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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,570 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1570
Reviews: 815
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%

Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery visit their website
United States

Style | ABV
Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB) |  5.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Brewed in the style of a traditional British ESB (Extra Special Bitter), we’ve been making ESB continuously since 1987, and it’s now the benchmark for the Amber beer category. Despite having “bitter” in its name, Redhook ESB is really not that bitter at all. This brew is all about the balance of caramel malt sweetness completed by spicy, citrusy hops.

28 IBU

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-30-2001)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,570 | Reviews: 815 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Cavanaghty


3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap while on the brewery tour at the Portsmouth location.

Appearance: Amber light copper color with good amount of white head.

Smell: Hops, maybe some sugars.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Light to medium bodied and smooth. Mild bittersweet gives way to a slight kick of just bitter at the end.

Overall: Drinkable brew, good for a year round beer that goes well with many foods. I always enjoy this one, but have had better.

Serving type: on-tap

08-24-2012 20:17:14 | More by Cavanaghty
Photo of Merkur


3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap into a pint glass.

Beer pours a clear, red color. Very little head, but a fair amount of carbonation.

Beer smells piney and bready. Definately a bitter smell to the beer.

The beer starts very sweet and then finishes slightly bitter. Very sweet on the front end.

The beer pours fairly thin and watery.

Overall an OK ESB

Serving type: on-tap

01-10-2012 01:52:59 | More by Merkur
Photo of bump8628


3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear, bright copper with a small, creamy dollop of white foam. Faint caramel, slightly steely, clean base malt- balanced evenly by subtle earty and fruity hop note. Some fruitiness and sweetness on the swallow from the yeast. Goes down easy alongside a medium-rare ribeye and plate of french fries. Sure, Redhook may only be pseudo-craft, but now that it has shown up in Oklahoma I'm thankful for an easy-drinking, flavorful ale that shows up at even the most Lite Lager laden bars, and at $3 a pint the price is about right.

Serving type: on-tap

11-06-2011 18:39:19 | More by bump8628
Photo of UCLABrewN84


3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Joe Jost's in Long Beach, CA.

Pours a clear copper color with a 1 inch puffy tan head that fades to a film on the top of the beer. Random spots and streaks of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt/grain and some fruity aromas. Taste is of malt/grain and a subdued fruit and hop flavor. Slight bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp and clean mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good ESB but the aromas and tastes are a bit subdued overall.

Serving type: on-tap

10-02-2011 05:14:57 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of CurtisLoew


3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Cheap on tap. Had probably 10 too many. Good night.

Pours a nice color. Light burnt orange.

Smells like an average ESB. Not much else to say here.

Taste is good. Very drinkable. Fairly clean and refreshing. For the price and company, it more than did the job.

mouthfeel about what you would expect.

Overall, decent beer. Awesome night. Would definitely do it again.

Serving type: on-tap

07-30-2011 05:18:21 | More by CurtisLoew
Photo of mikeg67

New Jersey

3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at BJ’s. Pours amber hue with a white, lasting head. Aroma is of bready malt and hints of ripe fruit.
Medium, crisp body. Taste is of piney, earthy hops and bready malt and caramel. The finish is long and bitter. In my opinion, the brew lacks some fruitiness of ESB on the palate.

Serving type: on-tap

07-06-2011 15:08:09 | More by mikeg67
Photo of Knapp85


3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a nice looking amber color, the head was creamy and white. The la in was pretty good on the glass. The smell of the beer is grainy and has a nice sweet malt aroma to it. The taste has a good bitterness to it. The mouthfeel is a bit watered down. Overall I liked the beer and would drink it again.

Serving type: on-tap

06-20-2011 22:42:07 | More by Knapp85
Photo of WoodBrew


3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

During a visit to Portsmouth we took the opportunity to visit Redhook Brewery. Tried the Redhook ESB. The color was golden clear with nice carbonation that gave way to a decent white head and lacing. The nose was a very faint citrus, if any. The taste was good, there was a little bit of hop and touch of lemon. The mouthfeel was good and I certainly could do a Session with this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-05-2011 01:56:16 | More by WoodBrew
Photo of afksports

New York

3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

As easygoing and watery as they come, Redhook Ale Brewery's Extra Special Bitter, or ESB, is a session beer that I'm happy to have while I try to do my 2010 taxes. You see, I need the tax return so I can take a trip to the west coast so I can buy beers that are better than Redhook ESB.

The appearance is golden orange, filtered, with a tiny head that sustains adequate lace so that I know it's carbonated. The smell is mostly dead, smelling like diluted malts and maybe a touch of hops. It's eerily close to an American Lager's smell.

Fortunately it tastes better than that, and the malty characteristic matches the watery hop notes that are a tad citrusy, so this one goes down very smooth. The corn is offputting, but Redhook can't be blamed. Making quality beers isn't their top priority. Plus it goes down very quickly, and so I have to give it points for drinkability.

That's about the only thing it gets points for. But this place is charging 7 bucks for a 12 ounce of Racer 5, and this is on tap with the other option being Stella.

What's a guy to do?

Oh right, my taxes.

Serving type: on-tap

02-27-2011 20:29:47 | More by afksports
Photo of CuriousMonk


2.58/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Usually out of the bottle but tastes better draft into a pint glass. Pours light amber with almost no head at the start but this lasts and leaves a little weak lacing. The aroma is mild, hint of caramel and grain but mostly apple juice. The taste is malt, grain, apple juice, a hint of sweetness. At 1st it seems too bitter and drying on the toungue, but this goes away after the 1st couple sips, with all mellowing out and blending togther into a solid, drinkable beer with a fairly well rounded body. A decent session beer (but had way better) and it has a grain-y aftertaste.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2011 18:51:18 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of thekanna


4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Old Town Theater in Alexandria, VA.

A: Nice, nutty clear amber color with less than a finger of white head.

S: Slightly sweet malts, faint hops, and sweet citrus.

T: Sweet bouquet of citrus fruits and apple lead progressively to a bitter hop bite, but not nearly as biting as, say, an IPA.

M: Somewhat delicate body with a decent amount of carbonation and a slight diacetyl finish.

D: A nice, relaxing brew to pass the time. Good session beer.

Serving type: on-tap

11-19-2010 04:07:45 | More by thekanna
Photo of Thorpe429


3.65/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. On tap at our local movie theatre. Glad they had this and not the IPA, as at least I got to try something different from them. I will say that this beer is not half bad and in the context of a movie theater or a ball park, I won't complain about running into this again.

Pours a light caramel-copper color with a faint off white head. The nose brings through some light caramel and toffee notes as well as some light earthy and herbal hops. The taste adds in a touch of citrus atop a bit of light bread. Some slight but noticeable bitterness resides within the feel. Drinks pretty well; I'd be willing to go for seconds.

Serving type: on-tap

10-24-2010 16:07:55 | More by Thorpe429
Photo of glid02


3.65/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Taco Mac Metropolis in Atlanta.

Pours a clear amber-copper color with a one-finger slightly off-white head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of muted caramel malts with hints of biscuit-like aromas. Also present are good amounts of floral and slightly herbal hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Light caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by mild amounts of bready flavors. Midway through the sip the hop flavors work their way into things - slightly herbal with underlying earthiness. The hops carry through to a mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with a solid thickness.

Drinkability is also good. I had no problems finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this is much better than I remember it being from the bottle - far from great but easy to drink with a light but solid flavor profile. Worth a shot.

Serving type: on-tap

08-31-2010 01:12:58 | More by glid02
Photo of jpittman80


3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Copper red with little head. Poured from the tap at BJ's to basically fill all 16 oz. of the pint glass, so I won't blame the beer.

S - Caramel overwhelms everything. Slight earthy hopiness.

T - Wow. It tastes like caramel candy, or caramel corn, or something caramel. Again slight hop bitterness in the background to prevent it from becoming a candy beer.

M - Smooth light body, soft carbonation.

D - It got easier to drink the further it went on, but I think I was just opening up my throat and pouring it back without trying to taste it much so I could get to my next order: Bigfoot on draft!

I used to think this was a classy brew when I didn't know about beer. Now, it's pretty average.

Serving type: on-tap

06-06-2010 23:41:34 | More by jpittman80
Photo of SpecialK088


3.98/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-pretty basic look light amber with about a 1/2 finger head

S-not alot going on in the nose. Subtle grains and hops with a slight alcohol twinge and the slightest sweet undertone

T-very earthy hops with a slight sweet middle and very nice bitter finish. Lingering bitter hops and dry grains also linger well from drink to drink

M-light body with a great low carbonation that fits the beer perfectly .

D-very easy drinking and could be a great introduction to the style for someone as it gets all of the great esb qualities and is not overwhelming.

Serving type: on-tap

04-28-2010 02:32:11 | More by SpecialK088
Photo of kshankar

District of Columbia

3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Harris Crab House in Kent Island, Maryland.

Pours amber with a thick white head with good retention and lacing. Aroma is malty, bready, some hops

Taste is malty and bready with a nice hop finish..the entire mouthfeel is a bit creamy and "buttery", if that makes sense. Body is on the lighter side of medium. Drinkability is good.

Serving type: on-tap

03-21-2010 09:23:57 | More by kshankar
Photo of JustinJTisdale

New York

3.43/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this beer at the brewery and was quite surprised because I recalled not liking it in the past. It was poured well tasty very bready with heavy hops in the finish.

Would I buy it again? Probably.

Is it something Im going to go out of my way to get.
Probably not.

If the opportunity ever arises and you find yourself at the brewery they sometimes have it in cask and that is a completely different story.

Serving type: on-tap

01-10-2010 22:03:40 | More by JustinJTisdale
Photo of BDJake


3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I have drank this beer extensively throughout the years, and it was an early favorite of mine- out of my bottle cap collection at home, it is one of the most numerous types I have, even more so than the hordes of cheaper shot that my friends always bring over. Had it out of the bottle and on tap countless times, but for the sake of the review, I'll talk of my tap experiences:

A- Nice golden amber, with reddish hints in places of low lighting. nice light colored head when poured properly, with some light lacing and small bubbles throughout the drink.

S- Very inviting mix of trademard Redhook hops and bitterness, with a small hint of the malts coming through, kind of between what you'd expect from a decent red or pale ale.

T- Bitter as advertised, taking full advantage of the vast selection of local hops and barley malts, and somewhat dry with a lingering aftertaste.

M- Dryness with light carbonation, becoming richer and thicker as it warms.

D- Fairly decent, lighter than you'd expect from a more bitter beer but easing it's way down the throat. Above 50 degrees however, it becomes much harder to drink down.

Overall it's pretty enjoyable, and fits almost every social situation rather well in just about every season. The one time I did not particularly enjoy it was last summer down in Vegas when I picked up two 12 packs for $5.37 each at the Shoppette on base in Nellis. I was fixated on the killer deal, but quickly discovered why it was on sale down by our pool, after the ice melted in the cooler bag the beer became too thick for constant drinking when it warmed up. Served at the right temperature, however, it is rather sessionable, and a perfect beer in the Pacific Northwest.

Serving type: on-tap

10-16-2009 07:13:38 | More by BDJake
Photo of kaseydad


3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I was brought a dark copper colored ale with a head..which lingers. Nice lacing on the glass if you like that.

Slight hoppy aroma with more of a candy-sweet aroma.

Taste consists of hops and and lingering bitter aftertaste that is pleasant.

Very easy drinking. Multiples are encouraged.

I must say the first time I tried this beer I hated it...but then I became a "beer snob" and drank it in the right context and can now fully appreciate the beer. This night it rocked and when all else looks bleak on the menu, I'll turn to it if it's available.

Not world class, but worthy of an unbiased try.

Serving type: on-tap

08-29-2009 18:06:59 | More by kaseydad
Photo of Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub. Medium yellow bubbly with bubbly head and leaving white lace trail. Aggressively carbonated, yet still a decent mouthfeel, medium bodied. A decent bitterness, serviceable ESB. Served too cold.Aroma was malty, and maybe it was a little too malty.

Serving type: on-tap

07-16-2009 14:41:40 | More by Sammy
Photo of bill93063

New Hampshire

4.3/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An excellent and affordable bitters in the tradition of English Extra Special Bitters like Fullers(which is arguably the best Bitters on the market). While not in the class of Fullers, it is far less expensive and for the money is a good example of an ESB. This one is also highly drinkable with a nice balance of hoppy bitterness and smooth malty notes, hinting at caramel and vanilla, highly recommended!

Serving type: on-tap

06-18-2009 15:23:30 | More by bill93063
Photo of mikesgroove

South Carolina

3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this one on tap at the Red Robin tonight. It was the only thing really worth even trying. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, that was of course chilled. This one was consumed on 05/15/2009.

The pour was the best part. Rich amber color, nice dark hints around the sides as well. Inch of foam on top was a light tan color and settled down gently into a side coating, not bad with carbonation visible throughout the session. Aroma was light, hoppy, west coast ESB for sure as a light pine was easily picked up here. As it warmed though it almost totally faded and left me with a confused look. Same with the first taste, smooth, even carbonation left me looking for a bit more here. Light hops and grain with a smooth caramel mid palate, but it was all just a touch light for me to be honest, still though decent and very drinkable.

Overall while not anything to write home about it beats the pants off a macro anyday.

Serving type: on-tap

05-16-2009 00:41:15 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of cdViking


3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had at Buzz Steakhouse on 4/18; on tap in pint glass.

Has a standard reddish/amberish color with a decent amount of good-looking white head. Smells pretty hoppy, with minimal subtleties. Taste is pretty standard; nice hop flavor, with slight floral undertones. A drink that I wouldn't necessarily seek out, but certainly enjoyable enough to have on tap when only crap is otherwise available. Low ABV allows for session drinking, too.

Serving type: on-tap

04-23-2009 18:49:54 | More by cdViking
Photo of Rayek


3.6/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Sheraton North in Houston TX, of all places.

A: Pale amber with nice clarity and active carbonation. Soapy white head has above average retention and leaves nice rings of lace.

S: Straw and toasted grain, plus a bit of lemon and grass.

T: Malt hits first with a toasted bread like quality that contains hints of straw. Hops have a tart apple and lemon bitterness. Finishes with a faint lingering bitterness.

M: Medium body is slightly syrupy. Right amount of fizz.

D: Good session beer. Not the most complex beer on the block, but good with food and friends.

Serving type: on-tap

04-18-2009 00:30:52 | More by Rayek
Photo of RedDiamond


3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm sure I've had this beer in bottles and on draught countless times over the past 20 years. But until I actually went to Woodinville and sat down for a pint at the brewery, I'd somehow managed to not form any substantive impression of it. A more deliberate evaluation shows the ESB to be remarkably fruitier than my memory conjures, with notes of cherry and strawberry that emerge and are quickly subsumed by a blasé yeasted overtone delivering the finish. It is flawless in its burnished copper color with a smattering of lather forming the equivalent of a 5 o'clock shadow across the glass. The aroma is of light bread crust.

Another serviceable but unadventuresome ale from this Anheuser-Busch affiliate.

Serving type: on-tap

03-31-2009 06:00:08 | More by RedDiamond
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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,570 ratings.