Arcadia Thunder Trail | Arcadia Brewing Company

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Arcadia Thunder TrailArcadia Thunder Trail

Brewed by:
Arcadia Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Formerly called Arcadia Lake Superior ESB.

Thunder Trail stays true to our English brewing heritage. With a strong backbone of Maris Otter and Crystal malts, this Extra Special Bitter is balanced by earthy, spicy, English hops Our Ringwood yeast strain imparts a distinctly fruity character that is accented by dry-hopping with a modest amount of palisade hops. We hope you enjoy this quality session ale - wherever the trail may take you.

Added by StoutHunter on 04-19-2013

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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 121
Photo of Tripel_Threat
3.56/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pour is a light brown in color, somewhat clear, with a millimeter of thick, off white foam on top. Aroma and flavor is toasty bread, biscuit, and caramel malts, with a slightly peppery hoppy zing. Earthy. Clean finish.

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Photo of WesMantooth
3.73/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the brew pub. A beautiful copper pour with a large light beige foamy head.

Really nice, clean toasted malts with a touch of caramel sweetness. A slight hop bitterness. The fruit notes may be lacking a tad, but this beer is pretty much on point. Very drinkable.

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Photo of schnjac
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

It's not quite as hoppy as some of the other ESBs that I've tried. I guess that is a matter of personal preference. It is certainly balanced and contains some nice flavor profiles. I agree with metter98 that it would pair well with a meal.

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Photo of uccle81
2.96/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

So, this beer just wasn't right. I love ESB's, probably my favorite type. And this wasn't it. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not an ESB. I think it's because the type of yeast used is more appropriate for a Saison or a sour beer. I'd LOVE to see Arcadia give this same recipe another shot, but with different yeast and more malt. An ESB is supposed to be more "Extra Special" due to the malt used, which I didn't particularly notice.

So the sub-standard rating is primarily because the beer does not properly reflect the style that it claims to represent. Also, the carbonation was pretty bad.

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Photo of rapayn01
3.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's an average ESB. Leans a bit to caramel malt. I would have liked a greater hop profile. I was in the UK last summer and this would have been one of the better beers I had. But I expected more. This was part of a mixed 12 pack of Michigan beers purchased on the last day of vacation.

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Photo of TastyAdventure
3.75/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Nice malty, biscuit flavor. Slight cider taste in back. For some reason bottle was nearly a gusher, producing giant head. A bit dry and slightly bitter harsh finish

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Photo of kickbundler
3.44/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a decent copper color with almost no head. The beer is bottle conditioned and I caught a skosch of yeast in the pour, otherwise this would have been clear without any haze. The aroma, taste, and carbonation seem pretty true to style for an ESB. Aroma is present but mild, there is a nice malt aftertaste. There is a twinge of hop tang at the end coupled with a faint cidery real ale taste. Carbonation is light although perhaps on the high side for a true English ale. Overall this is a good beer and representative of the style. I would recommend to anyone wanting to explore ESBs.

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Photo of metter98
3.48/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is hazy copper amber in color. It poured with a quarter finger high off white head that died down, leaving wispy lacing on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light aromas of biscuity and toasted malts are present in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of biscuit and toasted malts along with notes of earthy yeast.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is nice and mild, which makes it easy to drink and would be a good accompaniment to a meal.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of mchegash
3.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance - 2.5/5
A deep amber-orange with little head. Hazy, cannot see through at all. There are tons of little black-looking particles in the beer which you can clearly see. I know this beer is unfiltered, and I have drinken beer with particles in them in the past. But in this particular case they stand out very much when looking at the beer, and they make it look kind gross/iffy.

Smell - 4/5
Smells of classic beer smell, malts, and perhaps some indistinguishable spices. Smells alcohol-y. Upon further sniffing, there is also a strong fruity smell--smells like cherry-flavored medicine. I like the strong cherry smell, it is not a smell I have seen in many beers (perhaps cherry beers excluded?).

Taste - 3.25/5
Sweet taste of cherries, alcohol, and a little hops taste. Tastes perhaps a little too alcohol-y for my liking. Honestly, does not taste at all like what I was expecting...which is okay, it doesn't taste bad.

Mouthfeel - 3.5/5
Medium body. Carbonation is nicely balanced and not overpowering. Neither creamy nor crisp, but somewhere in the middle.

Overall - 3/5
Overall, I was a bit disappointed by this beer. It didn't taste as I expected and frankly didn't taste that great either. It wasn't bad, but I don't think I would get again.

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Photo of SaltofOH
3/5  rDev -14.3%

Appearance: Pours a dark red/reddish brown with 1/2" khaki, bubbly head. Clear with bits of sediment. Retains a ring of head around the edge; some lacing.

Aroma: Malt is front & center. Has that funky English yeast smell. Love it.

Taste: Clean, tart arrival - very slight sweetness across mid-palate; big, flinty earthy hop finish. Less "medicinal" than Short's Autumn Ale, but earthy strong bitterness lingers; slightly over-hopped.

Mouthfeel: Mid-to-lightweight. Mild carbonation.

Overall: This tastes like a true English Ale, but with amped-up bitterness on the finish. I love it, but will be the first to admit that this is a beer I really need to be in the mood for. I think it is a touch over-hopped.

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Photo of Billet
4.05/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer poured into a globe glass with a nice thick and foamy light tan head. It settled to a very nice reddish amber color with a thin tan head. The smell is grassy with lightly toasted malts. The taste is nice, it tasted like a cross between a pale ale and an amber ale. The malts come through first with a lightly toasted flavor. The finish is malty with a very slight hop bitterness. It is medium bodied as it should be. A very well done ESB.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.45/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

The British Springsteen...? Anyway, this stuff pours a clear brass topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises barley, earthy greens, light grass, rather light tobacco, and mild honey-laden biscuit. The taste brings in more of the same, the hops and malts (real specific, amiright?) almost cancelling each other out at many junctures. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, an okay bitter, nothing special, but something I couldn't really turn down with any zeal.

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.96/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A gentle pour reveals a murky brownish amber liquid with a thick, imposing, pillowy off-white head that takes forever to settle.

S: Aromas of chalk, talc, herbs, black pepper, leather, tobacco, caramel, biscuit, and crackers are present on the nose.

T: Notes of bitter orange, lemon, lime, herbs, minerals, crackers, biscuits, tobacco, black pepper, leather, grass, brown butter, chalk, caramel, almond nougat, and toffee swirl across the palate. The finish is gentle and longer than expected with a nice blend of malt and hop flavors. Notes of pepper, mild citrus, tobacco, leather, caramel, toffee, and nougat linger in the mouth as the beer goes down the throat.

M: Medium in body and mildly resinous. Carbonation is airy, active, and a bit more delicate than I would typically expect of this kind of ale. Super easy to drink, but not even remotely close to being a session beer.

O: I am pleasantly surprised by this ale. Arcadia seems to do British and Irish ales quite well and this ESB ticks all of the boxes for me. I am a bit surprised that I ended up liking this beer as much as I do because I am quite familiar with this style (it being one of my favorites), and in my opinion, many American craft brewers do not do it justice. Arcadia, however, is a welcome exception. Definitely check this one out if you are a fan of British ales and are tired of the seemingly never changing imports.

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Photo of plunderspunk
3.94/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased this after having read the packaging...not sure about ESB's, but wanted to try it. I was immediately surprised at the nice color and staying power of the froth. A little bit scotchy in front with some fruitiness, and a nice , slightly hoppy aftertaste, with no bitterness, in spite of the style. A nice brew for lunch time, and if you're wanting to be productive after, it's 6% ABV rating allows you to. Or have a second, and take a nice nap (: My wife even liked it, and she usually dislikes heavier, sweeter beers. With brews like this, Arcadia is fast becoming my go-to place for great ale!

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Photo of BierStein711
4.63/5  rDev +32.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle poured into shaker pint.

Dark brownish amber body, with standard off-white head, moderate carbonation.

The mouthfeel is perfect, you are drinking a beer here.

Smells of minerals and dark fruit.

Taste: raisins, chalk, and a mineral finish. This is a blanced ESB!!

Overall, this is an American version of a classic English beer style. I'd buy a sixer. Perfect drink for a colder winter day.

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Photo of mrmuskie
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Nice bitter. hop aroma is low but bitterness id just right. the mouthfeel is money, just like i like it nice and dry. This is a drinker. Not gonna blow your socks off but it will keep you going all night long... If you are looking for the next "big thing" or just getting into craft beer you might not appreciate this fine brew.

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Photo of breakingbland
3.71/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Poured from the bottle with only a slight head that settled into a ring of foam. The beer itself is a clear golden red.

Aroma: Roasty and sweet with a hint of hay/grass.

Taste: The taste follows the aroma with the addition of slight sourness. There is a suggestion of burnt toast. The hops presence is slight and accentuates as the beer lingers. The flavor profile has some interesting components that I can't fully identify.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-light body. The carbonation seemed a little light.

Overall: This is a very enjoyable beer having a nice malt/hops balance. It is a good example of this style.

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Photo of superspak
3.3/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 4/01/2013. Large carbonation pop upon opening. Pours hazy and cloudy reddish copper color with a 2-3 finger rocky cream colored head with big retention, that reduces to a moderate cap eventually. Spotty foamy lacing on the glass, with a ton of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of caramel, toast, toffee, apple, pear, bread, floral, grass, light pepper, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Ok aromas with decent balance and complexity of malt, hop, and yeast notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toast, toffee, pear, apple, brown bread, pepper, grass, floral, light pine, and herbal/yeast earthiness. Moderate amount of earthy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toast, toffee, light fruits, brown bread, floral, grass, pepper, light pine, and herbal earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Good balance and robustness of malt, hop, and yeast flavors; with no cloying flavors after the finish. High carbonation and medium bodied; with a very crisp and moderately prickly mouthfeel that is ok. Alcohol is well hidden with only a slight warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a decent ESB style. Highly over-carbonated, but didn’t seem infected after tasting. Solid malt and hop balance; and very smooth to drink. A decently enjoyable offering.

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Photo of russpowell
3.11/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours orange/copper with 2 fingers of cream colored head. A bit chill hazed, great head retention & lacing

S: Breadyness & grassiness

T: Leafy hops & pears, grassy hops up front. Woody hops, apple peel, & grassiness, slight sourness as this warms. Finishes crisp with pears & leafy hops. Everything is disjointed & boring

MF: Light/medium bodied & okay balance

A fairly dissapointing ESB, I'm not sure why I let Arcadia bilking me outta money, the joke is on me again. Maybe freshness is an issue, no date on the bottle; caveat emptor

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Photo of hosehead83
3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a standard pint glass.
Chill-hazed copper in color, with a moderate head of bone-white foam.
Aroma-Toasted malt
Taste-Toasted malt, barley, caramel, earthy hop note. Nicely balanced with a subtle mineral note in the finish. A fine food brew.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.75/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a perfect pint.

3.75 A: Lightly hazed dark orange color. Two fingers of frothy off-white head. Retention is about average or a touch better and a short ring of lacing is left.

3.75 S: Toasty, grainy malts to start things off. Plentiful caramel with hints of toffee. Just a faint touch of yeastiness. Simple, yet so very pleasant.

3.75 T: Taste mirrors the nose. Toastiness is the foremost flavor. Graininess, a few layers of caramel, and toffee follow. Again just a touch of bready yeastiness.

3.75 M: Medium body. Mild chewiness from the yeast. Good creaminess. Solid here.

3.75 D: A well rounded beer for sure. Not a ton of complexity, but the flavors are in perfect proportion.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Today's beer scene is slathered with 70 IBUs, 10% abv., puckering sourness and gripping roast. So if you find yourself asking, "Where's the balance? Where's the drinkability? Where's the understated charm? Arcadia responds to those questions with an even-keep, pleasant, and gentlemanly English inspired ale.

Thunder Trail kicks of with a creamy medium-weight amber-copper hue. Significantly hazed- its unfiltered hop-conditioning is apparent. Its off-white froth patiently separates from the body of the beer and soon caps it with a dense blanket of foam. Retaining strongly until the last sip, the froth clings to the glass with well-defined rings that denote each visit to the glass.

Firmly aromatic, the scent of caramel, biscuit, pecan and freshly kilned barley give a sweeter, maltier tone. But the balance of floral English hops open its bouquet in a slightly perfumy tone. Wood and tea eventually emit and merge with estery notes of orange marmalade heading into that first sip.

Despite its dense appearance, its taste is lighter and creamy on the palate. The malts wrap around the tongue to appease the sweet tooth. But the middle palate begins to dissolve the sweetness but leaves behind a lightly starchy malt taste to balance against intensifying hops. Woody and nutty in their tone- the taste morphs into a broad and spicy bitterness to finish somewhat minty.

Medium bodied throughout, the beer retains its creamy malt structures deep into the taste, fading only in finish as the carbonation subsides, the hop bitterness rises and the alcohol provide its drying effects.

I stop shy of including Arcadia's Thunder Trail into the group of Fullers ESB, but its English character is present and in bold representation. If tasted blindly, I would have likely chalked the beer up to American Amber Ale with English influence.

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Photo of Brenden
3.52/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This ESB does look the part. It's an opaque sort of bronzed medium brown. Its attempts to develop a slightly tinted head don't go particularly far, as it never grows to more than a foam and can't really hold very much of that. It does leave some spotting.
Toasted malts display lots of nut and earth in the aroma. There are some fruity esters as well. Appropriate to the style, hops are very light, perhaps a touch floral and herbal. A somewhat citric element makes me wonder if it's something of an Americanized version (which is fine).
The flavor is sweet up front with the fruits and continues that way, along with a strongly toasty overtone. Slight floral notes are present, and while it's appropriate for an ESB to display diacetyl to a point, I can see the buttery flavor throwing some off. I think it's a touch high, but not going overboard.
Carbonation is at moderate levels in a light body that isn't weak. It shows off a solid crispness that doesn't fade. The finish goes mildly dry but not too much, and it's actually quite smooth.

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Photo of barczar
3.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a murky medium brown with a frothy one inch cream head that slowly dissipates, leaving spotty lacing.

Aroma is citrusy and floral initially, with lemon and grapefruit overpowering the toasted malt backbone. A bit of caramel sweetness emerges, along with diacetyl.

Flavor is a bit strange. There's a soapy quality initially, with citrus tones in accompaniment. They give way to bitter hops mid palate, which are riding on a savory deeply toasted malt body. Muted grapefruit and floral notes add complexity. But that malt is extremely toasty.

Body is moderate, with moderate carbonation. The finish is a little harsh.

Obviously not your standard English esb with the citrus tones present, and the malt is a little overly toasted. That soapy quality is a touch offputting, but is likely attributed to hop variety interactions. Bitterness, coupled with overly toasted malt, is a little too much for my liking.

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Photo of SerialTicker
3.43/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint. Bottled 4/01/13, enjoyed 5/26/13.

First of all, as StoutHunter suggested in the previous review, this is NOT what you'd typically expect from this style of beer. I'm gonna just throw that out the window and judge the beer just on how it tastes... the style seems to most definitely be off.

Appearance: Looks like a snow globe. Relatively clear, but there are some thick particles floating around and slowly settling after the pour. Amber color with a pretty bright white, three finger head that dissipates to a measly ring. Barely any lacing. I quite enjoy the label -- a guy on a motorcycle riding down the street with lighting zaps behind him.

Smell: Some sweet, dusty smelling malts. I even get a bit of a scotch note, and possibly a touch of dark fruits. The sweet, dirty-esque malts are definitely on the front.

Taste/feel: Very sweet on the front, and just as sweet on the finish... bitter? This beer doesn't have it. The taste of sweetness is really the big thing here. There's some dark fruit sort of flavors on the front with it, and the sweetness is a bready sort of malt flavor with some sort of peppery spice. The feel throughout is smooth with a very minor prickly carbonation. Works well here.

Overall, it's just alright. It's interesting enough to make you want to take another sip, but not want to take another bottle, necessarily. This is just a sweet beer beginning to end, with really no hops or bitterness to speak of. Given the style of beer being "EXTRA BITTER", it's pretty disappointing, but it's not a terrible beer, and I'm just rating it based on how I think it tastes. I wouldn't mind having another.

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Arcadia Thunder Trail from Arcadia Brewing Company
3.5 out of 5 based on 121 ratings.
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