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Old 08-20-2009, 11:50 AM   #1
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Default ESB vs IPA

Can someone explain the difference between ESB and IPA. The recipes are very similar and both have similar gravities. The only obvious difference is the extra hops in the IPA and possibly Vienna malt.

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Old 08-20-2009, 12:26 PM   #2
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If it is ESB and English IPA, then it is sometimes hard to tell the difference. The IPA will be a little hoppier. The ESB will probably be more robust and earthy. If it's an American IPA, then you will most likely be looking at a hop bomb, and the difference will be much more evident. There is also a stronger chance that it will have a less malty base.

So you basically answered your own question.

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Old 08-20-2009, 12:34 PM   #3
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Also if I'm not mistaken most ESB's have a caramel flavor to them... At least thats what I pick up in my Fuller's when I'm drinking it. Damn near one of my favorite beers of all the commercials out there.

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Old 08-20-2009, 12:43 PM   #4
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Yeah, most of the commercial ESBs I've had in the UK have a much more pronounced crystal malt presence with a lot of toffee/caramel in them.

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Old 08-20-2009, 01:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Also if I'm not mistaken most ESB's have a caramel flavor
+1. That iswhat I have noticed also - more malt presence - maybe sweeter?
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Old 08-20-2009, 02:18 PM   #6
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Fuller's is sweeter, but then all of their beers are. Their yeast is less attenuative (Wyeast 1968). I've had some ESBs that aren't as sweet as theirs. But they always have more crystal from what I've seen. I prefer Ordinary and Best Bitter myself...

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Old 08-20-2009, 02:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattHollingsworth View Post
Fuller's is sweeter, but then all of their beers are. Their yeast is less attenuative (Wyeast 1968). I've had some ESBs that aren't as sweet as theirs. But they always have more crystal from what I've seen. I prefer Ordinary and Best Bitter myself...
Yep! When I answered I was assuming for some reason that rather than actual Fuller's ESB, he was meaning a good hearty special bitter. The ESB tag can be a bit misleading IMO as many people don't mean Fuller's when they use that term.

Anyways, that is why I used the terms robust and earthy rather than malty or sweet.

Have I just confused the issue even more?
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Old 08-20-2009, 03:26 PM   #8
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Naw, no worries. I think the confusion stems more from some American brewers using the term too. And it's totally different, just like IPA is too. IPAs in the UK can be like 3.6%, really small beers that bear no resemblance to their American counterparts. Same thing with ESB. The ones I've had in America were just pale ales for the most part, maybe with a touch more crystal. All the bitters in the UK, to me anyway (and I was just at the Great British Beer Festival drinking a LOT of them!) are much more bready, toasty, biscuity. Some have dry hops and some don't, some are hoppier, some less hoppy, some more mineral, some more sweet etc. But usually, it seems to me, that at the top end of the bitters scale, the ESB usually has a lot more of that Crystal/Caramel note to it. The Fuller's one *is* malty and sweet-ish. And they're not even all earthy as they don't all have EKGs in them. Some have more Fuggles or Styrian Goldings character.

Anyway, my 3 cents.

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Old 08-20-2009, 03:34 PM   #9
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The terms have been used interchangeaby and even ignored throughout history, even in the weightier texts. And, it's even been suggested that all of these styles should be subgroups of IPA. The only real defining line is between English and American in the use of hop varietals. From there, it pretty much gets chopped up into gravities as all the other attributes overlap in such a way that it would be possible to brew a beer that would fit Across of the the "style" definitions aside form gravity and continental flair.

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Old 08-20-2009, 03:52 PM   #10
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Yeah. And generally, you don't see a lot of the term ESB in the UK that I've seen either. A LOT of beers just have a name without the designation of what it is, Bishop's Finger etc etc. Their just bitters of some sort without and real definition.

I'd say that the grain and yeast also plays a huge role in the difference between American and Brit, though. Water too. Don't think I've ever had an American beer that smelled of sulfur. And American pale ales and such don't tend to have as much fruit from esters either...

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