Ski To Sea ESB
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro

Ski To Sea ESBSki To Sea ESB
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Bitter - English Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Ranked #49
Ranked #21,726
3.92 | pDev: 6.89%
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Washington, United States
Very Good
Ski To Sea ESBSki To Sea ESB
Reviews: 13 | Ratings: 26 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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ovaltine from Indiana

4.23/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From a can dated 4/4/17 to a pint glass, my 3rd beer from BB pours a beautiful clear copper color, maybe a finger of light tan head. The aromas are heavy on the malts (with most of the malts local varieties - AWESOME), with the Fuggle hops sitting patiently in the background.

The malts are present on the taste, but the Fuggles really come, with earthy and fruity notes making this an absolute delight to drink. Superb example of the style, IMHO.

May 17, 2017
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Superheatnsubcool from Washington

4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a can with a shrink wrapped label. Canned on 04/04/17, drank 04/28/17.

A: Beautiful reddish amber color, head quickly fades but leaves some lacing.

S: Great aroma from the malt bill, a hint of booze, earthy hops in the background.

T: I'm loving the blend of "Skagit Valley Copeland Pale, UK Maris Otter, French Aromatic, Skagit Valley Club Wheat, Honey Malt, Belgian Biscuit and Belgian Special B" malts. The hops are in the background just enough to make themselves known.

M: Fairly high carbonation, average mouthfeel.

O: I read that the next ingredient trend is local malts, and I'm really enjoying what's coming out of Skagit Valley. An easy drinking, balanced beer that makes me want to have another.

Apr 29, 2017
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Moose90 from Washington

3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance – (3.5/5) Pours a deep and rich amber color with copper hues and edges, nice and bright, it looks deeply rich and malty. Head is tall and bright white in color, leaves behind nice layers of foam on the inside of the glass and has good head retention. Very true to the ESB style.

Aroma – (3.75/5) Smells of rich and sweet caramel malts, freshly baked bread, toasted malts, caramel sweetness. Light and bitter hop note balances the sweetness, little bit of spice here as well.

Taste – (3.75/5) Sweet malt notes initially, nice layers of caramel malt sweetness, it is bready, malty, rich and sweet. As it warms there is a nice bitter and dry hop note that helps bring a great balance to it.

Mouthfeel – (4/5) Medium bodied brew, a nice level of carbonation and drying bitterness helps to balance out the sweetness of the malt. Refreshing balance of sweet and dry, highly drinkable.

Overall – (3.75/5) This is a nice, easy drinking, approachable beer from Boundary Bay. This will taste great whether you are watching or participating in the race. The Boundary Bay Ski to Sea ESB is a great celebration of the warm weather we have been enjoying lately. Those who shy away from bitter beers can rejoice as this beer has found a great balance between bitterness and drinkability. Very nice balance of bitter and sweet. Thirst quenching and refreshing, this is a wonderful beer to commemorate the annual Ski to Sea Race, nicely done Boundary Bay!

May 18, 2015
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bizweasel from Washington

3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Can serving. Interestingly the can was short-filled, over 1/2" of room. Rip off! ;-) Actually it was a fun reminder of what craft beer in a can once was, a hap hazard operation that often required hand filling and crimping the tops also by hand (not an organized line). Oskar Blues had short filled cans 10 years ago too.

The beer. Reminded me rather of an English brown in flavor even if the color not quite that dark. Liked the nutty malty flavor, which thankfully wasn't stomped on by overexuberant wet hopping. Also enjoyed that the ABV makes this a better sessioner.

Carbonation a bit flat, perhaps consequence of that canning mishap. Drank this one at 'english' temperature too, not always possible to build a good head.

Jun 21, 2014
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mabermud from Washington

3.77/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I have lived in Bellingham for seven years, and this is the first time drinking this supposedly fine beer. I am not an ESB type of guy, so take this review with a grain of salt.

A - Clear amber body with a minimal white head.
S - Bread and malt.
T - Herbal with a malt spine.
M - Medium all-around.
O - Descent offering from one of my favorite breweries in the surrounding areas.

Jun 18, 2014
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mactrail from Washington

4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear amber color with a modest foam and lacing coating the Chimay chalice. Quite tangy and spritzy on the tongue. Hazelnut aroma with a fresh hay and grainy note.

This really reminds me of 2° Below Winter Ale from New Belgium. It's that same woody, musty, hazelnut flavor though less sweet in this case. Some interesting fruity notes, melon and cedar. Raspberry seeds and a smoky hint. A mineral tang for the finish. Delicious fruity hop flavor along with the subtle dark caramel malt.

This is really quite complex and interesting. Totally drinkable with a new pleasure in every sip. Now available in cans. From the 12 oz can purchased at Special Brews in Lynwood.

Jun 15, 2014
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brentk56 from North Carolina

4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cystal clear amber liquid, topped by an impressive head that sticks nicely and leaves plenty of dots and shards behind

Smell: Fruity (pear and apple) with an herbacious, grassy character

Taste: The herbaciousness and the fruit combine, up front, to provide an earthy English malt character to the flavor profile but in the middle, the hops kick in (more in a brash American way) though they are appropriately English in the type of bitterness they bring for the style; nicely balanced, after the swallow, with the fruity flavors lingering in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: This is a darn nice ESB from an American brewer - something you don't get to taste very often

Thanks, kemoarps, for the opportunity

Jun 01, 2013
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sam_bliss from Washington

4.26/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 ounce bomber streams into a globe glass. Last weekend I raced the lead-off cross-country ski leg of Ski to Sea, which is an 8-person relay race from Mount Baker to Bellingham Bay. Tonight I commemorate the experience with Boundary Bay's signature special release for the annual event.

Pours an elegant cherry-amber hue sealed by a creamy yellow head that dissipates, leaving a fine ring of lacing, some spotty foam, and a scattered bubbles across the surface. A strong smell of ripe raspberries finds its way to my delighted olfactory senses before I have even leaned in to take a formal whiff. Candied red fruit and mushy pear aromas dance into the nostrils on a wave of sweet-bread malts. Bitterness arrives somewhat unexpectedly as soon as the extra-special ale touches lips. The scent features just an inkling of lemony hop, but earthy and grapefruit flavors in the front of the mouth tower over caramel malts and tart dried fruit in the body. Sweet esters to the nose become grapes to the tongue. Delicious.

Medium-roasted malt mash gives this brew a red ale-like taste. Except better. A tiny bit of alcohol adds some kick to the other refreshing aspects, rather than distracting with unnecessary warmth. Ski to Sea strikes me as an incredibly quaffable offering; a rich, pleasurable drinking experience. The mouthfeel is just right to let the fruity and malty essences of the beer take center stage. The 'bitter' of Extra Special Bitter is emphasized, in contrast to the more traditional English style, which falls far short of bitterness to our wrecked Pacific Northwest taste buds. The dirty, complex hop bouquet does not stray from the typical themes of Boundary Bay's hearty ale collection. This ESB has plenty of carbonation; it is refreshing but too flavorful to simply be a post-lawn mowing quencher. Instead, I recommend that we enjoy it with the music off and the conversation focused only on one thing: the beverage. Ski to Sea ESB is rivaled by only the Scotch Ale for Boundary Bay supremacy.

Jun 01, 2013
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udubdawg from Kansas

4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

stubborn white head with excellent lacing. light copper/gold color is bright, barely clouded from the yeast at the bottom of the bottle of this second pour.

immediate fruitiness, though not too strong, and I can cleanly pick out pear. fresh, some flowery hops, clean, no diacetyl, some biscuity and lightly caramelly malt. inviting.

flavor follows aroma with fruit well-backed by malt. clean, no off flavors. Low clean alcohol flavor doesn't get in the way, moderate bitterness does not linger too much but easily balances the sweet malt and yeasty profile. Excellent.

moderate body, slightly low carbonation fits the style, no astringency, no alcohol warmth, all together a great stab at the style, and an even better beer in general. Highly drinkable, highly enjoyable. A shame this isn't more widely bottled/distributed.

Jun 19, 2012
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LiquidAmber from Washington

3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a medium coppery orange amber. Two finger off-white head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of bready and a hint of toasted malt, slight hops. Flavor follows with bready and toasted malt, a hint of citrus. Finishes with grassy hops and a memory of the toasted malt. Low key in flavor, but a pleasant malty ESB. Light to medium bodied. A nice low ABV summer beer. Wish summer would get here……

May 01, 2012
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snaotheus from Washington

4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a large mug

Pours clear golden, pretty big head, small amount of slow active carbonation. Smell is mild, yeasty, and bready.

Taste is nice rich malty, a little orangey flavor, with a good thick bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full. Overall, nice beer.

Aug 08, 2011
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Rutager from Canada (BC)

4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I missed this one while stopping in at the "beer cave" in Bellingham's The Market this weekend. Luckily the guy at the till knew his shit and suggested this one after seeing my small selection of IPA's. Thanks buddy!!

Appearance. Pours a clear amber gold with a finger of thick white head that leaves some nice lacing.

Smell. Pretty strong caramel malt, fresh grassy hops and a little lemon and grapefruit.

Taste. Toasty caramel malt and grains, nice fruity and grassy hops. Some lemon and grapefruit rind in the end with just a little lasting bitterness. No alcohol here. Very nice.

Mouthfeel. Just lighter than medium in body with smooth, lighter than medium, smooth carbonation.

Overall. Great limited release beer that I almost missed out on. I remember my buddy talking about his dad participating in the race this beer is named after 25 years ago!!

May 23, 2011
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BBThunderbolt from Kiribati

3.76/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew is brewed in celebration of Bellingham's annual race, . Served in straight pint glass. Poured a clean, clear coppery gold with just under an inch of white head that had good retention and very light lacing.

The aroma was nicely malty with a sharp hop tang in the background. The flavor was very similar, solid malts with an interesting hop crispness. This beer has much more of a malt foundation than the breweries regular ESB, which I find basically to an IPA Light.

The body was full and well rounded without being heavy or sticky. The drinkability was very good, it's easy to have several of these. Overall, a very nice little beer that's worth trying while it's available.

May 21, 2011
Ski To Sea ESB from Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 26 ratings