Honey Hole ESB

Brewery: Spindletap Brewery
Style: Strong Bitter (11C)
Package: 12oz Can
Purchased: January 2019, Whichcraft
Packaged Date: 12/17/18
Consumed Date: 2/18/19

Details from the Brewer

ABV: 7%
IBU: 20


Aroma – 9/12

Grainy English base malts are the prime aroma.  They fill in at a medium intensity, bringing a slight bread crust character, cereal quality, and mild toast.  This is joined by a low-medium sweetness, and marmalade character.  There is a touch of citric fruitiness, and maybe a bit of apple ester.  Low earthiness and slight paper notes as it warms.

Appearance – 2/3

Pours a deep orange/amber liquid.  Decent clarity, with a slight haze.  Fine off-white bubbles compose a head which collapses at quick pace.

Flavor – 12/20

Grainy bread hits the tongue first, followed by a bit of crust, and a nuttiness.  A moderate sweetness brings out light caramel tones, and a touch of syrupy sweetness.  Lower notes of apple esters join in with a slight stone fruit character.  Towards the finish, a low-moderate bitterness comes out, bringing with it an earthy hop character.  The finish leaves a slight fruity character, with a touch of bread crust.

Mouthfeel – 3/5

Moderate mouthfeel.  The finish is oddly dry, and a bit watery.  Low-moderate carbonation prickling the tip of the tongue.  Very low astringency.  Very little alcohol warmth.

Overall Impression – 6/10

This is a decent attempt at a bitter.  Familiar English malt, yeast and hop character is present.  No major off-flavors distract from a clean beer.  The recipe needs some tweaking to live up to true British strong bitters (Fuller’s ESB).  I’d expect the base malt and crystal malt intensity to be a bit higher.  The finish’s bitterness is a bit too intense.  There also should be a bit more yeast character present.  The touch of oxidation could also be cleaned up.

Rating – 32/50

It’s always cool to see breweries putting out British styles.  We’ve had a few bitters canned in Austin recently, and this is the first I’ve seen come from Houston.  If only someone would try a mild now!  I’m unclear if this beer actually used honey in it.  If so, it could explain some of the deviation from the style.  Overall, this beer did provide a nice sampling of British beer character, it was a just a bit out of whack balance-wise for the style.