Waypost tends to specialize in Farmhouse/Saison and other Belgian influenced styles, so a sojourn into the ESB area is not necessarily going to showcase their strengths. However, because their beer is generally very good, I’m encouraged to try one of my own favorite styles.
The pour is a light golden orange, and for me a little too light. Head isn’t great, but the lace is fantastically sticky, bone white, and the best part of the appearance.
Nose offers mostly neutral breads (I’d like a little more malt), but frankly falls well within the parameters of what would expect, and is well within tolerance.
Tastes are just too hoppy for me (and when I say ‘me’, I mean for the style). There’s a strong, quite aggressive bitterness which might be acceptable with a stronger malt backbone, but as it is that’s missing. The beer is OK but stylistically way too bitter. There just isn’t quite enough toast, not quite enough biscuit, and as a result too much hop character comes through. In truth, the beer is drinkable, but it lacks that gulping quality that a great ESB imparts to the drinker. It doesn’t pull me in and make me feel like I never want to leave. The best ESBs do that; this doesn’t. As the beer drinks and warms it comes into its own a bit more, and the required malts come through a bit stronger.
It’s always hard to be too critical of ESBs that are brewed away from the best water sources, since the water is so critical to the success of this style. Having said that, with careful control of the mineral content, brewers can overcome that problem, the questions are, do they know how to? And, can they be bothered? I don’t know the answers to either of these in the context of this beer.
In the end not a great ESB, but I wasn’t expecting one. Drink Waypost’s other beers and I think you’ll be better served and happier.