The Sip #16 - Hargreaves Hill ESB

Ross Lewis

Long-time beer drinker Ross Lewis puts some of Australia's top drops to the test.

Catch up with other beers on The Sip Archive

On first sip of the Hargreaves Hill ESB it is worth sitting back and contemplating the drink.

There is the check of the flavours, the mouthfeel, the aroma and the finish to this fine craft beer exhibit.

But what you can’t taste, but must take into account when it passes the lips, is the toil that has gone into the drink.

Sure, every craft brewer works like an 18th century coal miner to produce their drops, pouring their heart and soul into their task.

However, Hargreaves Hill have had it tougher than most in recent times.

The Yarra Valley brewer started life as a back shed operation 10 years ago before growing quickly in stature as a maker of quality beers.

That was halted in 2009 when the Black Saturday bushfires that ravaged Victoria destroyed the brewery. Yet, like most craft artists who have started at the bottom, the quest was made to return from the ashes.

And with some help from other brewers, Hargreaves Hill has rebounded. Its ESB – Extra Strong Bitter – is proof that the team is back at the top of the beer game.

There is a wonderful caramel malt aroma to this beverage. There is the unmistakable dry flavour from the hops that are sourced from Australia, New Zealand and the US.

The ESB has a stern bitterness but it isn’t overtly strong. It leaves a pleasant but lingering finish after the detection of the citrus undertone.

This might be an interpretation of an old English style beer. But you can taste an Australian influence.

From where the brewers have been the ESB is something of which they can be extremely proud.

The Sip Snip
Extra Strong Bitter
Brewer: Hargreaves Hill, Victoria
Style: Extra Strong Bitter
Alcohol content: 5.2%
Standard drinks: 1.4
Bitterness: 55IBU
Bottles: 350ml bottles
Estimated calories: 162

The Sip Tip (rating): For impressing your mates

Average prices: $6.50 (bottle), $21 (four-pack), $73 (carton of 16)