“An often maligned and under-rated style, the ESB is an absolute classic that often has nowhere to hide (in much the same way as a great lager or pilsner). It depends on only the finest English malt (Maris Otter) and judicious use of specialty malts. Achieving a balance between them and the English hops is no easy task. This beer style is traditionally served at cellar temperature with a lower carbonation, and the drinker should be able to sit on a pint without feeling the need to rush to finish it before it goes warm. Straight to VHS is our cheeky nod to a style we love, but that may not make it to the big screen.”
Glassware: English pint.
Appearance: Light amber to deep golden body with a slight chill haze. The head swells to about two fingers before retracting and settling to a film. Excellent lacing as we go.
Aroma: Like any good ESB this one is packed full of Maris Otter and the aroma is oozing with its nutty and biscuity characteristics. There’s a delicate sweetness alongside a faint toasty accent as well. No ESB would be complete without the use of English hops either and we’re picking up the subtleties of varieties such as EKG, fuggles and challenger. Pretty tidy.
Flavour: It’s good it just doesn’t have the depth and intensity of say, a Fuller’s or a Greene King. They’re definitely on the right track though…there’s a lovely spicy and herbaceous hop quality that weaves its way through the nutty, woody and slightly toasty malts. A soft bitterness develops late in the piece and helps set up the nicely balanced finish.
Mouthfeel: Fairly nondescript…smooth, medium bodied with a mild hop bitterness in the swallow. The 5.5% ABV is on par for the style.
Overall: Not bad. We like the fact that they’ve tried to keep it as conventional as possible. Probably wouldn’t rush back in a hurry but it’s a reasonable offering.