- Style: ESB
- ABV: 5.8% (is this a session beer? Close enough in my book)
- Ease to locate: Year round brew that can be found in most Chicagoland craft bottle shops & larger liquor stores. But I recommend a a trip to the source and visit the tap room in Evanston, IL (click for link)
- Color: Hazy amber with copper tints
- Head: 1 & 1/2 fingers of soapy bubbles leaving behind lovely lacing
- Aroma: Yeast, resin and some earthiness. Not a huge nose
- Mouthfeel: Medium to light without being watery
- Finish: Medium & crisp
- Food Friendly?: Extremely. This beer is a staple in my fridge for a reason. Try it with everything from summer salads to meat/poultry on the grill to a nice steaming bowl of gumbo.
Apple user's link: Nobody really likes Winter.
Summer is coming.
I am the anti Stark. Winter has come and gone and come and gone again. I say screw winter with all of it's pure white glistening snow covered landscapes, Norman Rockwell heart tugging family moments, and romantic cozy nights by the fire. I am more than ready for a little sunshine, picnics in the park and just as romantic nights on the back porch with a beer in hand and the stars shining above. And do you know what makes that beer even better than traditional winter brews? Some of my favorite beer to imbibe in during the warmer months are not only moderate in ABV% but also come in cans ("Halleluiah! Halleluiah! Hall-e-LUUUU-iah!) Cans make schlepping my beer to said picnics in the park or out under the stars easier. Plus there is an advantage in the fact that there is less of a chance to, oh say, enthusiastically (accidentally) knock a bottle shaped glass container off of a 2 story balcony with a sweep of an arm and watch in horror as it falls in slow motion to the concert pavement below with a deafening shattering of glass directly next to some poor dude innocently waiting for a cab. Not that that has ever happened. Nope. Just a "what if" of course. Anyway, cans are awesome.
I love a well done ESB. This used to be a style that was on the difficult side to locate here in Chicago, but within the last year or so, its as if the brewery bubble has discovered just how versatile this beer can be. A person can only get excited about the next big thing in IPAs and Stouts for so long before beer ennui settles in. The fact that more than a few local breweries are producing not only interesting twists on a typical ESB, they are brewing them well, is as refreshing as the beer itself. My Smittytown poured a hazy amber color with glowing tints of copper around the edging. The one and a half finger light ivory foam formed. Tight, soapy bubbles left lovely crests of delicate lacing along the sides of the glass. The nose was light, but I could smell the bready aroma of yeast and some piney resin. There was small note of earthiness layered under the other two dominate aromas, which I thought gave the nose a bit of needed depth to it. Temperance describes Smittytown as "An unreal Extra Special Bitter brewed with refined English malts then bastardized with brazen American hops". It is definitely hoppier than traditional ESBs, sporting a clean resin note and an earthy, almost herbal, character. It possessed more of a bite than your typical ESB, but the doughy yeast from the nose carries through to the taste and balanced everything out. Temperance is currently producing some of the best balanced beers out there in my opinion. (If you ever get an opportunity to try one of the varietals of their Imperial Stout, Might Meets Right, jump on it.) The mouthfeel of Smittytown was on the lighter side of medium, but not in the least watery. I enjoyed the crisp, dry finish that and believe that this dryness is one of the reasons that this ESB is such an easy food match.
ESBs are often easier to pair with a variety of meals simply because they aren't designed to make you (fondly) recall your first car's pine tree air freshener. Bastardized by Americans or not, they are designed to drink with lunch at your local pub. I have immensely enjoyed my Smittytown with an almost weekly bowl of gumbo (you can make your own using this recipe here but honestly, I buy mine for less than $5 at Jason's Deli, Shhh, ya'll) You could also throw just about anything juicy on your grill this summer and pop open one or two cans from the six pack happily. Maybe a Smokey Gillled Pork Chop on a nice June evening? The call is really your's. Smittytown ESB comes in six packs and that means that you have a half a dozen tries to get your prefect Summer match. During the Fall of 2014 Temperance released Smittytown Tart which was this ESB brewed with Michigan grown Balaton cherries. It was magnificent and the only beer I wanted to drink with my Thanksgiving bird in November. I'm eagerly anticipating it's return engagement sometime in September. Did I mention that Autumn is coming?