Extra Special Bitter (ESB)


A premium Brittish session ale with ample hop bitterness. While casked version are often labeled as extra special bitter, bottled versions are often labeled as English pale ale.

Vital Statistics

O.G. 1.048 – 1.060
F.G. 1.010 – 1.016
ABV 4.6 – 6.2 %
IBU 30 – 50
SRM 6 – 18
Volumes CO2 1.5 – 2.0

Statistics from [1] and [2]

Related Styles

ESB is the highest gravity designation of English pale ale that includes ordinary bitter and best bitter. ESB served as the inspiration for American pale ale, which tends to have a slightly higher gravity than a typical English session beer.

Brewing an ESB

Grains/Adjuncts English pale ale malt or amber malt for the majority of the grain bill with some crystal malt for body and sweetness. May use small amounts of black patent malt to adjust the color. May use adjuncts such as sucrose, wheat, or corn.

Hops Generally UK hop varieties. Hops may be added throughout the boil as well as dry-hopping.

Yeast Fruity-ester producing English ale yeast.

Water Moderate carbonate levels. Variable sulfate levels from low to moderately high. Sulfates can accentuate hop flavor and create the perception of a drier finish.


  1. ^ Beer Judge Certification Program style guide 8c http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style08.php#1c
  2. ^ Hibbard, Mark. "A Primer on Priming." 1995. http://hbd.org/brewery/library/YPrimerMH.html