Schlafly Winter ESB | The Schlafly Tap Room

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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

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Reviews: 157 | Ratings: 327
Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at the brewpub in St Louis, reviews from notes.

A: single finger head with nice lacing on a slightly hazy copper body.

S: caramel malts, hint of brown sugar 

T: malty for what I have experienced for the style with caramel, light earthy hops, hint of citrus sweetness.

M: medium body and light to moderate carbonation. Semi dry finish.

Overall: malt forward for the style by my tastes and definitely full flavored whereas many of these are watery.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.82/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Good beer. Better than most American attemps at this English classic style. The beer begins with moderate, yet pronounced bready, malty-sweet, lightly syrup aromas and flavors. Soon followed up with a light nutty character; soon giving way to solid, but not over-bearing piney hops. Hops offset the malts well, while contributing a defined bitterness that cleanses the palate and contributes a light dryness. Though moderate flavors, the body seems to fall apart a little too quickly, leaving a sticky feel and a 'cola-like' finish. Though a bit less than clean in the end, its certainly a beer worth trying.

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Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Arrives with a clear copper color and a modest head that leaves some lace behind

Smell: Wafts of caramel and a hint of grain

Taste: The caramel flavor dominates the profile from start to finish, with just a mild herbal bitterness that arrives by mid-palate to offset the sweetness

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: More of a Winter Warmer than an ESB; I might have rated it higher as a Winter Warmer but I was really looking for the bitter balance of an ESB that just wasn't there

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Photo of emerge077
3.97/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a small tumbler this ESB pours a high-clarity orange with some spotty lace. There's a good skim across the surface, but it doesn't stick around forever. Warm and nutty malts in the aroma, some light citrusy hops also. Flavor follows suit with more balanced toasty malts and light citrus and bitterness from the hops. It dries out quickly, prompting more sips.

This was nice and fairly straightforward. Would buy again.

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Photo of zeff80
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a burgandy/amber color with a two-finger, white head. No lace.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and some grassiness.

T - It tasted slightly bitter with a hop kick. A nice compliment of burnt toast maltiness and some caramel sweetness.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - An average ESB. It makes a nice session brew.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Pi in DC. Served in a nonic pint glass.

Pours a moderate caramel-copper color with a good white head and some nice lacing on the way down. The nose carries a nice bit of floral and earthy hops with some light breadiness behind that. Flavor was nice and hoppy and had a good backbone, though the latter wasn't too heavy. Light-medium body with a semi-dry finish. Quite good.

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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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.76/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy, orangey body with a thin, white head.

Smell: Relatively mild aroma smelling of spice, dehydrated lemon peels, and a dry malt character.

Taste: Biscuity malts with a zing of caramel sweetness tacked on. Flavors of tangy citrus zest and spicy rye with a medium hop bitterness. Bittersweet finish, though definitely more bitter than sweet. Lingering hint of lemon in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation with a slight fizziness to it.

Drinkability: A enjoyable, refreshing Winter ESB for the middle of summer.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Faintly foggy tangerine with butter rum edges. The three finger manilla cap looks as creamy as the pour sounded. The foam is nicely sculpted as it melts and is beginning to leave a thick blanket of lace on the glass. This is a good looking beer.

The nose is more muted IPA than ESB. There's quite a bit of style blurring between APAs, IPAs and ESBs. When there's this much citric hoppiness, though, I tend to think of the first two more than the third. Orange and grapefruit peel share the stage with a whiff of cheesy funk.

I expected more flavor and more bitterness (note: bitterness increases nicely with warming, while hop flavor doesn't keep up).There's a sugar cookie-like, pale malt sweetness present, along with a small amount of caramel malt (unless I miss my guess). Unfortunately, the hops aren't able to rise above their support and contribute in any meaningful way. I was excited when I learned that rye flakes are in use... and disappointed when I found out that their contribution is minimal at best.

The finish is probably the best part of the flavor arc. At that point, the malt has faded away and the fruity hops and spicy rye shine with a little more brightness. The jury is still out on whether or not it's enough to bump the flavor score. And the verdict is... not. This isn't bad beer, it just fails to excite my taste buds.

The sound test rarely lets me down. The mouthfeel is everything I'd hoped for after listening to beer entering glass. It's rich and creamy for the style and allows what flavor is present to linger. The fact that it's also expertly carbonated helps.

I'm not sure what makes Winter ESB a 'winter' ESB, other than the fact that it was brewed in late October and was released in time for the season. I was waiting for a hoptastic, rye-filled experience that never really materialized. Adding twice as many hops and twice as much rye would be a great place to start and would turn this beer into something to be reckoned with. Thanks jpm30.

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Photo of russpowell
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review based on notes

Pours an effervescent amber with 3 fingers of tan head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Apricot & not much else

T: Slight fruittyness, chalky dryness & leafy hops up front. Orange peel & leafy hops as this warms. Finishes dry, a bit of sulphur, apricot & a touch of honey

MF: Medium bodied with slight carbonation. Good balance

Drinks easy enough, nice intro to the style

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

amber in color with a smooth, even, head of white on top that faded off after a couple of moments. Light lacing was left by the side. Aroma is bready, hints of caramel and grassy notes and warming brought out tons of grains. Light, crisp and clean taste, light grassy hops and a smooth even caramel malt base made up the bulk of the profile. Light body, nice carbonation and a smooth even and clean finish

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Photo of Slatetank
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at Liquor Barn. Decanted from the 12oz brown bottle into my tankard at cellar temp.
A - A gently hazed light amber w/ a reddish orange glow and an ecru head w/ smooth appearance that has nice volume after a vigorous pour. The lace clings well and the hazy appears to be hop resins not chill haze.

S - Earthy english yeast and slightly pine scented hops w/ a nice malt scent and very fragrant fruity esters.

M - The first taste is spicy w/ mild carbonation that is ample w/ mild sweet and fruity notes.

T - Both rich and tangy w/ mild citrus and gentle malt, resinous hops whcih have dry twiggy characteristics. The flavor is both citrus and stone fruit w/ subtle toasted caramel tinged malt. The peppery hop nature becomes more pronounced when warm yet the fruit taste stays strong w/ pine lingering until the last sips.

D - very alluring ale, nice nod to the English flavor. I could enjoy one after another

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Photo of smakawhat
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass.

A wonderfully forming off white head three fingers and very clumpy. Solid almost sytrofoam cap, sitting on a slightly hazy body of a real nice copper orange amber.

Nose is a great aromatic of hop, fruity marmalade and a nice solid malt backbone. This smells delicious!

What a creamy mouthfeel and texture. Palate is all over the map in many places though. Malty backbone, finishing with a little bit of banana. Mid palate hits with a fruity marmalade quality with a hint of stinging carbonation. Pretty balanced in tastes, but also... being all over sort of not melding that great together.

Overall I actually really like this, but it's sort of not what I expect in this style. It's an excellent beer no question and I'll have it again someday.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.9/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Clear and bronze, creamy off-white head.

Nice aromatics, fragrant hops, perfumey, delicate, and deightful.

Crisp, malty, juicy, ending dryly. Bready malt, toasty, tasty.
Mild fruitiness in flavor, apples and berries.

Medium bodied, light finish. Goes down easy-peasy.

Absolutely drinkable, a prince of a sessioner. I could go through a lot of these, but, I only have the one.
Thanks, Will!

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Photo of Tone
3.71/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber color. 3/4 inch head of a white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of sweet malt, grass, slight fruit, and a hint of spice. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Bitter. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp with a low carbonation level. Bitterness in noticeable. Tastes of sweet malt up front, then strong grass flavors, then there are nice floral hops with a slight fruit finish. Overall, well balanced beer that was easy to drink and full on the palate.

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Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at a local beer bar, served in a tiny snifter. Beer is amber, clear with a big off white head of small and medium bubbles, decent retention, some lacing moderate carbonation, looks good.

Aroma is sweet, mildly hoppy, mostly malt.

Beer is light to medium in body, mildly sweet, a little spice perhaps, mild hops, not bitter at all, an interesting little beer, I may have it again but I won't go far for it.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)
Brewed on Dec. 14th 2006
A- This beer has a warm golden orange body that is clear showing of a strong carbonation of big bubbles. There is a thick film of yellowish-white head that last and last through the beer.

S- This smell of smooth pint hops dominates the smell with notes of lightly toasted malt buried in the background.

T- This beer has a nice flavor of dry lightly toasted malt with a slightly tart pine hop flavor in the finish. There are notes of dark toasted malt that comes through as the beer warms.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a slightly creamy texture for a bit.

D- This beer has some nice malt flavors but not much depth. This is a nice ESP that is very drinkable and there is no palate fatigue even after a few pints.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. The beer pours an amber/orange color with an inch off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both good. It smells like citrusy hops, toasted malt, honey and grain/bread. Taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of pine and butterscotch. Mouthfeel/body is medium, slightly creamy with medium carbonation. Drinkability is good, the beer is nice and smooth and easy to drink. It has a good mixture of bitter and sweet, and decent balance too. Overall I think this is a good all-around beer. I'd buy Schlafly products more often, too bad they don't distribute to Ohio yet.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.1/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pale bronze. Thin and airy dirty white head. Retention is good as is the lacing left behind. Crisp hop aroma. Floral and distinct. Toffeish malt notes give the nose some depth. This beer does have a good amount of body for an ESB. Medium-full or so. Lightly carbonated and no signs of alcohol in the mouthfeel. The flavor lends itself to a session beer. Quite nice. The base malts are sturdy enough. Toffeeish and caramely. Hops add a very noticeable bitterness. One that is even noticeable long after the sip. Hop flavors are mellow. The beer has enough flavor that'd grab a few more if I had the chance.

Thanks for the ESB MarkJR.

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Photo of markgugs
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a hazy golden copper, with a very nice one-finger white foamy head. Some very nice lacing too.

S: Though subtle, some striking citrusy hops and toasted malt scents get through, quite an enticing scent.

T: Now we're talking! Nothing extreme, just a quality, tasty beer. Some very juicy citrus & grapefruit hops produce an excellent amount of bitterness, balanced quite well with a spicy sweetness.

M: Nice medium-body, crisp and refreshing in the mouth, yet still creamy enough to provide some ample chewiness.

D: The bitter roastiness of this beer might prevent it from being an all-day drinker, but I could easily put back a few of these. Quite a nice beer.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.08/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A mix of copper and light brown flow out the bottle. A good amount, 1.5 finger head. Smells like a lot of malt heavy midwest beers.

Taste isn't as sweet as most esb's I've had, tastes a little more earthy substantial instead of the sweet I've come to notice in my fave esb's.

Mouthfeel, begins to take on tobacco notes with the dark, almost doppelbock light feel to it. Remains drinkable, doesn't overwhelm the palate with a negative heavy effect.

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Photo of champ103
3.62/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear orange/golden color. A one finger white head forms, and recedes in a minute. Light lace is left behind.
S: Citrus and lemon hops. A bit of bitterness as well. Some sweet malt aromas as well. There is some spicy aromas lingering.
T: Follows the nose. Lots of hops up front. Mostly citrus, lemon, and grassy hops. Sweet caramel malt. Some cinnamon and vanilla to let you know this is a Christmas beer.
M/D: A medium to full body that is well carbonated. Creamy and smooth. Easy to drink. I can quaff several with ease.

An enjoyable winter ale. I don't really see how this is an ESB, but it is still good. This reminds me of New Belgium 2° Below with the cinnamon and vanilla. Which is a good thing, but not really to style. Still I really enjoy it, and something I would recommend.

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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.

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Schlafly Winter ESB from The Schlafly Tap Room
3.8 out of 5 based on 327 ratings.
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