15 April 2009

Extra ESB - 471 Small Batch

Rating: 7.1
Brewery: Breckenridge Brewery (Breckenridge, CO)
Glass: Pint
ABV: 7.8%
Seller: Blue Dog Tavern (Chalfont, PA)
When Enjoyed: 15 April 2009

The ESB, or Extra Special Bitter, is definitely a style that is getting harder to find in the tanks of American Microbreweries. The style in many ways is the non-colonial version of the IPA, medium-high bitterness with a stiff malty backbone with a blend of session-y working man attitude. In my opinion it tends to stick in between the IPA and other session beers, like Red Ales or French variants like Saison or Biere de Garde. This limited run offering from Breckenridge Brewery though has a distinct American character.

For starters the hop blend in this ESB leans a little heavier on the crisper American varieties (like chinook) than the British ones (like fuggles). Furthermore, they amped up the ABV a bit thus making it an "Extra Special" ESB. While the ABV comes as a surprise, certainly pegged it lower than that in a tasting (and 7.8% is still not too terribly high, just higher than than the style usually comports).

The pour comes out dissapointingly flat, however and the head is not very thick, though it has decent retention. Which brings me to the paradox of this beer, for an ESB its got plenty of bitter, but not much that is 'extra' or 'special'. The only surprising thing about this beer is the ABV, and even that isn't close to jaw dropping. While a solid beer by any measure, stacked up against similar quality beers in its session or IPA cousins, I'd choose the other beers.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the reason we are loosing the ESB is because the IPA is such a big trend right now? What are your thoughts on that?

    I usually love everything I can get my hands on from Breckenridge Brewery, but I've yet to get my hands on this guy. Hopefully soon though. I've just got to keep asking and asking and hopefully someone will send me some beer.

    Great reviews man. I really liked your "Lost" comment in the first post.

    Have you had Breckenridge Vanilla Porter? I love that stuff. Seems to taste better off the tap though. What are your thoughts?