Phoenixx Double ESB
Real Ale Brewing Company

Phoenixx Double ESBPhoenixx Double ESB
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
3.78 | pDev: 11.9%
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Phoenixx Double ESBPhoenixx Double ESB
Notes: "Double ESB", Rotating/Seasonal
Reviews: 129 | Ratings: 320 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of LarryTXVeteran
LarryTXVeteran from Texas

4.44/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First off, this ESB is NOT retired, but it is only available seasonally. It is currently for sale at Kroger in Texas. I bought some yesterday. With that said, this is an excellent tasting brew for those who appreciate English Strong Bitter brews. The look is a deep amber and the taste is a very earthy bitter beer, It also has a slightly toasted biscuit aroma

I am not sure what the IBU is but at least 50, it is up there, with a great mouthfeel. Not overly carbonated, which is how I like my brews. Nice looking creamy head floating on a deep amber beer. Some nice red highlights to the beer when held to the light. Poured initially with a thick head, as the head disappeared it left a pretty hefty amount of lacing on the glass.

I am going to the brewery this weekend in the hill country to find out more about this wonderful ESB. One thing I noticed is that at least to me, it is best served at around 55° F. YMMV. If you live in Texas, Kroger currently is selling 6-packs of it for under $10 USD. Worth a try.

Mar 21, 2019
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mjurney from Texas

4.48/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Deep copper color, a little chill haze. Good amount of carbonation. Thick off-white head.

Caramel, toffee, semi-dark roasted, spicy hops.

Caramel, toffee, semi-dark roast, hint of nutty. Hop bitterness is medium, spicy/piney, maybe a little citrusy. Finish is bitter-crisp. Medium bodied, crisp, easy drinking.

It's an outstanding ESB!

Jan 20, 2016
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Myotus from Texas

4.08/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 47°F from a 12oz bottle (best before date 07Jun16) into a pint glass. Consumed on 29Dec15).
LOOK: Pours with two fingers worth of thick, off-white foam that dissipates into a half fingers worth after 2 minutes. A large amount of thick lacing is left behind from the head dissipation. Copper in color. Medium and small sized rising bubbles are present in moderate quantities. Lacing is large in quantity and both thick and very thick in various areas.
SMELL: Strong aromas of toffee are backed my mild aromas of plums, figs, black cherries, buttered toast, caramel, floral hops, earthy hops, and hints of bitter hops.
TASTE: Strong toffee and floral hop flavors enter first and are immediately followed by mild flavors of buttered toast and subtle flavors of earthy hops. Mild flavors of caramel, plums, figs, and black cherries enter next as all floral hop and butter (just the butter) flavors grow slightly stronger. Finally, mild bitter hop flavors make their debut as all previous flavors push on.
FEEL: Light-bodied and highly carbonated (this was going so well until now). Goes down somewhat rough due to the carbonation. Finishes with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: This blew me away. I like this brewery, but I was honestly expecting a slightly above average beer, but this shattered my expectations. Everything about this beer was on point for the style. There was an excellent balance between hops and malt and even the hop bitterness didn't bother me much. I had no idea that something can be so sweet, yet so tantalizingly hoppy. A huge kudos to Real Ale.

Dec 29, 2015
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TBoneJones from Texas

3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep, mostly clear copper color, barely a head, some spotted lacing.
Smells like some wheat and sweet malts, and some hints of tropical hops.
Tastes the same, with some pine, honey- like at times, and pleasantly bitter.
Smooth and medium. Creamy feel. Some bitterness.

Apr 25, 2015
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ZiegMeister from Texas

4.71/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I was going to present a very detailed review, but I decided just to say that this is a very tasty beer and I would highly recommend it to any beer lover.

Apr 03, 2015
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AtrumAnimus from Texas

4.41/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a slightly opaque reddish gold color that has a nice off-white head that is moderate, settles slow and leaves a faint lacing down the glass.

The nose is earthy in nature with bread, hops, pine, grass and camphor as the dominant traits with some moderate floral notes underneath.

The taste is pleasantly crisp, sharp and rich. There is a nice exceptionally dominant hoppiness that is buttery pine with some grass, bread and nutmeg in the mix with a mild medicine like finish that is well balanced on the bed of sweet to dry malt underneath.

The mouthfeel is surprising rich for such a style and really does a great job of delivering the complexity of the flavors to your entire palate.

Overall this is one of the better offerings from Real Ale, which is saying a lot. Real Ale is an accomplished brewery with some great offerings. I would put this in their top 3.

Mar 24, 2015
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ranger7 from Texas

3.13/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

L: Hazy amber. Off white head which dissipates quickly.
S: Brown sugar, syrupy sweet.
T: Not very ESB-like. It starts with smooth malt and ends bitter. Not a big fan.
F: Medium, then thin? Odd feel.
O: Not a huge fan. The smell and taste are very different. That, and it's inconsistent with the style. Better with food.

Feb 28, 2015
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kojevergas from Louisiana

2.02/5  rDev -46.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

"Double ESB." "Extra special bitter ale." Okay; expectations are very low. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with uninteresting label art and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local bottle shop and served into a conical Pinthouse Pizza pint glass in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. "Best if consumed by this date 07.01.14."

Served slightly chilled. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of white colour. Fairly thin. Lacks creaminess and frothiness. Complexion and consistency are lackluster. Head retention is about average - ~2 minutes.

Body colour is a transparent translucent copper-brown of below average vibrance. No yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Overall, it doesn't look like much. Far from unique or special. Appears adequately carbonated.

Sm: Caramel. Toffee. English biscuit malt. Diacetyl/slight buttery character. Light breadiness. It's on the sweeter side.

I don't notice an overt hop profile. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable.

It's an inoffensive aroma of below average strength. I can't say I'm looking forward to this one much.

T/Mf: Buttery. Caramel. Toffee. English biscuit malt. That's about it. Painfully simple, with an obnoxiously shallow depth of flavour. It's not all that well balanced, nor is it cohesive. Not a gestalt build. Lacks any complexity, subtlety, intricacy, or nuance whatsoever. I'm not liking this much at all.

Below average duration and intensity of flavour. It's pretty boring.

Mf: Buttery, coarse, and weirdly dry. The buttery character really drags this beer down. Well-carbonated. Medium bodied. Good thickness. Poor presence on the palate. Should be softer, creamier, and pleasing, Poor execution. The texture does not suit the taste well.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or rough.

Dr: I'll finish this bottle with effort on account of the low quality. I wouldn't recommend this to friends. It's yet another unenjoyable American attempt at an ESB . Hard to drink. I don't know what "double ESB" is supposed to indicate, but this is pretty terrible.


Feb 15, 2014
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Radome from Florida

3.95/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet.

A - Beer is a deep amber color with lots of orange when held up to the light. Perfectly clear. Head is off-white and piles up about 1/2" high initially. It fades to a thin sheet all the way across the surface and lots of lacing.

S - Beautiful malt aroma of graham crackers, raisins, molasses. It is reminiscent of a doppelbock, although there is also a slightly smoky note that is interesting. There are hops in the background that seem earthy and European, perhaps English. Very malt-forward but complex.

T - The taste is not as rounded and complex as the aroma. Again it is malt-forward. Bready malt, but not as much of the raisin and molasses or brown sugar as the aroma leads you to expect. There is enough hops bitterness to keep it from being cloying, but the hops flavor is not very apparent; maybe just some earthiness and woodiness. Dryish finish.

M - Slightly light on body, especially for what I'd envision for an "Imperial ESB". Low carbonation, which seems appropriate. Some hint of the alcohol, but it is pretty well-hidden.

O - This beer has an amazingly complex aroma and lots of good elements, but the flavors aren't as complex and somehow it doesn't quite hit it out of the park for me. Still, it is very drinkable and enjoyable and I wouldn't mind having it again.

Jan 22, 2014
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AlCaponeJunior from Texas

3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Brown in color with a bit of a haze. Perhaps a one finger head that dissipates into a nice ring with a touch of sheen. Lacing is good.

Has the smell of a good caramel malt, with some grainy overtones, and just a touch of sweet fruitiness.

Tastes lightly bitter caramel malty, with well balanced hoppiness and a touch of bitter citrus.

It's got a good amount of carbonation, perhaps more than the style might otherwise have, but I have come to realize that I prefer more carbonation over less (as a grossly generalized rule). Mid-bitter aftertaste with lingering maltiness.

This is an updated review from a long time ago. Since then, I have reviewed many more beers, and come to appreciate the ESB style far more. I think my updated numbers reflect a better estimation of this beer. I also have come to appreciate the skill and care that RABC puts into their beers, and the delicious consistency inherent in their regular offerings. Great job RABC.

Jan 17, 2014
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abeerwiseguy from Texas

2.95/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Phoenixx Double ESB from the Real Ale Brewing Co. in Blanco, Texas. The 12 oz bottle I sampled had a date stamp of 7-29-13. No ABV on bottle but BA reflects it at 7.2%.

I spent a good deal of time in In the UK in the late 1970's and acquired an appreciation of this type of beer. It is actually a pale ale and the locals refer to it as "give me a pint of bitter" when ordering at the pub. The typical bitter has an ABV of 4 to 5%. The ESB designation or Extra Special/Strong Bitter simply reflects a higher ABV usually more than 5%.

Poured into a pint bar glass it was an orange tinged dark, amber with two to three fingers of thick head that dissipated quickly but left lots of lacing.

Had aromas of hop spiciness with very slight caramel sweetness.

The flavors are mixed with bread, malt, and caramel and are rich with promise but the finish is not well rounded in terms of flavors but along with a typical bitter finish it had an unwelcome, funky aftertaste.

The beer has medium body with light carbonation.

Overall I gave this beer every chance to measure up to my expectations of the many pints of "bitter" I have consumed in the UK but it fell short. I let it warm up to get the full flavor and I even got a second six pack to check just in case the first was skunked. Same results.

Overall this beer is drinkable but does not measure up.

Sep 14, 2013
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Pegasus from Texas

3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Clear reddish-amber with a large light tan head of somewhat coarse foam, which retains well. The lacing is scattered, and Belgian-like.

Aroma: Strong notes of caramel malt, brown bread, and grassy and herbal hops.

Taste: Opens with a strong wave of roasted malt, which tends towards toast and nutty flavors. While the malt backbone is a strong presence throughout, as the taste progresses, the hops intensify, particularly offering earthy and herbal flavors. Finishes with a long, lingering moderate bitterness at the back of the mouth. The ABV of 7.2% was not at all perceptible in the taste, although it was mildly warming.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, full and pleasant.

Drinkability/notes: A pleasing and well-crafted example.

Presentation: Packaged in a twelve-ounce ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

Jul 09, 2013
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Premo88 from Texas

3.79/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

16oz. pint glass on tap at Hay Merchant (in February 2013)

L: red; fantastic lacing

S: hint of sweetness; lots of yeasty grain

T: bitter up front, good sweet malt finish like an ESB should have

F: solid overall, not overbearing

O: good enough that I'll need to try this again next winter season when it returns

Jun 30, 2013
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elNopalero from California

4.42/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I remember enjoying this beer immensely. Now that I’m no longer living in Texas I appreciate it even more. Thanks to XicanoBeerRun for this one. And for the Bruery tulip I inaugurated with it!

This pours a rich, caramel color with tight foaming. There’s a rich aroma on this, of caramel and some syrup-thick green-citrus hop, and in a way it reminds me of barleywine-lite because of those similar notes.

The flavor has a rounded bitterness to it, with a piney, citrusy character. Caramel malt comes across, and maybe some onion-garlic. Am I imagining it or is there some coconut on this as well?

I like it. Enjoyed it immensely on an unexpectedly chilly spring night.

Mar 31, 2013
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MentalZombie from Texas

3.37/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A. A fingers worth of off white head that dissipates rather quickly. A little patchy lacing. Beer is copper in color. Sort of hazy.

S. Pretty sour at first. Upon second whiff I catch a little sweetness that contrasts well with the bitterness.

T. Starts out fairly even. I like how subtle it is before a nice lingering bitter finish. Sticks around for a bit. I like that. Defiantly makes me want to keep drinking it. Haha

Mf. Pretty thin. Noting real special happening here. Which in this case, that's good. Any thicker it would lose some of its drinkability.

O. Not the most unique ESB out there. But it does what it's supposed to and delivers without being overly bitter(which is what I was originally thinking). Real ale does a good job at providing consistency. They have never amazed me, but I can always count on them to always be good at providing something decent that doesn't completely break the bank. Will drink again.

Feb 16, 2013
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Ford from Texas

4.2/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a pint glass.

Just had a wonderful early afternoon snack of summer sausage, extra sharp white cheddar cheese and a pint of Pheonixx.... really hit the spot.

This beer certainly has a bitter finish, but not nearly as bitter as an IPA would be. A bit sweet but not much.

Color is copperish. This is a really good beer. The more I drink from Real Ale company, the more I am impressed. They really know what they are doing there in Blanco, Texas.

Dec 28, 2012
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mactrail from Washington

3.11/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark amber in the New Belgium snifter. Lots of foam and pleasantly spritzy mouthfeel. A medium body. Sort of a musty aroma.

Rather rich with lots of deep, dark flavors. A hint of licorice. Ends with a seriously bitter finish. A little buttery with a hint of something medicinal. The first few sips are pretty good, but the dark, tarry bitterness sticks in the mouth after a while. Lots of burnt sugar on the tongue but a dry finish. Hints of fruit, like canned pineapple.

Definitely a peculiar brew and it's one for the adventure seekers. From the 12 oz bottle bought at Pinkie's in San Angelo.

Nov 20, 2012
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RonaldTheriot from Louisiana

4.45/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Real Ale’s Phoenixx Double ESB has a thick, creamy, cream-colored head and a hazy (which gets more-so with swishing of the bottle), copper appearance with some bubbles and a few lacing splotches. The aroma is of sharp hops and a little sourness. Taste is of piney, mentholated hops, and some brown bread (Roman Meal brand). Absolutely no alcohol is detected. The mouthfeel is light to medium, and Phoenixx Double ESB finishes mostly dry and fairly drinkable. Overall, this beer is really good and interesting, and I strongly advise giving it a try!


Aug 18, 2012
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ElCommodoro from Texas

3.83/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wasn't sure what to expect with this. I'm just glad it wasn't over-hopped. It poured a hazy orange colour and smelled like sour raisins.
The taste also had a lot of sugary raisin-character to it with hop balance taking over the finish. My only problem with this is that the hops taste dry. They give a dry character to an otherwise sweet beer. I like the bitter character, it just brings a little more dryness than I want. I really like the idea, though, of making an ESB that's thick and sugary. I guess that's what makes it "double." I was afraid it would be "doubly" bitter instead, and it is a little more bitter than other ESBs I've had, but not by a whole lot.

Jul 25, 2012
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Lawl3ss from Texas

3.28/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Chilled longneck into a 12 oz. shaker. Best by date 8.16.12.

Look- Clear amber-brown with two fingers of fairly dense off-white head. Good retention, nice lacing. Some suspended particulate visible.

Smell- Very, very faint. Hints of biscuit and vanilla, perhaps cream soda.

Taste- Toast and light herbal bitterness. Very one-dimensional, but it's uniquely tasty as well. Malt flavor similar to toasted sunflower seeds. Again, where are the hops? There's definitely a touch of clean bitterness, but if you're going to call it a "Double Extra Special Bitter", there should be something moderately bitter about it.

Mouthfeel- Crisp, clean, good quench factor. Medium body. Very drinkable. Probably the best thing about this beer. You'd never know it was over 7%.

Overall- It really comes off like an Alt. Well balanced, exceptional drinkability. It's got something of the "imported English-y" character, but I would expect a fresher/domestically produced beer to taste... well... fresher. It's certainly a good beer, and I hate to knock it, but it seems like (from my perspective) they are attempting to mimic the "spent three months in an unrefrigerated cargo container" flavor common to most import beers- I'm sure it comes down to customer expectations. That being said, it's very reasonably priced, pretty darn good, and I'll certainly pick it up again.

Jun 27, 2012
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obrike from Texas

3.41/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A sixer at Round Rock Specs for 4.99? Sign me up...i bought two.

Poured a dark orange/brown amber in my pint glass...a decent head that left lots of good sticky lacing throughout the drink.

Not getting much here on the scent...maybe some caramel malt, but little else...not sure if this is the norm for the style or not.

Big toasted malt on first taste...some dark fruits. Bitterness lingers a bit...a bit dry too. This is certainly not what I would call a refreshing beer. A bit too dry and biscuity. I can see this being a one and done winter warmer type of beer, but not recommended for a hot day.

Jun 27, 2012
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charlzm from California

3.1/5  rDev -18%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Consumed May 13th, 2012 at The Drafthouse, Austin, Texas.

Beer is a caramel, brass colored affair. A one-finger off-white head settles into almost nothing pretty soon.

Slight resiny aroma with a touch of sweet malt.

Caramel malts up front that could charitably be described as toasty and a strong bitter finish.

Very well carbonated. Prickly, even.

Nothing to go out of your way for, but a nice enough brew. It really is like an ESB turned up a notch, though that doesn't automatically make it any better than "good".

Jun 21, 2012
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LXIXME from New Mexico

2.79/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A lot of sediment is suspended with the rich honey reddish amber colored ESB. A medium white head settles into a pretty small lacing on the edge of the glass with a nice little bisquity dome in the middle of the glass.

A very light sweet malt aroma dies out as the beer sits between drinks.

A lightly bitter hops taste is blended well with a light sweet caramel malt.

A light almost bitter dry aftertaste on this medium bodied double.

I wasn't really impressed with this as a double ESB, but what the hell do I Know.

May 22, 2012
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beergoot from Colorado

3.75/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Extra sent in a beer trade with Doph1979. Thanks, Tim...

Dark golden body with a very good, sticky off-white head. Great lacing down the glass.

Aroma is rich and malty. Toffee and caramel. A touch of hop bitterness accents the nose.

Medium-light body with a bit of smoothness due to the sugars. Clean and wet.

Light, toasted malt flavors, soon overtaken by a mid-grade bitterness.

This was a bit of a toss-up between a 3.5 and a 4.0 overall. As this beer seems to have some decent flavor and aroma, I would imagine drinking this beer again and again would warrant the slightly higher overall score, depending on freshness and serving origin. It also hides its alcohol content nicely. A good, malty, bitter beer. I'd definitely go for some more...

May 17, 2012
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jmarsh123 from Indiana

2.91/5  rDev -23%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to texasclimber for the bottle.

Pours light brown with a 2 finger off-white head retaining about 1/2 finger with good lacing.

Smells of toffee and rich bready malts with a little bit of hop spice character.

Flavor is similar although the hop spice character turns into a dirty flavor. The grainy chewy bready malt is presence, but there's a bitter earthy presence that is completely off putting.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side with medium carbonation.

This one had some off flavors. Really didn't enjoy it much. A below average beer in just an average style.

May 08, 2012
Phoenixx Double ESB from Real Ale Brewing Company
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 320 ratings