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Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)


Extra Special Bitter ale, also referred to as ESB, is a British beer style that despite the name is not all that bitter. Bitter varieties such as this one, got their start in 1642 with the development of coke, a high carbon fuel made from coal that is used to roast malts. Before its invention, wood and peat were used for roasting, which infused the malt with smoky character traits and a darker color. The new fuel, coke, made it possible to create lighter malts, both in character and color.

Bitters are an English specialty, and an Extra Special Bitter beer is a full-bodied bitter. Extra Special Bitter beer ranges in color from dark gold to copper, and ranges in ABV from 4-7%. Packed with British pale ale malt, some crystal malt, and UK hops, a toasty, caramel brew that is medium to full-bodied, low in carbonation, and has a medium dry finish is produced. The key to a great ESB is balance and drinkability.

Extra Strong Bitters are moderately strengthened, and should be firmly bitter in taste, without overpowering the malt. Of the bitter family, English Extra Strong Bitters are the highest gravity version, resulting in a few noticeable differences. Extra Strong Bitter beer has more fermentation, and additional malt character, which creates more alcohol, body, and flavor in the brew.

This Extra Special Bitter beer style pairs well with foods like grilled chicken, barbecue, spicy shrimp, and pizza. The Nonic pint glass is recommended for serving an ESB.

We are excited to feature a variety of ESB beers in our Beer of the Month Club! Join today to get an exclusive taste at a number of unique brews.

View AllExtra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) Beers