Name: The Wise ESB
Brewery: Elysian Brewing Company (please link to http://www.elysianbrewing.com/verify.php?return=/&x=-1 and have it open in a new window)
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Seattle, Washington
Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)
Alcohol Content (ABV): 5.90%
First Brewed: 1997
Price: NA (Was served in a sample on tap at the brewing company. This beer is no longer bottled, and they have no plans of bottling in the immediate future. This sample was complimentary.)
The nose is complex and malty, with aromas of toffee, citrus, and grapefruit. The ESB has a creamy mouthfeel with malty sweetness balanced with American hop character.
OK, so we are in Seattle and figured that since we were here, we would hit up some breweries. We started with Redhook, a staple to the state of Washington. I didn’t realize they were owned by Anheuser-Busch, but that isn’t obvious when walking around the brewery. Sheryl had actually been here before, and wanted me to take the tour. It’s only $1, but you get to try several of their beers. Basically two pints of beer, plus the tour that lasted well over an hour. Needless to say, it was worth the buck.
After the tour we headed down to the bar and tried a few new ciders they had on tap. We left there and headed to Black Raven Brewing Company. This is a small operation in Redmond, and I was VERY impressed with their beers. They had a wide selection and even had two beers aged in wine barrels from local wineries. Chateau St. Michelle is actually not far from there. As a matter of fact, the winery is right across the street from Redhook. Anyway, my favorite was their barrel aged scotch ale. Not quite as good as Kilt Lifter, but still a delicious experience.
Today we decided to see Elysian, a brewery that has a few beers on our list. There are actually 3 beers from them on the list including The Wise ESB, the Avatar Jasmine IPA, and the Dragonstooth Stout. When we got to the brewery, located in a hipster part of town, we parked out back and walked in. I saw all three beers on tap, and a fridge full of bottles beside the bar. We sat down, met the bartender and the manager, and started talking about the beers. So… they still brew the ESB, as it is one of their most popular beers. However, they no longer bottle it and haven’t for over a year. So what did we decide? To review it anyway! We are here, won’t be able to get the beer in a bottle, and decided to just review it anyway. This is the FIRST beer we have reviewed like this, and might just open a door to new possibilities for our blog. Lets drink! First up is The Wise ESB.
In the Glass: People know Redhook for their ESB, a recipe that changes with the season. Not sure this one changes, but the Black Raven ESB was amazing. This beer looks like a traditional ESB but is producing quite a bit of lace. The lace is the most noticeable thing for me thus far.
Aroma: It smells like an ESB, but with a hint more spice than I expected. I hope that carries over into the flavor on this one. I am sick of looking at this beer. Let’s drink!
Flavor: (I will have to sip on this as we are splitting a single sample… But there is enough left in the glass to satisfy.) Just like the aroma, I get some of those subtle spices on the palate. This is, by far, the most bitter ESB I have ever tried. Not saying that’s a bad thing… I like bitter beers. I AM a hop head, after all. This is definitely the best, most flavorful ESB I’ve ever had.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is thin, but I’m drinking this a bit warmer than I wanted. For the Dragonstooth, that’s OK. However, comparing it to the Redhook ESB, this is a much better experience. I had enough for a second sip, and swished this one around my mouth a little. Those spices just opened up even more doing that.
Aftertaste: I didn’t expect all the buttress from the flavor, and I sure didn’t think the finish would last as long as it does. The finish is a drying hoppy flavor that just sits and settles and dries as I swallow. A good 5 minute finish.
I’m not sure if this beer tastes better because we are reviewing it from the brewery, but I like it. I also like that the manager introduced herself to us and keeps telling us stories about their beers. She’s fun. This brewery is fun. This beer… Is fun! I hope the next two are as good as this one. Cheers!
The Wise ESB – The bottle says: “NA”
Well, here’s a new 1001 Bottles experience for you. Not only are we writing this review from the brewery in Seattle, this is the first beer we have reviewed on tap instead of in the bottle. Why are we reviewing it on tap, you ask? Because it is no longer bottled. Better to review it on tap than not at all!
We have tried a lot of local Seattle beer the last couple of days. We are here for Memorial Day weekend and I have fun introducing Ricky to Seattle. I think this has become one of my favorite cities in the US. Not to mention there are some great breweries here!
Ok, let’s get to the beer. It’s on tap, so it’s hard to say much about the head. It did have a bit of head at the beginning, but it’s settled down pretty nicely. It’s kind of light red-orange-brown color in the glass. Doesn’t look to thick. It really doesn’t smell like much… mostly just wet and a bit bitter. I’m thinking if this tastes good, it might make a good session beer. Let’s find out!
This one does taste a bit bitter. It’s actually a very balanced bitter taste. We visited Redhook yesterday and tried their ESB, which is their flagship beer. This tastes a lot better than that. It’s definitely more bitter, and overall has a lot more flavor to it. This isn’t really one of my favorite styles, but it’s not bad for the style it is. As ESBs go, this might be one I’d try again.