Serve in English pint


on tap


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RATINGS: 145   WEIGHTED AVG: 2.99   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 177   ABV: 5.9%
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Bitters are popular pub beers in England and are closely related to the more well known pale ales. Saranac Extra Special Bitter has a rich, maltytaste balanced by the pleasant bitterness of Willamette hops. The finish is dry with a hint of the floral english Fuggle and spicy Saaz hop. Enjoy!

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
BeerDude78 (91) - Brick NJ, New Jersey, USA - DEC 17, 2004
A decent brew from Saranac. Has a very hoppy flavor to it, which blends together very nicely. Pours a nice amber color and the head lasts throughout the whole drink.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 20/20
austinpowers (2826) - New York, New York, USA - JUL 25, 2002
This is a great ESB - not very bitter at all and loaded with malty goodness. Mild and drinkable stuff! It reminds me of Welsh ESB, which I also like.

   AROMA 3/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Rballs01 (278) - Madison, New Jersey, USA - APR 4, 2005
UPDATED: APR 18, 2005 Too bad its only availiable in the 12 beers of Christmas pack. Pours a medium red color. Not much on the nose. Lots of carbonation. No malt present but the Hops must be Fuggles or saaz. A good load of carbonation tickles the tounge. A Little spicy aftertaste. Very refreshing. Delicious!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
rampmaster (642) - Alden, New York, USA - DEC 14, 2008
Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Appearance: The head builds up tall, thick and foamy. It is light tan in color and has good retention. As it slowly fades down to thin covering, which lasts until the end, it makes some slick spotty lacing on the glass. Under the head is a nice amber colored liquid with very good clarity. Smell: The aroma has a simple sweet floral hop bouquet. Taste/Mouth feel: Its flavor has a mildly sweet malty body with nice floral and citrus hops that produce a soft mellow bitterness that balances the malt flavor well. The texture has a soft easy drinking feel with good carbonation and a medium body. Notes: It had an enjoyable flavor and an easy drinking body. Overall solid.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
cfrancis (2153) - Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA - JAN 14, 2009
Really enjoyed this. Redish-Brown colour with a smell of hop and nut. Has a smooth bitterness although the flavour is short and not long lived it goes down very nice.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
fredandboboflo (1570) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 4, 2008
Bottle. Aroma of toasted crust malt, sweet caramel malt, berries/berry wood, smoke. Flavor really meshes all these components nicely. It is a touch on the sweet side with the sweet berries and sweet caramel malt/butterscotch notes, but never gets out of hand. Though I would be expecting more of a bittering balance, at face value a beer I enjoyed very much.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (1081) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 15, 2010
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 One thing I enjoy as a beer critic is getting to try new beers and especially new beer styles. Youíd think Iíd have drunk everything by now but the ESB style has eluded me until recently. Thanks to the Saranac ď12 Beers of WinterĒ mix pack I can now say Iíve tried an Extra Special Bitter and I quite liked it. It seems to be something of a hybrid of a lager and a pale ale, plus it was tasty and easy to drink Ė seems like a good beer to me.


Saranac ESB poured very smoothly to a dark red/copper color that was crystal clear and without much carbonation evident. It formed a white, fizzy head that didnít last long but never completely evaporated, either.

The aroma seemed like that of a generic mass-market lager but with a distinctive character of extra hops. I didnít notice any citrus notes, but I was thankful for the hops instead of adjunct ingredients.


Well, they donít call it an Extra Special Bitter for nothing. As soon as the beer hit my palate, bitter was the first flavor I noticed. It was very similar to an India Pale Ale, the difference being there was no tart or citrusy underling flavor here. In fact, itís quite dry, but I wouldnít call it bland. Overall, the strong bitterness made up for what would otherwise be a fairly standard beer taste.


Sometimes the tastier beers can be difficult to drink, especially if their taste is derived from bitterness. Such is the case for Saranac ESB which has quite a rough edge to it. The dry palate might make for a good taste, but itís not proportional to the finish. Not that this is a challenge to drink, certainly not for the connoisseur, but a little smoother would have been nice.


Itís actually difficult to make an honest comment on this beerís weight since neither its potency nor its number of calories is printed on the bottle and is not listed on the brewerís website. Since itís a very hoppy beer Iíd estimate both statistics are quite high. I wasnít overwhelmed by the beer, but it did feel quite heavy afterwards.


I donít have any frame of reference to compare Saranac Extra Special Bitter against another beers of the style, so as a beer on its own I found it to be tasty, original and genuinely enjoyable. Itís not a perfect beer by any means, but itís enjoyable and thatís what counts.

NOTE: watch the video version of this review at:


   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
DYCSoccer17 (3226) - Woodland, California, USA - NOV 8, 2004
Bottle. Aroma is connamon spiced pine and mothballs. Copper/amber color with a nice light tan frothy head. Nice caramel malts in the middle with pleasant grapefruit hops to finish. This is not a bad ESB. I know the ratings dont reflect this, but I like this one.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
MikeT (76) - Hollis, New Hampshire, USA - APR 28, 2005
UPDATED: MAY 4, 2005 Beer poured with an orange color and a small off white head. Hops were present and the beer finsished dry. It did not have much of a bitter taste for an esb, but decent brew otherwise.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
lagermonkey (725) - Marietta, Georgia, USA - JUN 3, 2005
Pours clear copper witha a rocky ivory head. Big rows of lace. Smell is fruity malt and tea-like. Tastes is again the fruity malt with the underpinnings of crisp tea-like hoppiness. Mild bitter finish. medium bodied and crisp. Light lingering hops in the aftertaste. Pretty good drinker. Surprisingly good. The Sixth Beer of Christmas.

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