Beer Review: Odd Bird Brewing’s ESB (Extra Stockton Bitter)

Name: Extra Stockton Bitter
Brewing Company: Odd Bird Brewing
Location: Stockton, NJ
Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter
ABV: 4.3%

One of NJ’s smallest breweries has crafted an outstanding take on a classic, English pub ale.

OddBird_ESB

From the ordering page for the beer:

A malt forward amber English Ale.

Hops: Whole Leaf East Kent Goldings and Fuggles

Malt: Floor Malted Maris Otter, English Crystal Malt

ESB is perhaps the most classic of British Pub style ales. Here in America it isn’t exactly the most high profile style, so not many breweries feature the style in their rotation or on draft. But those that do brew in this style, seem to have a passion for it. Enter Odd Bird Brewing’s Extra Stockton Bitter an homage to the style with the name of the town in which the brewery resides.

I’ve only had a very small handful of ESBs and only one served in the traditional manner, via cask. Odd Bird’s take on the style is only the second I’ve enjoyed served via Cask…so when I saw this style available in this delivery method, I had to try it.

The mug I’m given is a beautiful sight. It looks exactly like I’d expect such a beer to be served were I to order it in a pub in London.

I dive right into the beer after I snap the above photo and take a seat at Odd Bird’s outdoor Biergarten. This is beer. Simple statement, but that’s what first comes to mind. Let’s unpack that…this is beer in a quintessential British style as it is meant to be. Top notch flavors from fresh ingredients crafted with care and attention. I get mild bitterness on the initial sips of Extra Stockton Bitter, which is on point. The cask delivery gives the beer an added quaff and body that enhances the flavors of the maltiness. There’s an extremely balanced and welcome sweetness on the finish of the beer.

I spent some time speaking to owner/brewer Adam about this beer and he told me the cask they have in the brewery is the same one that was in his living room prior to opening the brewery. He wasn’t able to get this style on cask so he started making it himself and wanted it in the traditional fashion so he procured a cask, specifically the Hand Pulled Beer Engine was originally from a 1970s John Smith Pub in the UK and reconditioned for use over the last few years.

This beer, for me, exemplifies why I like craft/independent beer so much. It isn’t a style you’ll find everywhere, but it is a passion project of a beer (one might say) that delivers something really special, no pun intended. If I wanted a West Coast IPA, I could walk to my local liquor store. If I wanted an American Lager, I’d head to the local bar. Nothing wrong with either style! My point is this – Odd Bird may be one of the smallest breweries in New Jersey, but the quality is outstanding, at least judging by this ESB. This beer alone makes it worth the trip to the brewery, in my humble opinion.

Highly Recommended, link to 4.5 bottle cap untappd rating check in.

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