ESB Special Ale | Ska Brewing Co.

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ESB Special AleESB Special Ale
401 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 401 |  Reviews: 184
Photo of fishguyac
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of beer2day
4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange pour with thin large bubbled carbonation. Thick, light cream 1.5-finger head. Nice retention and thick, but sparse, clouds of lace.

Malty nose with bread and yeast. Slight orange citrus trace sneaks through.

More malt than bitter here. Bread and light orange marmalade combine for a flavorful glass. Not much in the way of bitters, but very mindful of the English style.

Feel is appropriate, slightly chewy.

Very, very easy to drink.

 445 characters

Photo of linnymtu
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of mikereaser
3.03/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours an amber color with a good 2 inches of foam that quickly faded leaving a little bit of lacing but not much down the glass
S - faint pine hops and caramel malt, but not alot in terms of aroma
T - caramel malts with a piney hop bitterness in the middle, almost a burnt aftertaste to it that leaves me not wanting more, finishing with a bit of a lemon and orange but not very noticable
M/D - light to medium bodied with some nice carbonation. Its still not the most exciting flavor and the burnt taste just makes this one hard to finish. Overall an ok beer but not one i'll search out.

 604 characters

Photo of hiphopj5
3.25/5  rDev -9.2%

Photo of JLaw55
2.5/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This one tastes like burnt malt and stale hops. The balance is way off, and the flavors are not all that pleasant.

Would Drink Again: No
Would Purchase Again: No

 163 characters

Photo of carteravebrew
3/5  rDev -16.2%

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.

 966 characters

Photo of swgwilt
3.01/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of Domingo
4.13/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Not sure why I've never bought this before, but I'm glad I did.
Pours a deep gold to amber color. Like their IPA, the head from the can is pretty rocky and does a good job of sticking around.
Smells like graham crackers and toasted grain.
Up front, the graham cracker flavor really carries through. Lots of bready flavor in the middle and a finish that's clean, with just enough earthy hops to keep it from being overly sweet. A little bit of a tea flavor in there adds a little UK authenticity, too.
Mouthfeel is ideal for drinking on a warm day, but not watery in the slightest.
This stuff goes down like water, though...seriously.
Wish I'd bought this earlier. Reminds me of a better Fat Tire moreso than a UK special bitter, but I'm okay with that. I really like this one a lot.
Along with 90 Shilling and Laughing Lab, this is one of the best session brews in the state.

 876 characters

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.1/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

super huge thanx to UnionMade for this treat (and Kristi)

brilliantly decorated red can, listing 'love' as a primary ingredient of this beer. ESB in a can. who would've thunk it.

can opens without a sound and the beer pours nice and orange with yellow around the edges, big foamy head that you usually get from vigorously pouring a canned beer. webby lacing. bubbly.

smells very fruity. passionfruit and pineapple here as well as a nice hop addition and slight rindy hint of bitter malt. light mouthfeel and smooth down the throat makes this extremely drinkable, but this beer refuses to suffer from flavor loss.. it's bitter and malty with a very dry, crisp finish. subtler notes of honey and cantaloupe. after drinking, hop oil resin is detected on my cheek walls. the aroma is balanced equally with the flavor as i drink this from an imperial pint. lighter style ESB but that makes this the perfect craft beer for a can. wish i had five more.

looking forward to trying more of these ska beers (and lucky me, i've got a boxfull!)

 1,044 characters

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.

 663 characters

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 MrMcGibblets
3.8/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

brillantly clear copper poured into a nonic. creamy, quickly dimishing white head. subtle aromas of toffee, buttered bread, and a hint of vague fruit and nuts. taste was spot-on for an esb with a bit of caramel sweetness and a moderate bitterness. creamy, light-bodied, with a drying finish. not too watery but still just a bit thin, but fine for the style. quite sessionable.

 376 characters

Photo of gpblackgt
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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.

 352 characters

Photo of atpca
3.25/5  rDev -9.2%

Photo of rowew
3.75/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz can, no date or abv.

Appearance: Orange with a hint of brown, lighter than I expected for an ESB. Average head and retention.

Smell: Fairly subdued - bready malt, just a bit of spicy hops.

Taste: Nice amount of hop flavor, with some malt sweetness to balance it out. very drinkable.

Overall impression: This is a nice camping beer - plenty drinkable, available in cans, but enough flavor to keep it from being boring.

 441 characters

3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of beeragent
3.33/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz can.

A - Pours a medium gold, forming a thin white head that quickly fades. Medium spot of lace on the glass.

S - Light malt aroma on the nose, but nothing else is really noticeable.

T - Again, the malt takes the front with a light bready taste. Not much in the way of a hop profile. Kind of a let down.

M - Medium bodied. Low carbonation and clean finish.

D - Not being a real fan of ESB's to begin with, I found that I enjoyed this one more than most. Having said that, the hops just didnt seem to be present in this one, tasting more like an amber ale than anything. I'll have to come back to this as I explore the style more.

 671 characters

Photo of jjayjaye
4.04/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The appearance is on the lighter side of pale amber with a shallow loose white foam head that leaves negligible lacing behind. If your a fan of bitters you'll like this one. It's got the classic ultra buttery big rich caramel malt thing going on. The mouth feel is nicely carbonated, smooth yet on the lighter side of a medium bodied. The flavors mirror the sweetness from the nose and linger appropriately. A real nice drinker and very sessionable at 5.7% ABV. Big thanks to Pops for the opportunity!

 501 characters

Photo of pokesbeerdude
3.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a six pack at a liquor store in Steamboat, CO, around $7.

A: Hazy copper color, aggressive pour yielded a thick rocky head about, two inches thick. Huge clumps of lacing all around the glass.

S: A little light in the nose, a faint hint of pale malt, and a few spicy hop notes. Nothing really else going on here.

T: Nice malt bill, roasted, earthy hop characteristic, really a balanced beer, hints of caramel, and a little bitterness towards the end. Nothing overwhelming, but a tasty beer none the less.

M: Smooth, and creamy, a faint lingering bitterness, but this goes down smooth.

D: A good beer to drink a few of, nice flavors, and not overwhelming. Good beer all around. I enjoy it more out of the can than pouring it into a glass though. I'd recommend it.

 781 characters

Photo of u2carew
2.9/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz can.
A) Pours with a finger thick head then settles quickly leaving a thin layer of foam on top. A hazy, amber body with thin lacing on the drink down.
S) Citrus notes - orange and some lemon. Floral tones with a pleasant earthy aroma.
T) Starts with a mild malt sweetness then moves a hop bite that is quite bitter in the finish. Subtle caramel. Some alcohol in the mix - which is odd for a 5.7%.
M) Fizzy up front. Medium body. Thick tannin feel. A little bit syrupy.
D) An alright brew. I don't think I'd have another one.

 531 characters

Photo of redleg411
3/5  rDev -16.2%

Photo of lilsmizzul1225
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.58 out of 5 with 401 ratings
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