ESB Special Ale | Ska Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
81
good
402 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
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ESB Special AleESB Special Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ska Brewing Co.
Colorado, United States
skabrewing.com

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
Ratings:
402
Reviews:
184
Avg:
3.58
pDev:
12.85%
 
 
Wants:
15
Gots:
33
For Trade:
0
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 402 |  Reviews: 184
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of krome
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of jwc215
3.83/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours amber with a thick head that slowly descends to a thin cover. Some lacing sticks to glass.

The smell is of caramelish sweetness with earthy, buttery, floral/fruity notes.

The taste is of caramel and vanilla sweetness upfront. Earthy, almost woody, bitter hops balance the sweetness. Mildly buttery. Pineapple-ish fruitiness comes forth as drink progresses. Sweet, though restrained by bitterness, esp. in the finish. I was between two scores, but gave it the higher because of the pleasant taste, though I don't know if I would recommend it if someone asked for a good example of the style.

The body is a bit thin, but holds up well enough.

Well, although it didn't shine forth as a great example of the style, there is something about it I found enjoyable.

Thanks to bitterbill for including this one!

 823 characters

Photo of Tone
3.67/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, copper color. 3/4 inch head of an off-white color. Good retention and good lacing. Smells of pale malt, pale hops, citrus hops, slight sweet malt, hint of wheat, and hint of spice. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Strong Bitter. Mouth feel is smooth and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of pale hops, citrus hops, sweet malt, pale malt, and hint of wheat. Overall, good complexity and blend.

 426 characters

Photo of Wasatch
3.56/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this one.

Pours a very nice cloudy golden orange color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger plus creamy head, with some nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, slightly bitter, with some slight spice. The taste is malty, slightly bitter, with some slight spice. Medium body. Drinkable, not a bad brew.

 345 characters

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.

 294 characters

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.69/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of tempest
3.43/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a can at Chip's Wine and Beer in Kill Devil Hills. I like a good ESB, but this came off more like a smooth Americn amber. In fact, it reminds me of New England Brewing's Atlantic Amber which is also from a can. It's basically a smooth caramel malt beer that finishes dry and with a moderate spicy hop kick. Nothing really stands out here, but it's certainly not a bad beer.

 383 characters

Photo of afsdan
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of DoubleJ
3.58/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

So...why not a can with Ska's other offerings? At least I don't need a bottle opener for this one. On to the beer:

Poured out of the can, it looks good at first look. Muddy orange colored body, with a thick layer of soapy suds that continues to hold up. A pretty solid aroma, one that works for me. Honey, buttery, fruity, husky grain. Hints of metal from the can. To taste, it is a lighter tasting ESB. It has a mild diacetyl character which is rounded off by a dominant honey flavor. A little grainy, a little fruity. Processed bitterness poses a backdrop to it all. The liquid is medium in feel, but easygoing. A pleasant honeydue and light buttery flavor linger on in the aftertaste.

After dissapointments with my first two Ska offerings, their Special ESB delivers. It must be the cans.

 794 characters

Photo of Mora2000
3.68/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to blutt59 for sharing this can.

The beer pours a yellow color with a white head. Not quite what I was expecting from an ESB. The flavor is toffee malt with some earthy hops mixed in. The flavor is grassy hops, earthy hops and some bready malt. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

 293 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.

 343 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.7/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light copper color with a white cap. Aroma of stewed hops, mineral and wet dog. In the taste, toffee, herbal hops, butterscotch. Mild but persuasive bitterness adds a good character to the taste. Medium to light bodied, medium carbonation with good retention. Overall, this is a nice little esb, that actually packs more of a punch than most.

 350 characters

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

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.

 694 characters

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.

 633 characters

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 Rhettroactive
3.09/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

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.

 954 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 Hohnbaum
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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.

 388 characters

Photo of WDJersey
3.43/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Canada_Dan
3.5/5  rDev -2.2%

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!

 882 characters

ESB Special Ale from Ska Brewing Co.
3.58 out of 5 based on 402 ratings.
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