“John Stallwood, Head Brewer – A beer that is flavoursome yet sessionable. Solid with malt and balanced with high end bitterness. This beer is brewed for my partner Cindy who is an Extra Special Babe.”
Served in an English pint. This ESB displays a lighter hue than most – hazy amber center working to a deep golden edge. A compacted head develops on top but it rapidly reduces to a halo with a limited lace trail as it ebbs. Traditional ESB aromas hit the olfactory’s initially. Chewy malts, toffee, caramel and toasted grains are strengthened by a subtle berry tartness. A kind of pot pourri-like scent tacks on and brings with it an almost stewed apricot/peach aroma. We get a slightly briney or salty undertone too. Not bad, quite a well layered aroma. In the mouth it’s a little thin but it’s saved by a fleeting bitterness, although that seems to just fall away. Co2 is a little flaccid and the body is weak and watery. We feel it needs a bit of life pumped in to it….a quick check of the best by date shows it was bottled well over 6 months ago so the age could be affecting it here. Flavour-wise it isn’t too bad. Upfront a combination of sweet caramel, bready malts and a hint of spice and subtle herb carry in to a moderate bitterness midway. A faint hint of grassy/herbal hops progress into a leafy finish with a dull bitterness that almost conceals a gentle crackery malt on the back end. Is this a beer we’d rave on about? Probably not. Is it a beer we’d pan? No. Which leaves us somewhere in the middle. Fresh on tap this beer would be much better. Very undecided here. It has some good qualities but the bad seem to outweigh them.