Mission : Leap Beer, 366 Beers in 366 Days

Leapbeer Review #196 Extra Special Bitter by Salt Spring Island Ales

First off, let me apologize for taking such a hiatus. I went camping with some friends and needed some recuperation time after returning home. I’m glad to announce that I’m now fully rested and ready to consume and compose for your … enjoyment? (still to be seen)

This next beer is yet another from Salt Spring Island Ales. Their distribution continues to grow on Vancouver Island and I’m pleased to say that, while I originally bought this in Nanaimo, I’ve since procured it locally as well. Kudos to you Salt Spring for distribution. I know my market isn’t a ‘hotbed’ for craft beer, but I appreciate the effort it takes to get beers like this into deserving consumers hands.

Biggest stand out for me on the bottle is right below the matador and bear, where it says ‘Whole-Cone Hops’. As a fan of the hoppier fare, I’m already intrigued. Before going much further here’s what it had to say on the back of the bottle. “There are no bears on Salt Spring… Matadors? Maybe. Allow us to present our Salt Spring take on the classic ‘ESB’ style. Featuring an aromatic charge of whole-cone hops, championed by dashingly sauve organic malts, this balanced and delicious beer is excellent on its own, or pairded with classic pub fare.

I pop the big bottle and am immediately hit by the hoppy scent. I poured a nice amber glass with a fluffy white head atop it. I notice an overly abundant carbonation to it. It smells hoppy as you’d guess, but that’s about all I smell to it. Not so overpoweringly so as you’d get on an IPA, but definitely more than your average bitter. It tastes of the bittering hops at first, but there’s a nice malt body beneath it. The finish is nice, very crisp, leading to an easy drinking beer. I can’t say that this is my favorite iteration of an ESB, I think Blue Moon Bitter takes that cake still, but it is a very nice beer.

Leapbeer #196 is Extra Special Bitter by Salt Spring Island Ales

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4 thoughts on “Leapbeer Review #196 Extra Special Bitter by Salt Spring Island Ales

  1. I must have had a bad bottle of this beer as when I tasted it my friend and I could taste almost no hops at all. It was an interesting flavor still but not an ESB flavor. Maybe I will have too look for a new bottle if it makes it to the mainland.

    • Sounds like you had a bad bottle. I got a big hit of hops from this beer both times I had one. Hops are such a volatile ingredient that they go off quite quickly when not stored right. My biggest issue with this beer is it’s their ‘spin’ on an ESB style, making it more of a current age hybrid.
      When you were in Vic did you get a chance to try Blue Moon Bitter from The Moon Under Water? It is tremendous. Best ESB I’ve ever had.

      • I picked this beer up at Cascadia liquor store when I was on the island for a wedding. I did not get to try the blue moon esb. I got a few hoyne and a bunch of spinnakers wile I was there.

  2. Pingback: Extra Special Bitter – Saltsprings Island Ales « Mike's Craft Beer

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