Dry-hopped ESB (Extra Special Bitter), 5.8% ABV
Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, Cincinnati, OH
By Bill Lau
Posted September 24, 2015
Harvest ale. The words conjure up images of pumpkins and other squash, gourds, corn, apples, and golden wheat (and our dear friend barley!), at least for me. I love this time of year, with the bounty of seasonal produce and the arrival of more moderate temperatures (usually!), and the wealth of seasonal beers.
We’ve already paid our respects to the Oktoberfest style, and you can rest assured that pumpkin beers are coming (insert Game of Thrones meme featuring Ned Stark). But today we turn our attention to a harvest ale. Not an officially recognized beer style, harvest ale is really a loosely descriptive moniker for a beer brewed for release during the fall harvest season. (In other words, it’s a marketing term.) As such, one may not be certain what exactly to expect.
Mt. Carmel helps us out by providing a reference style for their Harvest Ale, namely ESB, or Extra Special Bitter. ESB is a classic English style, which typically draws a nice balance between hop flavor and bitterness and somewhat dry malt. The label further notes that the beer possesses a dry hop finish (meaning an extra dosing of hops added to the secondary fermenter, providing an additional hit of hop aroma and flavor), something that has decided appeal for us hopheads.
Appearance (5/5): Presents a gorgeous, orangey-amber body, very Autumn-y, topped with a tightly-knit cream-colored head.
Aroma (8/10): A delicious blast of fresh grapefruity hoppiness rises from my glass, reaches out to my nose and invites me to take a sip. Not what you were expecting for a harvest ale or an ESB? I for one am intrigued.
Palate (4/5): Moderately-full bodied with spritzy carbonation bite and a tongue-coating butteriness.
Taste (9/10): I get a wonderful mix of grapefuit hoppiness and toasted malts up front, with some dry caramel notes and decent, solid bitterness afterward. An earthy note joins in, followed by some piney hops. Everything builds into a resiny, hoppy finish, but there’s always some of that tasty malt in the background. Lengthy finish lingers on the palate for quite some time, still delivering that mix of hops and malt. Really nicely done! Most assuredly this is an Americanized ESB, and it all hangs together beautifully.
Overall (17.3/20): Superb brew, will definitely be getting more of this while it’s available.
Disclosure: The author has received no reimbursement or compensation for this article. All opinions and remarks are those of the author alone.