ESBs—Extra Special Bitters-are an English beer style that can be hard to come by in the American craft beer scene, and great ESBs even more so. Hillman’s award-winning (a Silver at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival) ESB is a beer I’ve been seeking out for a long time. Hillman’s ESB checks in at 6.1% ABV and 37 IBU. It pours a clear, deep gold color and the taste profile brings a nice malt/hop balance. There are plenty of pleasing caramel and toffee notes along with some mild toasty elements, as well. A bit of hop bite leads to a fairly clean finish.
As mentioned in the Brewvue, Hillman certainly likes to put a good bit of Belgian influence into its beer line-up, even trying things like a BPA, a Belgian Pale Ale. 6% ABV, 29 IBU, this beer pours a hazy gold color. I found the beer seemingly play in two parts: the Belgian front and the Pale Ale back. There is plenty of clove and spice aroma which also play in to the front part of the tasting experience. You will also find some bubble gum sweetness up front, but I found that tended to dissipate as my palate adjusted and “sweet” is not a word I would use in the overall flavor profile. The back end of the tasting experience brought a good bit of hop bite. Other flavor notes included some mild caramel maltiness.
We’ll have 2 more from Hillman in our next entry. See you then!