Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #70
not listed
Ranked #25,709
3.83 | pDev: 10.97%
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Washington, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 20 | Ratings: 47 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jhartley
jhartley from Florida

3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a shaker style pint. No dating on bottle.

Appearance: Beautiful golden-amber colored body. High clarity. Very thin cap of head formed and disappeared quickly. No lacing.

Aroma: All malts here, minimal amount of hop presence, as is in line with the style. Also, picking up on some mild toffee.

Taste: Yep, it's all about the malts here, imo. Sweet up front with a little bitterness on the end, finishes nice and clean. Super refreshing. Hops are there

Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel. Malty and juicy with a nice lingering bitterness along the outside edges of the tongue. Low carbonation.

Overall: A beer you can drink a lot of, easily! Not one of my favorite styles, but this was easy to drink and the whole bomber disappeared before I knew it! Delicious malty beer.

Nov 13, 2016
Photo of Moose90
Moose90 from Washington

3.22/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Served On-Tap

A — Pours a translucent and bright caramel amber color with an off-white colored head leaving behind some nice spots of lacing along the inside of the glass.

S — Smell is mild and malty with a little bit of supporting noble hop bitterness, little bit of toast and grain.

T — Mild but semi bitter and focused on malts, not a whole lot going on.

M — Light-Medium bodied, refreshing enough.

O — Good overall, just not a whole lot going on.

Jan 21, 2016
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mactrail from Washington

3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very attractive clear coppery amber color with a decent foam in the Troubadour tulip. Sudsy and mouth filling. There is just a little sweetness and something like a touch of orange marmalade, that bitter-sweet citrus tang. Clean flavor. A dark fruity note emerges along with the hoppy bitter edge for the finish.

There is some of the mineral taste I associate with British styles. This is a milder and gentler sort of brew, even with the distinct zip of the hops. A pleasant and highly drinkable brew that makes a good example of the category, American style. From the 22 oz bottle purchased at Haggen's Market in Burlington.

Jul 17, 2015
Photo of RenzoD
RenzoD from Washington

3.72/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pretty good ESB. Amber color. Very weak head, quickly dissipates. Somewhat of a red flag.

Taste is malty upfront with a back end finish of bitterness. Very well balanced IMO.
Mouthfeel left something to be desired. Sort of flat. Could use a bit more carbonation.
Overall a decent brew that I would gladly have again.

Mar 03, 2015
Photo of jellikit
jellikit from Washington

3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Orange. Mostly clear. Slight haze. Medium head. Thin, persistent lacing.
S: Slight floral. Small citrus. Mellow. Almos non detectable.
T: light grain. A little bread note. Medium hop bitterness at end. Small pine hints with the bittering hops.
M: medium carbonation. Nice, medium body.
O: Classic example of an ESB. Nothing stands out as deviating from the style. Easy drinking. Not too bitter. Just right.

Apr 20, 2014
Photo of canucklehead
canucklehead from Canada (BC)

3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this at the Brewery after a long hot drive up from Portland and at first I was thinking that a cask ale was the wrong choice as I wanted cold and crisp. As soon as my brain got to grips with the style and method I began to enjoy the soft hops on the nose and the lack of carbonation from the cask. Not the best ESB but one that makes the grade. The hops seemed like an English/PNW mix but the cask mellowed out the finish while bringing up the floral notes. Went well with food and as it warmed the beer got better.

Jun 09, 2011
Photo of davidbowers13
davidbowers13 from Illinois

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber served into a pint glass. Thanks to stx00lax for allowing me to sample this.

A - Poured a hazy golden brown with an ample amount of white head approximately 3 fingers tall.

S - Good hop aroma with citrus notes and a little malt.

T/M - Light to medium body. Finished with a nice hop bitterness but comprised of a good malt backbone.

O - Very easy drinking and enjoyable beer. Not mind blowing, but refreshing for a warm summer afternoon.

May 23, 2011
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium from North Dakota

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First had: on tap at the Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Served in a sampler part of my unsuccessful Seattle-to-Vancouver journey.

Nice, standard ESB. Pours amber/brown with a moderate head. no distinctive aroma. Light, malty taste with some grassy bitterness that wasn't too strong. Medium mouthfeel and easily drinkable.

Apr 29, 2011
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beertunes from Kiribati

3.25/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I drink a lot of this beer, it's generally my go-to (excepting seasonals) when I go to the brewery, which is at least a couple times a week. With that said the numbers on my review are lower than what my opinion of the beer is, because this is more like a Pale Ale than an ESB. Keep that viewpoint in mind while reading my review.

Served in straight pint glass. Poured a medium gold color, much lighter than I expect for the style, with a thin cap of white head that had little retention or lacing. The aroma is very hoppy for the style, not much malt or sweetness in the nose. The taste is not that of a traditional ESB, but rather that of an "IPA Light", very hop forward with just a bit of malt in the background.

The body on this brew is very good, full and tongue coating, while only being slightly sticky from hops, not from malt. Obviously I find this brew to be very drinkable. On multiple occasions I've had several pints of this at the bar, and then filled a growler to take home, it's that drinkable.

Overall, I'm a big fan of this brew and I think you should try it as soon as possible. I just keep hoping that some day they'll add some darker malts and a touch of sweetness to this beer. Then the numbers would match my true feelings.

Feb 19, 2010
Photo of RedDiamond
RedDiamond from Oregon

3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Best Bitter is actually more amber than BB's Amber Ale. It's quasi-orange and came with a firm, soapy head, a gentle malt aroma and the minimal carbonation associated with the style. The bittering was bland and muted with grassy hop character and some lemon-citric qualities accenting a dry finish.

A nice ale with a chewy body, but it's neither traditional nor the best in Boundary Bay's lineup.

Nov 09, 2009
Photo of ccrida
ccrida from Oregon

4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the 4th Ave Alehouse in Olympia, Boundary Bay's ESB is a chill hazed burnt orange with a tight, white sand head with long last leaving heavy, creamy lace.

Smell has light fruity esters accentuated by some sweet malt.

Taste is nice and malty, a bit on the sweet side though, some leafy hops on the finish. Not to bad, the hops in particularly linger on the long, bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is pretty creamy, medium light bodied.

Drinkability is pretty good, maybe a bit to leafy for the malt backbone, which is on the thinner side. Definitely has a brittish vibe, although clearly from the PNW, not the UK.

Aug 12, 2009
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brentk56 from North Carolina

4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives with a cloudy copper color and a compact head that nevertheless leaves webs of lacing

Smell: Earthy, but floral, with a caramel base

Taste: A bit of caramel up front, followed by earthy and floral hop flavors, with a growing bitterness detected by mid-palate; lots of bitter flavor after the swallow the lingers well into the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body and moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Although there is a lot of English character to this brew, it has a floral hop tinge that is clearly NW in origin; well-balanced and tasty

Mar 21, 2009
Photo of allergictomacros
allergictomacros from Canada (ON)

3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Hazy tea-color with a moderate head.

S - Slightly gingery, with lemon, light funk and a light malty touch.

T - Fruit, somewhat spicy, and a surprising bitter lemony hop.

M - Lightish in body and slightly soft texture.

D - An OK, sessionable, but not terribly exciting brew.

May 19, 2008
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walshclimb from Nevada

4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours light reddish brown, slightly cloudy with 1/2" white head with relatively large bubbles,dissipates slowly leaving good lace. Clean, moderately malty with light hoppy aroma that has hint of brown sugar or caramel. The flavor is nicely balanced between malt and bitter hops up front with long lived bitter aftertaste and a hint of sweetness. Medium bodied with a creamy texture and active carbonation. This is a solid, tasty ESB. It is nice to see another American brewery making this style. Definitely worth a try.

Aug 27, 2007
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homebrewhawk from Kansas

4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz brown bomber 5.6%abv.
Poured a hazy gold. Low, tight bubbled white head.
Decent hop aroma, some citrus. A little bit of sweet malt in the aroma.
Nice medium body. Good balance. There is good amount of hop bitterness and a solid malt backbone. Some caramel malt flavors.
This is a very easy drinking ESB. It would make a good session beer.

Aug 12, 2007
Photo of Derek
Derek from Canada (BC)

4.04/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this at the Brewery, 5 oz sample.

A: Rusty, copper tone. Hardly any head, but it leaves a hint of lace.

S: CASCADE HOPS, with a little bready malt.

T: Balanced slightly to the bitter side, fresh cascade flavour, but it's not overly assertive. A well balanced beer, and a nice Northwest twist to this style.

M: Moderate body and carbonation.

D: Very drinkable.

Dec 18, 2005
Photo of Jason
Jason from Massachusetts

4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ Redbones in a 12 oz flute.

Tawny hued, great lacing and a good clarity. Balanced aroma of critric hops and toasted malt. Rich malt backbone meets a mix of citric and herbal hop. Very balanced and very drinkable. A great example of what American craft beer is about.

Nov 17, 2005
Photo of RoyalT
RoyalT from Ohio

3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – This is a beautifully bitter darkish-orange in color with a nice, orangy-tanned head.

Smell – The nose here is modest and has a surprisingly large amount of grain in it. The hops are leafy and laid back.

Taste – The bitterness mostly comes from the malts. There aren’t a lot of hops in here, and it’s hard to define the ones that are.

Mouthfeel – I enjoyed the bitterness level of this one. It’s not even medium-bodied, but it is so refreshing and the bitterness is so easy-going that it’s difficult to hold this in between the cheeks.

Drinkability – This is the ale’s strongpoint, IMHO. It goes down like nobody’s business.

Oct 05, 2005
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Redrover from Wisconsin

3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this one on tap at the Wild Ginger Restaurant in downtown Seattle. What a great place to go for dinner!

The beer was a nice dark bronze with a light beige head. Decent lacing as I worked through the beer.

Beer has a nice citrus/pine nose. Also has a kind of sweet smell which was almost like a caramel.

The taste was solid. Decent hop bite that was backed with a soft almost molasses type taste. As the beer warmed, a nice pine type taste was also present..

This beer had the correct carbonation per style. Nice soft mouth, would be a nice session beer.

Mar 24, 2004
Photo of PatandDavid
PatandDavid from Massachusetts

3.43/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Redbones last evening. Pour was dark caramel in color, little to no head. I'm picked up a sweet note in the aroma, like the color, a bit of caramel. The taste is nice, smooth, and very easy to drink. I also liked the grapefruit-like hop flavor in the finish. Not a bad beer, and one that I would get again.

Feb 28, 2004
ESB from Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Beer rating: 85 out of 100 with 47 ratings