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

very good
817 Ratings
Read the review
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

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 817 |  Reviews: 349
Photo of FernMaster
3.64/5  rDev -4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Brown ales are never very pretty looking beers. Maybe it's because life was already against them from the start because of their name; brown ale does not hold the promise that you're getting a pretty looking beer. They should be called something more promising, like "sunset ale," because everyone likes sunsets and instead of saying, "hey, there's a lot of nasty bits of yeast floating around," they'd be like, "oh it's kind of complex, there's lots of layers and overall I feel happy." [unless they're driving west]

With that tirade aside, it's not the most attractive beer. Bitch Creek (awesome name) has only a fingers worth of head that resides quickly and there's a lot of "floaters" in this beer. There's a lot of carbonation to so it looks like D'Angelo neglected Wee-Bey's fish tanks.

The smell is really good though. Wow, I hate that sentence so much I decided to keep it. Its kind of faint so you have to work at it but there's some nice roasted quality to it, the malts and a little bit of hops have a sort of toffee, chocolate scent that's quite becoming. If only the smell was more prominent I would have been happier.

I really like the taste, it's a weird concoction of all that was present in the smell with oranges. If I saw an orange in this beer like a blue moon, however, I would have to fight whoever severed me despite their intentions. There's this earthy and sweet flavor, actually there's no presence of the toffee. There's this hoppy citrus aspect and some sort of chocolate taste too. The flavor is like the scent, nice but you have to fight for it.

Despite the disgusting floaters the beer has a very good mouthfeel, it's a little weak though kind of watery. I'm just glad I'm not choking down bits of yeast. The wateriness does leave a little to be desired.

This beer is easily drinkable, it's affordable and comes in six packs, which is nice. I always thought it only came in bombers until I saw this single at my not-so-local liquor store. I paid $1.60 for the beer so that's not that bad at all.

 2,079 characters

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.

 1,325 characters

Photo of klikger
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

A - Dark brown, with a large white head, and decent artifacting.

S - Roasted grains, floral hops, and some brown sugar.

T - Coffee, roasted malts, and molasses are detected quickly. Later, caramel and a touch of bitterness.

M - Medium-heavy in body, this beer has a superb amount of carbonation - it's even frothy at points.

D - For a brown ale, this is pretty drinkable.

I came in with no expectations & no history with Grant Teton, and I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. I will drink Bitch Creek again, without a doubt.

 563 characters

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.

 760 characters

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a nice dark and muddy light brown with some nice amber hints. A nice thin off-white head develops and recedes to a thin film quickly.

S - Starts off grassy and earthy with a slight citrus character that is very delicious and inviting. Slight caramel and sweet malts on the back end as well as some slight pineapple.

T - Starts off with some earthy and grassy hop tones. They are quickly blended with some nice tasty sweet malts that give a nice dry burnt flavor. Then the grassy and slightly citrusy hop character and flavor comes up again. Very delicious and an interesting take on a Brown Ale. It reminds me of the Schlafly version of the style with tons more hop profile.

M - Light bodied with some nice carbonation and refreshing feel. Delicious beer.

D - Awesome with some good ABV and great flavors.

 846 characters

Photo of bagpiper2005
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour: Dark, fizzy ruby red color with a small tan head that dissipated quickly and left minimal lacing on the glass.

Smell: Light aroma with citrus and piney hops up front with underlying notes of caramel malt and a hint of tangy fruitiness.

Taste: Starts off with a slight citrus hoppiness which gives way into a sweet caramel taste. The middle is rather yeasty and finishes up with a moderate piney hop bitterness that lingers for a bit.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with pretty high carbonation. Dry finish.

Drinkability: I could kill a few of these easily. A very sessionable beer.

Final Notes: Now I know why they call it an "Extra Special Brown" - think of this as a cross between an actual ESB and a Brown Ale. Rather interesting flavor to say the least. Very sessionable and easy drinking.

 803 characters

Photo of dogfishandi
4.4/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle at firdge temp into a pint glass. bottled on 10-27-2009.

pours a dark dark opaque brown with quite a bit of yeast floating around. a thick light tan colored head with pretty good retention. tons of sticky lace caovering every possible spot.

aroma is that of chocolate and caramel malts. citrusy sprucey woody hops as well as a little pungent pine in the background. some what perfumey. smells nice.

the taste is very nice. tastes like it was brewed to be a really good brown ale with an english style esb in mind. chocolate, toffee, and caramel malts. perfumey, sprucy ,piney hops. decent amount of bitterness. a touch of bready yeastiness in there.

medium bodied, maybe feels a touch heavy at times. the hops are felt a little on the palate after drinking.

drinks pretty good, i might be done after 4 or so of these. a decent session beer, but it might lay a little heavy in the stomach after awhile. a great tasteing beer non the less and if it wasnt so hard to get a hold of for me, i might drink it more. not really distributed in my region(well not that i know of).

 1,089 characters

Photo of cbarrett4
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured from tap, a good rusty reddish copper hue with a good level of head.

S - Very nice nose with some malt, spice, and a little hint of dry hops, very subtle and rewarding.

T - Subtle flavor with hints of malt and the spice with a touch of fruit to balance.

M - Medium + body though very balanced acids and tannins

D - The key to a good ESB is to have a seriousness to what is basically a Session style beer and this is a great example. Very rewarding and drinkable.

But seriously, this is what an ideal ESB made in the traditional English style should taste like.

 576 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.06/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thank you n8dietz, this beer is not available in Chicagoland.

Pours a rusty ruby and amber color. Very dark and very difficult to see any bubbling. The head is a dark khaki colorof two fingers after the pour and one finger of foam that stays with you through all twelve ounces. Not to mention all the stickage of foam hanging on to the inside of my pint glass.

Spicey bread aroma is all I can think of on first whiff. The aroma breaks down into more of a divison between heavily toasted malts and almost earthy, but also spicey hop nuances.

The first flavor I get is sweet crusted bread. Then the hops make a dash for the middle of my palate with dying fir trees and som damp earth with a few citrus peels on top. The finish is bitter and a little musty thanks to the hopping.

This was a great ESB. I am so glad I was able to get a sixer of this great Idaho beer.

My one qualm about this review is that its miscategorized. This beer is not at all a brown ale, but an ESB. That is what I'm basing my review upon.

 1,018 characters

Photo of UpNorthLager
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had enough hops to be interesting, but not as sharp as an IPA, a warmth to the flavor. For some reason the carbonation fascinated me - large bubbles settled into a soft smooth head with interesting topographic features. I would have thought this beer might have a little more heft, but it was an interesting try.

 312 characters

Photo of u2carew
3.55/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz Brown longneck.
A) Pours with an active head (two fingers thick). Slowly settles to a tan / beige head that is creamy and tight. Body has decent clarity even with it's dark color. Ruby to mahogany in color. Lacing is semi-sticky.
S) Orange and grapefruit mixed with nutty caramel. Hints of black pepper.
T) Biting hops up front then mellows slightly with a presence of toffee malts. Nuttiness liken to pecans and walnuts. Grassy hops in the finish and aftertaste. The bite mellows after the palate acclimates itself.
M) Medium body. Dry. Has a gritty feel, yet no sediment. Lingering bitterness in the finish and the aftertaste.
D) A decent brew. A cross between an ESB (with some extra hop bite) and an English Brown ale.

 727 characters

Photo of Tballz420
3.11/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown colored body, very big khaki colored head leaves some stickiness on the glass. Dark malt scent. Almost seems more like a brown than a esb. Dark malt front, some bittering hops balancing it out. Lighter side of medium bodied, very wet drink. Its not really a bad beer, but like i said, it reminds me a lot of a brown ale, which is probably my least favorite style out of the commonly found styles of beer.

 415 characters

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.57/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Having had a very good experience with this brewery on my first go-round (their sweetgrass APA), I decided to try another style.

Poured a very cloudy orangish-brown with a brown head and low to medium lacing.

Smelled of sweet, brown sugar, complemented with yeast, bready malts, hops, and some citrus and dark fruits. The smell improved as it warmed up.

Tastes of caramel, raisins, yeast, malted wheat, and hops with a fair amount of bitterness. Taste was pretty even across the range of drinking temperatures, which ranged from quite cold to about 55-60 F as I sampled this selection over two bottles worth.

In the mouth it's of pretty high carbonation and thus quite tangy, thick and slick on the tongue, with both a sweet and bitter hops aftertaste.

Drinkability is quite average, especially for the price. Not that impressed with this one.

 853 characters

Photo of bsp77
3.78/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Very cloudy dark brownish orange with thick tan head.

Smell: Complex at first with chocolate, caramel, citrus and spicy English hops, but then fades to a simple dry malt aroma.

Taste: Mostly dried-out chocolate and caramel malt balanced by a fairly aggressive dose of sharp floral English hops and maybe a touch of citrus and pine.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, very dry finish.

Drinkability: Not a true ESB as it is called an Extra Special Brown. It really is a cross between an English Brown Ale and some kind of bitter American beer - I would call it an American Brown Ale. Quite good, but the mixture is just slightly off-putting.

 722 characters

Photo of hardy008
4.03/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark amber to light brown in color, with two fingers of light tan head with good retention and nice lacing. The aroma has grapefruit, oranges, pine, and caramel malt.

There is a lot of bitter grapefruit, and grapefruit peeling in the taste, along with oranges, pine, and toasted and caramel malt. A nice combination of flavors.

Medium bodied, resinous, and properly carbonated. Another nice beer from Grand Teton Brewing

 422 characters

Photo of morimech
3.84/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle date of 03/25/10.

One very dark ESB. Dark chestnut color that I cannot see through. Two fingers of head that quickly settles to a thin cap. Not much for lacing. The aroma consists of a lot caramel malt. Slight citrus and floral notes. The flavor is on the sweeter side. A lot of caramel and some citrus. The body is also fuller than others in the style. Well carbonated. Quite filling. A bigger ESB that drinks nicely. But the bigger body and higher ABV lowers drinkability.

 482 characters

Photo of kels
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a medium to dark shade of brown with some ruddy, nutty highlights. It is more opaque than expected for the style, and the initial 1/2 inch of toasted cream-colored foam fades to a pretty substantial skim that leaves behind tons of sticky lace.

Caramelly, syrupy malts make up the whole of this nose, which is subtle at best.

Taste is primarily made of the same components as the aroma. It is sticky-sweet with caramel and toasted malts - bordering on roasty and coffeelike. There's a really toasted bready aftertase, along with a bitter citrusy hop presence. Feel is moderately carbonated, and the finish is quite sticky with loads of aftertaste.

Drinkability is pretty decent. Tasty beer, albeit a little too sticky, and very easy to drink.

 753 characters

Photo of udubdawg
3.17/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pours a murky brown color, topped with an impressive creamy tan head, which lasts nearly to the bottom of the glass and leaves excellent lacing.

The aroma is quite good, floral and herbal hops mixed with a heavy caramel, with more citrusy hops behind. Suggestion of fruitiness.

OK, so this is listed as an ESB. It says ESB on the label. On their website it is called an Extra Special Brown, and almost all their awards are for the american brown ale category. So...I'm not really sure what it is. It has some of the biscuity nature and plenty of caramel like I might expect in an english version, but has very high bitterness, which is quite sharp and I wonder what their water treatment involves. And I'm not getting anything really toasty or chocolate or otherwise dark and it's quite sticky sweet under that substantial bitterness. I find myself wanting to call this beer an English barleywine. *shrug*
It's not clear despite the careful pour, and relatively strong and quite sticky. anyway, it's tasty, but a little rough around the edges. The bitterness doesn't fit that well with my perception of ESB, the flavor doesn't fit that well with brown ale. Finally, it is too highly carbonated. These add up to a beer that isn't particularly drinkable, though I'd be happy to sip one again as it definitely deserves further contemplation. My current preference would be for less caramel malt flavor, little lower gravity, less stickiness, lower carb, and if any was used, perhaps less sulfate or whatever is accentuating the hop bitterness - perhaps it is just the hop variety. the current version reminds me of a homebrew we made called "WTF" where we combined many many different things and made a unique, flavorful, but not particularly drinkable, beer.

 1,760 characters

Photo of velmalikevelvet
3.68/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into glass straight outta the bottle.

Big, creamy head deflated fast, leaving almost no lacing. Slightly cloudy and a nice ruddy color.

Immediate hit of hop scent, followed by a caramel aroma.

Tons of carbonation and a peppery bite, lots of malt, and more hops than I expected. Not as bitter as other ESBs I've had.

Flavors stick to the tongue.

Overall not a bad little beer. I enjoyed the heavy maltiness more than I would have predicted, maybe because it was paired with such a big hop hit.

 504 characters

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My second beer at the Burger Bar (Las Vegas). I'm English, so I know all about ESB's right? Wrong, this doesn't look, feel or taste like any UK based ESB I've had (not that this is a bad beer).

Dark brown in colour, the head was an off-white tanned affair, half an inch to start with, but losing ground fairly swiftly.

The aroma was a good mix of both hops and malt molasses, these followed on into the taste, the two flavours blending nicely to give a strong and robust bitter/sweet intermix.

The flavours hung around for a pleasant aftertaste. My taste buds liked it, but I couldn't have another, my mission was only just starting!

 636 characters

Photo of popery
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I rather enjoyed this beer's limited bigger brother, the XX Bitch Creek, and this beer is similar enjoyable. This beer pours a cloudy mahogany, a nice deep color, full of promise, with a good ecru head. The aroma is bright and hoppy, a bit more floral than most ESBs but lots of mineral hoppiness, too. There's a big caramel and biscuit malt backbone. The flavor is rather bitter and a bit surprising. It could use some more malty sweetness to bring out more depth, but it's a mild complaint. If I recall correctly, the XX version had that depth and it was quite successful. The beer has a fairly creamy feel, probably better on tap. Easy to drink, if you like the style and don't mind a bit of American innovation.

 715 characters

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

12oz bottle into Firestone Walker pint glass. 6.5% ABV, 54 IBUs.

A- Brown, maybe a shade lighter than Newcastle. Nice 1cm than head, pretty fair lacing. Good head formation, like a pancake.

S- Caramel malt, piny hop bite, pretty deep nose on this one.

T- Fruity, malty, with a nice hop kick. Cherries at first that get washed away with a pine blast. Not harmonious, but I keep drinking it. Molasses/maple syrup. Lingering bitterness.

M- Surprisingly deep. I wasn't sure what to make of this at first but as I drank the flavors grew and grew. Great hop flavor and a very strong malt profile. Perhaps a tad too sweet but the hops do a good job countering it.

D- Moderate. Interesting and enjoyable. I'd revisit it, would prob. pair well with food, lots of interesting flavors going on.

 792 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.38/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Copper pour, average head, minimal lacing, lacking enough ooomph on the sweet aroma.

It makes a greater appearance on the taste buds, a little bit of alcohol too, which seems odd for the style, and not as dry and bitter as I would like to see. This is one of the least like esb's I've had, is like an amber, brown, pale & bitter combined. Which is at least unique.

Mouthfeel, I liked the beer more as I got used to it, settled down, picked up more bitter feel, but still a little heavier than I like my esb. Decent price, just kind of one of those middle of the road beers.

 576 characters

Photo of gatornation
3.43/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours a brown slightly hazy color with a tan head..i smell fruit toffee caramel some biscuit notes some brown sugar..the taste is hops and malt a little bitter with some toffee and malt some fig and brown sugar..the mouth feel is robust like a brown ale maybe.its ok drinkable its just not my style or one that ill buy..i will say try it if you like browns esb or wee heavys you might like this one ..worth a try

 412 characters

Photo of tjd112
4.51/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation - Poured into River Horse pint glass

Appearance - Very dark brown, head is off white, not great retention, and it is well laced.

Smell - I detect notes of caramel and tea in this beer

Taste - Some citrus-y hops mixed with some fruitiness, figs, cherries, balanced with a bit of caramel, brown sugar, and biscuits

Mouthfeel - Medium to heavy, creamy

Drinkability - Very good for the style

Overall - A solid effort from Idaho!!

 444 characters

Bitch Creek ESB (Extra Special Brown) from Grand Teton Brewing Co.
3.79 out of 5 based on 817 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.