Wooden Ships ESB | Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)

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18 Ratings

Brewed by:
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Don’t let the word “bitter” scare folks off! Our ESB possesses only medium hop qualities in aroma, flavor and bitterness. The residual malt sweetness of this richly flavored, full-bodied bitter stands in perfect counterbalance. For “British pub” authenticity we used only imported English Fuggle hops. It is a tasty batch, indeed.

Added by cokes on 09-21-2002

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 18 |  Reviews: 8
Photo of AgentZero
3.03/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Guess this isn't retired anymore, as we got it on our trip to Minnesota for Darkness Day.

A - Amber colored beer with a bit of spot lacing on the sides, pretty much transparent.

S - Smells of english style malts and a touch of honey, slight hops brings the sweetness down a little bit with some bitterness.

T - Tastes of weak tea, malted barley, light citrus hops, and a little bit of catnip mint. It's drinkable, but I'm not in love with it.

M - Light bodied, just a little flat.

D - It's an easy drinker, but considering how light it is, I should be tossing this back like water, not wishing for something else.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.13/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the brew pub...A light copper beer with some really really nice carbonation...Really light aroma of bread but that's about it, way to plan...The taste is equally dead, only a little alcohol and hops come through.

Easy to drink but not sure why you would at only 3.4% unless you trying to drink all day.

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Photo of Rilesmiles
3.49/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of zeff80
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Crstumpf
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of seeswo
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of ethosx19
3.51/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm too lazy to write down notes, so this will have to be from memory. Small yet strong head, nice hop smell, nice dark amber color, and a variety of complex flavors. My rating would be much better if they could make this a bolder brew. It is almost as if they took a great ESB and cut it with water.

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Photo of CraigTravor
3.61/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of TMoney2591
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a nonic pint glass at the Madison brewpub.

Another entry in my pre-interview extravaganza. It pours a clear light-copper-amber topped by a half-finger of slightly off-white micro-foam. (I love hyphens.) The nose comprises light soap, flowers, greens, light walnut, and light oak. The taste is more of the same, with everything amped up ever so slightly. The body is a light medium, with a very light carbonation and a smooth feel. Overall, a nice, solid ESB, but nothing overtly spectacular here. Just a nice, unoffensive "session" brew (emphasis on the quotes, ya sticklers!).

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Photo of Jason_cs
3.74/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of beveragecaptain
3.74/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pint poured at the Great Dane's downtown Madison location. Wooden Ships ESB pours out a murky brown color topped with a small head. The aroma is much hoppier than I expected. In fact, it almost covers the toasted maltiness. Lots of fruitiness in the flavor, especially apricot. This beer isn't overly bitter, but the fresh hoppiness is the most notable flavor. I would have liked more balance. Carbonation is fairly low, as is expected for a cask beer. I would have enjoyed a fuller mouthfeel, though. As is, this beer is a tad watery. Nice flavor, but not one of the Dane's best.

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Photo of NJB145
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark pumpkin with a slight reddish tint. It was hard to tell about the red highlights since the light in the brewpub was full of reflected color. The tidy ecru lid looked good enough and created even better lace. Blurry sheets became blurry rings and stayed for the duration.

The aroma was lightly toasted malty and also contained what smelled like citric hops, although not C-hops. Since I always like to know the hop bill, I asked the bartender... who asked the brewer. Fuggles. Unfortunately, the nose didn't take advantage of my favorite English hop because it wasn't aggressive enough (even for a low-ABV session ESB).

No such trouble on the taste buds. Wooden Ships was plenty flavorful, especially once it gained a few degrees. To be truthful, though, it didn't last that long. I'd been driving for quite a while and was thirsty. The beer was very well-balanced, with bitter superceding sweet at all points along the way. That's exactly what an ESB should be.

The flavor was akin to toasted white bread (with just enough underlying sweetness) and citrus fruit peel. I think Fuggles has a bitter orange and white grapefruit vibe, but it also has an herbal-earthiness that sets it apart from Cascade et al. The reasons for the 4.0 taste score include the fact that this ale is an effective showcase for Fuggles hops and because it nails the style.

The mouthfeel was a little thin and underbubbled. Perfect for multiple pints, perhaps, but not ideal on a purely sensory level. I've noticed that some of the low-ABV beer from this brewpub is on the insubstantial side.

Wooden Ship ESB (which I keep wanting to call Wooden Shoes) is a good ESB that made for a refreshing, thirst-quenching first pint. It has enough Fuggles flavor and bitterness to satisfy those who love and appreciate the style. I'll be sure to order it if it's available on any return trips to The Dane.

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Photo of Jnaustin114
4/5  rDev +7%

Photo of KindaFondaGoozah
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of TX-Badger
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This absolutely must be a nitro. If it’s not, if it’s just a cask, it is the best looking cask ale I have ever seen. The creamy khaki head is ultra thick, luscious, and never goes away. This is just beautiful. The nose is light but caramel, butterscotch, a bit of biscuits, and some floral hops show through. Tastes is light yet creamy. The finish is just subtly hopped and drying. Light caramels, a touch of juniper, and biscuits shine through in the flavor. Mouthfeel is a tad light really, almost mild like but it doesn’t bother me. This one of the best ESB’s I’ve had. Perfectly balanced and down right guzzlable.

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Photo of cokes
4.43/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Burnt amber body with a milky beige head. Retention is second to none. Just lovely.
Well rounded aroma of floral hops and bready malt. A little toasty carmel completes the olifactory sensation.
Some delicately toasted butterscotch shows up first on the taste buds. Leading into some sulty buttery and nutty hues. This segues into some oaky chestnut bliss. The hops await at the finish to swallow this all with some faintly citric, floral bitterness. Akin to lemongrass. Balance is absolutely stunning.
Nicely creamy and silky in the mouth. Great Dane's achilles' heel shows up (i.e. thinness), but does not sink this one. Just a hair on the watery side. Otherwise, almost flawless.
It is hard not to guzzle this one. Defines drinkability.
Probably my favorite traditional ESB. The cask-conditioning works perfectly here.
There may not be a better session ale out there.

Update 3/27/03: Had this a few more times, and its seems to be increasingly dilute. Not changed in any meaningful way, an still a wonderful session. Just not a strong as I recall.

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Wooden Ships ESB from Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company (Downtown)
Beer rating: 3.74 out of 5 with 18 ratings