AleSmith Brewing Company

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English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #13
Ranked #11,977
3.92 | pDev: 10.46%
AleSmith Brewing Company
California, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 334 | Ratings: 682 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BeanBump
4.1/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was glad to see this back on the draft menu after a fairly lengthy hiatus. Sure, it doesnt have the reputation that Speedway, .394 or "X" does but it is one of the longest tenured beers in the Alesmith arsenal and for the style is a pretty good ESB. I coudlnt drink it all day but I do love including this in a flight as its a nice reprieve from hoppy and sweet.

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BeanBump from California, Apr 23, 2019
Photo of RabbleRouserRye
4.48/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Anvil ESB is a fine traditional British pub ale. Nice toasty malt character you would expect from the British malts and kettle caramelization that blend well with a English hop profile. A wonderful balance of flavors that lead to two thumbs up.

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RabbleRouserRye from California, Jul 31, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Cody’s Irish Pub, Essex Junction, VT. This was poured into a pint glass. The appearance was a hazy burnt orange to toasty amber color with a thin bar pour’s white head that slides away. The aroma has a big English sweet fruity esters with a smooth aromatic earthy malt and some grassy hops coming together nicely. The flavor brings it together, the malty sweetness and the grassy hops. Smooth and swerves into the aftertaste with a quick crisp finish. On the palate, this one sat about a light to medium on the body with a great sessionability about. Low carbonation. Smooth, almost sticky. Overall, as an ESB, this is a top notch one by style, as it presents very clean flavors. I’d have again with some fish n chips.

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Photo of R_i_P
4.09/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I picked up a bomber of this Extra Strong Bitter (ESB) from Albertson's on 02/28/2017. No bottled date. 5.5% APV.

Anvil Ale ESB initially pours a beautiful clear copper with moderate carbonation. 2 fingers of ecru foam. Excellent lacing. As you continue to pour, this beer becomes increasingly hazy from yeast sediment. Similarly, the color also becomes a darker copper.

Smell is fruity and herbal hops with toasted malts -- awesome! The taste is complex -- it starts with a fruity hop flavor, followed by floral hops with a grassy aftertaste. The hops and malt are nearly perfectly balanced.

Anvil ESB is actually very good. I initially disliked it; however, it improved as it warmed up. This ESB tastes best between 45 - 50 degrees F. The warmer temp allows the mild English hops to interact with the English malts. AleSmith of San Diego has created an excellent English pub ale. Complex and slightly bitter, this ESB would taste outstanding with traditional British pub meals. That said, is this ESB worth buying? Yes -- once in a blue moon -- perhaps just to remind us that not everything is West Coast or East Coast IPAs.

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R_i_P from California, Mar 09, 2017
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber > pub mug

A deep amber/red color with a clumpy, frothy off-white crown. Very substantial with slow dissipation and plenty of lace.

Sweet and toasty amber malt aroma with a subtle brown sugar and herbal hop. A very classic, subtle aroma overall.

The malt flavor is excellent, just right for this style, roastie and sweet malt ride together perfectly, subtle honey or brown sugar sweetness mixed with buttered toast effect! The classic herbal, maybe spicy hop balance provides a nice kick right at the end.

The body is medium but very lively and crispy even with a rather complex malt. Finishes silky smooth !

This is an absolute classic for the style, pure English malts, executed perfectly. This is a simple yet interesting style I really enjoy.

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GratefulBeerGuy from New Hampshire, Oct 13, 2016
Photo of tekstr1der
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tough one to call... love the style, but this bucks tradition. Pours a clear amber-brown of the style. Aroma is unexpected with caramel bread being slightly overwhelmed by a hoppy funk. Flavor is similar though much better. Again some unwanted hop bitter mingling with an otherwise-delicious sweet malt. Finish is fairly dry and clean.

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tekstr1der from New Hampshire, Aug 22, 2016
Photo of puboflyons
3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the 650 ml. bottle that was bottled on 07/01/2016. Sampled on August 11, 2016.

It certainly is a handsome looking pour with its reddish-amber color and lasting cream colored head. It leaves decent lacing.

The aroma has the kind of typical caramel and low hop profile character one would expect from the style but there is also a fairly dominant cocoa character. That threw me for a loop.

Medium body and smooth.

The taste is like the aroma with a cracker, caramel, and cocoa character leading up to a mildly bitter and dry finish. Tasty in its way but a little unexpected.

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puboflyons from New Hampshire, Aug 11, 2016
Photo of ThemThangs
4.59/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

One of my top 5 beers. 22oz. Dense glorious head that glistens. Smells great. Has an awesome sweetness to it, not overly hoppy like a lot of beers these days. A pleasure to drink.

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ThemThangs from California, Jun 15, 2016
Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the 22 oz bottle, it pours a coppery amber with a moderate head, dissipating to a thin layer. Some citrus and malt in the nose. The mouth gets the malty flavor with some bitterness. Easy drinking ESB.

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Photo of zeff80
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a golden amber color with a bubbly/soapy, off-white, two-finger head. It left nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of citrus and roasted malt aroma.

T - It tasted of tons of hops and very grassy. Great roasted malt flavor.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good ESB.

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zeff80 from Missouri, Mar 12, 2016
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.99/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has that ipa appearance where it looks almost orange. Over an inch of white head. Aroma was hoppy as an esb ever will be. But somehow, despite that, you still get the different english yeast and malt smells.

This tastes like what I remember red hook esb tasting like in the mid90s, real bitter, real good stuff. Somehow it got bland, my palate prolly just changed. Unlike most modern esb, this truly was extra bitter. The caramel, toffee and peat like malt flavors really matched well with it. This is pretty much a hybrid ipa/esb from San Diego.

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Photo of Brewfocker80
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Ruby amber color with very little head that disappears quickly
S: Mild malt smell with floral and almost metallic aroma. It's not a bad smell but different
T: Nice malty flavor with plenty of caramel it finishes with a nice hop flavor that resembles a nice earthy flavor
M: This is smooth and well carbonated. It goes down very easily
O: Based on the smell I wasn't sure I would like this beer. It had some strange aroma's radiating from it but once you drink it, it is fantastic. It makes Fuller's ESB taste like Miller lite versus and IPA. This is a top notch ESB and I look forward to drinking much much more of it.

1 pt 6 oz bottle into a pint glass

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Brewfocker80 from Kentucky, Jan 23, 2016
Photo of ravenskana
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper amber from the 1 pt 6 oz bottle with a decent amount of foam up top. Hops are well under control here, some carbonation, good amount of mild malt, with each sip i found yself enjoying this more and more. Works well with a nice sandwich for a late lunch. Alesmith says this is their interprtation of a British-style pub ale, and it reminds me of that too from my visit there.

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ravenskana from Illinois, Jan 04, 2016
Photo of delta490
3.51/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep copper, slightly cloudy, with a thin medium-light tan head. The aroma and the taste are both light, faintly malty with a hint of fruit. Both are pretty mild for the style, not particularly robust. The taste has slightly more oomph. The body is a little thin, too but not as much as the flavor and smell.

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delta490 from Virginia, Sep 15, 2015
Photo of 57md
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark copper with a thin layer of head. The body is a touch thin for the style. Slightly sweet maltiness leads the way in the flavor profile. The finish is slightly drier.

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57md from Pennsylvania, Sep 15, 2015
Photo of Czequershuus
4.13/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer pours a clear amber with a solid head. The aroma is very bready, almost like fresh dough, with a solid background of cedar. The flavor is rich at first, filled with decadent but subtle chocolate, brown bread, yeast, butterscotch, and cream. The slight hop presence saunters in at the end. The creamy, joyous mouthfeel pulls the whole beer together. This is a great beer, perfect when you want to dive into a creamy cloud of hearty goodness.

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Czequershuus from Minnesota, Aug 30, 2015
Photo of HattedClassic
4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a nice light cream colored head and stay around for a while but ultimately dissipates. The beer itself is a clear dark amber that is close to a strong copper. The look is pretty good and seems inviting.

The beer smell is very good. The smell is very balanced between the hops and the malts. The malts are a strong bready and a really nice caramel note that mix well with the lightly bitter hop notes. The hop notes are a bit grassy but still very good.

The taste is very good. Despite having the same notes, the taste is a bit more malt heavy than the smell. The taste still has the bready taste but the caramel note is much stronger than in the smell. The hops are also a bit weaker but still detectable.

The feel is good. The feel is a little bit heavy but still good. The beer has a light biting carbonation and a medium body. The beer has a sticky finish to it and smooth feel.

Overall, a very good ESB and worthy of being counted as an example of the style. The taste and smell hit the right spot and while the feel is a bit heavy, it isn't off-putting.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured an auburn tinted copper body with one finger head and no lace. Aroma is mixed with citric, earthy hops and a bread/caramel malt base. Easy drinking, smooth bodied beer that has a fuller feel thanks to a breadlike punch (not biscuit) and this balances with earthy, spicy hops and a caramel/toffee malt sweetness that gives off a little sweet kick on finish. For a rather easy going beer there are lots of little things going on behind the scenes that make this one real enjoyable.

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clayrock81 from Florida, Aug 01, 2015
Photo of MUTINY
3.88/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber into a shaker pint.

A: Pours a vibrant clear amber with 1/2" white head that recedes fairly quickly. Retention & lacing are both pretty good.

S: Mild malt components with a strong hop undertone. Lots of graham cracker. A pretty solid general bitterness throughout.

T: Comes on with a very nice toffee, caramel & graham cracker malt character. Bittering hops become more noticeable through the mid palate. the finish is just slightly off-sweet with a lingering hop/licorice character.

M: Moderate carb married to a full, rich malt body. exceptionally crisp finish. Really nice.

O: Great example of the style.

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MUTINY from Virginia, Jul 31, 2015
Photo of muldersha
4.04/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Purchased a 22oz brown glass bomber from the cooler at Beermongers in SE Portland. Stamped with a bottling date of 05/07/15

Pours a deep ruddy amber color with an impressive creamy light tan head. Very slow to dissipate and leaves an incredibly healthy chunky lacing. Very appetizing appearance.

Rich aromas of roasted walnuts, hazelnuts, brown sugar, hearty multi-grain pumpernickel, sunflower seeds, dates, toffee, gingersnap cookies, and raisin bran.

It sports a medium to medium-full body despite having only 5.5% ABV. A very rich and malty body, almost chewy. A pleasant dollop of nut meat bitterness and steely hops on the finish keeps it lithe and refreshing despite a subtle maple syrup undercurrent.

Overall, this is some fantastic stuff. It smells and tastes a little like a snack someone from the granola crowd would cook up for an afternoon hike after spending too much time at Bob's Red Mill in Milwaukie. However, maybe that means I can classify it as a health food.

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muldersha from New York, Jul 23, 2015
Photo of ClavisAurea
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber as served in a pint glass.

First of all, when I opened the bottle party of the glass room chipped of and fell into the bottle. I was able to fish it out and full a glass enough to review this one. That was a disappointing start.

Appearance: pale brown with a nice 1 finger head that sank to a small run of foam. Very clear and hopefully glass-fre . Lol

Nose: chocolate, toffee, caramel, bread pudding, slightly fruity, prunes

Taste: malt backbone with a slight sweetness that is cut well by the hops. Juice fruit center with a quick and sweet finish.

Overall: I wish I could have enjoyed the whole bottle. I really liked this beer and will seek it put in the future. Great example of the classic ESB style.

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ClavisAurea from New York, Apr 14, 2015
Photo of hopsputin
4.04/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

a: a dark dark copper & purple color. some dark ruby red notes as well. 1 finger frothy tan head that looks a bit rocky and marshmallow-like

s: a very rich caramel malt, with some sticky toffee. huge biscuty & bready notes as well. some generic juicy berries in here as well, with the softest citrusy hop aroma

t: taste follows the nose. its quite smooth. those big bready notes up front are followed by the rich carmel and toffee. nice use of malts here. faint berries, and some of those extremely mild (not bitter) citrus hops. follows the nose pretty close. nice.

m: its the lighter side of medium. its a mixture of a bit silky and creamy, with a small amount of sticky syrupy-like feel. i'd like to see it a bit less carbonated - thats all.

o: its a real solid beer. the style itself isn't overly complicated, so it needs to be a clean beer to succeed as an ESB for me, and this does. if you want some malty goodness, pick this up. the only thing i can say against this is that i actually would like slightly less carbonation. good stuff!

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hopsputin from New Jersey, Mar 17, 2015
Photo of Franziskaner
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Much rich brown color with great clarity. There's a half inch of khaki colored head with tightly packed foam. Brussels lacing. Aroma is of caramel scented light malt and copper tinged British hops. The taste is a nice caramel malt flavor with just a kiss of British copper tinged hops. The mouth is dry and a bit chalky.

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Franziskaner from Missouri, Feb 15, 2015
Photo of RyanK252
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into a BarrelHouse Brewing Co pint glass

A: Pours deep hazelnut ruby brown with a creamy light brown head that settles and laces well.

S: Roasted malt, a bit bready and earthy, and a touch of toffee.

T: Bready malt, a bit earthy, a little toffee, some light coffee, subtle fruitiness, and a touch of light citrus hop and roasted malt bitterness .

M: On the heavier side of medium body with moderate carbonation, quite smooth.

O: Maybe not quite what I expected, but not bad.

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RyanK252 from California, Dec 13, 2014
Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +21.2%

Biscuity malt aromas joined by light citrus, a touch of toffee, hints of chocolate
Pours a brilliant ruby garnet mahogany under a pillowy 3" reddish orange tinted finely bubbled foam cap that slowly descends and leaves thick lace.
Malt driven palate with biscuity malt, a touch of fresh baked bread crust, light fruit finished with a moderate, balancing earthy, spicy hop bitterness.
Very creamy medium body and medium very finely bubbled carbonation

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pat61 from Minnesota, Sep 12, 2014
Anvil from AleSmith Brewing Company
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 682 ratings