Alaskan ESB | Alaskan Brewing Co.

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very good
86 Reviews
Alaskan ESBAlaskan ESB

Brewed by:
Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaska, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bierman9 on 08-20-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 86 | Ratings: 204
Photo of mjurney
4.94/5  rDev +27.6%
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.

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Photo of Foyle
4.69/5  rDev +21.2%
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.

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Photo of SargeC
4.47/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Deep, brown-gold with a golden-tan head.

Smell: Bold hop presence, vanilla, oranges.

Taste: Nice wave of smooth malt goodness. Sweet foundation with a touch of hops.

Mouthfeel: medium body. Smooth, waxy quality.

Drinkability: One of my favorite Alaskan brews. Perfect balance of boldness and drinkability. Makes a great beer batter and compliments Alaskan seafood perfectly.

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Photo of MrNuggets
4.44/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hops on the nose. Amber colour with good head. Strong malt filled body. Fruity notes all along the way. Finish is bitter, with more of that fruit. This beer is very easy drinking dispite the bitterness.
I could drink more than a few of these babies. Another great brew from Alaskan Brewing Co.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

It began with two finger's worth of rocky, medium-tan head with low retention, but a good bit of lacing. Nose had a good bit of caramel accompanied by a mild bitterness. Color was a deep amber with NE-quality clarity. Mouthfeel was medium with a bitterness softly tempered by a caramel/malt sweetness. Finish had the same commingling of bitter and sweet that I got on the tongue. In fact, as it warmed, I got a really pronounced biscuitiness on the extreme finish. A very good ESB and a beer that nicely offset their Amber.

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Photo of loren01
4.42/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a light amber color, nice white head and lacing down the glass. Smell is slightly malty with nice hop scent.Taste is sweet/fruity at first with a nice bitter hop aftertaste. This beer goes down very easily. Picked up a six pack of this for $3.99 at Osco Drug in Billings, MT. Not sure why it is so cheap, but I'm going to have to go back and stock up.

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Photo of granger10
4.39/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I consider most ESB's to be food beers. By that I mean that they usually are really good compliments of spicy food but are not the greatest by themselves. This beer provides the example. I had two of these, one by itself and one with some spicy Mexican food. The flavor in this beer matched really well with the spicyness of the Mexican food. There was a spicy hop dominance in the beer which was annoying alone but good with food. The malts play a perfect role in providing flavor and holding bitterness back but yet letting the hops do their thing. The bitterness is on the light side but that only means more hop spicyness. There seems to be a bit on a acidic quality in there as well. The hops linger in here. Lots of earthy flavors underneath. This is a really well made ESB.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
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!

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Photo of Beersignal
4.38/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

As I down the last sip of this beer, I sit here wishing I had another 6er, for it is mighty pleasing. But alas, Alaska is a long way from Montréal.

Beautiful and warm deep copper coloured pour rested crystal clear in my glass showing tones of burnt orange. Sadly, no foam on the first pour. Only a thin ring of bubbles. A second more violent pour yielded a larger and rocky head comprised of large bubbles which coalesced into even larger spheres. Not overly attractive but forgiven.

Aromas were charming and not so subtle. A mingling of firm malts and fresh hops up front ushered in notes of caramel and juicy and ripe fruits which dansed with the malt and hops. Hints of candied oranges lingered in the end along with floral aromas.

An average bead rose from the depths of the beer as I took my first sip. Medium but firm in the body with a velvety texture. Flavours are of malt, grains and hops all harmonised with a hint of orange liqueur. A very nice presence, firm malt and a strong backbone of bitterness in the middle which lasts until the end finishing on bitter and drying hops and hints of candied oranges.

A first class session brew with a dry finish and great quenching qualities. Many thanks to my buddy Pierre Archambault who lugged a 6er of this and the amber back from his expedition on the summit of Mt. McKinley.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.35/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a nice shade of scarlet red. A small creamy beige head recedes to a thin coating in seconds. Lacing is adequate. The aroma is about half and half between piney hop notes and caramel/biscuity malt tones. This beer displays some nice balance for the style and types of hops utilized (Centennial and Cascade). Hops impart some bitterness, piney tones and some rind qualities to a lesser degree. Malt provides a beautiful underlying and balance in this beer. Although bread like and doughy at times, the malt profile is primarily caramel. And very nice. Beautiful smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low. Drinkability is high. It's been months since I tried a beverage from Alaskan and they have picked up right where they left off (in my mind). Very good stuff.

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Photo of Mark
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep amber, one of the darkest bitter I have evere encountered head was thin but lasted nicely, good lacing was present. Nice malty and subtle hop aroma was apparent, somewhat grainy. Very smooth, nice hop pesence with solid backbone of caramel malts. Alaskan Brewing Co. was always kind of passed over by yours truly, big mistake. These beers have become a real joy to drink. Their trademark is outstanding smoothness and drinkability, and this might be the best domestic ESB out there. Get this fine ber if you ever see it.

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Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.33/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Along with Rogue's Younger Bitter, this is one of the best American ESB's you will ever find. It has a complexity in the taste which reminds me in my tastings of various ESBs you don't find too often stateside.

It has a dark caramel color and a thick head. Lace stays for a long time.

Hops on the nose.

Doughiness and aforementioned complexity, which reminds you of Fuller's--of course that's a good thing.

Very drinkable.

Thanks to blitheringidiot for getting me this one.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.27/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

07/19/05- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in Berkeley, CA

Presentation- 12oz undated bottle. Poured into my Moose Drool pint glass.

Appearance- Amber pour with a 1/2 inch head and light lacing.

Smell- A lightly sweetened bready malt. Some hops are noticeable.

Taste- Just a bit sweet with a big hit of bitter hops. Very bready. Caramle toasted malt carries the beer.

Mouthfeel- Moderate carbonation, bitter on the back of the tongue.

Drinkability- Very refreshing brew that I'm sure I will find myself having again in the future. Would be a good summer session beer while enjoying a camping trip.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is an excellent concoction by AK. It has incredible hop flavor, and all the bitterness the hopheads like. Pours dark yet transparent amber, with good carbonation. I like the initial hop taste that really kicks your ass! suprisingly drinkable for an esb, many will mistake it for an IPA aside from the color. The finish shows a little malt but still very hoppy. Great brew.

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Photo of zacharius
4.22/5  rDev +9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a nice amber color with a thin white head that stays around long enough to enjoy the glass. Smell is of hops and yeasty esters. Taste is of hops than a subtle graineness. Aftertaste is all hops and lasts and lasts. A great brew thats interesting enough to keep you drinking. Cheers.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of alexgash
4.15/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Light haze in a rich amber copper body, topped by a pillowy, light sandy head. Great lacing. Nose is minerally, caramel bread malts with light butteriness, and a fragrant, resiny hop bitterness. Minerally-sweet bread malt flavor up front, light fruitiness follows, but big hop bite takes over. Hops are minty, piney, resinous, and bitter. Finish is earthy, bitter, dry, with lingering caramel fruit. Medium-bodied, with a minerally, dry feel. One of the best American ESB's I've ever had.

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Photo of tonistruth
4.14/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- dark copper with read hues and a 1/4" white head, little retent, quick dissipating white film lacing

S- herbal, floral, buttery, and malty

T- rich, buttery and toasted malts with suggestions of fig and baked apples up front with earthy hops taking the finish, nicely balanced brew with strong profiles

M- slick and well carbonated medium body with a drying finish

D- richness of brew my make it hard to session, but absolutely delicious beer and an fine example of an ESB

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Photo of wspscott
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle in pint glass

A: fluffy off-white head, lots of lace, crystal clear, copper colored
S: slightly fruity yeast and a hint of malt (maybe biscuits)
T: bready malts, with an English (fruity) yeast flavor (no idea if this is a different yeast than the Amber, maybe higher fermentation temps).
M: crisp, with a little too much carbonation for the style if we were in England, since this is America not unreasonable
D: Very nice beer, not overpowering. Thank you, I will have another :)

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presented in a 12oz bottle and poured into a standard pint glass. Alaskan's ESB displayed a dark coppery color with a decent volume of carbonation and a firm, somewhat lumpy off-white head that had nice retention and left great sheets of lace behind. Very nice to look at.
The nose delivered a tantalizing aroma of caramel and earthy malts backed by some more restrained fresh hops notes. The taste had a solid malt platform, toasty with a pleasant graininess, up front. Also some mild fruit flavor mixed in before a good citrusy hops bitterness rolled over the palate. Finished smoothly with a firm bitterness that complimented the sweet malt-&-caramel taste from up front. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth and just a bit slick despite the carbonation.
Man, I wish I had picked up a six-pack of this ESB a while ago. Alaskan has a quality brew here to go with their Smoked Porter. At least with the ESB I can get it year-round.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.13/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first beer that I had after getting off the plane in Las Vegas. This turned out to be a pure, simple, and very desirable beer. It pours a brilliant, sparkling copper / amber hue with a steady off-white head formation that laced well as the beer line fell. Moderate aromas of caramel malts, and ale-typical fruity esters. Mild fermented flavors swirl around the malts for a rich aroma, flavor, and feel. An herbal, pungent English hop character cleans the beer up a bit, while offering some complexity. The beer is very well balanced, not preferencing the hops nor the malts. The feel is also moderate, not too heavy or thick, but not watering either. Very easy to drink with a mild hop lingering and flavor. I certainly would not hesitate to buy this beer again.

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Photo of ADR
4.1/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear (but chill haze forms) bright orange-brown with a nice 1/2 inch orangish head of soft texture and one that foms delicate lace. Toffee aroma with a nice hop spiciness. Excellent long-lasting caramel malt, with a sense of sweet orange candy as a solid background. Floral and white pepper hops (Cascades seem tamed) with just a touch of balsam assertion near the end of the profile. Light and easy drinking, leaning more toward the British style rather than insanely hopped -- this is a drinkable and well-balanced product from the folks from way up north.

Source: Liquid Solutions

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
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. :-)


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Photo of sulldaddy
4.08/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Another bottle my bro gave me after his trip to Alaska. I am pouring a room temp bottle into a pint glass.
The beer pours a clear chestnut hue with a spongey, eggshell and orange rind colored head that fades gradually to a sturdy surface layer.
The aroma is a bit of caramel and then an assertive citrus hop presence takes over and dominates the nose. The hops are not overly sharp or pungent but just nicely present.
The first sip reveals an average body with very fine yet tingly carbonation.
The flavor starts with just a bit of toffee and even some mild chocolate that gives way to the same citrusy hops through the finish. The hops linger just a bit after the swallow leaving a bit of a tingle on the sides of my palate.
The beer is very smooth and easy to drink. I imagine this would be great as a session beer or with a nice BBQ dinner or even spicy thai food. Another tasty beer from Alaska!

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Photo of watermelonman
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pouring to a deep and dark amber with a medium head, this looks very nice. The head is lasting well, and it left a small amount of lace.

The smell is strong and full of malt. The taste is smooth, starting with amber malts and finishing with just enough hops to pronounce themselves. The mouthfeel is slightly sharp, while drinkability is good.

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Alaskan ESB from Alaskan Brewing Co.
3.87 out of 5 based on 204 ratings.
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