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English ESB | Bear Republic Brewing Co.

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Very Good
21 Ratings

Brewed by:
Bear Republic Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by barleypop on 11-04-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 21 |  Reviews: 20
Reviews by JTahoe:
Photo of JTahoe
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Brewpub.

A - Deep copper color with thin off-white head with decent lacing.

S - Malty with a hint of caramel and nuttiness.

T: Malty and sweetish with toasted bread and biscuit flavors. The mild English hops come through, but without much bitterness.

M: Creamly but fairly light with very little carbonation (as it should be).

D: Not a lot of complexity, but a nice drink to be sure. Definately sessionable.

 428 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of RoyalT
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance – This ESB was a good, light orange in color and very clear. The head was modest as is customary of the style.

Smell – There was a bitter vegetable aroma that threw my olfactory bulb for a loop. I also found a little grain in there, but the rotten green pepper and zucchini left me cold.

Taste – There was some leafy-type of hops in here but the grain really stood out. It was rough and felt out of place.

Mouthfeel – You have to look hard to find the bitterness of this light to medium-bodied ESB. There’s also some powerful carbonation to boot.

Drinkability – This wasn’t all that bad, but it certainly didn’t bring to mind an English Extra Special/Strong Bitter.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.43/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A pretty golden orange with a nice white head that lasts forever.

Sweet pale malt aroma with just a hint of pine hops.

Flavor is purely crisp, dry & clean. Hint of sweet pale malts then a hint of citrus hops...nothing overpowering...everything balanced, yet nothing blending together to become bland. Each element holding it's own and complimenting the other. An ESB as the English envisioned it. Well done.

I sincerely wish this was bottled. I would love to be able to session this perfect brew during the summer. Wonderful.

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.63/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

poured on tap at the stable. color was light brown with a nice fluffy head that retained fairly well. decent lacing.

scents were very floral with light malty notes

taste was quite balanced. nice bitterness. nice malty flavor with slight biscuit notes. very floral hop flavor balance to bring it all together.

nice and light mouthfeel with light carbonation.

this is beyond drinkable. with a low ABV and wonderful flavors, this is an excellent session beer. i wish this was bottled.

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Photo of Boilermaker88
4.42/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I ordered a double-pour of this Bear Republic offering while at the Carlsbad Pizza Port Real Ale Fest last weekend. This English-styled ESB had a slightly clouded light orange color and a fairly large white head that left nice lace behind. Surprising the amount of carbonation, given the cask-conditioning...
The nose was predominantly malt, reminiscent of a hot, dry hayfield, with some lighter floral hops notes. Slightly fruity. The taste was really nice; a robust crackery malt flavor dominated throughout with hints of orchard fruits and a mild hops bitterness for a slight spiciness in the finish. The feel was medium-bodied, smooth and creamy.
This was one of my favorite brews at the Real Ale Fest. Really quaffable. This ESB seemed to be all about the malt aspect of a beer, something I found surprising from Bear Republic. I'd really like to see them bottle this offering.

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

Long day today. Nice long session at Barleys followed by a big tasting back at the house,. What more
could anyone ask for? Consumed on 07/05/2010.

Now this was a really good offering. I decided to have this with dinner as the profile should fit in
perfectly. Smooth amber in color with light reddish tints off to the sides that really shown through
in the light. Quick hitting and fleeting head.

Aroma of deep earthy hops, nice resin filled notes of pine, hints of orange and nice notes of
pineapple start to come though. Letting it settle brings out a nice bit of light earthy touches, hints
of grasses. Smooth even flavor is near spotless in its performance. Really nice touches of hops here,
smooth caramel malts, just really a very nice and very easy drinking ESB. This is what I was looking

Overall very solid and a great call for dinner. This worked really well and I honestly could have had
about ten of them.

 924 characters

Photo of Gusler
4.02/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Cask @ Real Ale Fest
This was one among many that I sampled two or three times as it really hit the “B” spot. Nice amber color with a decent head that was semi-creamy and white in color with a decent sheet of lace. Nose was fresh and crisp, sweet and pleasurable as was the sweet and malt laden start, top was middling in its feel. Finish was nicely carbonated, the hops subdued and delectable, sweetly dry aftertaste, got to love Bear Republic.

 448 characters

Photo of plaid75
3.53/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at Rattle N' Hum, NYC.

Poured a medium amber hue with a half finger foamy white head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured a light sweetness and a solid breast malt. Very subtle herbal hop.

The taste was upfront doughy malts with some caramel and flowery hop.

The mouthfeel was toward the fuller side of the style with minimum carbonation.

Overall a good ESB. A bit thin in the hop department however.

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Photo of CHickman
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours hazy orange amber in color with a 1 finger creamy tan head that leaves very good lacing.

Smells of sweet malt, lemon, caramel, light hops and grains. Very mild aroma overall.

Tastes of sweet malt, caramel, floral hops, lemon, grapefruit, butter, grass, grains or yeast with a bitter crisp finish. The beer is sweet and bitter overall, but only tastes decent at best. Nothing exciting going on and it just struck me as very basic.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with very little to no carbonation, and a light to medium body.

Good drinkability, but the flavor was just not exciting. Mediocre to maybe a good beer at best as there just wasn't any wow factor in this brew.

 671 characters

Photo of dsa7783
3.83/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Memphis Tap Room in Philadelphia...
Pours a copper-down brown hue, minimal head, with a substantial amount of lacing...
Rich malts in the nose...
Taste was well-balanced between malts and hops...
Strong bread and butter nuances with slight caramel and honey flavors...
Easily drinkable and refreshing...
A great depiction of an ESB...
Another teriffic draught sample from the Bear Republic brewing Co...

 432 characters

Photo of HeyItsChili
4.22/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured from a growler from the Charleston Beer Exchange into a pint glass. Clear amber colored beer with a thin white head that dissipates quickly.

S - Aroma is sweet and floral, hops are present but not bitter, malt is mild.

T - Light caramel flavored malts and some floral notes akin to the aroma.

M - Thin, a notch above watery, with little carbonation.

Notes - This is a really tasty beer that I could drink all day.

 428 characters

Photo of PDXHops
3.06/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap in a shaker pint.

Unexpectedly light golden body with a slight haze and plenty of visible carbonation bubbling up. The off-white head is smallish but creamy, and leaves nice sticky lacing.

Aromas are leafy and nutty with floral notes and a hint of alcohol. The booze flavor is surprisingly strong, even at this low ABV. It's a bit distracting, but the overall flavor profile is pretty good. Nice level of leafy bitterness with a bit of tangy tobacco. Malts are crisp and nutty, with minimal sweetness. Perhaps a touch of diacetyl. Not particularly memorable, but decent.

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Photo of donniecuffs
3.88/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(From notes)

A: Nice copper hue, with a thin tan head that laced surprisingly well.

S: Very malty and biscuit-y, with subtle hint of wood/earthiness and hops (Goldings?).

T: Nice balance between maltiness and floral hops, the latter of which left a subtle aftertaste.

M: Nice creamy mouthfeel yet light mouthfeel with an expectedly low carbonation level.

D: Certainly a sessionable beer, even if the creaminess gets a little much after a while. Well done.

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Photo of barleypop
3/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I sampled this one on tap at Bear Republic. Once poured it resembled a glass of apple juice with shades of orange around the edges.

A very understated nose with faint notes of floral hops. It sure doesn’t jump out at you.

Taste was malty with not much of a hop presence. I could detect peaches or pears on the finish. I found the mouthfeel slightly effervescent on the tongue but strangely the hop bitterness never emerged.

Being one of my favorite styles I was very excited to try this one. In my opinion it just doesn’t deliver. This brew just didn’t have the character that I have come to expect from Bear Republic. I will give it a second chance the next time I am in Healdsburg.

 695 characters

Photo of drjman
4/5  rDev +4.2%

Photo of Nickls
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(From notes - I sampled this ESB under the name Jack London at RnH, and by the looks of the other reviews, this might be a different brew, but not sure)

A - Half-finger of lightly tan head; rich coppery brown color with really nice lacing

S - Hoppy and malty; earthy; rich; lightly sweet and a little dank hoppiness actually

T - Great hoppiness (which surprised me and doesn't quite match up with some of the other reviews); bit piney and earthy; balanced really well, though and had a more roasted tasting malt in the finish

M - Medium to thicker; rich and full; nice carbonation; a little creamy

D - Really enjoyable, and lower abv makes this a great session brew IMO; nice interesting flavors but balanced

Overall, a great US take on the style and delicious.

 767 characters

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.35/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - cloudy amber color with 1 inch white head

S - smells flowery very soothing and crisp

T - taste initially nutty and then some hop bitterness finishing off with some sweet caramel malt notes

M - great mouthfeel very refreshing and at the same time flavorful. From bitter hops to sweet notes all around

D - Refreshing perfect carbonation not to overwhelming in bitterness or sweetness so many of theses could be had

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.1/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a amber color with good carbonation. Did not get a chance to really get a good whiff of this since it was someone elses brew. Taste was sweet, fresh and very crisp, biscuity malt, bitterness on end, very little booze and very good. Usually not a fan of the style but I dug it. Dry aftertaste, light tinge of alcohol, very easy to drinka and tasty.

 354 characters

Photo of oggg
3.85/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cask @ Real Ale Festival 6/04 Carlsbad

This beer poured a clear orange color with a thick head

Mild hop aroma

Very malty, with a gritty feel. Stiff bitterness at the front leading to a dry finish.

Medium bodied

Overall: I liked the malt, but I think the hops were a bit harsh. I tried it first, at the fest, and didn't find it that interesting.

 359 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours amber with a light white head with good retention and lacing.

S: Mild scent of toasted bread and caramel malt.

T: Biscuit malt with a lot of sweetness initally though it gets more balanced as it warms. Hops add a light earthy touch, malt is definitely the most prominent.

M: Very low carbonation which is great in a bitter, medium body.

D: A nice bitter from Bear Republic, it's cool to see a session English style brew coming out of the West Coast. Very drinkable.

 504 characters

Photo of Offa
3.26/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is a decent ESB-type that I've had from both cask and tap. This is the tap review. It's not impressive either way, but it's better from the cask. As I mention in my cask review, it falls prey to the common problem I have found bedevils so many US ESBs: in the effort to reproduce the comparatively low-key and restrained, but full-bodied, subtle, complex flavours of a great English ESB. It gets only the malty emphasis and low-key qwualities right, without the full range, body, or complexity. So many either make some element just to string and overpowering or end up bland. This one is one the blander side, but is better than many.

It's deep, brownish amber with a small head and thin, but fairly good lacing.

The aroma is mild but toasty and nutty, with nothing else really.

The taste is mostly toasty bread and nut, a bit sweet, with a mild woody-earthy bitterness and a fairly crisp, nice finish. However, the bitterness and overall hop presence are too weak, only noticeable in the character, and don't balance the malt enough. It's a little tastier than some US examples of the style and is very easy to drink, pleasant, and pretty good with food, but lacks the full body and complexity.

 1,206 characters

English ESB from Bear Republic Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.84 out of 5 with 21 ratings
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