Alaskan Brewing Co.

Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
3.85 | pDev: 9.61%
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Reviews: 87 | Ratings: 206 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rodbeermunch
rodbeermunch from Nevada

3.5/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The label for these was really similar to the oatmeal stout, except that was green. Pour was amber and copper in color, requisite 1/2" head, white. Aroma of grain and noble hops?

Taste, good stuff, toasted pale malt, bittering hops. Moderate bitterness. Mild pine and bread feel to it. Even a mild nutty feel. No yeast impact, this seems like a clean American version. I think its a decent esb interpretation through the American looking glass. Plenty of carbonation.

Dec 22, 2016
Photo of chinchill
chinchill from South Carolina

3.6/5  rDev -6.5%

12 oz bottle consumed in Redwoods Park.
4.3 4 4 3.3
Red-amber; clear; very good tan head; excellent lacing.
Has a layered, appealing aroma that mixes sweet baked grains with herbal/floral hops.
Flavor: Given the aroma, there’s a rather bold hop note and lingering, moderately bitter aftertaste. Fruity and herbal.
Feel: Lively medium-high carbonation. Medium body.
O: bold and hoppy for style.

Aug 22, 2014
Photo of arizcards
arizcards from North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer from BevMo back in late May for $7.49. Best before 050914...oh well.

Beer poured amber-orange with a nice white head that is leaving some lacing behind.

Nose is caramel, toasted malts, fruity.

Taste is toasted caramel malts that blend nicely with a juicy citrus hop. Finish is lightly bitter.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth. Carbonation is light.

Overall this is a delicious brew, one of the best if not the best i have tried in this style. It may be a bit dated now but i hope this is brewed nest spring!

Jun 29, 2014
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Chuckanut pint glass. Pours a medium to dark bronze amber with a fine one finger khaki head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of caramel and light biscuit malt, light earthy nuttiness. Flavor is biscuit malt, tea, faint citrus with a light grassy hop finish. Medium bodied with good carbonation. A nice light bitter with traditional tasting malt and a bit more hops than traditional, but without breaking character. A worthy domestic take on this style.

Jun 24, 2014
Photo of Foyle
Foyle from North Carolina

4.69/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 12 oz bottle into schooner glass.
Appearance: pours a 1" frothy cream colored head which recedes with plenty of lacing. Dark amber color and lots of streaming carbonation.
Aroma: very pleasant aroma of spicy hops, toffee, cinnamon, some fruit, and a malty backbone. Mouthfeel: fairly light and prickly mouthfeel, somewhat sticky on the palate.
Flavor: pine and citrus hops, raisin, toffee, whole wheat bread.
Overall: a very delicious smelling and tasting beer. Interesting American version of the classic English style.

Apr 27, 2014
Photo of vkv822
vkv822 from Oregon

3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz : tulip

Clear, coppery red with a foamy, faint beige head.

Malty, bready base, caramel notes, floral, herbal hop character.

Medium body, foamy carbonation.

A very well done ESB. Delicious, malty base highlighted by a well done hop character.

Apr 09, 2014
Photo of mnredsoxfan69
mnredsoxfan69 from Minnesota

3.56/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep red amber with 1 finger of moderately lasting foam. Nice lacing on the tulip glass.

The smell is lightly citrus, grapefruit especially.

There's a taste of dark malt buried under the strong grapefruit peel of the hops with a little bit of sweetness in there as well. Strongly bitter, long on the palate.

Good carbonation, not too fizzy, medium light to medium bodied.

Overall I rate it as good, but not great. I've tried it and can now move on to something else.

Apr 06, 2014
Photo of beergoot
beergoot from Colorado

3.77/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottling date on label: 11 031514

Clear, copper-colored body with a rich, thick head; gobs of lacing and sticky rings. Pine aroma; slightly spicy scent. Mild caramel flavor with a hint of tea-like astringency; smooth hop bitterness. Medium bodied; smooth and clean; dry finish.

A solid ESB with good balance and intriguing flavor combinations. Definitely malt forward and the hops do their job by nicely counterbalancing the grain sweetness. A solid, satisfying offering.

Mar 30, 2014
Photo of ONovoMexicano
ONovoMexicano from New Mexico

3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a twelve ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A- dark amber color with slight carbonation. A finger thick head, light khaki-colored. Leaves some lacing and exhibits a good head-retention.

S- Piney, resinous hops blended with some bread and maltiness.

T- Earthy, grassy and floral, almost hay-like in the hop profile. Get some sweet malt, a hint of molasses, and some bread.

M- Pretty damn bitter, I'd say. Certainly towards the finish, an almost punishing bitterness lingers. It starts off much more mellow and works its way through a sweet, semi-creamy middle, before the hop blast. Pretty intense.

I am enjoying the beer and find it drinkable. I'd perhaps like a more pronounced aroma and malt presence, but the absence of these doesn't break the beer. It's good.

Mar 27, 2014
Photo of jsprain1
jsprain1 from Minnesota

3.55/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- Red copper color. Head is one finger tan colored, with some lacing.
S- The aroma is a bit of grapefruit and a bit of toast. Fairly citrusy all the way around.
T- A good flavor to it. A bit of sweetness gives just enough to counter balance the assertive grapefruit and citrus hoppiness. There is just a touch of steeliness in the finish.
M- A bit light in the body. Medium-assertive carbonation.
O- A decent beer. Nothing extraordinary, but it's worth trying.

Mar 25, 2014
Photo of Auraan
Auraan from Arizona

3.58/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear reddish amber with a thin ring of white that left no lacing. It looks decent, but not spectacular. Scents of caramel, fruity esters, apple, tea and some floral hops. A nice, appealing, pub ale aroma, nothing too complex, but balanced and inviting. Taste begins with some nice caramel malt before moving into floral hop bitterness that is sustained throughout. There is also a distinct herbal hop flavor and some pine resin. A bit of grainy malt on the finish and aftertaste, along with bitter hops. The overall flavor is rather bitter for an ESB, but it's not bad, a little more sweet malt would make it better though. Mouthfeel is light bodied, lightly carbonation and semi-drying, with a bit of a soapy feel. A good session ale mouthfeel that makes you want to another sip. Overall this is a good ESB, with a nice aroma and mouthfeel and a good, albeit bitter flavor. If it was a little less bitter it would be better, but it's not bad.

Mar 21, 2014
Photo of Reidrover
Reidrover from Oregon

3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz serving from a 6-pack from Fred Meyer in S.Salem. $6.99(6). Clear hazel nut brown colour with a large creamy thick eggshell white head. Hoppy aroma first..citrus,orange.papaya..not expected for style but nice .Slightly caramel malts in the back. Taste is more like style with the caramel malts taking a better place.Hops still there..PNW style. Its fine enough. Mouth feel is fine and the beer is medium carbonated. OK beer but not the best and the hops are not to style.

Mar 15, 2014
Photo of TheDoctor
TheDoctor from Canada (QC)

3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear orange-tinged copper with three fingers of very effervescent beige head that quickly settles to a half-inch or so. Decent retention; barely any lacing.

Caramelized and pretty hoppy. Caramel, black tea, citric hop astringency, soap, lemon rind, nuts.

Mellow with a slight musky maltiness. Dry and lightly hoppy up front with a rising caramel malt taste and some slight astringency; dirt, lemon, some more tea-like astringency in the finish.

Medium bodied, lots of carbonation, a bit thin, and very drinkable. There is a longish aftertaste of hoppy astringency but it is pretty mellow.

Pretty good hoppy ESB.
This is a pretty nice drinking beer from Alaskan. I would say that it is one of the hoppier ESBs that I have had, but it is not too powerful. Actually having some noticeable B in an ESB is a kind of nice change. Other than that I feel like it sticks to the style pretty well. It is very nice looking and has a good long-lasting head, the nose is all caramels and citrus, and the taste is unobtrusive and drinkable. It was a little twangy with astringency, but I really liked it regardless.
Wouldn't turn down; worth a try as it is a worthy session beer, good for ESB lovers, and is widely available.

Mar 10, 2014
Photo of Karibourgeois
Karibourgeois from Texas

3/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear copper pour with lots of carbonation and an off-white one finger head. Initial taste is strong with flowery hop flavor. The bitterness is strong but not overpowering. Body has a slightly flowery/piney bitterness balanced with a toasted grainy malt flavor. Finish is dry and bitter.

Mar 08, 2014
Photo of SvenHayden
SvenHayden from Texas

3.82/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I love Alaskan Brewery. I especially love ESBs. And although this beer is quality like everything else coming out Alaskan Brewery, it seems more like an Americanized ESB. Thats not a bad thing. Its just that what i love personally about ESBs is that they are so english in nature, and when done traditionally, they are a fun break from everything typical in american ales, yet palpable to an american palette. It is easy to think an ESB should be especially bitter because of the name, but historically ESBs were considered bitter just because they were so hop-forward for the time they came out. Most american ales already hover around the IBU level of a traditional ESB without trying to be hoppier. In-short this ESB was a little too hop-forward for me for an ESB.

BUT...still a quality-crafted, tasty beer. Keep rocking Alaska.

Mar 06, 2014
Photo of Lemke10
Lemke10 from Wisconsin

4.38/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This pours a clear, dark amber color with a slight beige head. The aroma is slightly malty with a touch of bitter hops. The taste is bold with just the right amount of hops that leaves a dry after taste. This is quite a well made ESB and a very well made beer, it’s well worth giving a try!

Mar 01, 2014
Photo of puboflyons
puboflyons from New Hampshire

3.74/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the 355 ml. bottle. Received in trade. Thanks BK. Stamped: 20-CO42214. Sampled on February 15, 2014.

It has a handsome looking chestnut/mahogany brown pour with decent clarity and a modest tan head.

This is meant to be an ESB and so I would expect some caramel malts and mellow bitter hops. But in this case the hops are quite floral and in my face.

The body is about medium.

There is a vague caramel and biscuit malt character in the early sips but the floral and grassy hop bitterness comes pounding in from behind and taking over everything. Hopheads would like it.

Feb 15, 2014
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84 from California

3.52/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy tan 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, caramel, and nut aromas. Taste is much the same with malt, caramel, 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 nice malt forward presence all around.

Feb 15, 2014
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee from New Hampshire

3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle received in trade from BeerKangaroo, thanks for the opportunity!
Pours a crystal clear deep copper color with a huge bubbly off white head that persists forever. Aromas of brown sugar and caramel with hints of dark dried fruit and bits of sulfur and earth. The flavor is what I expected from the aroma. Light dark sugary malts with bits of earthy hop light fruit and hints of sulfur. Medium to light body with a moderate level of carbonation and a slick almost sweet mouthfeel. Nice drinker, not really my favorite style, but this is a well made brew.

Feb 15, 2014
Photo of MattyG85
MattyG85 from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tall pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a deep amber orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of off white head that fade into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Smell: An earthy, floral, and well balanced aroma with hints of fruit and pine. Bready malts with hints of biscuit, grains, sweet caramel, toffee, cracker, yeast, and toast. Floral and earthy hops with hints of pine and grass. Subtle citrus hints of orange and lemon. Also some subtle hints of fig and prune.

Taste: Like the aroma, an earthy and floral taste with good notes of grass, pine, bread, and fruit. Bready toasted malt with notes of biscuit, grains, sweet caramel, cracker, yeast, toffee, and toast. Solid presence of earthy and floral hops with notes of grass and pine. Citrus fruit notes of orange and lemon zest. Also some subtle dark fruit notes including prune and fig. A pretty solid balanced taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy and smooth with a drying finish.

Overall: A very solid take on the ESB style. Good presence of bitter floral hops with some subtle fruit notes.

Feb 11, 2014
Photo of mjurney
mjurney from Texas

4.94/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep copper color, clear. Lots of small bubbles rising up. Thick creamy head.

Spicy-herbal, a little piney. Sweet malts, bready, caramel. Some ripe prunes.

Bready, deep toasted caramel, nutty, a little toffee, with some dark fruit. Medium hop bitterness, herbal, leafy, a little earthy. Finish is dry. Medium bodied, smooth, silky, dry.

It's a world class beer.

Feb 10, 2014
Photo of JohnGalt1
JohnGalt1 from Idaho

4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Welcome back, old friend! It has been far too long.

An amazing clear deep copper produces a long lasting off white head that leaves behind beautiful lacing.... One of the prettiest beers ever.

Nose is big floral hops with some light grassy hoppiness... plenty of dry toast/dry caramel maltiness that helps balance but never smells sweet... perhaps a light fruity ester, but that could be in my imagination.

Flavor is very well balanced... dark caramel presence meshes well with the floral hops and some background earthy hoppiness.. significantly more bitterness lets you know this is of PNW origin and gives a nod to the Continental ESB's... With warmth a light nutty element arises and adds to the complexities.

Smooth with a light carbonation.

This is a great brew... Definitely "American", but still a great take on an ESB... Somewhere, DING is getting angry as I type this and he doesn't even know why. :-)


Feb 07, 2014
Photo of ocelot2500
ocelot2500 from Maryland

4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear deep amber color with a frothy, off-white head that leaves little chunks of lacing.

Smells of bready caramel malt.

Tastes of the fairly full toasted malts with some nice hop overtones. Toasted malts lead off with bread and toffee notes along with a little sweetness. Malts are full of bread notes with some nice caramel notes. Hops come in and add some earthy and grassy bitterness along with a bit of citrus.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a nice ESB and hits all the notes I want.

Jan 18, 2014
Photo of Fatehunter
Fatehunter from Oregon

3.89/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a finger of head on a cloudy dark straw colored body.
The aroma is wet grain with mild lemon. Nice.
The taste is balanced moderate lemon bitterness with mild honey sweetness.
The texture is crisp with moderate carbonation.
This ESB has a great balance and is quite drinkable.

Jan 13, 2014
Photo of sprucetip
sprucetip from Alaska

3.98/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

About time they made this again! It was the best of the lackluster year round beers when it was available. And though it's a better hoppy option, as mellow as it is, than their excuse for an IPA.

Nice looker. Copper, good clarity, and active. Head was modest, white and short lived. No significant lacing.

A bit of boozy esters, a touch of caramel, a bit of citrus, and some light earthy hops blend together well. Not over the top at all, but well balanced with good synergy.

Grainy, a little caramel, a wee hint of sweetness, modest but clearly discernible hop bitterness, and gentle earthy/floral hop flavor play well together.

Well carbonated, light side of medium body, a little bit of stickiness and some lingering hop bitterness.

This is a really nice beer. It's not big and or bold, but it has very nice balance and subtle complexity. As noted above, it has more and better hop character than that beer they call an IPA.

Nov 20, 2011
ESB from Alaskan Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 206 ratings