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Extra Special Ale (ESA) | Yards Brewing Co.

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Extra Special Ale (ESA)Extra Special Ale (ESA)
637 Ratings
Extra Special Ale (ESA)Extra Special Ale (ESA)

Brewed by:
Yards Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our first ever and most beloved brew, ESA helped establish a following for cask-conditioned beer in the United States back in the ‘90s. East Kent Golding hops give this English style ale a subtle spiciness, which compliments its strong malt backbone. Hints of chocolate and caramel round out this deep chestnut colored ale. Floral, earthy, smooth.

Added by stirgy on 12-01-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 637 |  Reviews: 269
Photo of thatdirtymick
1/5  rDev -73%

Photo of wheelinshirt
1.85/5  rDev -50.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Really disappointed with this one. I have had their IPA before and i remember enjoying it, but this beer was a mess. Way too carbonated and not balanced at all. The hops and carbonation drown out any malt character. I also got a metallic taste to this one that stayed for some time. Not an enjoyable beer.

 305 characters

Photo of jtierney89
2/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Nice garnet color with perfect clarity and a tall peach colored head. Slightly roasted malt on the nose with underlying earthy hops and dark fruit. Kind of complex nose, not over bearing but lots of scents. Bread crusts, toast with jam, buttered biscuit, smells like an english tea house.

Burnt slightly bitter malt up front. Body's on the lighter side, lots of carbonation. Tastes of biscuits covered in very jammy jelly on the mid palate. Finishes extremely dry but leaves a deep fruit after taste. The fruit presence is by no means big but in my personal opinion too big for the style. The bitterness employed primarily by the roasted malt though is very nice. Unfortunately the fruit aspects of this beer do not play well with the earthy hop finish or burnt malt presence. If it was gone I'd love this beer. Oh well.

Clean and dry, just that damn overbearing fruit.

 872 characters

Photo of TheBigBoy
2/5  rDev -46.1%

Photo of PorterThwarter
2/5  rDev -46.1%

Photo of JustinMatthew
2/5  rDev -46.1%

Photo of beernut7
2.09/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy straw color with a creamy head. A heavy yeast aroma is predominant and hints at improper storage before purchase. The brew is overly hoppy with a harsh mouthfeel and minimum malt presence. A floral hop spice starts to work it way though toward the bottom of the glass. I have a feeling this is an old bottle that has been stored at a to-high temperature. The whole brew hints at a great beer, but the flaws of this bottle eclipse the goodness.

 456 characters

Photo of mentor
2.17/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Thanks to Francisweizen for this one. Freshness stamp is 042306. Pours a ridiculouos 4 finger head from just half of the bottle. WTF? Light tan head over a very cloudy orange rust liquid. Decent lacing left on the glass. Smells tangy. Mango, orange, and pine sol. Tastes tart to start. Frutiy with an early burst of carbonation on the front flat of my tongue. Yeasty and malty in the middle with some acrid carbonation piercing a bit gently. The very end has a dish-soapy twang that I don't like, and it's combined with chalky malt character. Aftertaste is a sequel of the tart start. I also get a metallic character that I'm wondering if it's hops or just a result of foul preparation. This beer sucks. There is an amazing sameness between this beer and their Philadelphia Pale Ale, although the pale ale has noticable citrus hop character. Mouthfeel is medium, I guess. It's hard to tel, because the moment I start to swirl the beer in my mouth it explodes into a glob of foam. This beer is vastly overcarbonated.

Edit: Wow, this beer received the lowest score I've ever given. I've only reviewed craft beers up to this point...time for me to dig into some macro-swill.

 1,174 characters

Photo of Sailracer
2.5/5  rDev -32.6%

Photo of fredmugs
2.5/5  rDev -32.6%

Photo of woodychandler
2.7/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The gravity pour created only thin wisps of head. Color was a hazy amber, kind of like weak tea. The nose was lightly malty, definitely on the sweet side. Mouthfeel was medium with a mild bitterness on the tongue. Finish had a mild bitterness, but mothing worth getting excited about. Personally, I felt it was the least of the three, to include Brawler and PHL PA, on that particular Cask Night.

 396 characters

Photo of rderedin
2.7/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Photo of AlexJ
2.73/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Clear, dark chestnut brown pour with a frothy beige head that leaves thick deposits of crusty lace as it slowly fades.

Aroma is quite simple, caramel malts, a bit of buttered bread, and some jumbled hop notes.

Flavor is very diactyl, with buttery caramel followed by sharp, bitter hops that take no form or profile. Just plain bitterness, and ratrher unpleasant.

Medium bodied, with a chewy, creamy mouthfeel and soft carbonation. Very difficult for me to finish due to the unpleasant bitterness, which doesn't happen too often.

 537 characters

Photo of NJBeer265
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of justintcoons
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of BSUBronco
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of kwm5067
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of twenteone
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of bef126
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%

Photo of budgood1
2.78/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

this special ale pours out a very cloudy dark ruby color. yeasty dregs and a foamy head. hard to pin down aroma....almost antiseptic...with some other malty notes. strange, not recognizable flavors. it's like sucking on plastic...slight spice characteristics...hints of belgian like fruity maltiness. hops seem earthy and grassy. medium mouthfeel and smooth in character and finish. either i have little experience appreciating this style of bitter or i'm just not used to it. not really that enjoyable to me.

thanks to frank4sail for the sample!

 549 characters

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.86/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Tria. Pours amber with a thick tan head. Aroma of light sweet malt and raisins. Flavor is pretty much dominated by raisins. Weak palate and I'm not a fan of the flavor either.
Aroma: 6/10
Appearance: 4/5
Flavor: 5/10
Palate: 3/5
Overall: 13/20

 261 characters

Photo of cubedbee
2.92/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark reddish copper with a finger of loose head which sticks around as a ring all the way through the beer. Aroma is a little caramel, a little floral hops, and unforunately a little soy sauce. This is the second ESB I've tried where I smelled soy sauce, so it might be something with me, but it's definitely offputting. Luckily, the smell doesn't carry over to the taste. The taste is a caramel malt with a slight buttery flavor and a fairly strong floral hop finish leaving some lingering bitterness. Mouthfeel is a little too carbonated and prickly on the tongue. The smell ruins this beer for me, but even without it I'd say it's only an average brew.

 663 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
2.99/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

poured into my BA mug. Pours a cloudy amber color with a thick off white heading. Very good lacing.

Smell is malty,kind of bitter with some dark fruit's and some spice hop's.

Taste is very bitter and kind of sour. Dry aftertaste,also kind of yeasty.

Mouth is medium bodied with decent carbonation.

Drink is ok, nothing spectacular but for 6.3% Abv I guess it's average.

I was disappointed with this beer I had high hopes going in but a big letdown in the end.

 464 characters

Photo of cfadams17
3/5  rDev -19.1%

Photo of Damian74
3/5  rDev -19.1%

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Extra Special Ale (ESA) from Yards Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.71 out of 5 with 637 ratings
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