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Special ESB

Judges Rating: 
75
Aroma: 
19 / 24
Appearance: 
5 / 6
Flavor: 
28 / 40
Mouthfeel: 
7 / 10
Overall Impression: 
16 / 20

Special E.S.B., from Durango-based Ska Brewing, was one of the first canned American microbrews and it continues to be a perennial favorite among a growing and increasingly devoted following. Special E.S.B.’s aroma features massive caramel sweetness, accented by notes of ripe melon and just a whiff of sweet creamery butter. Tom thought the nose was overly sweet with candy-like notes reminiscent of toffee and peanut brittle, and was disappointed at the lack of any hops in the aroma. The big caramel sweetness didn’t put Pete off and he enjoyed the traces of blueberry and peach floating atop the sweet malt aromas. He came across a distinctive banana note, however, that seemed out of place in a bitter. Dark gold, crystal clear, and highly effervescent, this brew throws a small collar of foam that quickly dissipates. Sweet, creamy maltiness flows from the aroma into the flavor, yet is tempered by the brewer’s unrestrained hand on the hops, resulting in a beautifully balanced whole. Rick enjoyed the initial “bitter slap,” noting it played well with the towering caramel sweetness. He did, however, feel the malt lacked complexity and relied too heavily on the caramel component. Lee managed to push down through the caramel and discovered a hint of sweet, ripe strawberry. Keep Ska’s Special E.S.B. on hand at your next barbecue, beach party, or après ski soiree.

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