Bad Shepherd ‘Aries’ ESB


“The long-awaited return of our ESB is finally here with a new name and fresh look. Originally launched in 2016 as part of our Brew Crew Series, our take on the traditional British style Extra Special Bitter pours a beautiful rusty hue with subtle hints of caramel and biscuit malt, and a delightfully creamy mouthfeel. The name is a nod to the mighty Ram; a symbol synonymous with change and as we leave 2020 in our dust, we are all looking forward to that.”

Glassware: English Pint.

Appearance: Bold amber with full clarity. It whips up a two finger head which holds for a little while but eventually peels off. Nice webbed lace clings to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: It’s noticeably sweet but with a soft touch of toasty malt which takes some of the edge off the heady caramels, toffee and honeysuckle. Quite musky and floral with a distinct Noble hop-like quality which provides earthy and herbal accents. Slightly syrupy/cloying which is a shame though. It ain’t bad just seems a little off the pace.

Flavour: Delivered with a lot more balance. We’re getting more of a robust earthy-ness which counters the malt sweetness nicely. Mild orange citrus, musk/florals, honey and toasty malts through the mid then rolling into a nice toasty finish with delicate caramel sweetness and earthy herbals drawing out on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Slick but still somewhat crisp and clean. Moderately bodied, finely carbonated. 4.9% ABV is about on par for the style.

Overall: It’s a fairly decent crack at an ESB but it doesn’t really cut the mustard unfortunately. Maybe it’s all these Fuller’s Vintage Ales we’ve been treating ourselves to lately that’s set the bar too high! Not bad but not great either.