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

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85 Reviews
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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 242
Photo of thebeergeek
2.41/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Wow, Full Sail. What went wrong here? I am a fan of your "amber ale", so, I was expecting something good with your ESB. I've been a homebrewer since 1992, so, I can tell when something has gone wrong in the brewing process, The beer starts out well enough, fairly malty and dry. But, then, uh oh. What is that WEIRD after taste, that lingers and lingers? I can only figure the brew was fermented at too warm a temperature, or something is not right with the yeast strain. I was hoping for an English style (Fullers') or American (Anderson Valley) ESB taste. Not even close. Please reformulate your recipe.

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Photo of arizcards
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a single from Total Wine (received by Total Wine on 7/8/13) in late September for $1.49. Best before 8/16/13...oh well.

Beer poured orange with an off white head that dissipated quickly.

Nose has hints of citrus.

Taste is very well balanced, caramel malts and citrus hops merge nicely. Lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and pretty smooth.

Overall this is a really smackable beer despite it's age. Ages well LOL! The brewers at Full Sail nailed the style on this one. Definitely worthy of a shot and I will look for this next spring!

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.49/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle served in a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

A - Pours a clear copper with a dense off-white head

S - Sweet bread, caramel, very sweet and bready, tangy fruit, apple, nutty yeasty, hints of alcohol, very British aroma.

T - Hops upfront, grassy with a hint of citrus, caramel malt rushes in providing a full balanced sweetness, notes of toffee and toasted grain as well. Some weird artificial notes come up but are very faint. Hints of apple and creamy vanilla come in giving way to a strong tea tannin bitterness. Grassy and herbal hops sing into the finish. The finish pushes heavy tannins that linger on the palate long after.

M - Low carbonation, medium full body, creamy feel with a tannin dry finish

Great stab at the style. Nice homey caramel malts that showed grain notes with some fruit notions. Everything worked except for the hints of artificial flavors that faintly showed up. Very good but not quite what you'd find in the UK. I would pick up a six of this anytime.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle marked 06/24/13-66. Sampled on September 17, 2013.

The pour is a good looking medium amber with reddish hues and a moderate off-white head that becomes a ring.

The aroma has some of the qualities of an ESB that I am used to with caramel toasted malts, fudge, and butter. Hops are downplayed.

The body is medium and creamy.

The taste most definitely begins sweet and malty and ends nice and bitter with a quick lingering finish. At the same time it seems to be missing something that I like about ESB's but I can't pin my finger on it.

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Photo of kennymule
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Red amber with one finger head that dissipates quickly leaving light lacing.

Smell - Slight caramel nose.

Taste - Caramel sweetness right up front leading into some biscuit and finishing with a semi-dry hop dryness. Pretty well balanced.
Mouthfeel - Medium body with a semi-dry finish.

Overall - I'm not an expert on ESB as a style, but I tend to rate beers on how they taste, not if they have held to tradition for the style. FS ESB is a good beer that is easy to drink and definitely can have more than one without feeling bombed, boozed and busted. Buy it, drink it, share it.

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Photo of Spikester
3.41/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I have had a couple of six packs so far and have a few conclusions to pass along. Tasty beer though a bit on the sweet end of the ESB spectrum. Hops are a bit less prominent than I would have expected. Since Deschutes and Bridgeport have quit bottling ESB's this will have to suffice for now. Always on the lookout for this style of beer.

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Photo of BobN
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - poured into a pint glass. Honey colored, pillowy cream-colored head with very good retention throughout tasting.

S - starts with a nice biscuity profile, sweet caramel and toffee, and maybe a floral hint

T - malty, sweet caramel which is balanced with a nice clean hoppiness that trails to nice lingering bitterness

M - light to medium carbonation

O - Very nice ESB, Would definitely enjoy this again.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.74/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoy by date of 08/16/13

Appearance - Pours a clear, bright red amber with a light tan finger width head. Fair retention, resulting in a thin layer of suds across the surface. Lacing is small, spotty and with fair stick.

Smell - Toasted malt, hints of caramel. Very light floral and grass notes.

Taste - Follows the nose; toasted bread or biscuit upfront and throughout. Light caramel notes. The hops hit on the back-end with grass and light floral character.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium body with moderate carbonation. Smooth. Semi-dry finish.

Overall - A commendable ESB from Full Sail. Nothing special, but its full flavor and ease of drink makes this a beer I wouldn't mind having again. The kind of beer you'd drink and watch baseball with, or maybe that's just me.

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Photo of brewcifix
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- ESB pours my absolute favorite golden amber color with a cream colored frothy head that dissipates to a thin film that remains for the session.

S- Caramel, toffee, sugar candy, and sweet malts delight the nose! This stuff smells just as beautiful as it looks!

T- The "bitter" is comprised of a roasted malt front that comes in strong, followed by caramel, sugar, and a note of honey that mellow the flavor nicely. Mild hops sweep in on the finish, balancing this brew perfectly. Roasted malts linger long on the palate. This is a proper Bitter that rightfully claims to be "Extra Special".

M- Light to medium weight and hardy carbonation make this beer lively and refreshing. This beer can be enjoyed in Spring, Summer, and Fall. It has characteristics that would compliment all three seasons.

Overall, this is easily one of my favorite Bitter styles. It's robust roasted malts and lack of over-the-top sweetness make it manly as hell. This concoction reminds me of unfinished wood, tough leather, and black iron. WARNING: This beer may accelerate mustache and/or beard growth.

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

Appearance: Caramel colored with a decent head.

Smell: Toffee, caramel, toasted malts, with hints of citrus and pine.

Taste: Sweet malts, pine, and citrus.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, syrupy. A bit of hop bitterness in the aftertaste.

The Verdict: Not bad. Taken on it's own merits as a fairly balanced brew it's just fine, but compared to a quality ESB it falls short.

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Photo of XCOR
3.36/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was a little sweeter and a little less bitter than I expected, especially with the title "Extra Special Bitter." Was that supposed to be "extra bitter" beer that was special, or "extra special" beer that happened to be bitter?

Either way, it was pleasant.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.79/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

"Available for 90 days only." Doesn't trouble me, as given the style and brewery I'm expecting it to be subpar. Orange label and standard branded pressure cap. FS Pub Series. 6.5% ABV confirmed. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle acquired at Trader Joe's Culver City and served into a Uinta pilsner glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are low.

Served cold, straight from the fridge. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger head of beige colour. Slight cream, nice thickness, nice (~2-3 minute) retention. No bubble show Light even thin lacing as the head slowly recedes.

Body colour is a clear textbook copper. Translucent. Fair vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Overall, it's rather average.

Sm: Badly executed toffee and candy floss. Heavy diacetyl. Sweet malts. Minimal floral hop character. Some cream. Extremely light toasted character. Bubblegum. The general character of the beer is a turn-off. Not looking forward to trying this. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. Mild in strength.

T: Toffee, candy floss, and bubblegum right off the bat. Malt body is mainly caramalts and pale malts. Balance is okay. No complexity or subtlety. Not very flavorful. No yeast character or alcohol comes through. I'm not a big fan. Nice cream. Quite underwhelming. Too sweet.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and of decent carbonation. Unrefreshing. Okay thickness. Okay presence on the palate. Suits the flavour profile in a generally okay sense. Not oily.

Dr: Drinkable but largely unimpressive. I wouldn't bother with it again. Another disappointment from Full Sail. Hides ABV decently. Wouldn't recommend it to friends. Underwhelming. I definitely wouldn't buy this again, even at its relatively low price point.


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Photo of tempest
3.84/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Label says, "Enjoy by 7/20/13," and "available for 90 days." That's a shame (about the availability). Mmm. Big malty aroma that's rich enough to remind me of a maibock. There's a mix of sweet toasted bread with mild cherry and a touch of strawberry. Then a mild lemon spice hop character kicks up as the beer finishes to give a lovely balance to the fruit and barley. Very nice beer overall. Fruitier than other ESBs I've enjoyed, but well balanced, if a touch thick. I'd love to try it from a cask.

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Photo of BeerAficionadoMCMXC
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance- The head is light and doesn't retain for more than a minute, The carbonation seems light. The color is a dark red to amber.
Smell- I can get strong malty notes out of this A rich candy-like malt is what I get followed by a hoppy, resinous or piney, aroma. I also might get some toffee notes, but that could e a result of the malty tones as well.
Taste- Finally! IT's got a good balance for the style. The malt is downplayed by the hoppy finish which takes over the flavor. It tastes like a hoppy beer with a medium long finish but it balances nicely on the palate.
Mouthfeel- Medium light body. It's nice for the style.

Overall- I'd say a solid 7/10. For the most part, I feel Full Sail offers a good quality for a good price. THis beer is just that. It follows the style, is a good beer, but I prefer to drink ESBs in either early Spring or Autumn. I think for the rest of the public, this beer's idea to offer for the summer months may not be as profitable as possible.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Best by 8/16/13.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of toasted malt, grain, and nutty aromas. Taste is much the same with malt and hop flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness that lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but I think it smells slightly better than it tastes.

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

12oz brown bottle with a freshness date.

Deep amber hue, good lacing that leaves some stickage on the glass. Malty aroma, faint ripe fruit and caramel ... earthy hops in there as well. Smooth, medium bodied. Leafy, earthy herbal hop flavor, balanced bitterness. Grassy with mildly toasted bread maltiness. Hint of sweetness, dried apricots and mild alcohol. Finishes semi-dry.

Pretty big for and ESB, but coming from and American brewer it is nothing new. Balance is this beers most noticeable trait and it works from start to end.

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Photo of jimmah120
3.83/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into hourglass glass

look is a medium caramel color, small sudsy head. smell is sweet and savory with herbal piney hops. taste follows, semi sweet enjoyable amber style malts/grain, with a good amount of very bitter herbal hops. feel is light and syrupy.

solid beer, but nothing to write home about

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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 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 Mora2000
3.01/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The beer pours an orange-amber color with a white head. The aroma is full of biscuit malt, with a hint of pine and earth from the hops. The flavor is very similar. There is a good dose of sweet biscuit malt, as well as some toffee, earth, grass and a hint of pine. Low bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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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 corby112
3.31/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very hazy, dark golden amber color with burnt orange edges and a half finger off-white head that quickly settles into a lasting ring.  Sporadic spots of lace left behind.

Sweet, slightly earthy aroma with a strong malt character and a subtle crisp hop presence. Hints of bread/biscuit as well as some caramel and toffee countered by slightly grassy hops.  As it warns, a subtle fruit character comes forward.   Not bad smelling but kind of bland.

Medium bodied and much more flavorful and interesting that the aroma suggests.  Surprisingly hop forward providing a nice dry bitterness that counters the strong malt sweetness. Resinous with a grassy/piny flavor along with a slight citrus character.  This is countered mid-palate by sweet malt with hints of caramel and toffee.  As in the nose, the fruit notes become more apparent in the finish as it warms.  Decently balanced and easy to drink with a slightly dry finish.  

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Photo of Wasatch
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz. Bomber
Best By: 05/13/12

Pours a very nice hazy dark golden amberish color, nice carbonation, with a little fizzy off-white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is mostly malty, with a hint of hops, with a nice touch of caramel. The taste is slightly sweet, malty, a touch of hops, bready. Medium body, with a nice dry/bitter finish. Overall a nice brew for a HOT day.

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Photo of ElCommodoro
3.58/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Colour was a beautiful amber to copper colour with a smell of malt and balance. There was no head, but that's OK with me.
The taste was not quite what I wanted. It's more bitter than I'd like for an ESB. I prefer more balance. The variety of hops is not one I'm particularly fond of either. However, given some breathing time, I got a bit more malt flavour out of it. It went well with pork. So, it wasn't at all a bad experience. I just wasn't particularly impressed with it either. It's just got that typical American craft hoppiness to it that annoys me.

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Full Sail ESB from Full Sail Brewery & Tasting Room & Pub
3.72 out of 5 based on 242 ratings.
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