Sierra Nevada finally came out with their version of the extra expecial bitter. After 27 years, Sierra has attempted most styles of beer. During Sierra Nevada's production quest, most Californians would attest to the fact that, in time, SVBC can tackle any brew. Now that Sierra finally has embarked on the ESB, we may have to give the brewery a another year to figure out the bitter.
Upon first crack, this beer does have an incredible aroma. Very hoppy and light similar to a quality IPA. While quite aromatic, the taste does not live up to the smell. Although dubbed as an "early spring beer" (possibly in an attempt to confuse causal buyers) this beer is quite bitter. I know what your thinking, 'an extra special bitter is suppose to be bitter'. True. But the beer just doesn't have any of the strong flavors you would expect from this classic British ale. Without any hearty flavors, the after taste is just bitter without anything else, as if one swallowed beer mixed with a little dirt.
Despite that description, the brew is not unpleasant in any sense; it just leaves you wanting more. Definitely enjoyable, but not stellar. If Sierra picks up the malts a little, Early Spring Beer could be exceptional. For now, I would say that this beer is a great introduction to understand the ESB style before moving on to worthier craft. I'm confident that Sierra Nevada will get there. Until next year. Cheers.