Schlafly Winter ESB | The Schlafly Tap Room

very good
157 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Schlafly Winter ESBSchlafly Winter ESB

Brewed by:
The Schlafly Tap Room
Missouri, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our Winter ESB (Extra Special Bitter) may have the word “bitter” in its name, but the key to this style is balance. The combination of malts and hops creates a toasty, fruity flavor. Our ESB is dry hopped with a US grown hop varietal called Williamette, which has a pronounced spicy, lemon flavor.

In the early 1970’s, brewers in London and the south of England expanded the range of beers available in pubs, reacting to the wave of European lagers moving into the British pub scene. In addition to the ordinary bitters and pale ales, brewers developed recipes for stronger premium ales like ESB, special bitter and special pale ale. These beers contributed to the English traditional ale revival of the 1980’s, making their way into the beer portfolios of many American craft breweries.

30 IBU

Added by maxpower on 01-09-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 157 | Ratings: 327
Photo of rodbeermunch
3.1/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Those auburn color feels, amber, copper, light brown. A head forms around 1.25". Plenty of brown and caramel malt notes, underpinned by an earthy hop.

Taste holds back on the caramel sweetness, comes across more bland toffee, again, earthy hop presence. Makes you think of tobacco road a little bit. Mouthfeel isn't heavy or syrupy. Its an interesting maltier take on the esb style.

 388 characters

Photo of cyclonece09
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass from a bottle. Pours cloudy orange yellow with a fluffy white head. Smells of citrus and piney hops, with nice notes of sweet barley. Tastes of sweet grain with a little bit of citrus and very slight earthiness. Beer is light bodied, nicely carbonated, sessionable. Overall, a very good beer.

 320 characters

Photo of JLaw55
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

As the description states, bitter is not the case with this one. This is a very balanced, malty brew with a hint of bitterness. The balance is amazing here though, with hints of nuts and roasted malt playing off the tongue.

Would Drink Again: Yes
Would Purchase Again: Yes

 273 characters

Photo of onansalad
1.42/5  rDev -62.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

I was surprised by this beer considering the great balance and flavor of Schlafly's Kolsch style ale (one of the best American Kolsch-styles I've tasted). I've come to expect at least a touch of diacetyl in an ESB (and a bit more than a touch is acceptable in the style), but there is none here. What IS in this brew is a huge mouthful of hops - way more hops than belong in any low gravity english style ale. This is not an ESB; it's an an american "IPA" posturing with a fake accent. If you tried to drink this beer at cellar temps, the hops would saturate your palate so you couldn't taste any malt at all. That's not to say others won't like it. If your idea of craft beer is yet another IPA, you'll probably like this, too. Considering the shelves in my area are overflowing with IPA's, my opinion of this beer is almost definitely in the minority.

 862 characters

Photo of dtreindl
4.81/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was a very pleasant surprise! The flavor is different than anything I've tasted before. Best way I can describe this excellent ESB is: crisp with light fruit aromas and floral apricot finish.

 196 characters

Photo of myelo
3.26/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into pint glass on Jan 19, 2015 from a bottle with a bottling date of "11/04/2014". Thank you Schlafly for providing a clear bottling date -- why can't all brewers do this? I don't need to decipher some secret code to try and figure out how old my beer is.

Look: Hazy light amber with some sediment and tiny bubbles. 1 inch white head that dissipates leaving prominent lacing. A bit lighter in color than a typical ESB.

Smell: Fruity hops with a hint of lemon, lightly toasted malt

Taste: Sweet, lightly roasted malt, mild to medium bitterness, earthy hops

Mouthfeel: smooth, medium low carbonation, minimal ethanol warmth

Overall: slightly lighter, more fruity than most ESBs with a lighter roasted malt flavor. Very drinkable and nice, but not really a typical ESB.

 780 characters

Photo of everythingiszen
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 12/10/14, poured into american pint. Light toasted malt aroma, that just smells amazing. Medium bodied, lighter but not too light carbonation. Tastes like toasted malt and caramel, but leads with a semi-dry orange malt note. The orange note intensified with the beer coming to room temperature.

I could see that if you were die-hard conservative when it came to style interpretation, this wouldn't be the ESB for you. But I'm always interested in different takes, and this is a pretty good one.

5.8% abv.

 519 characters

Photo of Bierwolf
3.34/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured quite a bit cloudy with a lot of suspended yeast and such. Slightly off white foam that laced nicely. The cloudiness was a bit much for the style.

The aroma was more sweet and fruity than anything else. Not much in the hop area and a light malt aroma was evident.

Tastes more sweet than bitter, mildly hoppy, fruity with a dry finish.

Medium light body, slick and smooth

This is apparently an Americanized version of this style. I will say this is the only brew of this style that I have had but I would bet a weeks pay that I would find a better one pretty easily.

 589 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
3.89/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a alight white foamy head that dissipates very quickly. The beer itself is a clear orange brown. The color is unusual because ESB's tend to be a bit browner because of the malt focus.

The beer is hoppy with a very nice caramel malt note to balance it out. The hop note is more lemon than citrus and orange. The hop isn't too bitter and is actually a little bit sweet. The malt does a very good job working with the hops and creates a sweet yet slightly bitter beer smell.

The beer taste is very similar to the smell. The beer has a more hoppier and lemon taste than a bitter usually has, which overwhelms the malts. The malts still give a sweet taste but can barely be found in this beer.

The beer is extremely smooth and refreshing to drink. A light medium body and some biting carbonation give the beer a bit of texture.

Overall, a pretty decent ESB and great for the price. I really do recommend getting his beer at least once just to contrast with the Fuller's ESB.

 988 characters

Photo of Eagleyes
2.88/5  rDev -24.2%

I remember this beer being a lot more bitter last year and having a much better overall flavor. I'm not sure if they changed up the recipe or what but it was definitely better last year. Not much flavor, disappointed.

 219 characters

Photo of mrfrancis
4.02/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy amber with a thick off-white head that recedes slowly.

S: Aromas of lemon jelly, orange marmalade, crackers, biscuits, leather, tobacco, cedar, and caramel fill the nose.

T: Robust notes of caramel, biscuit, crackers, leather, tobacco, tea, black pepper, lemon jelly, lime zest, orange marmalade, and cedar fill the mouth. The finish is spicy and fruity with pronounced flavors of cedar, leather, black pepper, orange marmalade, and lemon jelly.

M: On the lighter side of medium in terms of body and somewhat sticky. Carbonation is active and crisp.

O: An interesting ESB. The mixture of American and British hops in this ale is pretty unique. I especially appreciate what Pilgrim brings to the table. This is very much worth a try for those who enjoy British-style ales and/or unique hop varietals.

 819 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.69/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle filled 11-15-2013.

Pours lightly hazed, medium amber with a fine, durable creamy beige head.

Aroma of baked bread, light spices and fruity hops.

Flavor: conservatively spiced, the fruity citrus character seems to be the more unusual feature in this ESB.

Feel: smooth with medium but very soft (natural?) carbonation.

O: This winter ESB Schlafly Winter ESB is lighter than your average Winter Warmer, providing another good choice for the holidays. If found it to be enjoyable on a hot Spring day as well.

 526 characters

Photo of rangerred
3.07/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy dark orange with quite a bit of sediment from the bottle making it into the glass. The saving grace is the thick, rocky head. Excellent retention and lacing.

Aroma is extremely fruity. Lots of orange with some grape and cherry as well. Maybe just a touch of biscuit but it is faint behind the fruit.

The taste has even more fruit. I know pretty much every Schlafly beer has this fruit note from what I assume to be the yeast but this is just a little overdone. Heavy dose of orange and cherry along the same lines as what is in the aroma. Lots of malt in the way of caramel and biscuit but it lends a bit too much sweetness. Mouthfeel is quite sweet and sticky.

Overall, this one just doesn't do it for me. Too much fruit and overly sticky make this a bit of a mess. Drinkability is very limited and it just doesn't seem that well put together. I'll pass next time.

 913 characters

Photo of Franziskaner
3.69/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Light brown hued with a good half inch head of khaki colored foam. Brussels lacing. I get a bit of biscuity malt and faint pine like hops in the nose. I get some dark malt on the front of the palate and it is quickly followed by sharp bittering hops. I get a bit of a dry chalky mouth. I get more hops and a copper penny like malt fade.

 336 characters

Photo of rlee1390
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-Cloudy yellow orange in the glass, one finger head that doesn't last that long

S-Starts with a very toasty/bread mix with some caramel. Lots of oranges and other citrus present as well.

T-Stats malty with bread and caramel. Then orange, citrus and green apples. Moderate bitterness. Rather sweet.

M-Medium in body, some carbonation.

O-The level of fruity flavor really caught me off guard. Was expecting a maltier beer but the fruit flavors were rather nice.

 464 characters

Photo of Henrich
3.44/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Woefully disappointing foam with no head retention. Color is slightly opaque copper. It appears quite carbonated, despite the poor foam characteristics.
Smell: Very fruity/citrusy and hoppy. The hops dominate everything. Great smell.
Taste: Basically the same as the smell. A mouth full of hops. Seriously, hardly any discerning flavor outside of the hops. Strong citrus with bitter and toasted grain (maybe) undertones. Quite enjoyable; this definitely showcases the hop variety.
Mouth-Feel: Fizzy and slightly thick compared to how it looks, but not lingering.
Overall: I don't think I'd buy this personally, but then again, I'm not really into highly-hopped beers. This one was very drinkable, just not really my cup of tea.

 741 characters

Photo of spinrsx
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle received in trade with cfrancis - thanks!

Appearance - Copper colour with an average size fizzy off white coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some faint lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for around 2-3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel, hops

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel and malts mixed with light hops. There is also some toffee and a light nuttiness.

Overall - Pretty decent and quite drinkable. Seems to the fit the style well.

 569 characters

Photo of delta490
3.54/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- a great deal of sediment mars an otherwise nice medium amber with a great big creamy white head. Nice retention and lacing.

S- some nice biscuit notes and hints of golden raisin

T- A little underwhelming. The flavors match the aroma but are dialed down and subdued

M- Very thin for the style

O- not a terrible beer, in and of itself, but lacking in the malt richness of a traditional ESB.

 395 characters

Photo of BerkM
1.21/5  rDev -68.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I love ESBs and most “winter beers” in general. This sounds and looks great. I was really looking forward to trying this. I’m from Missouri and I like to support the locals. BUT…. This is Awful, syrupy sweet and undrinkable for me. It seems purposely aggressively flavored to cover up any redeeming qualities. It reminds me of their Christmas Ale. They are both way too flavored and they both taste like how a cheap Christmas candle smells.

 448 characters

Photo of taylor714914
3.1/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

I’m a schalfly fan boy, but  have to say, this was disappointing.  A rich translucent brown with a thin cap, this beers smells sweet and bready.  The flavor is somewhat off….there is almost a buttery characteristic to this beer midpalate that I can’t seem to shake.  Sweeness starts, but the buttery note cuts right through.  Finish is caramel with a touch of hop bitterness, but the butteriness just lingers forever.  Can’t say I’d pick this up again. 

 470 characters

Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

The beer is a caramel-copper color. A cream colored head leaves nice soapy lacing.

The aroma is slightly hoppy, but spices, fruit, and sweet caramel come through making a lovely bouquet.

The taste starts out with sweet caramel then shifts into cinnamon spices before ending with tart fruits. So well balanced.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied, refreshing.

Overall, I just love this beer. Lots of variety in the palate, and not overloaded. Still a good ESB regardless of the month. Maybe my favorite Schlafly offering ever.

 558 characters

Photo of StaveHooks
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle served in a Dogfish Head IPA glass

A - Pours a hazy amber, with 1 finger of yellow tinted meringue head. Very nice retention with below average lacing.

S - Bready, pureed peaches, caramel, honey sweet malt, hints of light lemon citrus.

T - Bready malts, light caramel, the peach fruit carries over from the aroma and melds very well with the soft bready malts. There's notions of crisp lemon in there lightly cutting through the bready malt. Hops provide a tannin-like bitterness. Finishes bright and semi-dry.

M - Nice doughy texture, heavy side of medium, super soft carbonation, very nice texture.

This is an all around well crafted beer. It has a rich doughy character with a bright fruity side as well. I would enjoy this anytime of the year.

 764 characters

Photo of BryanCarey
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pouring to an orange/tan color, this brightly colored winter ESB features a nose of hops, caramel malts, and light fruit. There is a moderate amount of foam that tends to clump a little. The body of the beer is cloudy and the foam is slight, leaving little or no lacing as you drink.

This ESB offers the flavors of caramel malt, biscuits, bread, light grapefruit, and lemon. Hops add a good degree of balance to this beer and it remains sweet more than anything. The body is medium to light and the beer is easy- drinking.

This beer is labeled at an extra special bitter, but it is actually quite well balanced for the style. It also is not what I would expect in any beer that claims to be a winter seasonal. The taste is not spicy like other winter brews and it is actually more indicative of an everyday session type of beer. So, this is one of those beers that demands you leave your preconceived notions behind. It isn’t what you think it will be, but the results are still satisfying.

 994 characters

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Poured 12 oz bottle into pint glass. Cloudy copper color with a 1 finger head that dissipates relatively quickly. Not a real thick head. Moderate lacing. Bottled on 1-30-13

S- A fruity aromatic splash hits me first. Maybe pineapple or peaches. Smells like i just opened one of those cans of mixed fruit that you take to lunch when you are in grade school. The malty base also comes through. Slightly toasty notes, but not as much as was billed on the label.

T- Once again, fruit flavor up front. Pineapple, tangerine, lemon. Still not detecting a ton of toasty bread flavors, but it does have a decent malt backbone. Some spice flavors let you know that it is a rye malt Moderate bitterness that lingers in the finish. Earthy hop flavors. Not overly dry. Balanced it is, complex it is not

M- Good drink ability. Average carbonation. Mid bodied. Smooth.

O- A nice brew. The aroma was probably the highlight for me. It was a smooth beer that was easy to drink. Would be nice to put a few glasses of these back while hanging with good company at a pub. It gets the job done for sure. Nothing i would insist other must try, but i wouldn't mind drinking again.

 1,162 characters

Photo of scratch69
3.79/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I poured a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance- Cloudy, golden-orange color with a half a fingers worth of head. Light amount of runny lacing.

Smell- Caramel malt and some floral hops.

Taste- Lightly sweet, malt flavor with some earthy hop bitterness and a hint of citrus.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied with an average amount of carbonation. Smooth and crisp with a slightly dry finish.

Overall- This is a tasty beer. It's not not what I expected from this style, but it is still a good brew.

 493 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
3.8 out of 5 based on 327 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.