Friday, April 4, 2008

Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB Ale review

Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB AleI believe I'm finally starting to appreciate the aroma and taste from a good dose of hops. I stocked up on several different styles of beers this weekend and I felt an Extra Special Bitter (ESB) would be good. I've enjoyed this style in the past and would consider this style as type of training program for drinking IPA's. Today's brewery is the Grand Teton Brewing Company from Victor, Idaho. Victor is just NW up the road from Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Teton National Park area. This Grand Teton brew was called Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB Ale. It was named after a local stream in the Teton area.

I could tell while I was pouring this beer that I was going to like it. The aroma fresh out of the bottle smelled wonderfully hopped. The ESB ale pours a dark amber or mahogany as the brewer describes it. There was just a slight head to this beer that dissolved quickly into a tiny light tan bead. It looked slightly hazy with just a hint of bubble carbonation.

Mmmm, this beer smelled good. Bitch Creek ESB Ale had 3 different types of hops and surprisingly, all of them are high alpha acid hops. Grand Teton put in Gelena, Chinook and Centennial hops in this recipe and then added more Centennial to dry hop this beer with. There was a decent 51 IBU rating on this beer, so I knew they didn't skimp on hops. And apparently, they didn't skimp on the malts either.

There was some local Idaho 2-row Pale, some German Melanoidin, CaraAmber, CaraAroma and just enough British Crystal 60 malts in this brew that gave it a slight roasty flavor. This beer actually won some awards in both the ESB and Brown Ale categories. While it is dark enough for a brown ale, I'd say it definitely tasted less roasty than a brown but is a bit more hopped.

This beer simply was wonderful and balanced the hops and the malts well. I started drinking this beer cold out of the fridge but found that the flavors really started coming out the more it warmed up. While this beer has a 6.5% ABV, it seemed like this could be a borderline session beer. I'd certainly have no trouble in drinking two or more of these in a setting. The taste reminded me slightly of an IPA, but a bit more toned down. I got a nice malt flavor with a decent hop finish. It doesn't leave any aftertaste what so ever. This style has now become one of my favorites. It's a good Springtime beer. It's a style that's between a porter and an amber - not too heavy on the malts and enough hops to let you know this is no common brew.

The rating sites also believed this beer was worth it. Ratebeer gave it an impressive 85th percentile with a 3.52 / 5 rating. BeerAdvocate gave this ESB a "B+". Not too shabby. I too believe this beer deserves a better than average rating. It's better than other ESB's I've reviewed and therefore will get a 3.6 out of 5 rating from me. It was nice to experience a beer that didn't disappoint right from the start. Nice aroma, smooth taste and finish, no after affects. The only thing that could have made this better would have been a better head on it. I look forward to finishing the rest of the 6-pack of this brew. Recommended for sure.

Related articles:
- Grand Teton Wake Up Call Imperial Coffee Porter review.
- Left Hand Sawtooth Ale review
- New Belgium 2 Below review

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