Any excellent craft ESBs from New England?
November 20, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Beer Filter: I really like a good ESB, but for reasons unknown to me, they seem not to be a very popular style among micro-breweries in Northern New England (everyone's making these super-hoppy IPAs nowadays). Can you recommend some high quality craft ESBs that I should try? Bonus points for ESBs that can be found without too much difficulty in VT, NH, or MA. And yes, I'm willing to travel a bit to a destination brewery in those three states (esp. if they sell growlers).
posted by .kobayashi. to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Shipyard's Old Thumper is terrific. Brewed in Portland, ME. You can check its availability here, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't available in at least New Hampshire.
posted by cog_nate at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2012

BeerAdvocate list for Extra Special / Strong Bitter, and their guides for Burlington, Boston, Portsmouth, and Western MA.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2012

Have you tried Peak's Pale Ale?. It was quite English, although perhaps not quite ESB-ish. Note that I haven't had it in a while and their recipe mentions abundant caramel malts and Cascade hops, so maybe they've changed the recipe.

It's a good question, I wish good ESBs were more common. The ones available by me (River Horse, Flying Fish) seem to replace the interesting malt profile of, say, Fullers with too much caramel malt for my tastes.
posted by mollweide at 2:14 PM on November 20, 2012

Yards ESA(le) from Philadelphia fits the bill. Yards Brawler might as well. Definitely not from a listed state, but Yards brews some killer beer. (Their Saison is my favorite non-Belgian ever).
posted by wrok at 3:29 PM on November 20, 2012

Red Hook makes a decent one, which has the advantage of being easy to find absolutely everywhere.

No, it's not the best of it's kind, or even close to it by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly convenient, because you can find it at a gas station or in a supermarket aisle.
posted by TTIKTDA at 3:31 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I dig ESBs too, and they are pretty hard to find, but McNeil's ESB is pretty good. It's brewed right in Brattleboro, VT, and the brewpub is pretty keen, too. You should be able to find it in bottles.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest Red Hook ESB - it's easy to find and quite decent. Drank it a lot while living up in NH.
posted by Miko at 8:34 PM on November 20, 2012

Fuller's ESB is considered by many to be the gold standard of the style. Its imported from London and is available at most top-shelf liquor stores.

Fuller's brews their beers using a parti-gyle method, which means most their beers come from the same wort. I only bring this up, because if you can get your hands on "London Pride" you'll like it too. Its the same as the ESB, its just weaker, as it contains more of the second runnings.
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 1:37 PM on November 21, 2012

MacNeil's in Brattleboro Vermont usually has a pretty fantastic ESB on tap, and sometime available in bottles around the area. They also sell growlers.
posted by General Malaise at 5:42 PM on November 21, 2012

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