Extra Special Bitter
1 draught pint, $3.75, 5% ABV
Purchased at Cambridge House Brew Pub, Granby
I’m not sure if I thought this beer was so good because it was just the perfectly named beer for the moment or if it’s really just that good. Let me explain.
I was on my way up Route 10 from work, through Granby, all the way to Southwick, MA. Southwick, as you surely know, is that horrid little nub of a town that infects our northern border. It’s the Notch. The Jog. The Infiltrator.
Many months ago a lovely woman from the Southwick Historical Society (who lives in Westfield, MA and grew up in New Britain so she’s alright) contacted me and asked me to be the society’s speaker for one of their meetings. She wanted me to speak about The Notch.
“Take Back the Notch!” The idea, as I understood it, was for me to deliver my talk with vitriol – and historic accuracy of course. Because by being historically accurate, the vitriol just follows. Because Connecticut got screwed out of some land after the 200 year border battle.
So what better type of beer to have than a bitter?
An English style bitter with hints of nougat and crisp roasted malts.
This was easily one of the best ESB’s I’ve ever had in my life. There aren’t too many ESB’s around Connecticut, so I’ll take this opportunity to explain what they are:
ESBs are essentially more aggressive and more balanced Bitters, both in alcohol and hop character, but nothing overpowering. Color range will be similar, though leaning towards the darker end of the scale; dark golds to copper. Low carbonation. Malts tend to be more pronounced, often toasty and fruity, with maybe some notes diacetyl. And despite “bitter” being in its name, ESBs are not really all that bitter. They key to an ESB is balance.
The CHB ESB had no diacetyl at all. It was delicious and malty and had a touch of sweetness to round out the beer.
So there I was, going over my talk notes one last time, drinking a “bitter” trying to get more bitter for those awful, awful folks of Southwick… and yet, I couldn’t muster up any anger. The beer was too good.
And, upon arriving at the meeting, the gathered folks were so sweet and so nice that it would have been rather awkward to be mad anyway… But then a funny thing happened.
I began my talk and before I knew it, I was all fired up.
TAKE BACK THE NOTCH! And seek out this beer.
Overall Rating: A
Rating vs. Similar style: A