Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown) | Grand Teton Brewing Co.

very good
348 Reviews
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Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown)Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown)

Brewed by:
Grand Teton Brewing Co.
Idaho, United States

Style: English Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bitch Creek perfectly balances big malt sweetness and robust hop flavor for a full bodied, satisfying mahogany ale. Like the stream for which it is named, our Bitch Creek ESB is full of character... not for the timid.

54 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-04-2003

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Reviews: 348 | Ratings: 813
Photo of Spikester
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear amber brown with one fat finger of cream color head that lasts at least fifteen minutes. Great amount of lace as the level drops.
Smell is bready malt and herbal hops.
Taste is lightly roasted malt with a nice balance from the herbal hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium with a good carbonation level.
Overall a very nice ESB. I would have this again. Another great find in Twin Falls, Idaho.

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Photo of Foyle
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pint glass.
A 1" cream colored head falls slowly with plenty of lacing. Color is deep coppery-brown. Aroma of pine, citrus, caramel and rich roasted malt. Flavors of caramel, molasses, toasted bread, ripe fruit, citrus. A very well balanced brew with the hops and malt both making their presence felt. Delicious.

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Photo of stevoj
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice sharply bitter ale. Pours medium brown with thick fluffy beige head, lots of sticky lacing. Aroma is pine, peat, malt, hops. Taste comes on even stronger, bitterness at the forefront. Abrupt, chalky finish leaves mouth dry. Perfect imitation of this British style.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.2/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

A color that runs from dark copper to light brown, 1/3" off white head doesn't hold up for long. Aroma had a tiny amount of sweetness.

Taste got more substantial, kicking down some of that sweetness, a little bit of hops, a good amount of malt heft. Bitterness grew in the mouthfeel. It really isn't a traditional esb, just kind of feels like one of those hodgepodge ales with some brown and red malts, a hopping medley and whatnot.

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Photo of KLHBB
3.77/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Hard Rock. Pirate. Pours an opaque dark brown with one finger of head. I smell toasted malt, maybe a little coffee. Tastes of burnt toast, a hop kick up front. Lighter feel than you expect, medium carbonation and smooth going down. Good.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Amber pour with off white head; thick cap and moderately heavy lacing; good clarity. Caramel malt nose. Semi sweet caramel malt taste with some lite bitter roast. Medium lite mouthfeel and moderate plus carbonation. Ok lite bitter roast linger.

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Photo of jrsqc7
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You know all those South American bands that are are taking as their inspiration 80s deathrash like early Sodom, Sepultura, and Hellhammer? Same thing here. The aesthetic is down pat. You look at this, you know what it is, you know it will be good. The name is just hokey enough to show how tr00 & kvlt they are, the colour presentation is phenomenal. It's the beer equivalent of bullet belts, denim vest covered in patches and the vintage band t shirts. It's like, black dirt mixed with some clay red. Easy to pound.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Prodigious dense sand-colored head, copper cloudy body, tons of textured lace. Nose has roasted dark malt and bitter chocolate, earthy and floral hops. Flavor begins with these chocolate malts but quickly turns to acidic hops. Rife with bitterness from both the malt and hops. Profile is close to being a Baltic Porter, plus some extra hops acidity/bitterness. Feel is medium bodied and slightly mouth-coating, but every once in a while an island of chewy head breaks off and feels like swallowing a loogie- yuck.
A vision realized, but not one that I understand. Dark malts don't belong with acidic, bitter hops. It was a flavorful experience and well fleshed out, but, again, I'm confused about who would find this appealing.

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Photo of Beginner2
3.6/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dealing first with the way the beer tastes... this is hoppier than the style.
It also is hoppier than my palate likes.
My frequent comment on American brewers is they ought to focus on blending the malts more. Too many take the easy route to get into the game and throw in enough hops and expect there to be enough Americans to keep them in business.
I suspect this tactic was employed by this brewer.
And that is OK. The ale is a success.
But, I also hope they are learning along the way that malts provide a subtlety and are the core of the art.

Second, nobody choose this name again. I know, it a well-known angler's creek.
But just stay away from the word "bitch."
Women should feel welcome to enjoy beer, too.
And don't forget, they were the ones that brewed it in the household only a few centuries ago.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.3/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Was planning to just give this a tick, but the appearance took me so much by surprise that I figured I'd write a quick review.

A - Stunning. Deep chestnut brown with ruby highlights. Head pours 3 fingers high with geat retention and lace.

S - Not great. Dusty with roast malt and old walnuts. Touch of caramel.

T - Not bad. Deep roast notes with an edge of tangy char. Dry, roasted chestnut and some of that dust from the nose. Caramel, bitter greens and burnt toast finish.

M - Light body. Could use a little more carb.

O - A great looking brown that finishes par for the course.

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Photo of jhavs
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz. bottle received in trade poured into a snifter tasting glass.

A=.Light brown and clear with a thin tan head

S=Roasty malts is the dominant factor, some caramel and a bit of lemon peel and alcohol.

T=Malt, toasted and roasted malt flavors, a little smoky, some sweetness with a bit of alcohol warmth .

M=Moderate level of carbonation with a light to medium body.

O=A very drinkable English brown ale with a nice roasted character, smooth and fairly light bodied.

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Photo of blindtiger24
3.73/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thick head, bright white. Dark ruby, maroon color. Cocoa nibs and slight hop pine aroma. Good malt flavor - chocolate, brown sugar. Little bite from hop oils. Clean and smooth finish.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.64/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, procured in the cool environs of the Idaho Pour Authority in Sandpoint. Always saw this when previously visiting the Western states, but never pulled the trigger, til now.

This beer pours a somewhat hazy, dark reddish amber colour, with three fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and somewhat chunky ecru head, which leaves some thick, splattered snow rime lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs away.

It smells of bready, doughy caramel malt, a certain metallic stoniness, a hollow nuttiness, meek earthy, leafy, and piney forest floor hop notes, watery milk chocolate, and a subtle cold steely booziness. The taste is more robust bready and slightly roasted caramel malt, bittersweet cocoa powder, ethereal day-old coffee, a semi-sweet, blended nut butter thing, increasingly edgy pine needle and generic citrus pith bitters, and a still hovering, but not quite yet alit alcohol measure.

The carbonation is quite low-key in its wan frothiness, and hard to really get peeved or excited about, the body a decent middleweight, and mostly smooth, the muddled hop and alcohol astringencies making a minor dent. It finishes off-dry, mostly just sweet in malt, cocoa, nuts, and liquor alike.

Not a shabby brown ale, though I'm not altogether clear on where the Extra Special moniker comes in - is it simply the elevated ABV? Are they for some reason proud of the so-called hoppy character herein? Who knows, but I kind of tired of it towards the end, and well, that ain't special.

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Photo of chicksdiggit
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured center from 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Dark copper with two fingers of almost a pale orange color. Thin to moderate sized bubbles in the head with thick sticky lacing. Thick retention. Large cone of slowly rising carbonation coming from the center of the glass.

S: Slightly alcoholic nose with some nail polish, but caramel and lemon as well.

T: Toasted caramel up front with buttered wheat toast. Lemon in the finish.

F: Slightly creamy but still zippy mouthfeel. Citrus bitter bite hangs around after tasting. Easy to drink.

O: Really surprised with how complex this is, and especially being an ESB. I enjoyed this the first time I had it several years ago and its still good today.

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.08/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brownish ruby, a little hazy and flecky, a little fine sediment on the bottom. Desert mud colored medium retention fluffy head. Great lacing. Spice, pine, resin, grapefruit hop aromas. About like a Cascade/Black Ale. A bit raisin like, probably from influence of caramel. Chocolate and medium roast coffee flavors incredibly well-balanced with fruity, coniferous hops. Distinct tartness throughout, very vegetal hop finish, though grapefruit still to be found. More chocolate or cocoa in the aftertaste alongside hops. Rind, pine, and black pepper retro-olfaction. Medium- to full-bodied. Not quite creamy feel with medium, fine carbonation — equal parts sudsy and prickly — and tingly mixture of astringency and warmth after each swallow. Crisp. Lightly coats the teeth and tongue. Overall, reminded me equally of a Brown, a Coffee Porter/Stout, an IPA or Cascade or Hoppy Red, and a Scotch.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.22/5  rDev -15%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Well, it's a cool evening out and I decided to sit out on my front step to do a beer review. Lo and behold the damn mosquitoes are out in full force, even at a cool 60 degrees. So I retreated inside and I guess I'm gonna have to review this bitch (creek) from the man cave.

Appearance : Initially a three finger, receding to a two finger - khaki colored head, leaving elegant swirls of lace behind as it recedes very slowly. The body is Orange Pekoe Tea colored, perhaps with a hint of cranberry, and is 90% opaque even when held to the light.

Aroma : For a brown ale this sure does have a lot of hop action going on in the nose. I smell pine, mixed with sweet milk chocolate, and some cocoa powder and hop leaf. The milk chocolate is more apparent when held further away from the schnoz.

Taste : How do I rank thee? It's got this intense hop profile going on with tons of bitters, yet the chocolate note is on the closer side of divine. The malts are buried somewhere deep there, or perhaps I'm just not noticing them, but if I had to say anything about the malts I'd say they're barley and they're roasted. Unfortunately it's just not doing it for me here.

Feel : Creamy with substantial carbonation underneath, ending slightly cured. The lingering flavors are of pine and over-ripe grapefruit rind.

Overall : I have to sip this to keep from getting overwhelmed or possibly sick. I'm also getting a near instant headache from this brew. I am not really a fan of this marriage of chocolate and hop assault, it is too opposite and they'd do best staying in their own respective camps, not crossing enemy lines to shake hands.

I'll skip this next time and forever.

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Photo of kitch
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A 12oz bottle that was bottled on 22 January 2015 and poured into a pint glass.

A: It poured a dark brownish red colour with a slightly less than one finger creamy brown head that dissipates in less than a minute leaving stringy lacing.
S: Sweet toasted bready malts, caramel and some dark fruits mainly plum and grape.
T: Mainly sweet caramel mixed with some citrus hoppy flavours and a small amount of dark fruits. The aftertaste also gives a small blast of alcohol.
M: Medium bodied with low to medium carbonation.
O: It was quite a nice brown ale. Maybe a tad bit sweet, but I would probably consider buying this again if I craved for some brown ale. Having said that, this is quite honestly probably the only bottle that’s made it to Hong Kong.

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Photo of Gote
3.82/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I don't know about beechwood or licorice but this beer starts out with a nice aroma. I like porters and stouts and this seems quite similar. Just a little bitterness to it that might make it a bit standoffish but still a very good beer. Definitely not a summer beer but good the rest of the year.

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Photo of hophead723
3.91/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I've been striving lately to try as many new beers as I can and I have seen this one one the shelves many times so I figured I would give it a go. I love the name Bitch Creek, very intriguing. I poured from a bottle brewed on 2/11/15 into a claret glass.

Look: Pours a very dark brown that reveals itself to be a brilliant clear mahogany with a unique off white head that has a touch of beige to it. The lacing was thick and swirling.

Smell: A touch of brown sugar and roasted malts but with a distinct fruity flavor from the yeast. Sweet as well and the alcohol is subtly present.

Taste: The taste is quite similar to the smell and is roasty malt, fruity yeast, a touch of sweetness and a flourish of alcohol. I also get cavendish, beechwood, and licorice.

Feel: Quite full and medium bodied yet with a nice amount of carbonation. Definitely smooth and pleasantly coating.

Overall: This is a good one that drank quite cleanly and paired well with my hot dog and baked beans. Definitely a good option for a barbecue and certainly high quality. I would recommend this beer, especially if you are not in the mood for hops.

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Photo of JLaw55
2.5/5  rDev -34%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

There is an odd funkiness to this one. Definitely not something I would outright buy again. Doesn't seem to really fit the style either, oddly hoppy for a brown ale. Watery mouthfeel as well.

Would Drink Again: No
Would Purchase Again: No

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep brownish red color with a one finger head of billowy cream colored foam. The head has a fantastic level of retention, slowly fading over time to leave a fantastic level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass and on the surface of the brew.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is heaviest of a lightly toasted malt smell along with some sweeter caramel and molasses smells. Along with these aromas comes some lighter hop smells, with the hop being mainly of an earthy smell, but also containing some lighter herbal smells as well.

Taste – The taste begins with some sweeter caramel and molasses as well as some light toasted malty bready taste. Along with these flavors there is a little bit of a dark fruit flavor and a hint of a more earthy hop taste. As the taste advances the earthiness grows more intense with it being joined by some other flavors of a light grassy hop. With the earth gaining a decent intensity throughout and mixing rather nicely with the sweet and roast, one is left with a lightly dank bittered but sweeter taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the slightly thicker and creamier side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side. For the sweet and dankly bittered taste of the brew, the feel is really quite nice as it accentuates them nicely. Not only that, but it gives a more cask like feel to the brew, which, at least in my opinion, is the best way to enjoy an ESB.

Overall – A nice and quite enjoyable ESB with a good blend of dank earthy hop, sweet, and toasted tastes. A nice drinker overall.

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Photo of cbutova
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Taking advantage of some good WIFI in Flagstaff, AZ to do some beer reviews and relax between camping stops. Using a real keyboard is quite nice for once. As far as I can tell, this is the only Extra Special Brown so I will treat it like an ESB and English Brown.(?) Bottled in June 2014.

A- This ESB pours from a 12oz bottle to a chalice with a deep brown body. The head forms to just higher than one finger with a fairly thick, creamy texture. Pretty good retention as the head falls to a small ring and some nice pillows in the middle. Lacing starts spotty and continues that way down the glass.

S- Deeply toasted and caramelized grains provide a hefty dose of aromas that jump out of the glass with good strength. Malty notes of heavily toasted nuts, deep caramelized sugars, caramel, toffee and a decent amount of light cocoa roast hints. Slight dark fruits.

T- One big thing I notice here is a fairly large amount of American hop notes. They seem to be muddled in the heavy malt aromas but a definite citrus, pine and earthy hop profile jumps out here with the malts. Malts are the emphasis with caramel, light cocoa powder, toast and toffee flavors and only a light-medium sweetness. Slight bread and raisin dark fruits.

MF- Medium to almost thick bodied overall. The texture is creamy but not chewy at all, a bit foamy I suppose. Carbonation level is medium. Finishes with a fairly high hop bitterness for a Brown.

Hmm, I am not sure I like the fact that ESB is on the label. To me this is a well-made American Brown Ale with hefty malts and a good deal of hops working off of those grains. A good beer but the label threw me off initially.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown color and yet still somewhat penetrable to light. A quarter inch of tightly knit beige head sits on top. Brussels lacing. I smell dark malt and just a faint whiff of caramel. The flavor is dark malt, toffee,and caramel. The mouth is slightly creamy and smooth.

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Photo of Mojo
3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter

A - mahogany colored pour with an initial two finger off white head. Lacing is good and retention is good.

S - dark fruit, chocolate, coffee, bread

T - taste is initially sweet in a caramel, toffee sort of way, with a bitter finish sort of the same taste as the corky stuff inside of a pecan

M - sort of thin, decent carbonation, not much aftertaste

O - good example of the style. It's at least as good as Honker's Ale.

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Photo of Brenden
3.93/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks, Benny (styleisking), for another nice brew from your trip west.

It's darker than most browns, and with a deep orange-red hue to it. The tan head is almost a full finger's height, with some pretty good retention and stick to it.
It smells like it's on the hoppier end for a brown, citrus and leaf with a dry, tea-like character against caramel and toasty breads.
The flavor really develops the hops, and this stands out in a style that's often too timid. It also has the balance, though, as plenty of bread and caramel balance the orange peel and herbal leaf. It adds some depth with roast and dark chocolate notes lingering, as well as developing flavors of dark fruits without too much tang.
The body is a solid medium with the balance of crisp and smooth that works for this brown ale, right in the median between sweet and dry.

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Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown) from Grand Teton Brewing Co.
3.79 out of 5 based on 813 ratings.
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