RATINGS: 146   WEIGHTED AVG: 2.99/5   SEASONAL: Winter   EST. CALORIES: 177   ABV: 5.9%
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!

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generallee08 (778) - New York, USA - JUN 11, 2014
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. The aroma has a simple sweet floral hop bouquet. 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. It had an enjoyable flavor and an easy drinking body. Overall solid.

ads135 (5213) - Omaha, Nebraska, USA - NOV 6, 2013
It would be hard for this beer not seem balanced as there’s next to nothing to it. Incredibly mild and watery.

wlajwl (7211) - Quad Cities, Iowa, USA - MAR 18, 2011
Has the hop/malt balance of an ESB, too thin and a little watery for it to be a good ESB.

DavoleBomb (1867) - Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 11, 2011
Poured into a pint glass. I have no doubt that this beer is going to suck, as just about everything Saranac makes does, but let’s see. 4.5 A: Looks great. Nearly three fingers of thick frothy head. Great retention and plenty of lacing. 3.0 S: Barely anything at all. A bit of floral hops, but that’s about it. 2.0 T: Where the hell is everything? There’s barely any taste at all. Worst of all is that the hop characteristics barely show up....and IN AN ESB! 2.5 M: Light body. Smooth because nothing’s going on. Terrible. 2.0 D: I’d drink this over BMC, but that’s about it. This beer is neither extra special or bitter. Once again Saranac has produced a great looking shitty beer. Serving type: bottle Reviewed on: 01-18-2009 01:31:20

jtclockwork (17654) - , New Jersey, USA - MAY 12, 2010
Nice golden amber pour in the glass. Nose and taste of sweet bitter, light spruce and malts. Rated 12/20/2000

ChadPolenz (1847) - Lakeland, Florida, 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. You’d think I’d have drunk everything by now but the ESB style has eluded me until recently. Thanks to the Saranac “12 Beers of Winter” mix pack I can now say I’ve 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 – 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 didn’t 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 didn’t notice any citrus notes, but I was thankful for the hops instead of adjunct ingredients.


Well, they don’t 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, it’s quite dry, but I wouldn’t 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 it’s 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.


It’s actually difficult to make an honest comment on this beer’s weight since neither its potency nor its number of calories is printed on the bottle and is not listed on the brewer’s website. Since it’s a very hoppy beer I’d estimate both statistics are quite high. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the beer, but it did feel quite heavy afterwards.


I don’t 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. It’s not a perfect beer by any means, but it’s enjoyable and that’s what counts.

NOTE: watch the video version of this review at:


yemenmocha (659) - Glendale, Arizona, USA - AUG 19, 2009
Light copper, almost gold. Very pale in color for an ESB. Whispy white head retains well. Not very aromatic but does have a musty, old chest hop aroma. Reminds me of an old dusty room. On the palate the body is rather thin and tepid in flavor. Not a very exciting ESB at all. Finish is short with some odd "off" flavors.

williamherbert (1544) - Syracuse, New York, USA - AUG 12, 2009
Dark orange, looks like a glass of clear honey. Solid English ale head, bubbly and light brown. Nice color, inviting. Very good toasted English malt aroma. Sweet and slightly nutty. Hop is ever so mild. Like a nice toasted, nutty English ale. An initial toasted malt, only slightly caramel sweetness. Woody hop comes in at the end. Good combo of sharp and soft bitters. Decent. Somewhat fizzy, creamy, with a little bite. A solid ESB. Sweetly bitter and very drinkable.

ben4321 (6839) - Hoboken, New Jersey, USA - JUL 7, 2009
Overall Impression: Another beer you find in the Saranac mixers, and another decent example of its style...

Rciesla (5607) - Exit 15W, New Jersey, USA - JUN 14, 2009
Bottle. Pours a copper body with an off whit head. Bread y, grain y, light earth hoppiness floral hints bitter earth and a light malty body. Caramel malts, simple and decent.

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