Green Man ESB Review: All That Is Wild

The green man is a theme found in many ancient and Medieval cultures, but especially in Medieval Europe. He is represented in art by a face made of green leaves and vegetation, usually hiding in a forest, looking out at people. In literature, he is often represented by an uninvited, semi-wild character who introduces chaos to the narrative. The green man represented some sort of very ancient fertility god, and also a god of chaos: like Bacchus of the Romans, the green man’s purpose was to introduce disorder and unexpected problems into man’s life, to never let man forget his connection to the wilds of nature and to other animals. He also represented the rebirth of Spring. To name a brewery after one of my favorite literary archetypes is a big challenge to my taste buds: I expect such beers to have a wild, complex flavor and aroma. Will this beer live up to these expectations?

Green Man ESB (5.5% ABV) is billed by the company as a classic English amber ale, which means that it is brewed from amber roasted British malts and hops. Fair enough — this is a nice, classic ale style. In fact, it is a style of ale that would have been familiar to the characters in Charles Dickens’ novels. ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter.

Green Man Brewing was founded in 1997 as a brewpub (brasserie) in Asheville, North Carolina. But in 2010, someone else (unnamed on the company’s website) bought the company, did away with the brewpub element of it, and focused only on brewing, retaining John Stuart, the original brewer. The company chose the green man as their mascot because they say that their ales are creative and constantly being reborn.

Everything On Tap Review – Green Man ESB:

Bottle: The dark-brown glass bottle shows an off-white and tan label with brown and dark green lettering. The logo is a well-done illustration of the green man’s face.

Pour: The color is a rusty red and amber with moderate clarity. The head is less than a finger thick, but it is creamy and textured. It dissipates slowly, leaving moderate lacing.

Aroma: There is a nice, expected aroma of warm, nutty, molasses malts. Under the malt is a light bouquet of yeasty bread, cocoa, caramel, and toasted hops.

Flavor: The flavor generally follows the aroma, except that it is mostly-oriented toward the malt, with a bit of toffee. On the finish, some light hoppy bitterness reveals itself, but caramel persists throughout.

Mouthfeel: The ale is medium-bodied, just right for this style of ale. I find the carbonation to be excessive, almost off-putting, for this style of ale, and for this mouthfeel.

Structure: The aroma and flavor profiles are typical for this style of beer, but the overall impression is a bit light, thus producing a weak structure.

Food Pairing: As an overall light, moderate ale with a reasonable flavor profile, I would not pair Green Man ESB with strong flavors, but rather with more traditional English fair, such as fried cod, roast chicken or other fowl, and pork tenderloin. It is a good fit with pub food in general, even fish and chips.

Overall Rating Out of 5 Beer Mugs:

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