Extra Special Ale (ESA) | Yards Brewing Co.

very good
632 Ratings
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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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 632 |  Reviews: 267
Photo of RoryOMoore
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of RobertColianni
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of jgebauer110
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of mdillon86
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of jmdrpi
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

served from the hand pump, in a pint glass.

Deep amber copper color, with nice foamy white head. aroma of toffee, piney hops. The taste is highlighted by biscuity malts, with a nice hop finish to balance it.

Mouthfeel is excellent, the soft creamy carbonation of the cask conditioning works great for this beer.

A decent beer from the bottle is made much better from the cask.

 380 characters

Photo of JunkYardJake
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle to pint glass.
Brown in color with a nice head. Smells malty and delicious. A little bready and sweet. Palate is sharper than expected with a noticeable hop presence. Sweet, malty and earthy. Pretty nice flavor profile overall. Mouthfeel is mildly creamy with adequate body. A solid brew from Yards.

 311 characters

Photo of DreaminBeer
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of touchmeimsac
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of MerkurKing16
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of vonburgey
5/5  rDev +33.3%

Photo of richbrew
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of random846
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of patm1986
4/5  rDev +6.7%

Photo of Jspriest
2/5  rDev -46.7%

Photo of justintcoons
2.75/5  rDev -26.7%

Photo of noel2977
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great representation of an english ESB... all i'll say is: seek it out on cask or hand pump (always available @ the abbaye in my 'hood) - its a different experience from the bottled version and the result is much more enhanced. I overlook this brew at the abbaye due to excellent rotating taps and when I come back to this favorite standby... I ask myself 'why the separation?'

 377 characters

Photo of mttfrog13
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

appearance = Copper/amber color. One finger head. The lacing stayed on the glass longer than with most beers.

smell = The smell of this beer is pretty good. It is very malty almost smells of cheap malt liquor when it starts to warm up, but has floral/fruity background notes to the smell.

taste = Doesn't taste as good as it smells, but is still pretty good. I must note, this beer tasted bad the first time I had it. I ate it with a spicy burger and the flavors clashed. There is too much going on with this beer's flavor and its bitterness to be had with spicy food. Anyway, the second glass I had was pretty good. It's a complex beer, perhaps too complex. The very malty taste of the beginning doesn't match well with the bitterness at the end and there aren't enough full flavors in the middle to balance it all out. I wish it was more fruity. I don't like the after taste, which is the same as cheap malt liquor.

mouthfeel = Bitterness takes away from the drinkability. I would have liked to have tasted more fruitiness and diacetyl. It's just not well balanced.

overall = This style of beer might not be my cup of tea, but I feel as if it still could have been done better. I'm definitely not disappointed, but due to the B+ rating here, and the packaging of the beer, my hopes were kind of high. Slightly above average beer.

 1,335 characters

Photo of klkatz
3.46/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

served in my Bil Cosby National Mechanics pint glass.... and purchased in a Yards Variety pack from Bella Vista Beverage... I love my city... all 4 (Cos, NMs, Yards and BVB) are Philadelphia gems.

impressive color... dark amber, like the dregs of my dad's iced tea

smell malty, citrusy, slight hops - i think my fridge might be a little too cold to get all the senses going... it's intended to be casked.

tastes, slight malt, pilsner like, but heavier... good stuff... ,

good mouthfeel, slightly bitter on the mouth... average...

but overall drinkability is outstanding... 6% - have a few enjoy the Phils and stay taught.

 627 characters

Photo of Rifugium
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: bottle from a sampler case

Pours a slightly hazed amber with a good-sized fluff of white head that recedes a bit, leaving some moderate lacing behind. Nice smell, basic, caramel malts and a good balance of non-threatening hops. Good caramel hops on the tongue, earthy and herbal hops, giving a great mild bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. I really like this beer. Medium body and quite good for a relaxing session.

 435 characters

Photo of BigMike
3.5/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a brownish red color with a two finger tan colored head. The head sticks around a bit and leaves some nice lacing.

S: Grassy, floral, caramel, coffee and some dark fruits.

T: The initial spicy grassiness gives way to dark sticky fruits that give way to a coffee chocolate finish.

M: Light on the body for what it is. The carbonation seems just a tad high on this as i've been noticing with a few of Yard's beers.

Overall: A decent ESB. Probably nothing i would search out again.

 492 characters

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Surly Imperial Pint Glass.

A- Huge four finger frothy tan head, dissipates slowly, foam sticks to the side of the glass, nice lacing, dark brown color with some red/orange tints coming out.
S- Dark fruits, sweet malts, toffee, spice, caramel, slight roasted notes.
T- Big malt presence, sweet malt, brown sugar, toffee, some spice, slight bitterness in the finish.
M- Medium mouth feel, well carbonated, smooth and creamy, clean finish.
O- Overall it’s a decent beer, easy drinking and tasty, nothing amazing or unique, simply a well-made easy drinking beer.

 588 characters

Photo of avaldivia
4.02/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade from Centennial. Poured 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Nice dark brown color. Inch thick off white head with goof lacing.

S: Really nice caramel malts. A bit of a roasted scent as well. The hops are not very present on this one.

T: Same as nose but more intense and interesting. Has a nice bitter dry finish.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Excellent dry finish.

O: I think this is a great example of an ESB. I would totally order this in a bar. I wish this was distributed here in CA>

 522 characters

Photo of bpw28
4.13/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Look: Two finger dirty white creamy smooth head, very very nice retention, light ruby color (about a 26-27 SRM), beautiful lacing, lots of active carb bubbles.

Smell: Big roasted malts, plenty of bright floral hop notes, a bit of a citrus note as well, sweet, coffee ice cream (sweet, roasted malt, bit of a creamy smell), blackberry. Pretty clean nose.

Taste: Biscuity malts, spicy floral hop, coffee, slight booze, dark fruit (alot of fig), piney resin/coffee hop bitter backbone, a little light on body, good carb.

Final Thoughts: A very nice Extra Special. The nose was ever changing on me. Enjoy this one with a nice English dinner. Worth the buy.

 655 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Thanks to mdaschaf for the extra!

She pours chestnut brown giving a good solid three finger head, light caramel in appearance, foamy, and dark amber brown with cherry red hues. Thick clumpy cap resides on top. Love this body color, I really like the look of this beer. Spider like lacing while drinking takes the cake!!!

Nose is a good strong roasty toasty malt, smells like a brown ale. Aggressive, clean. Fairly solid.

Taste is buttery bitter, with a good simple ordinary hop backbone. Texture has a good thickness to bring a buttery feel. Not that carbonated either which is nice. The head sticks around and adds some cream tastes too. Dark malts and roast kick in on the aftertaste reminiscent of malt brown ales.

Ovrerall, solid. Sexy looking and tastes great.

 817 characters

Photo of mummbearsfan
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: appearance was a rich dark drown color.

s: I couldn't really get an aroma on this beer

t: Rich caramel maltiness hits you when you first taste this but then the bitterness from the hops hits you right after.

m: Was very light on the pallet not too heavy as the beer would seem to be if looking at it.

o: Not a bad brew from Yards, the lightness of this beer is good to go with bolder foods such as BBQ. This beer tends to be right on as far as mixing the bitterness and the rich maltiness. The brew also tends to be lighter on the pallet as well. The only downfall was the fact that you couldn't get a good aroma to sway the sweetness or bitterness of the beer.

 669 characters

Extra Special Ale (ESA) from Yards Brewing Co.
3.75 out of 5 based on 632 ratings.
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