“Hey pal, do you like ESB’s?” asks Tustin Brewing’s Jerrod Larsen behind his thick mane of chin shrubbery. When a brewer asks if you like something, that answer should always be yes, as there’s a good chance that item will be poured straight from the fermenter to a glass, then directly into your mouth.
“Of course, I run a fricken cask beer festival, buddy, ESB’s are a rarity these days,” I reply, sitting in the farthest spot at Tustin’s long wooden bar amongst a row of day-drinking salty dogs.
When it comes to British-style ales, the IPA is certainly the Mr. Everest of beer styles. Even though the ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is somewhat related to the IPA in historical ingredients, it’s popularity, at least in the US, is roughly equated to a pile of dirt in Riverside with a sign reading, “free dirt.”
A common misconception with the Extra Special Bitter is that it will be super extra tongue-slappingly bitter, even though the IPA can be nearly double in bitterness units. The real draw with a perfectly-crafted ESB is that it rides on the balance of robust British malts, herbal tea-like hops, and a subtle fruity yeast aromatic from English ale yeast. Tustin’s Old Standby ESB (5.7%) does this in spades, bringing out a nice “marmalade on toasted biscuits” type of vibe.
Tustin’s “Old Standby” ESB is a collaboration beer with homebrewer Ryan Holt and was made for GABF’s pro-am competition, and is our beer of the week!
From the brewer: I’ve been giving the GABF Pro-Am entry to my longtime friend and home brewer Ryan Holt. This is his third year entering. He has won a handful of awards this year, and we had a few different beers to pick from. Since I haven’t brewed an ESB here at TBC I thought we would take a shot at it. We tried to build on the water we have here in Tustin to make it as close to the Burton on Trent water profile, and we used all British ingredients.
One more thing while I got you, it’s also our 22nd-anniversary party on August 19th. See you there!
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest.