Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB

10 years ago, it wasn't uncommon to see an ESB beside every pale or amber on the shelf.  Somehow in the craft beer renaissance, the ESB's shelf space has been rapidly replaced by three other initials, IPA.  The styles are not at all comparable, but in a beer world where every brewer has a single, double, and even triple IPA, ESB's seem to be in short supply, at least in this country.

For those that don't already know, ESB stands for Extra Special/Strong Bitter.  Personally, I always go with "strong," because "special," doesn't tell you much as far as the taste.  Basically, the goal is to create a bitter with more aggressive hop characteristics, but an overall more balanced body.

The Bitch Creek is a fine beer coming out of the bottle.  It has a deep copper color, very little head and lacing, with a rich toasted caramel aroma.  Grand Teton has created a very drinkable beer and stays true to the ideal of an ESB.  A very small hop bite on the front end balanced with a suprisingly full flavored toasted grain and caramel finish.  There's a nice alpha acid hop aftertaste that rounds out the drinking experience staying true to the ideals of an ESB. On the negative side, there's a slightly metallic flavor that is implied but not necessarily intended during the finish of this beer.  Overall, very drinkable, fairly tasty, but not quite complex enough to push it over the edge into a four star beer.

Bitch Creek: ***1/2

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