A bold sailor could board their vessel in London, sail around the horn and make landfall on the edges of Vancouver Island, where a taste of home would be waiting a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. For the last 30 years, Spinnakers has been boasting the best ESB on this side of the water. Opening in 1984, Spinnakers is one of Canada’s first brew pubs, offering locally sourced produce from their backyard. The ESB doesn't usually venture off the island, it is a special treat for us 'mainlanders'. The ESB styles itself along the lines of the classic British version, but makes a few small detours. The European bitters trends toward a higher ABV, and moderate their level of bitterness. Spinnaker’s ESB is on the easier side of the alcohol curve, making it more pleasant to taste over the course of a bottle, but with more bitterness. Serves well at 6°C and shouldn’t spend too long on your shelf.
Pours a muddled amber color with a lot of initial carbonation. Relaxes down into a thin, off-white head.
A malty aroma at first, reminiscent of rising bread, but shot through with the bitter hops giving off an earth and floral combination. A touch of caramel hides in the background along with a touch of sharper citrus rind. A sugary impression rides under it all.
Spinnaker’s Extra Special Bitter will remind any London pub regular of home -- sharp, refreshing, and astringent ale that slashes across the palate with a herbal hop and a malt backend that feels like you’ve just finished chewing on a piece of fresh bread. Give it a large and languid quaff to discover the notes of fruit peel and caramel, along with a sugary streak, all in the background of this beer, giving it a taste character more interesting than typical bitters.
While not a heavy beer, Bitters can sit heavy. Pair this up with a leaner barbecue, like fresh deer or elk. Or make up a meat and cheese platter with buttery or nutty selections.