Extra Special Bitter
Now that our ESB is back on tap (and cask) old regulars and new customers alike are downing one pint after another. It’s so balanced and delicious. It’s also an iconic English ale, making it just right for us here at the Civil Life.
This venerable style dates all the way back to … 1969. Crikey, that’s the same age as your humble barman, Old Man Hurley! But really, 1969? Well, sort of.
According to the Oxford Companion to Beer, Fuller’s ESB, brewed in Chiswick near London, was the original ESB and dates to just 1969. Martyn Cornell claims that Fuller’s Old Burton Extra lost popularity some time after WWII. It was replaced in 1969 by a beer called Winter Bitter, which was quickly renamed Extra Special Bitter. At the time, it was the strongest Bitter in England (5.5% on draft and 5.9% in the bottle).
Of course before 1969, there were many strong or premium bitters that were close stylistically to ESB. Many styles had the strength designated on the bottle with Xs, X being the hypothetical standard strength variety, with XX and XXX being increasingly stronger. In the case of bitter, this meant both maltier and hoppier.
Our take on this newish classic is balanced and traditionally English. The base malt is Maris Otter. Coincidentally, this very “traditional” English base malt was developed on Maris Lane in Cambridge in the 1960s. We use the “London ESB” yeast strain and finish the beer with a nice dose of good old fuggles hops. Fuggles imparts a delightfully woodsy hop note that is classically English and marries very well with the intense malt richness of the beer. The full, layered malt profile of our ESB has notes of bread, biscuit, and caramel.
Civil Life ESB is 5.8% alcohol and around 60 IBUs. It is an excellent winter choice, guaranteed to keep you as warm as English tweed and twice as civilized. Our ESB is just one more element in our plan to make the world a more civil place, one pint at a time. Be civil; drink civil!
The Civil Blog has returned. It is predominantly authored by Civil Life Barman, Dr. Patrick Hurley, who can be found tending to our bar patrons on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He is also responsible for tending to our draft lines, which is recognized as one of our most important tasks. Special guest writers will appear from time to time. We hope reading this blog will give you much insight about the Civil Life and most importantly help you understand a bit more about all of us that work here and the beers we put our hearts into.