Before the review i have a little story that goes along with this beer. My best friend and I took a trip to London a few years ago. we tried a lot of beer at a lot of different pubs, some nice traditional British beer and that was all well and good. In the London airport we had a few hours to kill so we found the airport bar and decided to combine our pockets full of change and use it up on beers. We got our first pints of this using handfuls of pence coins (the bartender really liked us). Well needless to say it blew us away with how great it was. Needless to say we ran out of change and switched to credit cards just to get a few more pints, foreign currency fees be damned. So this beer has a really great memory of a table full of change, and a few hours of great conversation after a long adventure in the city. Ok enough reminiscing, onto the beer review.
Pours a deep cloudy ruby color, it is quite opaque, but when held up to the light it shines nicely. Has a decent size offwhite head that fades really quickly settling into a creamy topping. The smell is sweet, with intense toffee notes and a background of licorice. Smells great! Has a nutty licorice/anise taste with a toffee sweetness that is really nicely balanced by spicey English hops. This is a very bready beer, all the great biscuits and fresh based bread you expect from a great English ale. It is a pretty complex beer for a "simple" ESB. There is a nice round bitterness in the finish but with enough sweet caramel to make it really pleasant. Has a silky smooth mouthfeel incredibly easy drinking. Just as easy as in the airport in London. There is a lot of nostalgia attached to this beer, it has a great memory attached. I love this aspect of beers, maybe it is just me but I can usually recall the first time I had a beer and drinking it again brings those feelings and memories of that time in my life back. Feel free to let me know if you have the same thing happen with beer, or with some other thing, in the comments.