Alaskan ESB | Alaskan Brewing Co.

very good
87 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.

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 87 | Ratings: 205
Photo of ElGordo
4.07/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pretty copper-amber color topped by a half-inch or so of creamy tan head that exhibits some staying power. Aroma of sweet caramel malt, with a bit of tangy, fruity hops that become more assertive as the beer warms from fridge temperature. Palate is dominated by mellow sweet malt, accented slightly by some fruity hops and just a touch of English ale yeast. Body is just rich enough to complement the flavors without being too thick. I can see myself drinking a lot more of this.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Glowing coppery orange with juicy tangerine peel edges; a tremendous color when backlit with even weak sunlight. The cap is pretty impressive as well. It's as much pale orange as beige and is large and frothyfirm. The foam comes to resemble a windblown mesa as it loses altitude and deposits quite a bit of lace on the upper reaches of the glass.

The aroma easily meets the bar set by the appearance. Alaskan ESB smells exactly like an American-hopped ESB. In other words: toasted, lightly caramel-like malt underpinnings with plenty of Pac NW hops providing the excitement. I love Cascade and Centennial and applaud their inclusion here. They definitely steer the beer away from its English origins however. A hop lover's ESB nose.

Not quite so wonderful on the palate and I'm not immediately sure why. There just doesn't seem to be that spark when the beer hits my tastebuds that makes me sit up and take notice. All of the pieces are in place and they fit together reasonably well, but someone forgot to add the magic. The whole is something less than the sum of its parts.

The maltiness is sturdier than was appreciated in the nose. I'm reminded of well-toasted, lightly spicy brown bread with a thick layer of bitter orange marmalade. There are also barely sweetened tea-like notes. What are normally grapefruit-intensive hops are blunted somewhat by the Crystal malt and actually come to resemble some of the English varieties. I might have guessed Fuggles and Chinook if blinded.

Bitter supercedes sweet at all points from beer entry to beer exit; more so as each mouthful progresses and even more so as the beer warms. For whatever reason--probably the increasingly aggressive bitterness--the magic has appeared and I like this beer quite a bit more than I did during the first few ounces. It tastes much more vibrant as it approaches room temperature.

The body/mouthfeel is acceptable, but a bigger, firmer, more confident mouth presence would be welcome. I find myself wishing for the slightest bit of viscosity... that never arrives. I usually like carbonation to be subdued, as it is here, but a little more zestiness would be a good match for the snappy bitterness.

All of the Alaskan Brewing Company beers are solid and drinkable, although with the exception of Smoked Porter and Stout, I've never been overly impressed. It took nearly the entire bottle to come to this conclusion, but Alaskan ESB is my favorite non-dark offering from this brewery. If you're looking for a good ESB with an American citric hop edge, your search ends here.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep, clear, reddish amber with a small head that disappeared rather quickly. Virtually no lacing even though the carbonation gave a very nice and full mouthfeel.
The aroma is slightly sweet, slightly leafy hops....neither overpowering.
The taste is a surprising balance of the malts and sense both equally and at the same time in your mouth with neither taking center stage.
Again, mouthfeel is full with a pleasant tingling sensation from the hops, carbonation, and alcohol.
Very drinkable....I could deffinately session this beer.
I think the lack of head may have been due to the pour coming from an older bottle. The tastes and feel held up wonderfully, though.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle(room temp) a reddish gold with a large head of foam that dissipated slowly.

The smell is a sweet malt that has notes of caramel.

The taste is a very nice balance between the malt and hops..both sweet and bitter notes are there but they work so darned well together that neither one takes center stage and that's the beauty of this ESB. Yum.

Bottom line: A very solid ESB that I'll gladly drink more of and recommend.

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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 DogFood11
3.55/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

poured into a chalice it forms a 1 finger spectacle never to be seen again. Fine carbonation. Deep Penny Copper.

Its like a balanced IPA. Imagine a large IPA with 3 times the malts and you have a something to draw upon. Tons of leafy hop characteristics combined with a significant toasted malt build and you have an outstanding ESB. Caramel sweetness is light.

Notes: Hell yes this is an above average ESB, borderline greatness. A bit more depth and this would be 4+. Good stuff.

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Photo of Charthepirate
3.8/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found this very solid ESB at my local food co-op. Pours well, though there was a lack of lacing that was dissapointing. The deep amber color was very appealing. Smell was fairly muted, mainly of the hops that are fairly strong.

The Taste is quite good, with food that Theres a kind of sweet, almost honey like flavor from the malt, that flavor is quickly over ran by the hops, which fill the mouth smoothly. The star here is the delectable smoothness, which is kept interesting by spikes of hops and carbonation. It feels grat on the mouth.

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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 NeroFiddled
3.88/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Alaskan's ESB is a well-crafted and finely balanced dark amber ale with a malty, caramelish nose and similar flavor (the malt is a bit more bready than the aroma suggests) that's peppered with piney/leafy/grassy hops and backed by a brisk bitterness. The appearance is quite nice with a clear copper body that reveals gleaming orange and gold highlights beneath a creamy head of antiqued ivory. It's crisp in the mouth with a medium body; and it's balance leaves it nicely drinkable. Well done!

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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 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 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 kmpitz2
4.05/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Been sitting on this beer for a little bit. Its time to drink it. This beer pours a copper color with a small ring around the top. The nose is slightly citrusy, slightly dirty in the hop with a moderate caramel malty backbone. The flavor is pretty spot on with that nose, though the dirty hop may be a bit more forceful in the flavor. Everything is pretty mellow, not taste taking center stage. The feel is just shy of moderate to moderate, smooth, with a small carbonation. Not a bad beer at all. I would really find it refreshing on a warm summer day.

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Photo of rkhaze
3.59/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an light orange/amber color with a madium sized beige head. Poor retention and not much lace.
Classic ESB aromas. Sweet malt, caramel, some tropical fruit and a smidge of tea.
Sweet, slightly grainy malt taste. Caramel, fruit and a nice hop bitterness in the finish.
Light bodied with a thinnish, almost over-carbonated mouthfeel.
Goes down easily but not much here to hold my interest.

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Photo of Troyone
3.82/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have not had an ESB in a while so I thought I would try this since there was a sale at B & M. Pours a dark copper red brown color with some head that disipated to nothing with in a minute.
The smell is sweet with a slightly roasted caramel aroma and the hops linger in with a spruce resin.
The taste is a moderate/light bitter with caramel, toffee, and licorice malt background.
The mouthfeel is light/medium with a dry watery texture and a fizzy soft carbonation throughout.
The drinkability is too watery for me and can be a session beer if one likes the watery feel.

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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 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 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 Zorro
4/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red brown brew.

Smell is lots of roasted malts and some biscuit. Nice chocolate and tea scents to this.

Taste is mild and a bit fruity with a solid hop finish. Very pleasant with no roughness.

Mouthfeel is full.

Another pleasant brew from Alaskan, I don't think they know how to make BAD beer.

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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 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 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 mickeymac
3.5/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 ounce bottle, it pours a deep gold with a an off white head that leaves just a bit of lace. Hops dominate the smell. Malt sweetness is just noticeable under a hop bitterness that is especially pronounced at the end. Mouthfeel and drinkability are more or less par for the course for an ESB. Overall, it's a decent brew but nothing distinguishes it.

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Photo of Redrover
4.04/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this one in Federal Way, WA.

The beer poured a nice bronze with an off-white head and decent lacing.

The beer had a big nose of floral hops and more than a bit of grainy malts. Almost smelled more like an IPA.

Taste was in-line with my expectations for an ESB. Nice but not overpowering hop presence. Lots of fruit like flavors in this one. Beer turned a little sweeter as I got 3/4s of the way through. The hops remained present throughout the beer.

The mouthfeel was slightly thin, but the beer was extremely drinkable. This would be the perfect session beer as the taste is more than interesting enough to hold your attention.

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Photo of beertaster13
3.78/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Alaskan ESB pours a dark amber with streaks of light with really no head to speak of. The smell is a perfect blend of malts and hops and fruit tones. Taste is of fruit and caramel with a perfect balance of both malts and hops. Feels very smooth in the mouth but still doesn't have that pizazz. A very drinkable beer however, Alaskan Brewing has always impressed me.

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Alaskan ESB from Alaskan Brewing Co.
3.87 out of 5 based on 205 ratings.
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