ESB Special Ale | Ska Brewing Co.

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ESB Special AleESB Special Ale

Brewed by:
Ska Brewing Co.
Colorado, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bitterbill on 10-26-2003

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Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 399
Photo of ZenAgnostic
3.43/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz can poured into a pint glass. Bottom rim of can stamped BEST BY 03/16/11.

Appearance - Cloudy amber body. Pours two finger offwhite head with decent stick and good retention.

Smell - Spicy hops. Orange. Vaguely floral. Mild bodied.

Taste - Bitter. Mild to moderate body. Hoppy with zesty citrus overtones. Mild maltiness. Somewhat metallic.

Mouthfeel - Astringent. Medium bodied. Somewhat syrupy/sticky. Not refreshing, in other words. Lacks effervescence.

Overall Drinkability - Middle of the road. Doesn't shine. Off-characters aren't dominating, but are definitely annoying.

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Photo of Crookedchris
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance: Poured crystal clear. Copper/golden in color. One finger, off-white head that left minimal lacing.

smell: Some malt sweetness comes through better when a little warmer. Herbal / grassy hops. Overall a subdued aroma.

taste: Hop forward when too cold but the malt comes out as it warms up. Toasty/bready notes as appropriate for an ESB. Some metallic flavor and definitely some notes of roasted or chocolate malts.

mouthfeel: Light to medium body supported by moderate carbonation. Easy drinking, but not watery.

drinkability: Good. Smooth drinking beer. Dangerously sessionable.

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Photo of OttoPeeWee
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Second tasting of the day from Ska. Overall this is a decent brewry (the other beer was the motis hop...). They seem spot on with their own take on this ESB and the american IPA. The look is pretty standard ESB golden brown with creamy head that dissapates. The smell is grainy funky although I prefer more fruit in the ESB's (yes a flaw!). There is also a faint whiff of alcohol. I'm not sure why at this ABV. The taste is malt butter with a different hoppiness than an ESB like Fullers. Not bad. Great value for the 12 pack I bought. I don't mind the cans, but check out PBR and go back to the drawing board on the graphics.

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Photo of chicagoabbot
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Can into a ESB it's not, but it's a decent beer, better than indicated by the rating. Decent head on it on top of the right color body for the style. However, it's not nearly dry enough or bitter enough. This would be more properly called a pale ale

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.46/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

nice beer from ska, pours a really nice caramel color, clear as day, with a one inch thick white head that has some moderate retention ability. looks great in a schooner at euclid hall denver. smells off, kind of vinegary or something, definitely a malty beer, but does not smell too appetizing. flavor is much much better, nice english malt profile, caramel notes and the flavors even of a brown ale, roasty and sweet a little bit. finishes clean. feel was nice, medium bodied with relaxed carbonation. an excellent session ale. overall nice brew, not a huge esb guy, but this was really enjoyable.

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Photo of Lemke10
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I bought a single can of this from Woodman's in North Aurora, IL for $1.50 in Fall 2010.

Pours a golden amber color as the scent of hops erupt from pouring into a chilled pint glass. Drinking past the decent head there is a semi-mild bitter taste to it. No where near as bitter as an IPA however. A nice hoppy taste that makes this beer fairly decent.

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Photo of ONUMello
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz can poured into a pint glass
A: Orange color and a 1/2 finger head that quickly dissipates.
S: Muted; some grain, caramel and not much else.
T: Rich, with toasted grains, a dose of bitters and a toffee/caramel note.
M: Medium-bodied with a long finish.
O: Solid beer, that didn't impress me at first, but the longer I sip it the more I like it.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a brilliantly clear red-copper color with a frothy light tan colored head. The aroma is light and spicy with notes of caramel and a bit of herbal/ citrusy hops. The taste is lightly sweet up front, and finishes with a mellow bitterness. This beer is quite light on the palate with a nice balance between a caramel grain note and a bit of spicy hops. As it warms and sits on my palate a hint of toasty malt character begins to develop. This beer is quite the quaffer, and is definitely a session type brew, though I would like to see a just a hint more hop character to balance the malt and a bit more fruity yeast character. Though this is certainly in line with a British Special Bitter.

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Photo of pentathlete
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy dark orange with a rocky white head that falls to a contoured table of bubbles. Some columns of big bubble carbonation rise slowly up. Smell is a raw perfumey hops, not overpowering, but present before any malts. Smell is initially sweet then gives way immediately to astringent hops. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. Expecting a little more from this, maybe a maltier character to match the vinous hoppiness, yet this is not a hop monster by any means.

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Photo of SanDiegoBeerLove
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz can with 1/20/2011 Best Buy date.

A - Amber/Brown color with about an inch of Head that fades leaving a light film.

S - Smell of Caramel, Roses, Lemon, Grass, and much more like Champagne than an ESB.

T - Tastes of dried fruits, Grapefruit, Celery, and Bourbon as it warms up. It tastes more like an Amber but less malty.

M - Medium body, good carbonation, and crisp mouthfeel.

D - A good drinkable beer and glad it is in cans. Good Pairing with saltier foods.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - the beer pours from the can a smooth deep amber color almost mohogonay, but turns to a bright clear orange when backlit. there is about 2 fingers worth of snow white foam on top but lacks for retention.

S - the aroma is mild, but there is a ton of chocolate from the dark malts, a bit of red fruit, some licorice, and a hint of earthy hops.

T - a light sweetness from the malts up front as well a decent amount of chocolate that seems to completely coat the tounge. there is a nice herbal hop complement to the chocolate flavor in the middle. smooth finish with a lingering bit of hop bitterness.

M - decent amount of carbonation, could be a little bit smoother. otherwise has a nice creamy texture.

D - this British inspired ale would be just the thing on a cool Fall evening. has enough flavor to be an interesting beer but has a low enough alcohol content to enjoy more than one.

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Photo of Goliath
3.49/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a brilliant clear amber color with a two inch off white head. Great retention and some lacing as well.

The aroma is alright, but a bit boring. It's somewhat reminiscient of a macro lager, somewhat. I get some grain, sugar, and caramel.

The taste is decent. A nice malt profile with notes of caramel and raw grain. It's slightly sweet up front with a subtle hop bitterness that lingers on the back end. It's definitely a nice little ESB.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and nicely carbonated with a large and crisp bubble.

Drinkability is fairly high. Easily sessionable with presumeably low ABV and a nice flavor profile.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz can, from a King Soopers in Glendale, Colorado.

This beer pours a clear, medium copper amber colour, with two fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and bubbly ecru head, which leaves some spooky webbed tree branch lace around the glass as things lazily recede.

It smells of bready caramel malt, a touch of wet biscuity toffee, earthy, herbal, and leafy hops, a bit of somewhat sour orchard fruitiness, and a subtle metallic booziness. The taste is gritty, grainy caramel malt, musty stewed apple and pear, a slightly buttered breadiness, and leafy, weedy, and mildly floral hops.

The bubbles are quite light and mostly just playfully frothy, the body a sturdy medium weight, and generally smooth, however that diacetyl character starts in on the clamminess after a spell. It finishes off-dry, and more generically fruity, than straight-up malty in its sweetness.

Not a bad brew, in taste or in presentation, but I'm not getting enough crisp, biscuity notes, or heightened noble hops, to take this one at its word. More of a typical (if still well-made) American-style amber ale - something I'd like in my corner when taking down a pile o' hot wings.

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Photo of larryarms847
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear reddish brown with a tight head.

Caramel, toffee, and slight earthy hop aroma.

Biscuits, caramelly malt sweetness, earthy/mild spice hop bitterness.

Light-bodied, low carbonation.

Overall, an easy drinking beer.

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Photo of Gusler
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The disembarks the 12-ounce can a cloudless amber with a portly light tan head that is frothy in texture, after its eventual demise the lace forms an obfuscating sheet upon the glass. Nose is fresh fruit, sweet malt, crisp and clean with the start sweet and the malt profile adequate, the top is middling in feel. Finish is mildly acidic and the hops personable in their spiciness, aftertaste is quite dry and long lasting, a decent drinking beer and would make a fine session beer.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the can a clear reddish gold with a thin wet beige head.

The aroma is light with a metallic grain note and just a hint of hops and strawberry.

The taste is also on the lighter side with the same metallic-corn graininess and a touch of strawberry.

Light to medium bodied, wet and clean, with a moderate carbonation.

A decent ESB from Ska but nothing very special IMO.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Almost light brown appearance, some dark auburn/amber and whatnot up in there. Caramel forward, minor earthy hop aroma.

Taste hit the bitter and hop notes appropriate to style, a little malty and woody, minor citrus flavors. Good golf beer, especially now that it is in a can. Solid 2nd tier esb stuff.

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Photo of blackcompg
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from their 12oz can...

Appearance - Poured nearly 2 fingers of lite golden eggshell head, color of the beer is a brite translucent copper orange.

Smell - Wheatbread, yeast, pears, apples, lite floral hops.

Taste - Much like the nose, litely baked wheat, semi-sweet pears, touch of crisp apples, nice lightly bitter floral hops, and some lite spices like coriander and white pepper.

Mouthfeel - Lighter side of medium, this allows a little bit of the pear sweetness and malts to be appreciated, then almost medium carb cleanses slightly and gives the white fruits some tart crispness and helps to assert the floral hops. Very drinkable.

Overall - The B in this one is definitely for balanced. There are some really nice crisp and refreshing flavors going on here. Looks nice in a glass too, a very good session beer. Get the 12pk can sampler and also enjoy their killer APA, Modus Hoperandi.

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Photo of ChiPool
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from can into Lagunitas mason jar. Best by date is 11/6/12; consumed on 8/30.

I grabbed one of their mixed 12 packs yesterday: first crack at this beer. As this beer is pretty straightforward, I'll keep my review pretty simple. It represents the style well. There is a mild, lingering bitterness that balances bready malts. This is a respectable session ale.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour - peachy brownish-orange, sort of murky and hazy with a tight, thick off-white foamy head.

Aroma - malt extract, yeasty and lemon and/or orange peel. This is a tough beer to really place as far as the aroma goes. Its not overly strong smelling and the aromas I do get are all pretty basic.

Taste - initial tastes are tangy sweet malt, caramel, a bit of orange along with slight hints of oxidized hops. Not too sweet and not too bitter, this one falls right in the middle. Some bready or biscuity flavors are in the finish along with some butteriness.

Overall - A blend of malty sweetness and tangy bitterness this is a very easy drinking option to the all too familiar Amber Ale. Not bad but nothing overly exciting.

Would I buy more of it? - this can came into my hands through a friend in North Carolina. They are yet to distribute their beers up here in Massachusetts. But, if I could buy it I'd probably go with their other canned offering first.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz can served in a Sam Adams perfect pint

A - Pours a clear amber body with fleeting head.

S - Grainy biscuit, cereal malt, red wheat, clean bread, slightly toasted.

T - Follows the nose with cereal grains, lightly toasted caramel, moderate citrus hops wrap around providing a solid bitterness. The grainy malt holds strong against the semi-aggresive hops. Some floral hops and vanilla come out when warmed up. Finishes dry.

M - Creamy carbonation, grainy, wet the dry on the finish. Light to medium body.

A solid all around ESB. Hops are more pronounced than it's English counterparts. The citrus plays off the malt well and makes for a hopped up bready ESB.

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Photo of coldmeat23
3.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

GLASS: Kostritzer Mug
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

My can jumped to life when I pulled the tab. It didn't spray or anything, but it foamed up and over, very quickly. Somewhat like a nitro can.
It pours a medium golden color with hints of orange. Massive, craggy, head forms. Retention is very good and lacing is in large spots and very sticky.

Mild nose. Malty bread-like notes and spicey hop notes. Light hints of caramel and cherries.

Mild notes of hop bitterness, balanced by a touch of malt sweetness. Light hint of sweet fruity breads.

Medium body with good carbonation level. Smooth and slightly thick feeling.

Drinkable, but not really my style.

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Photo of BrownAleBollocks
3.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mud red color with a one finger meringue color head. Aroma is honey, crackers, and biscuits. Taste follows. Mouthfeel is medium and just ever so slightly oily. Overall an ok esb, although I was hoping for something more like fullers esb.

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Photo of chugalug06
3.52/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Awesome white foamy head; nice lacing too. Nice clarity in an orange/redish/yellow brew. Looks great!

Heavy malt and light hop. This one could stand to be more hoppy, but it fits the style, just slightly too much caramel.

More hop on the tongue then on the nose... Nicely bitter and perfect carbonation. Biscuit-y, nutty, dry, and slightly sweet. Very sessionable, even at 5.7%. Tons of heavy caramel. Too much malt and not enough hop...

A very solid ESB, it could stand to be more hoppy, but very refreshing and enjoyable nonetheless.

 540 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A little darker than most esb's I've had this one came in a hybrid orange and dark amber. Caramel and a tiny amount of hops in the aroma.

Taste, pretty good, some bitter and hops, really couldn't differentiate this between an esp and a pale ale. Citrus hop, pale and caramel malt flavor, seems like a pale to me. Very well carbonated. A decent brew, nothing groundbreaking, maybe not dry enough to be a true esb, but I've always found esb's to be like pales with less hops.

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ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
3.58 out of 5 based on 399 ratings.
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