Organic ESB | Lakefront Brewery, Inc.

229 Reviews
Read the review
Organic ESBOrganic ESB

Brewed by:
Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.42%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Organic E.S.B. (Extra Special Bitter) Ale

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-22-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 382
Photo of Knapp85
3.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This poured out as a decent looking amber color with a thin very minimal tan colored head on top. The smell of the beer was malty, it had some nice caramel like aroma's on the nose as well as some other grains in there too. The taste of the beer was earty, semi-sweet with a nice dry bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel of the beer had a good amount of carbonation to it, the beer was drinkable and easy going. Overall this beer wasn't too bad, not my favorite ESB but still not a bad beer in my opinion.

 508 characters

Photo of donmonkey1
2.8/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Reddish-brown, like hazy tea. The head is good but dissipates too fast. Very little lacing.

Smell: Not enough to tell. Possibly the faintest smell of brown sugar. They need to man-up on the smell. I mean, where the hell is it?

Taste: A hint of hops in metal water. I'm really feeling ripped off. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS ORGANIC BULLSHIT?

It's pretty fucking average.

 379 characters

Photo of WastingFreetime
3.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from session notes.

Poured out a semi-hazed standard amber color with a single finger that lasted for about a minute before dissolving without leaving any lacing behind. Presents a very fruity yeast ester aroma, some candied nuts and earthy hop tones as well in the nose. Flavor is very toasted whole-grain bread and cereal grain-like with a sharp crispness from the heavy carbonation over the medium body texture.

I've had worse and I've had better than this one...

 477 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.91/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Lakefront imperial Pint.
Bottled Apr Wk2 (2012) notched on label.

A - Pouring a delicious clear copper color with a tall egg-shell head comprised of densely packed bubbles, Lakefront's Organic ESB looks beautiful. Plateauing to a thick pile of foam, the head randomly dots the pint in chunky lace.

S - Earthy and harsh opening, little caramel and some wet, spent grain notes arise followed by slight hop aromas, but nothing about it screams ESB. Soft, earthy hops seem present, but in very low levels.

T - Very malty right off the bat, caramelization flavors pull through with toffee slivers and toasted Vienna notes. Wet grain undertones hide behind a slight earthy hop flavor. While the grain bill seems on par, the hops only balance in flavor. It isn't until bitterness becomes a part do they really kick this ESB towards the style a little more.

M - Medium-light bodied and smooth in the entry, Organic ESB is well-balanced by a bitter, dry finish from the organic hop additions and a lingering finish on the tongue.

O - The under-rated and humble Lakefront scores again with the first USDA certified organic beer! While this ESB doesn't hold a candle to the classics from England, Organic ESB features a nice, tasty malt base with subtle earthy hop overtones and a refreshing bitterness along the finish. A great session beer to put pint after pint back while chatting up the blokes at the bar, I'd say!

 1,440 characters

Photo of StaveHooks
3.52/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz served into a SA perfect pint glass.

A - Pours a clear amber with an off-white head. Average lacing.

S - Sweet cereal grains, caramel malts, biscuits.

T - Yeasty bread, caramel, sweet cereal grains, grapes, and hints of citrus. It finishes up semi-dry with a light earthy toastedness.

M - Creamy carbonation, medium body, smooth feel.

This was straightforward and pretty good. Needs a little more hops but drinks nice. Caramel malts and a sweet grain flavor dominate. I would drink this again.

 503 characters

Photo of jimmah120
2.88/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle brewed 3rd week of December.

Cloudy amber with minimal head. Smell is skunky grains. A slight sweet smell as well. Bitter character at first as you sip. Some sweet malts but mostly the rest is grain. Very plain tasting. Dry mouthfeel.

Overall I was a little disappointed in this one. Easy drinking and balanced but seems to be missing something.

 359 characters

Photo of mrfrancis
1.88/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A: Pours a murky amber with no real head.

S: Aromas of earthy, peppery hops and caramel are overwhelmed by an oddly pungent, grainy aroma. What is going on here?

T: Notes of minerals, caramel, toffee, roasted nuts, and peppery ale hops are muddled by tart grainy flavors and an odd metallic backtaste. The finish lingers for some time and is most notable for its complete lack of hop and malt character; instead, that metallic taste takes over completely.

M: Medium-bodied and very dry with active, firm carbonation. If it tasted better, I could see myself being generous and calling it drinkable.

O: This is hands down not only the worst ESB I've ever had, but also the worst organic beer of any type I've ever had. I don't know what the people at Lakefront were thinking. Maybe they weren't. I've never been so happy to pour a bottle down the drain as I am now.

 867 characters

Photo of soju6
2.92/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a dark copper color with no real head , just a ring around the edge with some lacing.

S: Mild aroma of some malt sweetness bit of fruit and some grain.

T: Mild, almost bland flavor, with just a bit of malt sweetness and a trace of grain. No real bitterness and a dry finish.

F: Fairly medium body and smooth. Just not a lot here.

O: This is not what I expected in an ESB. I guess I'm just not in to organic beer.

 425 characters

Photo of Jparker37
3.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This light amber ESB poured relativly bright with a nice, barely off-white head full of small bubbles that colapsed to a small but diligent cap of foam. Left a little bit of lacing on the glass.

S - Disappointing smell. Expected some dry hopping or maybe some big toasty malt, but I am left with a very mild, slightly sweet maltiness.

T - The malt begins to come around with some nice toastiness and a little bit of balancing hop flavors and bitterness finishes quite different than it starts. On the lighter side of the English Bitters spectrum. Not all that rich and complex in flavor.

M - Has a nice full bodied mouthfeel with a light gentle carbonation.

O - A little light to be an ESB. Not very complex in flavor or smell. Overall I am not a big fan of this beer but cool with all organic ingredients.

 816 characters

Photo of BeerLover99
3.38/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: orange/mild cloudy body, trace white head,
patchy lacing

S: caramel, biscuit/malt,

T: sweet biscuit malt, caramel, nutty,
semi-dry/light bitter finish

M: med body, smooth/semi-dry mouth

O: Nice ESB, enjoy Lakefront.
Would get again, few American
craft breweries make this style.


 310 characters

Photo of pweis909
3.53/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A=Slightly hazy amber, with a solid head that stuck around for several minutes before receding.

S=Caramel with a bit of hops, reminiscent of the noble hops found in a European pilsner, possibly a Czech pils. Maybe this is the Safir hops? Not 100% sure as the Lakefront website is ambiguous about the hops. The hop aroma fades soon. By the end of the glass, I can pick up a more grainy, breakfast cereal character that hides underneath the caramel.

T=The caramel malt presence dominates, to the extent that it comes close to overpowering the flavor contribution of other components. It is sweet, but not unbalanced, as there is sufficient hop bitterness to prevent it from being cloying. Still, I would prefer this a little dryer.

M=Nothing stood out to me about the mouth feel.

Overall, I don't mind this beer, but the dominance of sweet caramel makes it a bit of a one-trick pony. I would probably not want to drink several over the course of one evening. While I am happy to support an organic beer, I must say that the ESB moniker sets up some expectation of toasty maltiness and hoppy bitterness and aroma that just don't seem strong enough to me in this example. It is much more like a caramelly American amber, or even an Irish red.

 1,243 characters

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
3.62/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a tulip

A: Warm amber-orange. 1 finger white head. Falls quickly. Spotty lace.

S: Bready caramel overtones. Citrus (orange) hop.

T: Very malty. Biscuit and multigrain bread. Bitterness finishes but not at all aggressive. Light aromatic spice, buckwheat, sone fruit. Very good drinking ESB.

M: High in initial carbonation. Drying on the finish.

D: Good for the style. Not overly hopped. Well balanced and sessionable.

 439 characters

Photo of biboergosum
3.21/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, number 2 in the Milwaukee mix pack. Is that cow leaping or flying?

This beer pours a mostly clear medium amber colour, with one fat finger of foamy pale beige head, which leaves some low-reaching, random spiky lace around the glass as it settles. It smells of crackery cereal malt, confectioners' sugar, and mild floral, leafy hops. The taste is plain bready malt, a bit of grape character - leaf and fruit, and green, earthy hops. The carbonation is quite sedate, the body medium weight, and innocuously smooth. It finishes off-dry, the bready malt seeing only a light floral hops counterbalance.

While rather easy to put back, on the ESB scale, this offering is quite lacking. Not crisp, not really bitter, not biscuity. Ergo, not a proper ESB. Drink this while not thinking too hard.

 801 characters

Photo of wordemupg
3.03/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

355ml bottle poured into pint glass 3/11/11

A clear copper with lots of big bubbles feeding a fast falling finger of creme colored foam that leaves a few polka dots of lace

S some dry cereal and purple candy with a little caramel

T not far from the smell really a little malty and lacking the hops for a great bitter

M a little flat and thin with just a little bite

O pretty basic beer if you ask me, nothing offensive but not what I look for in a bitter

nothing special going on here, it went down without any problems but I don't think I'd bother buying it again

 575 characters

Photo of canucklehead
3.15/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown with a decent head. The nose is mostly malt with a small hop note. The beer is decent but there is a lack of complexity with the hops that makes an ESB interesting. Drinkable for sure and no real faults but it gets a little boring over time.

 260 characters

Photo of airforbes1
3.71/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orange color with some cloudiness at the bottom of the glass. Fair head retention. The aroma is modest; I don't get much besides grains and maybe some grape.

The taste is simple, with some grape and butteriness. It's a straightforward ale, but it's pleasant. Maybe a bit thin, but I'm enjoying it.

Unlike most reviewers, I thought this beer is a good example of the style and favors well when compared to Fuller's E.S.B. I'd seek this out again if I wanted a smooth, highly drinkable ale.

 499 characters

Photo of JackieTH
2.88/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Amber-colored liquid topped by a short-lived cap of foam. Smell is lightly malty at best. Taste, similarly, is malt forward, biscuits, but mostly non-descript. Not particularly sweet with just a hint of floral hop. Mouthfeel is medium-light. Overall it's not at all bad, but really doesn't distinguish itself in any way.

 320 characters

Photo of jera1350
3.35/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice looking copper color with a trace of foam around the edge of the glass. Some fair lacing.

The nose is barely there. A touch of nuttiness and some milk chocolate, but just way too light overall.

A little bit watered down flavor. Some caramel and nutty malt, but pretty thin tasting. The hops come in at the back and make for a long, but lightly hoppy finish and add some bitterness.

Smooth feel, but too thin. Carbonation feels pretty good though.

This is a highly drinkable beer, but it lacks in depth. Beef this one up a bit in the flavor department and this could be really, really good.

 601 characters

Photo of
2.03/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

From 12 oz bottle. Pours a caramel cider like color. Smells of yeast and sweet apples. Excessively carbonated and taste strongly of apple cider with lemony notes. The theme here being apple cider. Cloyingly sweet, would never have guessed this was intended to be an ESB.

 270 characters

Photo of ONUMello
3.3/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.
A: Clear amber colored; one-finger head. Lots of tiny bubbles rapidly heading towards the surface.
S: Nice balance between citrus hops and caramel malt.
T: Mostly bready malt notes. Not really getting much else.
M: Smooth but not doing anything to either impress me or turn me off.
O: Not bad, but not doing anything to wow me.

 365 characters

Photo of beerthulhu
3.35/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Burgundy-apple coloring with a translucent nature has a short lived, bready tan head atop. A light mist of haze sits inside while the glass remains squeaky clean of lace.

S: Caramel apple grains first appear with some dry shrubbery hopping. Hints of alcohol, but so far nothing really special nor bitter about this nose.

T: Spicy alcohol and fresh caramelized grains are the flavor base. Honey toasted bread with a sweet green hopping. There is a nice level of bitterness, sweet toasted grain base that is rounded out by some dry apple skins.

M: Nice level of fullness for the mouthful, malty and viscose turning creamy on longer holds. Nice toasted grain fade, semi-sweetness balanced by a touch of bittering hops both appear.

O: Overall a moderately pleasing ESB. The organic label does little for me in terms of taste, as your not gonna really taste the Naturalness of the organic wheat now are you, it’s the sugars that’s being converted, but works if you an eco-friendly craft drinker.

 1,003 characters

Photo of AdamBear
3.17/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A-dark cloud amber with a thin white head

S-smells like sweet caramel and molasses. very sweet and fairly strong smelling. pretty aromatic.

T-comes in with dark roasted caramel belgian sugars and slowly transitions in to a slight bitterness. there's an okay after-taste of burnt sugars. the flavors are of medium quality. this is a decent Beglian Dark Ale, but a bad ESB.

M-medium to heavy carbonation with a dry finish

O-well it starts off tasty but quickly the quality seems to deteriorate. in fact, towards the end, i didn't like it at all. this is just a bad ESB.

 571 characters

Photo of brdc
2.36/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Another one from the sampler (a good sampler as it brings eight different bottles, the only reason I tried - I never try the ple packs that bring 4 bottles of each thing I am trying to sample).
Small capped bottle, poured into a pilsner glass.

Light golden, clear, off-white head, average retention and lacing.
Aroma is way too subtle, with faint hoppiness, mostly citric, some fruity notes, possibly caramel.
Body is thin, average carbonation, and it lacks depth. Not really bitter or hoppy, not malty either. Seems to lack ingredients altogether.

 552 characters

Photo of vitrael
3.01/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I'm not much of an ESB drinker but I do like Lakefront a lot and think the effort at an all organic beer is commendable.

A: Slightly hazy deep amber body with a small white head. Minimal lacing.

S: Very lacking nose, with only a slight hint at the malt body and bittering hops. Could use more going on here.

T: An initial taste of biscuit malt flavor gives way to a somewhat dominant lemony hop character. Moderately bitter and slightly astringent. I don't detect any estery or diacetyl flavors; if they're there, they are very mild. Easy drinking but not very interesting. Probably sessionable.

M: Medium-light bodied with pretty high carbonation.

 652 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

After mostly enjoying our homebrewed ESB, I'm excited to bite into another commercial example to compare it to. This one pours a clear straight amber (I'm still looking for the mosquito, it's so amber-y) topped by a half-finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises orange peel, grass, flowers, mild caramel, and buttery biscuits. The taste adds some mandarin orange character and wheat to the foundation set by the smell. Whatever maltiness that was there before is mostly o'ercome by the orange and lemongrass. The body is a rather light medium, with a just-light moderate carbonation and a generally smooth feel. Overall, a decent ESB, but a bit too fruity and slightly too carbonated for my liking.

 750 characters

Organic ESB from Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
3.29 out of 5 based on 382 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.