Tag Archives: Extra Special Bitter

Tasting Impressions: K04 Extra Special Bitter

It was time to try a bottle of our recently bottled ESB. It was tasting quite nice during bottling already so am really looking forward to trying this one. The beer pours with a slightly hazy amber-orange color and a slight cream-colored head is formed. The foam head collapses quickly leaving some lacing along the glass. The aroma is a nice mixture between fruity esters, a nutty maltiness, some caramel, as well as some earthy and herbal hop tones. The aroma has a nice ‘British’ vibe, and suits the style well. Not really much to complain about. The aroma could perhaps featuring some more hoppiness for my taste. The flavor begins with lots of maltiness, and the tones you get are bready, nutty and caramelly. A slight fruitiness joins in (yeast derived, rather than hop derived) and it reminds me almost of apples and pears. The flavour finishes with an earthy and herbal hop bitterness and a semi-dry finish. There are some slight alcoholic and solvent-like notes in the background, but fortunately they stay quite well hidden. The relatively strong bitterness works well here, balancing out the slightly sweet maltiness. The beer has a medium-full body and medium carbonation level. Feels quite good in the mouth, but the bitterness and slight alcohol notes draw away from the drinkability. Overall a good beer, but it is far from perfect. I would maybe up the aroma hops slightly and use a different yeast strain.



Homebrew: K04 Extra Special Bitter

Today we brewed up a large batch of ESB, and for once everything went quite smoothly. We used a simple malt bill of 91% Maris Otter, 6.4% Crystal 100 and 2.7% Crystal 300. We tried conditioning the malt before crushing it, and it had a huge effect on the flow rate through the malt bed! Will definitely continue conditioning the malt before crushing it in the future! The mash went smoothly, and at the end of the day we managed a 74% overall efficiency, resulting in 44 liters of 1.058 wort. We hopped with East Kent Goldings, Styrian Goldings and Fuggles to around 42 IBU (more weight on bitter hops compared to aroma hops). For the yeast, we again chose some Wyeast 1318 London Ale III slurry from a previous fermentation. It will be very interesting to see how this one turns out!

[beerxml recipe=http://beer.suregork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/k04_esb.xml metric=true cache=-1]

Beer Tasting

A couple of weeks ago (yes, I have really postponed writing this), me and two friends gathered to drink some beer after work, and at the same time I could ‘get rid of’ / taste through some of my evergrowing beer stock to make place for more. We had nine beers on the agenda, with one of them being Lovecats, the homebrewed blonde ale, and many being beers I had tried before. The whole line-up from left to right was: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Alesmith X, Port Brewing Shark Attack, Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier, Lovecats, Green Glash Hop Head Red, Lindemanns Faro, William Bros Kelpie and Dark Star Espresso Stout.

We began by tasting Lovecats (left in picture below), Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier (center in picture below) and Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (right in picture below). Lovecats poured with the usual hazy orange color and quickly-collapsing white-colored head. The aroma was citrusy, grassy and also featured tones of tropical fruits, and compared to the other two beers in the lineup (and actually also compared to the hoppier beers tasted later during the evening), it became evident that Lovecats has a really strong hop aroma. The flavor began with a slight maltiness, which was joined by a grassy and citrusy hoppiness, that lingered on to a bitter and slightly tart finish. The beer had a light body and quite high carbonation. Overall, Lovecats is an okay pale ale, have brewed better though.

Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier is  German Pilsener, apparently brewed with homegrown malts and hops. The beer poured with a crystal-clear golden-yellow color and a fluffy white head. The aroma was very mild, but featured sweet, malty, and perfume-like tones. The flavor was also quite sweet, with malty and bready tones dominating. There was almost no hoppiness nor bitterness present in the flavor. The beer had a light body and medium carbonation level. Overall, I didn’t really like this one. Very bland and boring.

Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale is an English-style Pale Ale, fermented in oak barrels. The beer poured with a clear copper color and a fluffy off-white head. Nice looking beer. The aroma contained some herbal and earthy hops, combined with tones of oak, caramel and the slightest fruitiness. The flavor was similar to the aroma, with a caramelly and bready maltiness dominating together with a oaky woodiness and a herbal hoppiness. The finish was dry and quite astringent. The body was smooth and medium-full, and the beer had a medium carbonation level. Overall, a strange beer, but the oakiness went together quite well with the caramel and hops.

After this we moved on to the darker and (the only) sour beer: William Bros Kelpie (left in the picture below), Lindemanns Faro (center in the picture below) and Dark Star Espresso Stout (right in the picture below). Kelpie, which I have had a small taste sample of before, is a dark traditional ale that has been brewed with fresh seaweed in the mash tun. The beer poured clear and dark brown, almost black, with a quite long-lasting cream-colored head. The aroma was dominated by toasted and roasted malts, with slight coffee tones. There is also a minimal fruitiness present in the aroma. The flavor is also dominated by the toasted and roasted malts, and these are joined by a herbal hoppiness, and a minerally and dry finish. The beer has a quite light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, I was not really fond of this beer, as the flavors were a bit strange and the beer felt a little light. I couldn’t really detect any seaweed, but there was a saltiness present.

Next up was Lindemans Faro, a beer in a style that was new to me. Faro Lambics are lambic (i.e. spontaneously fermented sour beers) blends which have been sweetened with (usually brown) sugar. Bottled versions are usually pasteurized, to prevent bottle-fermentation of the added sugar. The beer poured slightly hazy, with an amber color, and almost no head. The aroma was sweet and sour, with a combination of candy, sugar, a cherry-like tartness, and some funkiness. The flavor featured sweet caramel blended with a citrusy and cherry-like tartness and acidity. The flavor reminded me of some kind of sweet and sour candies I’ve eaten as a kid. The finish was slightly dry, while the body was a light and the beer had a medium-high carbonation level. Overall, a very strange beer, that I found surprisingly enjoyable I must admit. I’m not a fan of sour beer at all, but this was surprisingly drinkable (probably thanks to the sweetness).

Dark Star’s Espresso Stout is also a beer I’ve had before, and it is a stout brewed with ground arabica coffee. The beer pours pitch-black, portraying slight red tones when held up against the light, and a tan-colored head is formed, that leaves lacing as it collapses. The aroma is dominated by coffee, but there are some roasted malt and caramel tones present as well. You can definitely tell coffee has been used when brewing this. The flavor featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, ash, and some chocolate. The finish is quite dry and astringent, and I’m left wishing for some more body to back up the roastiness. The beer has a light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a very coffee-dominated beer that is a little light on the body. Would really benefit from some more alcohol and rest sugars.

We finished off the evening with the hoppy beers, tasting through Green Flash Hop Head Red (left in the picture below), Alesmith X (center in the picture below) and Port Brewing Shark Attack (right in the picture below). I had tried two of the beers before, but Alesmith’s X was new to me. Green Flash Hop Head Red poured with a clear dark amber-copper color and a cream-colored head, that collapsed leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. The aroma has lots of hoppiness featuring floral, citrusy, fruity, and pineapple-like tones. There are also some tones of dark fruits and candy-like sweetness present. The flavor features tones of caramel, toasted malt, and a resiny and grapefruit-like hoppiness, that ends in a semi-dry and moderately bitter finish. The beer has a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice beer, featuring some nice hoppiness (especially the aroma) and balance.

The next beer was Alesmith X, which is an American Pale Ale by the infamous San Diego-based brewers. The beer poured with a clear golden-yellow color and a white head, that collapsed leaving some slight lacing along the glass. The aroma was hoppy, featuring floral, citrusy, and grassy tones. The aroma also featured some mild caramel tones. The flavor featured a light maltiness coupled with a citrusy hoppiness, that finished in a dry and bitter finish. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a better-than-average pale ale, but nothing very special. The hop tones were nice, but felt like the beer was lacking something.

The final beer of the evening was Port Brewing’s Shark Attack, previously tasted here. The beer had a very similar appearance to Hop Head Red, with a dark amber color and a cream-colored head. The aroma featured tones of dark fruits, raisins, red fruits, floral and citrusy hoppiness, and slight alcohol. I definitely remembered this being a lot hoppier and the last bottle I had was even much older (this one was only 3 months old). The flavor featured tones of caramel, dark fruits, malts, and a grapefruit-like hoppiness. The flavor finishes semi-dry and quite bitter. The beer featured a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice imperial red, but this was a lot maltier and less hoppy than I remembered. Still very enjoyable and a nice end to the evening.

All in all it was a good evening, with some really nice beers. The last three beers were among my favorites of the night, and something really surprising was that Lovecats had the most hoppy aroma of the lot.

Nynäshamns Bedarö Bitter

  • Brewery: Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri
  • Country: Sweden
  • Style: Extra Special Bitter (or American Pale Ale)
  • ABV: 4.5 %
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: K-Citymarket Sello, 4.99 euro
  • Beer Advocate
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Since the Danish IPA I had earlier didn’t really convince, I’ll be having a Swedish ESB (with American influences) instead. This beer is sold in larger Kesko markets (e.g. K-Citymarket Sello and Iso Omena, and K-Supermarket Kamppi), so should quite easily be available if you wish to try it. I haven’t had anything by Nynäshamns Ångbryggeri before (this is actually the first Swedish beer I ever review), but their beers have been getting some good reviews, so am really looking forward to trying this beer. It has been brewed with Pale Ale, Crystal and Wheat malt from Thomas Fawcett, and has been hopped with Chinook and Cascade. Let’s see what it tastes like!

[easyreview title=”Nynäshamns Bedarö Bitter” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours golden, with a slight hint of orange and minimal haze. A slight white head is formed, that collapses quite quickly, leaving some lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is dominated by a bready maltiness, featuring some hints of caramel and a floral, citrusy and spicy fruitiness. The aroma is quite light, but suitable to the style.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a slightly sweet and bready maltiness, that is joined by a citrusy (tones of grapefruit and lemon), fresh and grassy hop flavor. The flavor ends in a quite dry and smooth bitter finish. The flavor mend together well, and the maltiness is allowed to shine as well.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a light body and a medium-high carbonation level. It is very refreshing and easy to drink.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A really nice and refreshing beer, that I probably will be buying again during the summer. The hoppiness isn’t dominating, but it is still present, and brings fresh, citrusy and grassy notes to the beer, that compliment well with the bready maltiness. The price is okay as well, but could be a little cheaper. Recommended!”]

Bath Ales Gem


  • Brewery: Bath Ales
  • Country: England
  • Style: Extra Special Bitter
  • ABV: 4.7%
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: K-Citymarket, 3.99€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

    Bath Ales Gem is an ESB with a funny-looking rabbit on the label. The marketing text on the label promises rich aroma of hops and malt, with a long, deep, bitter-sweet finish. The beer is brewed with Maris Otter pale malt, and hopped with Challenger and East Kent Goldings hops. Let’s see how it does!

    [easyreview title=”Bath Ales Gem” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours a very deep clear amber-brown color, with a thick tan head, that lasts a long while, collapsing with some lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is malt-dominated, with tones of biscuits, bread, caramel and honey. There are some tones of floral and herby hops in the background as well.” cat2rating=”3″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavour is malty, with strong tones of caramel, toffee, biscuits, honey, raisins and fruits. Some herbal, grassy and spicy hop tones become present after a while, and the flavour ends in a quite sweet, and only slightly bitter finish.” cat3rating=”3″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium body and a moderate carbonation level, and is (quite well) balanced towards the malty side of the spectrum.” cat4rating=”3″ summary=”A good and drinkable beer, that is just a bit too much on the malty side for my taste. Could use a bit more hoppiness and bitterness for my taste, but this is still a good bitter.”]

    Thanks to Pia for buying me this!