Organic ESB | Lakefront Brewery, Inc.

229 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 382
Photo of Chaz
2.78/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dull amber in color, with notable chill haze. Creamy off white head settles rather quickly, leaving a ring of lace. Semi-sour, malt-driven nose. Malty and yeasty on the first sip – there’s something to be said for a “proprietary character” which is evident in many of Lakefront’s brews, and I don’t know if it’s a matter of compromised yeast strains, or the fact that they use a lot of the same malts in all of their brews, but the same character is present in both their ales and their lagers. It’s a sour, tangy, tinny, yeasty quality. The organic ESB has always struck me as the single best idea this brewery has come up with: a means to serve and cater to a very vocal and increasingly powerful segment of the consumer marketplace, that being the Organic Consumer. A fresh bottle of Lakefront’s Organic ESB beats the pants off the fresh tap of Stone Mill Pale Ale I had recently, and is about as close to style-specific as you can get, organic grains and hops notwithstanding. But this bottle is off: the sour, tinny, tangy yeasty quality I noted above is present here to an almost overwhelming degree. Sure there’s some malt sweetness here, and even a notable degree of hop bitterness, but what is this funky tangy weirdness? It can’t be a water quality issue – can treated Lake Michigan water produce such a quality? Someday I’ll take their brewery tour again (which is a great tour) and try this stuff fresh from the brewery versus a fresh bottle (hey, a guy can dream, right?) At any rate I will re-rate this again in the future after securing a fresher bottle, but even as it stands it's a better organic ale than the A.B.

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Photo of expatsteve
2.76/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Light copper-orange, certainly not as brown in tone as most ESBs. Medium clarity, brief 1/4 inch head that didn't linger or leave much lacing. Low viscosity.

Aroma: Coppery hops, with liht orange notes. Hints of chocolate and cocoa malts.

Taste: Biscuity, sour lime finish - not at all what I expected. Hops are balanced and malts develop over the course of a glass. Honey and chocolate notes in the malt. Yeast finish with pleasant bitterness to the aftertaste. Front and middle palates are a little lacking, and the citric acid finish seems a little oppressive at times.

Mouthfeel: Good fizz - not super smooth, but far from rough. Carbonation settles down over the course the bottle.

Drinkability: Not my favorite ESB, and not super drinkable - I'm hoping I got a bad bottle, as the tart finish was distracting and the beer lacked all the subtlety that I normally expect of ESBs as a style. There was definitely a nice set of flavors in there, but they often had a hard time coming through; more initially palate development might have helped here. I'm planning on returning to this beer, and will hopefully have reason then to adjust my review.

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Photo of chumba526
2.76/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appears hazy amber red in color with a small off white head.

It smells a little bread like and a little fruity and toasty.

It tastes slightly cinnamon like. I get a bit of a dirt like taste to the beer. There is also a chalky flavor to the beer. I get a bit of a bread like flavor to the bread as well. It tastes really odd. There is a very florial almost tea like hop flavor to the beer.

The carbonation is moderate low. With a bit of a smooth mouthfeel.

Drinkability is ok. But it tastes a bit weird to me.

Overall an ok beer but this is not what I look for in an ESB it is ok but I will not buy this again.

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Photo of Pamola
2.73/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Having terrible luck with organic beers in the past, i decided to give this one a shot simply because it's an esb and one of my favorite styles.

A: Poured with a one finger tan head. Beer was strangely yellowish for an esb.

S: Deep, subtle malt. Not much else. Rather sweet.

T: Fizzy and totally devoid of flavor up front. This fades into a honey/malty sweetness. once again, not much like an esb in my eyes.

M: Light and effervescent at first. Once the honey flavor kicks in it coats the mouth with a small corresponding increase in body.

D: Drinkable, yes, but to call this an esb? wtf? This is a terrible example of the style and even if one takes it at face value, it's still a mediocre, overly sweet beer.

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Photo of Greggy
2.7/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A- nice 2 finger head, fluffy, clings to the glass above the amber body with no sediment.

S- Nice fruitiness or raison and plum, along with some pear, a nice spiciness. Mainly malty, but a definite hop spice.

T- Velvety smooth with a dark chocolate, maltiness as well as some residual cherries. Overall, tastes more like a LIGHT dubbel than an ESB. Not a whole big hope presence.

M- Very smooth, but it has all of the wrong flavors for an ESB.

D- This definitely doesn't taste like an ESB to me, so regardless to say, I will not being having this again.

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Photo of Kookiekwan
2.7/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This beer pours a orange/amber, has a two finger head with some serious retention (the head sat on top throughout the whole beer like a little white sponge)with thin lacing. The aroma is faint but I picked up some hints of caramel and very faint earthy hops. The taste is a big let down, I expect ESB's to be bitter (it is in the name) but not this one it tastes more like a dulled down version of an Amber ale. The mouthfeel was good, it was highly carbonated but still drinkable and it felt like it woke my mouth up.

Reflection: I wouldn't recommend this one to anyone who likes good beer but I would drink it again if someone handed me a free one.

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Photo of Drew966
2.7/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Organic ESB pours a light copper color with an off white head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The aroma is slightly malty, not much else in the nose. Flavor is all over the place, starts off sour, then a bit of butter, then a bit bitter. I'd skip this one, there's better beer to be had out there.

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Photo of Braudog
2.68/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

12 oz - Poured a medium amber, very still, with a thin head. Fruity aroma. Warming aspect to this surprisingly full-flavored brew -- nice caramel basis, not nearly as hoppy as I like my ESBs, this comes off more like an American amber ale. ONly a slight orchard-like bite in this one. (#2641 - 1/7/07)

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.66/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bright orange with candy corn colored edges, a slight haze and a large number of bubbles. The cap is the color of aged ivory, is hefty enough to persist and is sticky enough to leave sheets of cheese grater lace. While it doesn't hang around all that long and the lace that it deposits is less than long lived, it's decent while it lasts.

The nose is an unqualified letdown. I don't believe that I'm being presumptuous to expect some hoppiness in my ESB, am I? Orangic ESB smells more malty than hoppy with weak caramel and butterscotch in the forefront. It's somewhat fruity, but that aspect of the aroma doesn't seem hop related. What is smells like is an especially poor quality English pale ale.

Interesting flavor. Not bad. Not good. What it tastes like is an especially poor quality English pale ale that has had a hopectomy. Barely sufficient malt... no, on second thought, let's make that insufficient malt. The flavor is buttery, moderately sour, minimally sweet and modestly fruity. Not surprisingly, it doesn't hang together in any unified way. The mouthfeel is thin (bordering on watery) and is appropriately carbonated.

Lakefront Organic ESB isn't extra special, it isn't strong and it isn't all that bitter. Given the fact that I'm drinking this bottle at what should be the peak of its powers (it was bottled about one month ago), its lackluster showing is even more disappointing. Of course it's a damn sight better than Lakefront's execrable Pumpkin Lager. The flavor flashbacks from that one still cause me to break out in a cold sweat. I'd say avoid this one; even if you like ESBs.

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Photo of ttu94
2.58/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Well the best thing about this beer is how it looks, so look long. A nice copper color with an ok head that fades quick. The nose has a very malty character with a little citrus maybe?? They lose me totally on the taste. An initial malt flavor followed imediatly by a sour taste that really is not all that pleasant. I'll send the rest of this beer to Hotterthanhell. Kudos for the organic angle though.

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Photo of Padron4KM
2.53/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle. Place for best before date on the label, but it’s not marked.

Deep copper with a 1 finger tan head. Zero retention or lace.

Aroma is light caramel malt and dirty water.

Flavor is slightly piney, with a touch of caramel on the finish.


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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.47/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured a soft head which disappears completely after a moment. Color is a golden amber. Initial taste is a slight bitterness with some malt, which fades away with the finish. Not a lot of body, nor is it highly carbonated. Lacks alot!Bad ESB in my opinion

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Photo of bashiba
2.42/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This beer starts out almost perfect, dark clear amber with a big off white head, and nice retention with very good lacing.

The smell is almost nothing, just a very mild bit of bready malt.

The flavor is bland, some mild grain and toasted malts with a hint of minty hops. With kind a strange musty basement taste that lingers long after the hops.

Mouthfeel is light with a dry, yet cloying finish

Another dud from Lakefront, I will be steering clear of this down the road.

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Photo of Soneast
2.42/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours somewhat hazy, copper color with a dense, 2-finger thick, cream colored head, with good retention.

Aroma is somewhat grainy, some hints of caramel and malt sweetness and green fruit esters.

The flavor is definitely balance towards the sweet side, a sort of sickly sweetness and mild caramel flavors some butteriness, an unusual tartness and next to no hop character

Hmmm....Bitter....or Sweeter? This beer has no hop presence, save for a mild, barely balancing bitterness. The rest is sweetness and not really a good sweetness, it's kinda tart and unrefined. Not a great ESB or beer IMO.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
2.39/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a copper/ amber-ish color with a small white head. Aromas of a small hop, and kind of tea like. In the taste, like iced tea, a bit sweet and citrusy/ lemon flavor. A small bitter mouthfeel, with a dry, small lemon/ citrusy aftertaste. Very much like iced tea, and not much bitter.

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Photo of oberon
2.37/5  rDev -28%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

I havent had many Lakefront brews but the ones I have had have not impressed and this was borderline awfulPoured into a standard pint glass a bull copper color with a nice one finger white head that nver really tottaly subsided,from there it goes way down hill.Sour aromas like apple cider vinegar because a bit of green apple in there some residual toastiness as well,flavors are sour and astrigent makeing me pucker a little that apple is really pronounced its got a firm toastiness but it cant help cut thru the astringency of this beer.Ehh a drain our nuff said.

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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.

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Photo of dwilkins
2.3/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - very light orangish brown. Way too light for an ESB. Head is good - not too much and some lingering foam around the edge persists being just right for the style.

S - Aroma of malt is all I can detect. ESB's should not be over-hopped, so this is a good thing. But... the hop aroma is very cereal like. The smell of raw pilsner or brewers malt predominates. I can detect no caramel or deeper aromas - weird.

T - malty side matches the smell, tastes like barely kilned malt, no depth. Hop balance is not bad, just a little kick of bitterness in the finish which is correct for an ESB.

M - thin and watery. Very little body.

D - I could drink a few bottles of this. While it misses the style target, it is not offensive in any way.

Tell ya what, a little crystal malt to provide some deeper caramel maltiness and darken the color and we're almost there. Perhaps this, along with a higher mash temp would keep the ABV the same and add to the body. If finding organic crystal malts is a problem, perhaps the same could be achieved with decoctions. I know this adds to the expense, but it would be closer to an ESB.

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Photo of Seanibus
2.23/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5


Pours clear copper with a decent head that collapses to nothing very quickly. The aroma is slightly malty with a weird sour hoppy character that is not appetizing. The flavor is sticky and malty, bready with a touch of caramel, and slightly sour, with a flavor I associated with inexpertly produced homebrew. There is relatively little hop bitterness on the finish - more like a hop sourness - with an overripe floral hop aroma that is not pleasant. The mouthfeel is thin and runny with little carbonation and a sour finish.

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Photo of cokes
2.21/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Hazed and dulled brass topped with plenty of beige suds.
Nose of dead leaves, stables, and cardboard.
Begins with a musty dry maltiness. Not flawed outright, at least not right away. Shows some oxidized traits, then the malt vanishes altogether, with a final stab of mushy, stale apple sauce. Strange esters fill the void. Band-aids mostly, and dustballs and tarter things too. Ends thin and modestly hoppy. Dry and grassy and unredeemed.
Too low on depth and too high on flaws. Pretty much worthless all around, and worth even less as it warms, as the problems seem to breed with each other.

I may begin advocating pesticides.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
2.21/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Shiny amber, very good clarity, topped by fist full of off-white foam that quickly dropped to two fingers. No lace.

A mild nose of hay and bread required some very deep pulls to get anything.

Taste comes in sloppy, with earthy herbal English hops, tea-ish malt, and soap all showing up at once, and no element aquitting itself well. Tasty sulfur note in the afterglow.

Okay mouthfeel. Very poor drinkability.

Being organic shouldn't do this to a beer.

Fullers has nothing to worry about here.

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Photo of Squelch
2.1/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance: Very Hazy brown colored. Small head. Does not look appetizing.

Smell: No noticable aromas hopwise or maltwise present in the nose of this beer.

Taste: Bad. Very stale. Overuse of crystal malts give way too much raisony sweetness with no hop balance. Slight puckering astringency.

Mouthfeel: astringent. Puckering. Medium to medium light bodied. Low carbination. Best part of this beer.

Drinkability: Really does not suit my tastes. I may have a bad beer here because this is not good.

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Photo of jsprain1
2.09/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A- Red-copper with golden highlights. Head is half a finger, just a shade off white. Decent retention, light lacing.
S- The aroma is minimally there. There is some malty notes. But where is the bitterness? It really is missing that.
T- Not very flavorful. There is some generic sweetness up front with a touch malty caramel. But the bitterness is really really lacking.
M- The body is lacking depth and the carbonation comes off fizzy.
O- This was an absolute disappointment for me. All around lacking, unfortunately.

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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.

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Photo of sweemzander
2/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz. bottle poured into an imperial pint. Bottled week 1, March 2010. Thanks to BeerFMAndy for the bottle!

(A)- Pours a clear amber color that produced a quickly dissipating white head.

(S)- Sweet corn meal

(T)- Tons of corn husk & bitter honey. Some hay.

(M)- A low carbonation level. Very malty with little to no hop presence. Sweet. I thought this was an ESB?

(D)- Definitely not what I would expect from an ESB. I appreciate breweries trying to make more organic beers, but this one just doesnt do it for me, particularly when it doesnt fit the style.

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