The beer is hopped twice in the kettle to allow the malt to show through in the middle. It has been refined to its current state over the last 19 years and strikes a precise balance of malt and hops.
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 1058
AVAILABILITY: WA, CO, ID, MD, DC
No-Li (formerly Northern Lights) has quietly produced solid beers for years, but is gaining a wider reputation. Its Crystal Bitter ESB is a fine example of why. As grapefruit and resin tango with sweet biscuit notes, the first sip produces a hop wallop, nearly astringent and very citrusy. Right when you think it might become over-the-top, a caramel sweetness comes in to pull you back from the ledge, lingering with a bitter finish. While fans of the traditional style might find this ESB too assertive, devotees of the hop will enjoy every drop.
- Lisa Morrison
My nearest pub belongs to Fuller’s, so the original ESB is never more than a short stroll away. No-Li’s take on the style is not close in taste but it’s a beer Fuller’s, I’m sure, would be proud of. I particularly like the butter toffee notes that linger in the background, sliced through by a clean, sharp hop note that has a lemon accent, and also the contrasting, delicate floral overtones. With a leafy tanginess rounding off the dry, caramel finish, this is a robust yet smooth, deep amber beer with rich, clean flavors that doesn’t leave you wanting more.
- Jeff Evans
Lisa Morrison, aka The Beer Goddess, writes about beer whenever and wherever she can and also gets to talk about it on a weekly radio show in her hometown of Portland, OR.
Author of the Good Bottled Beer Guide and The Book of Beer Knowledge, Jeff Evans is an eight-time editor of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. More of his writing can be found at www.insidebeer.com.