakester
3.88/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is from a sampler case from Weyerbacher. Expiration date clearly marked on the case!! YEA!!

Pours a clear amber/light orange with a one finger head of off-white foam. Head drops to a coating and a ring in about 3 minutes. Pretty good lacing.

Aroma is herbal/earthy from malt and hops. Kinda different, but ok. Pretty strong caramel/toffee smell as well. Toasted malts? Hop aroma takes a back seat in this brew.

Taste is somewhat sweet caramel and decent hop bitterness, with some herbal hops for flavor. Maybe even some prunes? Something is different about this ESB. Maybe it's toasted malts. Maybe from the yeast? It doesn't taste bad, but it's kind of pronounced. Aftertaste is a prolonged toastiness.

Mouthfeel is smooth sweetness, pleasant carbonation bite, and hop bitterness at the back of the throat.

This is a pretty good representation of the style, with a small twist for uniqueness. It's a good ESB, but it IS different. Recommended.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
1.88/5  rDev -44.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Appears a copper ruby tone with a nice sized thicket of cream colored lacing chunky in texture as it dwindles big patches of lacing are clinging to my imperial pint. Aroma some nice mild sweet malt tones where are the hops though not bad just so bland and uninteresting across the board. Flavor has an astringent carboard tone with some mildly toasted malts but overall leaves me wanting so much more and guess what once again guess what yep no hops no classic buttery hop profile this beer sucks. Mouthfeel is thin and body is not textured or enjoyable for a beer lover. Drinkability well never again this beer didn't do anything for me but wet my palate, time for some real beer.

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Photo of tempest
3.7/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to leftmindedrighty for this trade. I had this the day after a Yards ESA and there's good contrast here. This is less traditional with a sweeter mouthfeel and only a touch of grassy bitterness. The caramel malt flavor almost reminds me of an extract brew, go figure. Still a good session beer.

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Photo of edchicma
3.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad brew, but not quite as good as their stronger offerings. Very nice appearance...medium amber...good lacing. Smell is mainly malt, but nothing special. Taste is a bit disappointing...with some malt and some hop presence. Smoky presence keeps flavor slightly above average. Mouthfeel is somewhat likes and ends in a very dry aftertaste. Not one of my favorites, but I wouldn't refuse a second bottle.

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Photo of buzzy
3.29/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of mikesgroove
3.66/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from note

hazy golden yellow in color it came roaring out of the bottle and easily filling the entire glass with rich bubbly foam that melded seemlessly into the bubbly, grainy base.

The aroma was light, lots of grain and light spice with a smooth, mellow and light fruity hint that popped up toward the finish. Smooth mellow flavor with a n even cosistency. My only knock is it came off as more of a mild ale to me as the hop flavor was not really too high and not much in the way of bitter flavor.

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Photo of santoslhalper
4.03/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very pretty copper with an off-white head. Head dissapears quickly but leaves nice lacing. Smells of roasted malts and almonds with a hint of chocolate. Tastes of cocoa, roasted nuts, and caramel. Very interesting flavor, which will keep you sipping. Towards the bottom of the glass it tastes much maltier than the top. Finishes very nice and mellow. A very pleasent and ejoyable beer. Defintly recommended.

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Photo of frank4sail
3.95/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light amber hue to the color with a rich lasting white head. Malt sweetness in the nose with hints of bitterness. Hop bitterness is a constant in the taste throughout. A slight fruit/flower aftertaste lingers on the tongue. A slightly larger malt base would round out the taste and mouth a little better and make this an upper deck ESB selection. I see the mouth as a little short for the style. The look of this beer is awesome with a constant lasting lace & head present at all times.

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Photo of Phatz
3.33/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

There is no bottled on or freshness date on the bottle that I could find. I did want to mention that my bottle of ESB Ale is a very different design than the one displayed. (I'm assuming a new bottle design). I was fortunate enough to receive this bottle in a trade so the exact date of purchase is unclear) but I believe the picture shown is outdated.

Appearance: This beer pours a soft transparent copper color with a very creamy 2 finger off-white head with decent retention. Mediocre lacing.

Smell: It has a good aroma but it is subtle and reserved. After some contemplation I came up with sweet bread and yeast, slight fruity tones and gentle hops.

Taste: Like the smell the taste is gentle and approachable. It is not the most interesting ESB I have ever tasted but it is quite palatable. It seems to have a pretty straight forward bready malt and hop balance until the aftertaste. The aftertaste is a bit odd. There is very little of the bitter I was looking for up front it seems all the bitter is waiting for the finish. I'm not quite sure what to make of this...?

Mouthfeel: This beer has a very light mouthfeel that seems to disappear into nothing through the middle. To its credit it is very smooth.

Drinkability: Overall this is a decent beer but a bit lacking in luster. I would be too bored to have a second but it would be palatable if I was interested so the drinkability is what I'd call "Ho Hum."

Hope this is helpful.

Thanks to tgbljb for the trade!
Heres to finding good beer in Lancaster PA :) Cheers!

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Photo of foureyedgeek
3.85/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From bottle to pint glass, this pours a light golden brown, leaving a finger and a half head. Head fades to a ringer shortly thereafter, slight lacing throughout.

Not a lot of aroma coming of, slight hoppiness, maybe a little grape?

Mellow malty beginning with a nice crisp hoppy finish.

Light in the mouthfeel, making in a little underbodied, I think but plenty drinkable. Good session beer, at least.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.87/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of several brews I bought at the brewery. I am sampling a cellar temp sample in a pint glass.
The beer pours a clear copper color and develops a 1 cm off white head. Aroma is caramel and grassy hops with a bit of butterscotch mixed in there too. First sip reveals average carbonation with very fine sized bubbles. Slightly creamy texture. Flavor is caramel up front with some toffee and again a grassy hop presence. But flavor is overwhelming toffee and butterscotch sweetness. Now I should also state that the flavor is rather mild overall,but is dominated by toffee. This is a well made brew and would be a great session beer I think. Very smooth and easy to drink. A great beer to start the superbowl with.

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Photo of alexwag
3.43/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- New label from the one depicted. It's a bit more straightforward, for what that's worth.

Light copper, held up to the light looks like a darker Budweiser (though I probably shouldn't be dropping the B-bomb in a review -- purely for comparative purposes.) Finger of fluffy white head, medium endurance.

S- Crisp, a little bite to the hops, hint of malt. Not picking up very defined things ... as I often say, could be a bit stronger, but ok for this style.

T- Some bitterish, coarse hops, not much malt to balance.Still, quite clean and fairly incisive. Hops gain depth through the glass, mellow and fill out. A fairly standard offering.

M- It's got some body, little carbonation which I like, and pretty smooth.

D- Medium. Undoubtedly potable, but there are better options out there for ESB with more complexity.

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Photo of Suds
3.85/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a creamy, bright-white head. Color is deep amber, but hazy with suspended particles. Distinctive malt aroma, but very well balanced. This is a great beer from an aggressive small brewery.

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Photo of WesWes
3.65/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a light amber color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a sweet, yet dry malty scent that boasts of pale and crystal malts along with an English yeast and noble hop aroma. The taste is decent. It has a very sweet malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes a bit dry and slightly bitter. It is a little too sweet and not bitter enough for the style. I like it, but it may be too sweet for most. The mouthfeel is decent. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This beer has too much sweetness and body. I wish it had more hops as well. All in all, it drinks decent, but this is one I'll never buy again.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.1/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: Standard 12 fluid ounce sampling that arrived in a brown glass bottle. Single dark blue label with an impressionist style picture of a green valley. Labeled as “ESB Ale, Micro-Brewed In The Lehigh Valley”, presumably the valley in the picture. No Strength or Freshness Date.

Appearance: A clear golden orange color, with a thin cream colored halo head that leaves a light lacing. Solid inherent carbonation, which exhibits itself when the beer is tilted and righted, for the bubbles quickly race back to the underside of the head.

Nose: Quite appealing, a restrained aroma of lightly roasted (toasted?) malts mixed with a “fruitiness” more often found in Pale Ales.

Taste: Light malts, and even lighter hops. Quite crisp in the beginning, very malty, lacking hops. The lightly roasted malts eventually fade into a sweetish finish with a fruity tinge. Still no real hop-bitterness – did I miss it I wonder?

Mouthfeel: Light and rather disappointing. Lacks body, and any real malt/hops punch that is so characteristic of other luminaries of the Extra Special Bitter style.

Drinkability: Above average, crisp malts, its drinkable - but the lack of any hop-bitterness, makes it unbalanced and more of a malty amber/bitter ale than an ESB. Still, its quenches a thirst and is far from unpalatable.

Overall: Not bad, but it is lacking in hops I think, and it drinks rather thin, but considering that it is 5.25%ABV, maybe that is not too much of a surprise. Drop the ‘Extra’, and drop the ‘Special’, from the beers name, and it more closely describes more closely what this beer really is – just a standard Bitter.

That said, it is a reasonable enough beer, which drank easily. It was just above average overall. I am not one for worrying too much about style definitions, but I do think it falls way short of other, more notable ESB’s - so it may very well disappoint some. Not bad, if you do not concentrate on its shortcomings too much.

I am indebted to Francisweizen for the rare chance to try this.

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Photo of stirgy
3.09/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer poured out a bright copper orange color with a lively white head that laced the glass nicely. There was a pungent aroma of some sour apple and something like bitter coffee beans. Taste was interesting – there was an earthiness to this beer that wasn’t completely agreeing. Left a lingering sweetness on the back of the throat. Light to medium bodied. Although drinkable, this one seemed to miss the mark for me. Not bad though.

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Photo of rabsten
3.7/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber with one inch tan head. Some lacing. Pretty good looking beer.

Butterscotch malt with some faint but lingering hops.

I get tired of writing this sometimes but, “tastes just like it smells.” Malt dominates, with a flavor that reminds me of a Brach’s hard candy butterscotch. There’s a slight bitterness from the hops. Very much like scotch ale, where the sweeter malts tend to dominate.

Good drinkability, easy on the gullet. No real comment on the mouthfeel, though. It’s kinda just “there.”

Overall, not a bad ale, but there are so many E.S.B.s out there that are better. Makes a pretty good Scotch Ale substitute if you’re hankering for a highland brew and none’s available. Oddly, this is more scotch ale-like than their scotch ale.

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Photo of tgbljb
3.68/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a crystal-clear medium copper with massive tannish head that fell to 1/4 coating that had a sponge like appearance.Nice lacing on the side of the glass. Smell is an attractive combination of a roasted malt and a bitter hop. Taste is very pleasant with a good maltiness, a nice hop background.but an odd metallic taste. Finishes with a medium hop dryness that mixes with the caramel malt in a nice proportion. A very good and easy drinking beer.

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Photo of yen157
3.83/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It was poured into a wet glass, but the head was coarse, foamy, and hung around for a little while. Brilliantly clear, reddish amber body, with some floaty chunks. I didn’t realize this beer was bottle conditioned, but I doubt they were from the last beer I had in this unwashed glass (Ballantines). Crisp hop aroma with plenty of toasted grain. Healthy roasted malt flavor for this style of beer and appropriate hop balance. It got a little fruity as it warmed. Unfortunately the body was a little thin, but the carbonation was nearly perfect.

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Photo of brentk56
2.63/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy copper color with a moderate head that leaves splashes of lacing

Smell: A bit of biscuity malt and a rather earthy, sweaty tone

Taste: Starts out with a rather neutral biscuity flavor; after the swallow it just goes downhill, with a cardboard oxidised flavor that is just unappealing

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation but the finish suffers from both some diacetyl induced slickness as well as a puckerish quality

Drinkability: Weyerbacher is inconsistent in its brews and this is one that falls solidly on the negative side of the ledger - perhaps the worst of the lot

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Photo of mgdeth
2.53/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - This beer had a nice copper color (think bright shiny penny-like color at the edges and bottom of the glass when viewing the beer directly in front of a light). The head was unimpressive, and faded quickly. Carbonation is good. This beer was also just the slightest bit cloudy.

Smell - I must have missed this one . . . I didn't perceive much aroma at all; maybe just a hint of maltiness.

Taste - Yikes! Something went wrong with this batch. The blend of malt and hops seems to be good for the style. However, I keep perceiving a stale flavor - sort of a metallic off-flavor. It reminds me of licking paper clips at work (don't ask). Initially, this beer has strong bitterness that floods your mouth. The hop bitterness lingers on the palate (which is good). Unfortunately, the hops that come to mind are the yellow, dried out, crunchy ones that used to line the shelves of homebrewing stores about 25 years ago.

Mouthfeel - The mouthfeel is the best part of this beer. The beer is substantial, yet smooth overall. This is the way a craft beer ought to be.

Drinkability - Overall, this was not an easy beer to drink. The stale maltiness combined with a funky metallic flavor that is finished off with an unpleasant bitterness - it's sort of like junior high school all over again.

Comments - I was disappointed by this beer. The bad bitterness just doesn't seem to fade. Sadly, this is one of my worst experiences with a craft or micro. I hope that I just got an old batch of beer that was past its prime.

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Photo of DrJay
3.15/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear amber with a thin, off-white head from a vigourous pour. Fine bubbles clung to the sides of the glass. Toasted and caramel malt dominate the nose, with a bit of fruitiness as well. Mild bitterness with malt to the forefront throughout. Dry malt finish with just a hint of hop flavour. Caramel and toasted character is nice, but not enough hops here. Diacetyl was apparent as well. The weak hop character is not what I expect from an ESB.

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Photo of UnionMade
3.71/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a beautiful coppery amber, perfectly clear, with a few carbonation bubbles floating up languidly. A short ivory foam crops up, settling quickly into a filmy coating. The head keeps a filmy coating, leaving plenty of lace sheeting down the glass. Nice presentation.
The aroma is well balanced, with a pleasing biscuity, toasty maltiness and herbal, slightly grassy hops in equal proportion. Mild pear esters, along with just a whisper of nuttiness. I'm guessing plenty of fuggles hops, with a mild earthy woodiness. A bit of wheat malt sourness.
The flavor starts with a semi sweet biscuity malt, along with a hint of roasted malt into the middle. Perhaps some wheat malt. Very mild pear, white grape and floral esters, with some hazelnut moving into the finish. Moderate grassy fuggles, maybe something else, with a touch of floral goldings. Just enough bittering to balance the malt, with some wheat sourness. Some nuttiness in the swallow, drying out nicely. Biscuit and floral hops linger in the aftertaste.
The fresh sample is (of course) much better than my previous experience. I'm not a big fan of grassy hops, but it works with this beer. A smooth, easy drinking session brew that I'd definitely get again.

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ESB Ale from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.38 out of 5 with 52 ratings