Spinnakers Brewery- Mitchell’s Extra Special Bitter


Spinnakers Brewery- Mitchell’s Extra Special Bitter Review

Raise a glass in memory of one of BC’s most essential craft beer pioneers, John Mitchell. It was in the early 80’s that John, with the help of one of BC’s other craft beer pioneers, Frank Appleton, turned the Troller Pub in Horseshoe Bay into North America’s first craft brewpub. Before that could happen, however, John would also play an instrumental part in lobbying the government to change BC’s liquor laws. Although the Troller Pub venture would be short lived, John would also go on to help set up Victoria’s first brewpub, Spinnakers, and then Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish. Without John Mitchell and his drive to create well-crafted and fine beer brewed in BC, the craft beer scene would be radically diminished.

Spinnaker’s Mitchell’s ESB has almost as colourful of a history, at least in beer writing, as the man it’s named after. Famed beer critic Michael Jackson, in his New World Guide to Beer (1988) called it “beautifully balanced.” An even bigger and long standing recommendation has come from Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont who, as far back as his Great Canadian Beer Guide (1994), gave it 3 stars. Since then he has also included Mitchell’s ESB in his Pocket Beer Guide (2013), the World Atlas of Beer (2012) and wrote about it in the book 1001 Beers You Must Try Before You Die (2010). As recently as his Best Beers book (2017), Beaumont included it for recommendation. Joe Wiebe, in his Craft Beer Revolution (2013) remarked that it is “the original and still perhaps best ESB in BC.”

For more in-depth tasting notes, refer to any of the previously mentioned Beaumont books.

To learn more about John Mitchell and the early BC craft beer scene, check out Frank Appleton’s must-read book Brewing Revolution, as well as Wiebe’s interview with Mitchell in Craft Beer Revolution.

  • (3.5)
  • (3.5)
  • (4)
  • (4)
  • (4)
    Overall Enjoyment

About This Beverage

  • Colour: Copper
  • Head Size & Retention: Normal head + retention
  • Carbonation: Mild Carbonation
  • Clarity: Clear
  • Balance: More Malty
  • Drinkability: Easy Drinking
  • Enjoyment: BC classic
  • Malt Characteristics: Biscuity/Bready, Caramel, Dark Fruit (raisins, prunes, figs, black currants), Nutty, Toasty/Roasty
  • Hop Characteristics: Earthy
  • Palate: Full Bodied


Have a drink in memory of a BC craft beer pioneer, John Mitchell, and what better than the Spinnaker’s classic that bears his name? Get the cask conditioned version at the pub for an even more authentic experience.


A classic BC ESB


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