Beer: ESB Amber Ale
Brewery: Flying Fish Brewing Company
Style: American Amber Ale
Serving Style: Bottle
Drinking Establishment: Chez Wood
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Sight: Clear honey colored body with inch of a head that fizzles down to nothingness.
Smell: After dipping my nose into the glass, I’m reminded of nights drinking in German beer gardens. There is an initial Bavarian pretzel smell, which is quickly overpowered by a slightly sweet, astringent smell. No bueno. Tempting fate, I went in for one last sniff, and the lasting memory is rotting apple. For the chemists out there, this aroma is caused by acetaldehyde–a chemical produced during the yeast to booze conversion.
Flavor: My hopes of drinking a Bavarian pretzel were smashed upon first sip. Instead, the muddied flavors in this beer are corn, white toast, syrupy caramel, and pinch of grapefruit hops. If there wasn’t that a brightness from the citrus flavor, this beer would’ve been an incredible let down.
Feel: Thinnish body with moderate carbonation.
Concluding Remark: Well, to start, this beer isn’t a straight Amber Ale as its name implies. ESB Amber? Is that a thing? Should it be a thing? Well, it’s a thing (apparently). ESB–or Extra Special Bitter–is a slightly more alcoholic English-style pale ale. Despite it’s misleading name, ESBs are actually quite balanced…not so much bitter. As Amber Ales also usually strive for balance, this beer should be doubly balanced.
And the result of this hybrid? Well, it doesn’t taste like an Amber. Absent are the robust hops flavors, which are replaced with a pretty boring, generic English malt taste. This ale is mostly ESB, with little Amber representation. While wholly drinkable, there’s a whole lot of false advertising going on here.
For the record, Flying Fish describes this as a “classic British extra special bitter made fresh with an American slant.” I really don’t buy the American slant, but this is a decent American interpretation of a British classic. And, for another record, this is not an Amber Ale.