Who in this economy is making Extra Special Bitters. Ask any saison brewer how hard it is to get people to order a Grisette, let alone some obscure english style that isn’t even hazy. Calusa is a madman for diving headfirst into Ravenhold, and has a tolerant CFO who allows them to barrel age it.
This is session barleywine insanity. If you trace back the historical lineage of bitter/ESB/old ale/stock ale/barleywine phylum, the parentage is there. We don’t need Sucaba to take a 21 and me test. If you add two parts water to Straight Jacket, you will arrive in this “micro-old ale” segment if you wanted to reverse engineer this: BUT WHY.
There’s a phalanx of dudes who drank Fat Tire two years ago who now feign being “over” craft beer just as quickly as they capriciously entered and exited the hobby like the heel turn of someone accidentally wandering into a Hollister. Those people claim they all love pilsners now, they read Pitchfork, and talk about the importance of upcycling fashion.
The BA ESB exists in a customer realm of “no one asked for this, but I am glad it exists” like a jetski with a sidecar. Take all the caramel, sugar daddies, maillard goodness of a massive 35 BMI barleywine, and scale it back into a svelte lean frame, lithe butterscotch sinewy arms, pumping rolo vascularity. This is an aesthetic for runs, european Football matches, darts at O’Shabbyshires with a plate of chips. Those threadbare cliches.
It is certainly not life, not a barleywine, not even really in the life adjacent “imperial brown” and it exists as something else entirely: a pecan sandie JUUL pod to get people into harder casks. Sure the allure of clean, crisp, bright, low abv is fun when your stepmom first is sipping them, but when she’s a full on member of CAMRA with an OnlyFans account, she’s gone full barleywine.
I am here for this, it’s focused and intentional, robust while remaining approachable, depth with deceptive simplicity. I just hope everyone else is on board for barrel aged ESBs.