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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 184 | Ratings: 400
Photo of alli4051
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz can into a SA perfect pint.

Pours dark burnt orange with a slightly off-white head. Head is average sized but dissipates slowly and leaves some chunky lacing. Scent, honestly, there's not a whole lot there, some murky malts but that's all I'm getting. Taste is nicely balanced, pleasantly subtle is how I would describe it. Earthy malt profile with some nice citrusy hop tones up front. On the light side of medium with a clean finish. ESB was a style I never understood, and then it clicked today as to what exactly it was supposed to be and I felt stupid. With my new found understanding of the style this seems to be a good example. Goes down easy and I'm happy to keep throwing them back. Got this in a variety pack and definitely could have gone for more than the four that were in there.

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Photo of BeerAmbassador
3.08/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a two fingered head but quickly dissapated. Amber hue.

Not much of an aroma. Just a little hops and malt. Maybe a little fruitiness.

Taste is good, although not much hop bitterness. up front malt character, some caramel and other malt flavors.

Pretty good carbonation, nice and creamy mouthfeel. Maybe a little less carbonated than a typical beer but it works in this case.

Very nice drinkability goes down very smooth and definately a good session beer. This is the kind of thing I wouldnt mind taking camping and sitting around the fire with.

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

Had this brew poured from a 12oz can at the Flying Saucer in Charlotte

This solid ESB from Ska Brewing pours a nice amber with a nice cap of creamy off-white foam that leaves a nice amount of lace. The nose has some caramel sweetness along with some light grassy hop aromas. As you sip this there is a big upfront bitterness that is followed by a strong caramel and roasted backbone. This beer drinks really easily and is nice and sessionable with a respectable 5.8% abv.

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Photo of joshuadlight
3.81/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is the first beer I've had from Ska Brewing.
Good color that is a shade under orange, with a chunky head that leaves intermittent lacing. More floral hops in the nose than there are in the taste. It set me up for a hoppy brew that turned out to be malt dominated. Bready and sweet notes throughout, with a roasted malt type of residual aftertaste. Its good though. Carbonation leads to a silky smooth mouthfeel that I really enjoyed. Drinkable enough, I like the style and thought this was a good representation. Pick it up if you get a chance.

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Photo of dankster
3.2/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A- clear amber with very little head

S- Malty, not much hop presence noted but some brew sugers are coming though for me.

T- smooth and flavorful. some candy notes like candy corn tasted. big malt and a small hops aftertaste

M-clean and clear. goes down well without coating the mouth at all.

O- Good example of a english esb. but others are better. i recommend trying if you like the syle. 5.7% abv hides good. good price too at $8 a sixer. Another solid offer from ska brewing.

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Photo of vishneda
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

An appreciable ESB, even if It is more or less an Americanized version of the style (think a slightly more biscuity and buttery APA with less sweetness and way less hop aroma). This beer is hop forward on the tongue but still balanced. The aroma is to style but a little faint. Color is thinner and lighter than a classic ESB but still a nice hue. The carbonation is nice and bright. I like the beer enough to enjoy it occasionally.

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Photo of nc41
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm not a huge ESB fan but I like SKA products and it was worth a try. I hate breaking it down to the Nth degree, but this is a very solid English style ESB. Looks pretty good, malty nose more so than hops, nicely bitter without stepping up and out of class with the hops. Very drinkable at a sane ABV level, and enjoyable at gatherings where you don't want a mouth slam of hops, and perhaps have to drive and have 3-4 safely. This would make a great beach pool brew IMO. Not being an ESB man I wasn't sure how to rate it at much above average in any category, but I don't believe even beer snobs could really low rate this brew. My preference is for more hops so my prejudice probably shows, perhaps unfairly.

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Photo of Monsteruss
3.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

When poured into a glass, the foam was light wheat in color, somewhat thick and lacey. The color was a nice honey and gold in the light. The smell was very fruity and had a bit tartness to it. The taste had a blandish fruity overtone with a nice hops undertone and a bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel - clean and smooth. Drinkability - went down the gullet well and had a good session.

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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 kpoole25
3.1/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz can to glass. Orange-copper color, off-white head. Malty nose. Taste wise, it seems to hit the malt and mineral notes of English ESB, but the hops stick out as American style pale ale, it seemed to overpower the mix for me. Fairly drinkable but left thinking there are better alternatives.

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Photo of Grabbin2nd
4.38/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From Notes: 7/1/09
Ska Brewing Co.
ESB Special Ale
5.9% Abv.
12oz. can into Stone Old Guardian Glass (not sure why I picked this glass)

Appearance= Cakey white 1 finger head. Plenty of carbonation. Slightly darker than I would have expected for the style. Orange color. Excellent head retention.

Smell= Bready, citrusy ESB smell.

Taste= Love this beer, seriously! Hoppy, crisp, clean, citrus, biscuit.

Mouthfeel= Perfect for the style! Lively carbonation, thin, refreshing mouthfeel.

Drinkability= Super tasty ESB in a can? Hell yea mang! Love this beer. Extremely drinkable. This is it.

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Photo of ZoomanCru
2.38/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

App: Pours a typical amber orange with a thin head that dissipates quickly leaving good lacing. Retention is for the birds, almost completely gone in less than a minute. Some flakes floating around. Not a good a sign, but could be a natural result of can conditioning. Well within BB date.

Smell: Light toasted smell, with a slight cheesey characteristic. Some odd fruit notes like pinapple.

Taste: Mildly sweet and bitter simultaneously with a fair amount of diacetyl butteriness. Tastes a little raw, as though it wasn't fermented long enough before canning. A little astringent, metalic and off tasting on the back end.

Mouth: Thin and a little under carbonated. Swallows dry, but leaves a lingering astringency on the tongue.

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Photo of Wolfsdenbrew
3.95/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow, craft brews in cans...finally!

Nice clear light copper amber hue with a huge off white head, leaves lots of lacing behind.

Hints of sweet malts with caramel and just the slightest hop bouquet.

Very refreshing flavor, light to medium body, crisp and clean, sweet maltiness with a bit of fruitiness, and a nice hop presence to finish this off.

Carbonation level was a bit high for the style but nice for a summer canned beer, would probbly be wonderful in a cask. I will definitely stock up on these cans for the beach trip this summer.

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Photo of johnyeast
4.18/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy amber with an off white, 1/4 inch head. Plenty of carbonation bubbling up. I get the grains right away with a light citrus smell. The taste is also light and very refreshing. An incredibly balanced beer. I could see this easily as a session beer. Very easy to drink. I like this beer. I also like that it is in a can.

Possible a good gateway beer because you have a bit of complexity without the fear (for some) of a heavy, high alcohol, possibly too dark, craft beer, that may turn away your neighbor, wife, long lost friend (fill in the person that you desperately want to share good beer with.)

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Photo of thydarkprevails
3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From a can to a duvel tulip. Pours a clear caramel with an inch thick off white head. Average lacing. Aroma is biscuit, malt, and light citrus. Flavor is bitter up front and moves to a bready malty taste. There's some toffee and caramel there as well. Mouthfeel is thin and slightly sticky. Not a bad esb.

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Photo of biking4beer
3.63/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz can poured into a pint glass.

Pours a 2 finger foamy white head that diminishes but sticks around throughout. Slight lacing. Beer is a light orange color with some yellow tints.

Smells of honey and a very slight orange citrusy hop. Very very slight alcohol after taking a sip.

Taste is pretty balanced. Smooth malts in the front and nice bittering in the end. A touch watery. Slight orange on the tip of the tongue.

Good carbonation. slight oil coats the mouth, but is barely noticeable. Goes down easy. This could become a fall back beer for me since it's becoming more prevalent around here. Definitely a good drinking beer.

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

Got the beer at the craft brewers conference. 12 ounce can. Pours a clear light copper color with a white head, soapy lacing.
The aroma has light malt quality to it with a slightly grassy note.
The flavor is balanced and drinkable with nice hop and malt flavors. A well made and drinkable beer.

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Photo of mastodonj
3.92/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz can poured into a diconic glass.

A nice dark amber, reddish hued ale. Just minimal to medium
lacing that does not last. Slightly beige head.

Caramel, spice and rye?.

Of course, there is plenty of bitterness with a good tingling sensation on the tongue and a great clean finish.

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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 quaybr
3.78/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Body is a golden color with a red hue. A bubbly head disappears rather quickly, leaving behind substantial lacing.

Smells of pale malt with hints of grassy hops.

Taste follows suit, only with more flavoring hops present. The flavor is really quite pleasant. Simple and well balanced. Becomes sweeter as it warms up, tasting a bit of corn.

Great carbonation level, carries the ale across the tongue exceptionally well.

This is a good beer, definitely enjoyable.

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Photo of Bizz88
3.36/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This "Four Corners" brew poured a clear medium amber from a 12oz can with a two fingered off white head with some light lacing. Aromas of malt and grains with a touch of hops. A malty citrus on the palette with a bitter metallic finish, good carbonation in a medium body that paired well with a smoked trout pate on whole wheat toast. Yeah right! Decent enuf brew for more than one.

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Photo of Durtdiggler
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from can into a Belgian style beer glass. 1 Finger head, minimum amount of lacing. Copper/Amber hue with cloudiness.

The aroma is neutral; no big hop profile mosty sweet malt.

The strong attributes are the tasting and mouth feel.

Malty, sweeter profile upfront with the tasting with a slight bitter finish that ends very clean but not too dry. No grassy notes. I think its well balanced but favors malt.

Mouth feel is very smooth and soft, not too carbonated, flat or syrup. It goes down real easy.

Great every day beer for fall, spring temperatures when you're not in the mood for strong IPA. Really enjoyed it.

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Photo of rwdkosak
3.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip out of the fridge produced a shortlived small head over clouded gold color. Smell was hop, mild malt maybe a bit of citrus in the end. Taste was similar, bitterness came toward the later third of the tasting, not overpowering, decently balanced. Overall mouthfeel was good and at a lower ABV, it's quite drinkable. Maybe not my favorite but would have it again.

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Photo of jeffaz02t
3.3/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Amber, with an off-white head. Head poured thick, bit dissipated quickly into about a quarter inch of lace. Glass was very clean, but very little lacing.

S: a little pine from hops, and caramel. I have noticed that a lot of their brews have a similar vibe in the malt profile. This is a good thing as it is pretty tasty and provides a good contrast to the hops.

T: The hops come across right away, though not nearly as strong as the smell might suggest. This fades into a caramel sweetness and then into a copper/penny type of aftertaste.

M: On the thin end of medium. Thought it would be a little fuller.

D: Could drink many due to its relative thinness for its style.

Notes: Would buy again in a single can, not in a 6er. Not bad, but not in my top picks in its style.

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Photo of bryanbrick
3.04/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this as an extra from CosmoHopHead, thanks Matt for a killer trade. I'll try and review more beers from the trade soon.

12oz can. No freshness dating.
Going to do the review by letters, my Girlfriend just texted to meet her at a bar after work. A rare occasion.

A-Nice big frothy head, stark white, on a tan hued gold colored beer

S-Not much here, simple aromas of charred malt and some tinny hops. Tinny in tone, not from the can

T-Most flavor is from the English styled malts. The bitter counterpoint doesn't really hold up. Quick to disappear.

M-Nice creamy feel with a sort of slickness to it. Feels almost synthetic, but not unappealing.

D-A beer for any place you want the ease of cans. Camping, Ball games, etc. But there are also a lot better beers in cans these days so?

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ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
3.58 out of 5 based on 400 ratings.
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