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 UCLABrewN84
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled 11/7/13.

Pours a murky orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, tea, and citrus zest aromas. Taste is much the same with malt and citrus zest flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a slightly better citrus hop presence in the aroma.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i liked this one a lot, unconventional hoppy brown ale. the pour is a decadent looking hazy reddish brown color with a lively off white head as tall as you want it to be. aroma is hop heavy on top of well roasted chocolate malt and an ale yeast that lends some seasonal vibe to it. flavor is great i think, the heavy hops on top of a sturdy brown ale is just what the early fall is calling for, its perfect really. i love the sweetness of the malts grappling with the bitterness of the hops. its got a great bite in the finish as well. feel is fuller bodied for sure, but the carbonation is rather bright, and the combination is great. its a little filling, but its perfect for this time of year. get some.

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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 brentk56
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a fairly clear brownish amber color with a prodigious head that persists with excellence and sticks webs of lace

Smell: Caramel and some earthy/piney hops

Taste: Shows off the malt backbone at the outset with a burnt caramel and unsweetened chocolate character that adds a fruity, but earthy/piney bitterness by mid-palate; after the swallow, the beer develops a tea-like earthy bitterness that just grows and grows

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Really more of an American take on the ESB style, with a flavor profile is dramatic and interesting

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Photo of kojevergas
2.95/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

355ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a stemtulip in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Acquired at Tipsy's Liquor in Colorado as part of a Grand Teton variety box. Expectations are above average.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger beige-slight khaki colour of nice cream, good thickness, and solid retention for the above average ABV. Colour is a very dark grapefruit-auburn (if you'll forgive the pretention inherent in that phrasing...). Nontransparent. Opaque. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Decent lacing as the head recedes.

Sm: Cream, heavy caramelization, toasted malt, fruity malts, and a rounded light fruit hop character - nothing too bitter or piney or anything of the like. Quite sugary. A pretty strong aroma, though not an arresting one.

T: Cream, heavy malts (toasted, fruity, caramelized), and a simple barley foundation lending more body but little flavour. A substandard ESB. Built very simply. The balance is alright, but the beer lacks sufficient body. Overly malty, without any clever layering.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and creamy. Too wet. Adequately carbonated. Suits the flavours and style in a general sense.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. A mundane ESB, but one that will satisfy any yearning on the part of ye ESB fans. I wouldn't get it again, but it's decent. Hides its above average ABV well.


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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown in the glass, quite hazy with a bit of visible sediment floating around. A light tan head rises to two fingers height before settling to a thick crown.

Earthy, leafy hops, toasted malt and a touch of dark fruit and citrus are evident on the nose.

Bold and full-bodied on the palate, opening with flavors of coffee, herbal hops, toffee, pine and orange peel. Well-hopped but balanced by a substantial malt backbone. Nutty, biscuit-like finish with herbal hop bitterness. Drinks easy despite the full body and rich flavor, very good stuff.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a cloudy brown color ale with a medium foamy head with good retention and limited lacing. Aroma consists of dry caramelized sugar with nice notes of biscuit. Taste is dominated by a solid malt backbone of dry caramelized sugar with a nice biscuit finish. Body is full with limited filtration and good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed though it doesn’t really fall close to a particular style.

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Photo of zeff80
4.27/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a copper/amber color with a tan, bubbly/foamy, one-finger head. It left some sticky lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and burnt toast. Also, some grassy notes.

T - It tasted of roasted malt with a nicely balanced bitter hop kick. Overall, a good bittersweet taste.

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

D - This is a very good ESB. A little hoppier than most.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.12/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a nice moderate brown color with some copper streaks. White head with a bit of lacing. The nose is quite strong and nice. Good notes of pine, grapefruit, and some other citrus hops. Light caramel and toffee in the nose. The flavor has a nice hop bouquet along with a bit of light caramel and bread. Pretty good body with a nice level of bitterness and a good finish. Drinks quite well and was a solid nice first beer from Idaho.

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Photo of mothman
2.74/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Not a bitter... alright.

Poured into pint glass.

Pours a light brown head. At least 1 finger. Decent retention with some nice lace left. Color is a copper brown.

Aroma: Earth hops. Very sharp. Some roasted malts. Nothing to distinguishable. Some chocolate and caramel, I guess.

Taste: Grassy hops more than anything. Roasted malts play a big part in this beer. Chocolate malts with some caramel notes. Nothing really representing a brown ale.

Mouthfeel: Roasted and dry. Medium bodied with a higher amount of carbonation. Ends dry and grassy, in an unpleasant way.

Overall, I thought this was going to be a bitter, but it was a brown. So I rated it as a brown and it still wasn't that good. I just wasn't very happy with this offering. Not to drinkable.

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Photo of jlindros
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a decent 1 finger head with lots of big bubbles and fades at a medium pace, the head is a little darker than normal, and the beer is slightly hazy dark molasses and brown sugar color.

The nose brings lots of earthy bitter hops at first, some earthy chewy U.K style bitter hops with a light floral part and some herbal tones. Under that is a sweet malty presence, with some dark malts, crystal, and I think a hint of brown sugar.

The flavor doesn't come as strong as I thought, but starts with a bitter aspect. Again more earthy bitter hops that don't hit too heavy and bring a little herbal and slight chewy aspect to them. Some sweetness, a malty and sugary sweetness, with some light brown sugar I think, and some dark malts, crystal malt, touch of a very dark malt but I can't figure out which. With all that it is still juicy and drinkable, but not really sessionable.

The mouth is medium bodied with good carbonation.

It finishes with a little spicy hop flavor, some more earthy and herbal hops but they get a little spicy here and are somewhat bitter but not heavy bitterness. It dries a bit, quite a bit, but leaves a slight sticky sweetness feel. Some lingering malts, and even a touch of minerality. It has a slight creamy feel to it at this point as well. Drinks well, tasty, I could drink a lot of this.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright, citrusy, floral, leafy, grassy, piney, and metallic hops leap out at you in Bitch Creek's ESB, almost challenging you to take a sip! There's also some berry-like yeasty fruitiness, and some mild chocolate and dark caramel malt underneath, giving it quite a round and welcoming nose. The body is medium; and it's delicate, median carbonation caresses the tastebuds. The deep chestnut body has a crimson and ruby cast that's reminiscent of old, polished leather furniture; and the creamy tan head holds long enough to make an impression, and then continues to leave walls of spotty lace once it's dropped. Rich, caramelized sugars and a bit of nuttiness dominate the malty side of the flavor; juicy yeasty fruitiness livens it (apples, red berries, prunes, pear); and citrusy, leafy, grassy, mineralish, floral and subtly piney/minty hops round it out with a raspy edge. A bold bitterness anchors it, but there's enough girth to the maltiness that it doesn't appear as "bitter!". It finishes drying as the sweetish and distinctly caramelish maltiness fades, and the piney and resinous hops rise - both softened along the way by a soft, smooth cushion of underlying orange-like citrus. Nice!

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade from IntriqKen, so a big "thank you" goes out to him.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark copper color, with a thin off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: There’s a good hops aroma, better than some IPA’s that I’ve had, in fact. There’s also a good caramelized malt background along with hints of tea and nuts.

T: The caramelized malt flavor comes out first in the taste. Although the hops don’t taste as strong as they smell, they’re definitely there to transition into a pale bitterness that is characteristic of the style and lingers in a mild after-taste. As the beer warms a bit, the balance is more apparent.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean and dry.

D: Tasty, easy-to-drink, not very filling, I could drink a few of these in a row. This style isn’t one of my favorites, but this particular beer is one of the better ESB’s that I’ve had.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.01/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lucent bloody brown, at least as dark as the bottle it came in and much darker than any ESB in existence. The dark tan head displays a compact creaminess, furious surface pits and cheese cloth-like lace in the form of thin rings up top and thicker rings down near the receding surface of the beer.

Moderately hoppy nose whose intensity, unfortunately, levels off after the initial nasal rush, causing it to never really hit its stride. Something seems to be blunting it... must be that infernal malt. There's very little maltiness in the aroma though, must be some of that stealth malt that I've been hearing so much about. Fruity, earthy English-style hops (Fuggles?) are dominant with grapefruit peel playing a subservient role.

Bitter Creek is a big beer lover's ESB; Grand Teton most certainly did not skimp on ingredients. It isn't quite a bitch slap of an experience, but is more intense than your garden variety ESB. Plenty o' malt gives it a sweet caramel flavor that is beaten into submission by a few well-timed, solid, bitter hoppy thumps akin to candied white grapefruit coated with caramelized sugar and pine sap. The medium-firm, resinous body/mouthfeel leaves a pleasant bitter scum on the tongue.

I've been impressed by Grand Teton. Sweetgrass IPA was a good one and I still have Teton Ale (APA) to sample. If things hold true to form, it'll be a keeper as well. Many thanks to Ragsdale for a trio (I'm hoping) of wonderful Idaho beers.

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Photo of russpowell
4.89/5  rDev +29%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours deep copper/brown with a rocky 3 fingers+ tan head. Average lacing and good head retention

Smell: Big maltiness, fruitty & then nutty, with chocolate notes

Taste: Huge maltiness& good nuttyness up front. Some Fruitty character followed up with strong piney hops. Finishes fruitty & malty

MF: Rich with great balance. Good carbonation levels

A super quaffable, I think this leans towards an English style ESB with American style. No matter how you slice it, one of the best ESBs I've had!

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Photo of smcolw
4.23/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large, beige head which leaves a web-like lace. The color of the beer is a ruby brown where light will pass and there may be a hint of haze.

Great blend of floral hop and darker crystal malts. There's some cocoa and some cream. Overall, it's a very appealing smell.

Largely bitter, there's still enough darker malt to balance this beer. Think semi-sweet chocolate and you'll get a sense of the malt base. The hop is a little in your face in terms of bitterness, but it provides good balance for a complex brew. The body is above average and the carbonation is perfect for the style.

This is a more bitter style of brown ale, perhaps it could be described as a brown IPA. A great combination for a superior beer.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

great to have grand teton on the shelves and taps in south carolina. gave me a great chance to run through some o their offerings.

dark brown, with a touch of a ruby tone filled up the glass rather quickly. A smallish head was lifted up onto the top, but this was quickly replaced by a thin layer of film across the top. Carbonation was visible in the very clear brew. Lots of bubbles working their way up. A bit of lace was left down the glass, but nothing spectacular or particularly noteworthy.

The smell was rich and sweet. Predominant aroma was a caramel with a touch of an earthy malt. A light feeling was released by this, so you really did not think you were going into anything too terribly heavy. As it warmed you could pick up a roasted or burnt smell coming though as well as a touch of a hop note rounding out the back.

Biggest flavor right off the bat was a caramel that you caught right up front along with a burnt or roasted wood flavor. Almost had a touch of oaked flavor in it. Some hoppiness in the finish, but nothing distracting from the primary notes. A good solid brown ale flavor as best as I can describe it. Finish was a little nutty and dry.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.03/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a flared pokal at Bliss.

Loved the XX version of this, high hopes for the everyday version. It pours a deep russet-brown topped by a finger of sandy tan foam. The nose comprises toffee, light maple syrup, very light toasted bread, pine, greens, and plenty of cilantro. The taste brings in more of the same, but then finishes with a strong bitter/charry/leather character that malingers for a while and ruins any good that precedes it. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta-kinda dry finish. Overall, a decent brew that turns all Hyde on ya. Shame, really.

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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 WoodBrew
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oh Yes...I like hoppy alternative beers such as black IPAs or India Browns....this is in that category or "nice"! The beer pours a hazy brown with thin off-white head that is leaving a lace. The scent has fresh hops that lean towards pine with hints of bitter citrus. The taste is even through the entire drink....there is presence of sweet malt with bitter hops with touches of pine. The mouthfeel is medium in body with smooth carbonation. Overall I would try this again and it would be a great fall session beer.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.92/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours kind of cloudy. Well, not kind of cloudy. I'd say a bit too much so, really. This one is pretty earthy with bark tones to it when you let it warm up. Much more pleasant than I was anticipating. Only draw back is a mild bitter and citric thing that strikes me as slightly not right. But not really so much that it even matters. This is a nice beer.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a Nonic pint glass. Thanks for the trade colts0916! Bottled Dec 15th 2010.

Pours a very slow forming but large light cream head. Pretty good retention on the head as well, somewhat off uniform forming bubbles but that's picking hairs. A cloudy dark brown amber with nice red hues, perhaps a little cloudy.

Slight grass, but mostly malt on the nose. Faint caramel sense.. small but at least it's something.

Taste is mostly all hop. Muted and somewhat of barely a touch of malt on the finish. Not too wet luckily for this style, surprisingly bitter finish of hops. Surprised by this kind of hop feel, just a bare hint of grapefruit oil in the back too.

Interesting for this style but not for me. It's certainly a drinkable beer but not one I would crave or desire to have again.

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Photo of jwc215
3.45/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark reddish/amber with an off-white head that quickly descends to a wisp, but leaves some lacing.

The smell was of citrusy, floral hops. As the drink progresses, a touch of caramel is hinted at.

The taste is of crisp hops upfront. As the drink progresses, some caramel tries to emerge, but is held back, for the most part, by the hops. A sugary sweetness peeks out towards the finish. Slight alcohol notes emerge. The taste is on the hoppy side for the style.

It thins out just a tad in the mouth. The lingering bitterness gives it quite a dry finish.

Overall, not bad, especially if you are looking for a hoppier interpretation of the style. IMO - it could be a bit more balanced throughout and a touch smoother, but worth trying.

Thanks to bitterbill for this one!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.83/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Highly hazed and bronze/dark amber color...cream-toned head, long lasting...

Grassy hops and caramel malt shine through the nose. Spicy, sweet, yet dry.

Taste: Crsip,bright, lightly sweet, then dry. Nutty, caramel and toffee, with a bit of tart apple.

Medium bodied, lightly lingering finish, ...tasty stuff. I'd drink one again,for sure.

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Photo of Tone
4.18/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy, dark brown color. There is a lighter red along the edges and bottom of the glass. Also, there is suspended sediment evident. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of floral hops, sweet malt, and slight caramel. Fits the style of an ESB (not quite sure why it is called a Brown on this site?). Mouth feel is smooth and slight creamy with an average carbonation level. It is also fairly bitter. Tastes of pale hops, strong hops, slight roasted malt, slight citrus, and some sweet malt. Overall, one of the better ESB's I've had in quite some time. There's a great balance of ingredients, good body, good aroma, and easy drinkability.

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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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