Full Sail ESB | Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub

244 Ratings
Full Sail ESBFull Sail ESB

Brewed by:
Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
Oregon, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.50%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
'A nicely balanced small batch bitter concocted by our own Barney Brennan, featuring five different specialty malts and aromatic Challenger hops'

35 IBU

Originally a pub-only beer, Re-released in January 2012 as part of the Brewer's Share series.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 12-28-2011

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Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 244
Photo of meeekyh
4.57/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really like beer that is priced below the competition, which is what made this one stand out. Full Sail is rather famous for their ability to produce a very good product without producing a price tag to scare us away.

Great label. The initial smell is that of spicy hops. The ale pours to reveal a dark amber color and sparkling clarity, topped with a light tan head that displays both a foamy appearance and a remarkable staying-power.

The smell is thick and dark, yet rising, with fruity esters and toasty malts. My direct comparison to barleywine (another review) is in the semblance of this beer to Bigfoot from SN in Chico. I will presume the grain bill is similar, and the yeast. As for the hops, I was floored by the initial hit of spicy, floral goodness, and am pleased that it continues underneath the malt column that is the backbone of this ale.

Taste is full, balanced and round. There are tropical and dried fruits. There are also the charred-wood-caramels of aged spirits. The bite from the hops is clean and sharp without taking the star roll.

The feel of this ale is both silky and crisp. Carbonation is well suited to carrying the nuances of this ale across the palate and into the olfactory. The finish is sweet and the aftertaste is slightly like dried fruit and a bit like melon, with sweetness and a bit of tart dryness.

This is a beer worthy of re-visitation. I love the price-point (under $5 for the bomber), the flavor and nose are both complex and balanced, while the overall feeling one is left with is that of both satisfaction and of getting away with something.

Kudos and slainte!

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Photo of Spectacularj1
4.52/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 22 oz bottle into a 0.5L glass.

A: The beer has a clear amber appearance. Light foam and little lacing.

Smell: The beer does not have a strong smell, there are hints of malt and bitterness (though not hoppy).

Taste / Mouthfeel: Taste is great. It has been a long time since I had an actual Bitter beer. The taste is rather light, not too thick. Not heavily carbonated, but just enough. The beer is bitter on the back of the tongue bit it doesn't linger like an IPA.

Overall: This is a great ESB, perhaps the best I've ever had. Nice and bitter but not overly powerful. The beer is strong at 6.5% yet still feels very light and easy to drink. I would highly recommend this anyone who otherwise enjoys a strong pale ale or IPA.

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Photo of MarkNoseBeer
4.5/5  rDev +21%

Great, easy to drink, crisp. Bitter, but not overly so. Great with a burger or sub. One of the better ones from full sail, comparable in quality to the Amber I think.

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Photo of shand
4.39/5  rDev +18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint. The "enjoy by" is very muddled and appears to read 12/15/11, which makes no sense seeing that this was first brewed a month after that date. Just a warning to potential purchasers.

This beer pours out a very hazy brown color with a small head. The aroma is a fantastic maltiness, it's got excellent toasty, bready, and caramel notes. There's also some earthy hops in the nose. Very appealing. The taste is, again, excellent for the style. The malt flavors in here are outstanding, it has a very firm malty presence with plenty of caramel. There's also plenty of earthy and slightly fruity hops. Seriously though, this is a malt lover's dream. It's got a nice amount of bitterness to round everything out. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and medium carbed, and the drinkability is very good.

Overall, this is a very good ESB from an American brewery. It doesn't stray too far from the style guidelens while still throwing it's own twist into the mix. It also donates some proceeds to charity! Check it out if you see it, it really is quite good.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.35/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Clear orange, quick cascading bubbles effect. Cream colored head looks soft and creamy. It settles into a nice quarter inch crown. Not much lacing left on the glass, just a small spot here and there.

S: Caramel, toffee, and a light grainy scent. Orange marmalade, cedar chips, slight vanilla impression. Grassy and floral hops.

T: Orange marmalade and orange peel, tea leaves, wave of toffee and chewy caramel. Honeyed sweetness. Slight flavors of wood and ghost-like peppery spice. Hops are floral and grassy. Drying finish is a bit abrupt with toffee, woody, nutty, and grainy tastes.

M: Medium bodied. Very full and creamy with a soft and slightly chewy texture. Low carbonation. Very smooth. Great mouthfeel.

O: This is a great beer, and a very good representation of the style. Very tasty, and high marks for drinkability. This is an absolute steal at $3 a bomber. Now I wish I'd bought a case. I'd love to see this in regular production someday.

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Photo of burnerfinger
4.28/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from the 22 oz bomber into my new belgium goblet:

Generous, persisent head. honey colored brew with lots of clarity but very deep color. thin but nicely sticky lacing

S: strong hops to the nose...strong malt back

T: (see above) Very nice indeed! almost a barelywine.

M: just a bit watery, (note the lower mouthfeel marks) but still this is a GOOD one.

D: super drinkable, for sure I will go looking for more of this one.


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Photo of Docer
4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: (4.0)
- Nice lightly cloudy honey amber/brown. Thick finger of white head settling to a little lace and thin blanket of head sticking around. Slight reddish hue to the beer as well.

Smell: (3.5)
- Smooth smelling caramel malts, with some lovely bread, roasty brown sugars, light alcohol aromatics, and some pine resin hop with a floral touch to it. Smell is a bit tucked away.

Taste: (4.0)
- Lovely sweet malts, bready caramel and brown sugars with a nice touch of esters. Subtle pine and fresh herbal hops balance it out well. This beer is super balanced and just the right sweetness for the style. Little earthy, yet zesty fresh.

Mouth Feel: (4.0)
- Medium bodied with a great creamy texture. Slight chewiness from the bitter dryness, yet waters the palate in anticipation for more. Very good.

Overall: (4.0)
- This beer is solid and is something I will certainly be buying more of while I can. I would recommend you do the same. Solid balance, flavor, and sweetness, and doesn't contain Full Sail's flagship yeast character that so many of their other beers have. Certainly a nice change for them.

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Photo of BenwayPHD
4.13/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a nice, dark, orange brown with a very thin, foamy head. The nose is full of caramel and butterscotch. Is bready and nutty and sweet. The flavor is nice. It's similar to the nose but with an added roastiness and more emphasis on the caramel notes. The mouthfeel is buttery and delicious. This is my favorite beer from the folks at full sail.

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Photo of archyquaffer
4.12/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a longneck into a shaker pint. A semi-aggressive pour produces a good frothy, chunky pale tan head that sticks to the sides of the glass. The beer is a crystal clear pale amber color with light carbonation.

The aroma is fairly subtle and melds into the flavor such that it is scarcely discernable after awhile. There is a good deal of pleasant bitterness in the aroma-flavor, with nutty and citrus notes balancing a malt base with caramel notes. It seems rather more bitter than the stated 35 IBUs but is quite smooth overall and has a creamy mouth feel.

This is a very quaffable brew that strikes me as true to the English style with a twist of northwestern American intermixed. Excellent plus.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.1/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle from Lamb’s Thriftway in Wilsonville OR. $4.49 Love the label ..with the share motif, very nice. Also proceeds go to educational charity Dark amber/red ale with a very nice looking thick,creamy eggshell white head. Nice aromas of resiny and floral hops..balanced by caramel malts. Taste is very balanced between the hops and the extra chewy caramel/toffee malts..slight bitter after taste. Nice The mouthfeel is were ,for me,this really gets great..its so balanced ,yet so smotth,carbonation just right..slips over the tongue yet still leaves great sensation .Excellent. A tasty well balanced beer very English in its palate that i could drink a few of without doubt

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.09/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a perfect pint.

3.5 A: Mildly hazed dark orange color. A little over one finger of frothy off-white head. Retention doesn't quite meet average, but a small ring of lacing is left.

4.5 S: Solidly malty with a deep toastiness. A touch of yeasty breadiness. Good caramel presence. Fairly simple, but really nice.

4.0 T: Like the nose, this has only a few flavors, but they are done really well. Caramel, lots of toast, malty sweetness. Light bready yeastiness.

4.0 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Savory light chewiness. Super smooth.

4.0 D: Well made beer. No faults and great flavors.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.09/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

APPEARANCE: Nice, orange-copper color, almost like caramel with a slight haziness that hides the bubbles that spring up from the bottom of the glass. It is topped with a stark-white, quarter-inch head that settles quickly into a foamy cap. Sadly, there is not much lacing.

SMELL: The E.S.B. has a malt-forward nose with a big, bready smell. Some caramel creeps in as well and a swirl of the glass provides a strong banana aroma. A touch of spice and citrus is present as well, rounding out a very complex nose.

TASTE: A rich, sweet, malty caramel hits the palate right off the bat. Spicy and citrusy hops pull the taste buds through the middle of the sip while the finish is a pleasant combination of malt and hops that provides a slightly bitter rye-like bready flavor.

MOUTHFEEL: Creamy with a medium body and light to medium carbonation that allows this beer to go down way too smoothly. Spot on for the style although a little richer than other American versions.

OVERALL: This is a very easy-going, exceptionally well-balanced E.S.B. It is the strongest offering I have tasted from Full Sail so far.

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Photo of HugePlume
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A Deep orange witha golden hue on the edges. Thin white head, dissipates quickly, only a moderate amount of lacing.

S- Let down here, advertised as having aromatic Challenger hops, they don't come through like I was expecting. They're there, but not to my expectation. Malt smells are stronger, and quite good.

T- Very good, intricate malt layers; bready and grainy. Nice sweet malt aftertaste too. Very tasty. Quite sweet for the style and it works great.

M- Nice feel, carbonation is spot-on for the style.

O- Well executed, nice to see an ESB as a special edition.

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Photo of msubulldog25
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A 22 oz. bottle from the brand new "Brewer's Share" release (a program where Full Sail employees brew small batches with the possibility of a wider release if successful). Poured to an Adnams nonic pint.

First of all, an A+ for packaging: LOVE the ornately detailed 'stock certificate' look of the label, the 'spirograph' cap, with the note '1 Brewer's Share' in script underneath. Full Sail nailed it here. Brew conceived by Barney Brennan; his charity, to which a portion of proceeds go to: Columbia Gorge Arts in Education.

A: A gorgeous rusty-coppery hue, mildly hazy without a fleck of sediment. Not much carbonation, a few roughshod bubbles rising with varying urgency. Lovely finger-thick head of sudsy ivory, one that drops to a mottled film and sticks in broad sheets and rings on all sides.

S: Big malty scent: crusty bread with a musty dryness. Oyster crackers, wet hay, pretzel dough. It's a bit on the simple side, but is plenty strong. I, as a grain/malt lover, really enjoyed every deep inhalation.

T: Malted grain is ever-present (loads of caramel and cereal grains) but there's a zippy/zesty bitterness that counterbalances really well. What starts as almost 'too sweet' finishes with a lip-smacking dryness, a 'mineral' twang to boot. It's toasted bread/crust that turns into biscuits/crackers and then to salted pretzels: an interesting transformation that's both refreshing and slightly cloying. Mild fruity hints, too... but tough to determine exactly what they are.

M: Wish this had a bit more sturdiness in the body. Starts a little thin and watery, never builds much. What's nice?? The velvety smoothness (carbonation having the slightest prickle) with a spicy, almost zesty, bittering. Long-drawn finish, dashes of pepper and rye, ending a tad sticky.

O: Very enjoyable, an enlightening glimpse at what an ESB could/should be. Remarkably easy to drink. Above 'sessionable', in standard terms, at 6.5% - but the type of beer you want to keep drinking, regardless. A very solid choice for an introduction to the series, and one I'll certainly be buying/consuming more of in coming weeks.

(PS The other two previous griped mildly about price. $4.19 at our neighborhood Fred Meyer is completely reasonable to me)

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Photo of seedyone
4.07/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

05/14/14 On tap. Now this is what a beer should taste like. It hits all the right spots. Not wanting to ruin the magic w/analytics I'll just say this is a great example of a well rounded & balanced beer.

At 6.5% I'm going to have to exhibit some restraint...not a strong point.

Funny...I find myself thinking this is just short of great, but only because it's so solid in appeal. Nothing sharpish or spiky. Solid is what I'm left with & there's nothing wrong with that.

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Photo of Mitchmoore12
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - 4 – ( color, haziness, lacing, head and color of head, density of head etc)
Pours amber/copper in color, very little off white head. Leaves little vertical lacing.

Smell – 4 - ( Hop smells- citrus, pine, grapefruit, earthy - Malt smell – toffee, caramel, bread, nutty, cinnamon, chocolate, Yeasty spicy, )
Smells of a different kind of bitter, like a malty goodness kind of bitter that I'm not very familiar with.
Taste – 4 – ( Hop flavor, bitterness, sweetness, malt flavor )
Giving very malty flavors up front with some biscuit and toffee. Has a nice bitter kick to it in the end.

Feel- 4 – ( light-heavy body, light-heavy carbonation, smooth, rough )
medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall- 4 – For my first Bitter, it was pretty good.That being said, I am unsure on how to properly evaluate a bitter, please excuse the large deviation. This makes me want to look into trying more bitters in the future.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this one up tonight at Brewforia on the way home from work.... Pretty pricey at $5.50ish, but still "new to me" sounded good.

Pours a fairly clear amber... only okay looking off white head... nice lacing.

Aroma is a good mix of spicy/earthy hops and medium caramel and deep toasted bread.

Nice bitterness balances a near perfect malt profile.... caramel malts and toasted biscuits ... Hops are pretty earthy .... a bit of fruity esters on the finish.

Medium bodied with the expected lighter carbonation.

Very very well done... I am impressed.

All 4's.

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

Pours a light fizzy fluffy almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace with bits of lacing, fairly clear amber honey orange color.

Nose had some toasty malts but light overall, with some earthy slight grassy hops, light juicy sweet malts, with light caramel and toffee.

Taste starts semi sweet with more malts, reddish slight creamy and toasty caramel toffee malt flavors. Hops come earthy and slight grassy with a touch herbal, a decent bitterness, and some mild mint and tobacco coming later on the palate. Finish is slightly drier but not a lot, fairly bitter with earthy grassy hops lingering, a bit more mint, slight caramel creamy malt lingering.

Mouth is med bodied, decent carb.

Overall not bad, better than a lot of other esb beers, decent copper reddish malts, toffee and caramel, and decent earthy hops, fairly drinkable with interesting hop characteristics that get a bit interesting and weird and a bit bitter.

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Photo of larryi86
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A- A nice clear copper with an orange tint and a two finger white head.

S- Nice citrus and tropical hopes, toasted malts, caramel malts.

T- Toasted bready malts, some caramel malts, balanced with citrus and tropical hops.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A very nice and easy drinking beer. Will pick this up again.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of sweet caramel malts, nuttiness, fruity english yeast, and some citrus hops.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet caramel malts with some nuttiness, citrus hops, and bitterness. Through the middle, some fruity english yeast comes through with a bit of floral hops and a bit more bitterness. The finish is a mix of fruity english yeast, caramel malts, nuttiness, and bit of hops.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a fruity and sweet finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice ESB with a bit of extra hops flavor.

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

I've skimmed the previous reviews, and I'm surprised at the amount of people saying "this is sessionable". It's 6.5%! This is not a session beer.

Anyhow, I loved this take on ESB. A bit Brit with a slight American/West Coast twist. All Challenger hops brought out some sweet earthiness, and added to the authenticity. Mild orange and creamy feel/flavors, lovely malt presence. Beautifully balanced, a bit more bite on the hop end than I would expect, but still just so smooth and drinkable. I do wish these were available in 6 packs . . . or on cask??? Heheheh.

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Photo of FairyFunBoy
4/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- Burt orange with a crisp white two finger head. Decent lacing down pint glass.
S- Toffee and carmel grains, finished with a light orange citrus.
T- Sweet malt with orange and raisin notes.
M- Abundant micro bubbles with a lingering mouth coat.

O- A great ESB that is paired nicely with the hops. The sweet toffee and carmel balance the orange citrus bite of the hops.

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

22 ounce bottle - $6.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia. The printed date near the Enjoy By section of the label is, regrettably, illegible.

Appearance: Very lightly hazed, golden-amber body with a finger or so of just off-white foam. A few smudges of lacing here and there.

Smell: Esters interlaced with hop accents smelling of spice, citrus, and dried flowers atop a bready, biscuity, crackery malt base given a flash of toastiness and a hint of light brown sugar.

Taste: Toasted bread slices and biscuit tops with lightly sweet hints of caramel light-colored brown sugar. Then, some moderate esters before the spicy, earthy, lightly hinting of lemon zest hop profile. Medium bitterness. Things dry out rapidly, in plenty of time for the lightly fruity finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Smooth, faintly creamy mouthfeel.

Overall: It's just a nice, balanced, tasty beer. Sometimes, it's a long, wearying road to finish off a bomber, but not the case here, as it was gone before I knew it.

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Photo of SitkaSteve
3.99/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was poured into a pint glass.
The appearance was a golden amber color with a one finger white foamy head that dissipated within about less than a minute. Light lacing wove around the glass adequately.
The smell had some breadiness with a mild earthy to grassy hoppiness sliding into some citrus.
The taste was bready sweet with the earthy and grassy hops becoming a bit mild. The citrus part shows the bitter side and that is pretty good. There's a light grassy to earthy aftertaste and mild finish.
The mouthfeel was about light to medium bodied with a decent sessionability about it. Carbonation runs good with a creamy smooth sweet feel clinging to my tongue.
Overall, for the most part, I'd say Full Sail did a good job with this one. I'd have this again.

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Photo of stckhndlr
3.97/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A cloudy apricot orange beer with a pale white 1 finger head.

S- fruity and malty

T- A fruity malty beer with just a bit of bitters at the finish. Tropical fruits.

M- Good body, full and well rounded.

O- This is a good tasting beer and very enjoyable.

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Full Sail ESB from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
3.72 out of 5 based on 244 ratings.
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