This beer is more proof that I’m correct to think that awesome beer name = awesome beer. I do so love being right 😛
Name: Bitch Creek ESB* (see style)
Origin: Grand Teton Brewing Co., Jackson Hole, Idaho
Style: American Brown Ale – the ESB stands for Extra Special Brown, not Extra Strong/Special Bitters
I drank this: from a bottle at Old Chicago, Overland Park
This beer poured a lovely cloudy medium brown with little bits of yeast floating through it. The yeast was there because the beer was bottle conditioned (meaning they have a little yeast in the bottle to help ferment the beer) – it’s not a problem and it doesn’t mean your beer has gone bad.
Brief explanation/moment of beer learnings: having the little floating yeast bits in your bottled beer, while not pretty, is actually AWESOME. Here’s why: they don’t change the flavor at all and you totally won’t notice drinking them, but they’re absolutely stuffed with vitamin B12. Read: helps prevent hangover. So don’t be afraid of yeasty bits: embrace them!
If, however, for aesthetic reasons, you’d prefer not to have little white specks floating in your beer, pour it slowly and carefully into a glass and leave the last half-inch or so in the bottle. If you pour slowly and carefully enough, the yeast will remain in that last half-inch so as not to offend your delicate sensibilities. However, it won’t help prevent a hangover if it’s left to linger in the bottle, lost and forgotten. [/beer learnings]
Back to the Bitch Creek. Citrusy hops just make me happy, people, and this beer has a ton of them. The scent is bits of malty sweetness with a strong hit of citrus rind, like peeling a pile of lemons and grapefruits. The malts provide a backbone for the hops – they’re a medium caramel biscuit type malt, and they help give the beer some body, but they’re honestly not all that noticeable. If I have any issues in calling this a brown ale, it’s that I think it needs a heftier malt presence.
The star, if it wasn’t clear, is definitely the hops. They take over the flavor almost immediately, bright and cheerful, like they’re having a party. These hops are enjoying their party and don’t want to leave. Ever. They constitute the entirety of the aftertaste, and they hang on. And on. And on. It’s an aftertaste of lemon peel, bright and tart and slightly bitter. This beer gave me one of the longest-lasting aftertastes I’ve ever experienced, second only to that Roy Pitz Watermelon thing. Unlike the Watermelon thing, however, this was enjoyable.
All in all, I definitely like this. I’m not sure I like it as a brown ale specifically, since I order brown ales when I’m in the mood for malts. However, as a really hoppy ale with a nice malt backdrop, or perhaps as a really good example of the hyperhopped brown ale*, this is very good. Enjoy!
*I finally realized that when a beer gets labeled as American [insert style], as opposed to English [insert style] or No-Nationality-Given [insert style], the labeling of the beer as specifically American means that the hop content is going to be through the roof. Because in America, we grow our hops up right good. Seriously. America grows some bloody amazing hops, and a lot of American brewers like showing them off. So if you love hops, look for styles labeled American. If you *hate* hops, noticing the word American in the style description (like seeing a beer labeled as an APA – American Pale Ale) should make you run the other direction. Look for something English – even their bitter styles aren’t all that bitter.