ESB Special Ale | Ska Brewing Co.

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81
good
182 Reviews
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ESB Special AleESB Special Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ska Brewing Co.
Colorado, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
182
Ratings:
396
Avg:
3.58
pDev:
18.99%
 
 
Wants:
15
Gots:
32
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 182 | Ratings: 396
Photo of Halcyondays
3.79/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. can,

A: Pours dark gold/light amber with a soft finger of white head, spots of lace.

S: Very malty, English nose, hint of spearmint from the hops.

T: Strong malt flavour upfront which is then attacked by a lot of American hops. Mint again comes back with some citrus rind, lemon.

M: Soft carbonation, easily quaffable which is good in this style.

D: A solid bitter, pretty much an American Red Ale, OK, but not approaching Fuller's.

 444 characters

Photo of plaid75
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a medium copper hue with a three finger creamy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a forward herbal hop with a soft doughy malt.

The taste consisted of a soft malt, some metal and a dry herbal hop.

The mouthfeel was toward the thinner side of the style.

Overall a tasty and certainly hop forward ESB.

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Photo of tone77
3.53/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to woodychandler for the trade.Poured from a 12 oz. can. Has a caramel color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of hops and grains. Taste is a good balance of malts and hops, some grains. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and has good drinkability. Overall this makes for a good quality beer.

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

Pours a clear amber colored ale with a good tan head.

Smell is lots of roasted malt and caramel with a spicy and herbal hop scent. Faint scent of citrus here too. Spicy alcohol note in the scent.

Taste is a little sweet with a strong vanilla and caramel flavor. Hop flavors take 3-4 sips to catch up with the malt sweetness in this one. Hops are both herbal and citrus in nature here with a woody hop taste at the end. OK bitter in the end but the flavor is really more pale ale than ESB.

Mouthfeel is good.

Not a bad drinker here and one of the few micro-brews that comes in cans especially for camping and the outdoors.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.91/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one pours from 12oz can a clear medium gold witha large head of foam that slowly shrinks to a fine layer with some lacing.

The smell has some caramel malt notes with some hoppiness in the background.

The taste on first sip has a strong caramel malt flavour that is sweet but not too sweet. There's also some grain up front with some hop bitterness moving in as I take further sips but the finish definitely ends up on the malty side. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and at times a bit watery but over all, the positives outrank the negatives for me. This is a good ESB.

Bottom line: I've had this one before and I'll have it again.

Edit: A bought another 6er recently and there's some nice fruity tones I did not notice during my original review. I'm guessing that these are fresher samples and man, the fruitiness combined with the delicious maltiness and just a slight bitterness near the finish makes this much more tasty. New scores implemented.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.69/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Hardly any bubbling, light head, but a little sticky lacing on my glass. A preety average looking English ale. The aroma is a light bread carame and pale malt ith some subtle hops. The taste is just as Engihy subtle. You can taste the malts the best, but their not heay or bland. Just enough to notice the malts and hops. So you can keep driniking this beer over and over again. Smooth malt and hops, with a tangy and sticky finish that tays on the tongue fr quite some time.

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Photo of bark
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The smell is mildly sweet with quite a lot of bitterness. Sweet bread, some fruits and hints of grass, flowers and touches of alcohol and butter.

The colour is amber with a touch of red (25 ECB). The liquid is clear. The warm beige head is finger thick and compact. It sinks slowly leaving some lacing.

The taste is a bit bitterer than I am used to from British ESBs. Otherwise, I recall all the flavours from the “originals”: Some caramel, butter, sweet fruits, hay and flowers, some passing alcohol. Medium to full body. The aftertaste got bread-like flavours, some alcohol, fruits and bitter herbs and notes of dandelions and buttercups. The lingering aftertaste got malty flavours of French loaf.

The carbonation is strong but rather short-lasting with lots of very small bubbles. The liquid is semi-smooth.

A splendid British ESB with an very gentle American twist!

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

Can, which was poured into a pint glass.

Appearance is amber with a one finger beige head. The smell has bread, caramel, malts, and faint hops. Ska`s esb tastes fairly sweet, with more of that caramel from the nose, also some light tropical fruit. Its` bitterness is fairly subdued, and a body that leans towards thin. This is a decent ESB and it would quench you thirst on a summer day.

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Photo of jrallen34
2.16/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I drank this from the can into a pint glass.

The beer is medium clear gold with a decent white head, good lacing and retention.

The aroma is light hops.

The taste is really bad, all bitter, like a scotch ale with some very weird aftertastes. Mouthfeel is heavy but not drinkable.

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Photo of glid02
3.85/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this on up at Bruisin' Ales in Asheville, NC.

Pours a clear orange-ish amber color with a one-finger white head. The head dissipates into a patchy layer on top leaving light lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with hints of bitter hops and nondescript fruit sweetness.

Tastes similar to how it smells. The sweet malt flavors are at the forefront with light amounts of fruit sweetness. The fruits seem a bit easier to pick out in the flavors - mostly berries with hints of pears.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness with good carbonation, pretty smooth.

Drinkability is good. I'll have no problem finishing one, and could have a few of these in one night. This could be a nice session beer when trying to get away from IPA's and APA's.

Overall this is a solid beer, though it's nothing to write home about. Still, it's worth picking up if you see it around.

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Photo of cbutova
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Full notes taken to my phone at Morefield Campground, Mesa Verde National Park, CO.

A- The second ever canned microbrew is poured into a goblet with a fairly clear golden orange body. A frothy white head builds on the beer to a finger. Head retention is decent and a foamy ring stays behind. Lacing is a mix of spots and streaks.

S- Malty overall but the hop presence certainly makes itself known. Toasted, toffee and light caramel malts. Hops lend herbal, grassy and spicy qualities.

T- Lacks the sweetness I find in many ESBs but still packs malt flavors of caramel, toasted nuts, toffee, sweets and cereal. Notes of light fruits, slight raisin and bread throughout. Hops on the back end bringing grassy, spicy and earthy notes. Overall balanced between all of the above with each aspect taking precedence at times.

MF- Fairly light end bodied with a moderately high carbonation. The overall texture is creamy, just a bit chewy and foamy. Finishes with medium bitterness.

Malty but plenty of hops to balance it and at times the hops take over. A nice interpretation of the style with ample malt flavor lacking an overriding sweetness.

 1,141 characters

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 dirtylou
3.36/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz can, mixed 12 pack from Binny's in Schaumburg

appearance: another great pour from a Ska can into an imperial pint - cloudy copper body, fluffy full white head with strong retention

smell: fresh cut flowers, toasted grain, light hops, lemon zest

taste: kind of a flat flavor profile - flowers, sweet malts, grain, lemon, taffy.

mouthfeel: a little dry, medium-light

drinkability: fine

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

12 oz can that I poured into a pint glass. Dark orange color and cloudy. Smell was malty. The taste was metallic, yeasty and not pleasant. The mouthfeel had a grittiness to it that I did not like. I hope this was an old one or something cause it was not good at all.

 266 characters

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.

 306 characters

Photo of Suds
3.72/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From a can, t his is a pale amber with a very thin, quickly dissipating head. The smell is a nice balance of malt and herbal hops. I love the malt backbone of most ESB's, and this one has a solid malt flavor, but the aroma could be better. The hops form a great balance, and the beer is of medium body. Nice, but not great.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.65/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to tr4nc3d for this one as an extra in a past trade. Served from can into a Dogfish Head Signature glass. Poured hazy yellow orange with a minimal white head. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, hops, and a slightly nutty note. The flavor was of only sweet malt and hops. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty nice ESB. Had a very well balanced flavor and nice aroma. However I feel the flavor and aroma was a little simple and not very complex. If there would have been more complexity to this one it could have been something quite special. Still a nice brew that I am glad I got the opportunity to try.

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Photo of AgentZero
2.19/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - It looks like a pretty normal beer, nice gold color with a good head and decent lacing down the sides.

S - I'll be honest, I'm not really sure what is going on here, smell some hops and spice, but this is not what I was expecting from a bitter, which I am a fan of.

T - I find this horrible. Too creamy, not a good take on the style, and the bitterness is lost in some sort of sweet, almost syrupy, taste. I find this to be fairly gross and am not drinking it after a few sips.

M - Good carbonation and goes down smooth.

D - Easy to drink other than it just tastes bad.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.36/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A finger a half of head on a hazy, dark straw colored body.
The aroma is a faint apricot and grain.
The taste has a strong malt presence with a good balance of bitterness middle to end. The finish is short.
Crisp texture with moderate carbonation and medium body.
An enjoyable ESB.

 281 characters

Photo of morimech
3.35/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with two fingers of white head that had good retention. Not as dark as I would associate with an ESB. The head settles to a thick cap. Heavy lacing is left on the glass. The first thing I noticed about the aroma is the mint. I did not know Galena hops had that characteristic. I also noted some earthiness, citrus, and caramel as well. The flavor is really earthy and bitter. The malt does not give enough input into the flavor. Any sweetness is quickly overpowered by the hops. Not that good of a flavor for an ESB. Not a fan of the single hop profile here either. Good body and a nice soft carbonation that seems really good for the style. This beer nees some tweaking to take into the good category. Still worth a try plus it comes in cans.

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

A - pours a clear copper color with a billowing white head

S - smells of piney hops and loads of caramel hops. Spot on for the style with a little more hop presence than normal

T - Some caramel and bready malts are followed by a piney hoppy bitterness. I was hoping the smell would translate to the palette a little better (this is way more malt than hop forward), but oh well - this is still very good.

M - big and full and goes down smoothly...nice

D - this is a pretty good ESB. I don't know if I would particularly seek this one out, but I know I will buy it again at some point.

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Photo of rawfish
2.44/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear dark amber with mild orange highlights when held up to the light. Yellowish head is small and sickly looking and peaks at one finger. Decent retention and lacing on the glass.

Whoa where's the bready malts here, smells more on the sweet side with molasses, toffee and a bit of cocoa on the nose. Add to that some citrus and apples with adjunct grain that gets in the way as well. Odd.

Not a fan of this. Medicinal hop bitterness has no balance and I detect flavors of grape skin, dark fruits and citric acid. The bitterness is rather persistent throughout the drink but the herb and medicinal hops drag on with the tartness. Grape children's tylenol syrup with burnt grains that ends bitter.

Rather well carbonated with a sticky mouthfeel despite being a bit thin. Lots of flavor for the thin body too bad it's not pleasant.

Ugh, the bitterness was there but not accompanied by any balance or pleasant flavors, I would contend that the malt is here due to the color and sweetness but there's no real mesh with the herbal hop flavors and odd citric notes.

 1,072 characters

Photo of jsh420
3.42/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

this is the only craft beer in a can that i can find in IL. and i was glad to find it

pours clear golden yellowish orange with a 1/2 finger white head that left no lacing

smells of sweet malts and grassy hops

taste is a decent balance of sweet bready malts and grassy hops - and a tiny bit of alcohol and metalic flavors come through

mouthfeel was a bit to flat for me - light body

drinkability is so so - i only picked up a single but the beer has a good full flavor just wish it had a little more life - i will check this out again

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

appearance: A big, fluffy off white head fills half of the glass when I pour...so I have to wait for it to recede before I empty the rest of the can. Moderate lacing is left behind. The beer is a hazy golden amber in color.

smell: There's a light and fruity grainy sweetness that is opposed by a mild but obvious hop aroma. I'm getting some hints of apricot, honey, and mild green herbs.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the low end of the high range, and the body a heavy light.

taste: The grain gives a mild sweetness that is reminiscent of summery fruits...apricot and peach maybe. Little hop flavor, but the finishing bitterness cleans and dries the palate perfectly.

drinkability: Well balanced, as an ESB should be, though a little lacking in character. Still, easily drinkable.

12 oz. can received from Zorro in BCG BIF. I wish more micros around here would can a beer for us outdoorsmen.

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ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
81 out of 100 based on 182 ratings.
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