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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,565 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1565
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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Ratings: 1,565 | Reviews: 815 | Show All Ratings:
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 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 BuckeyeNation


2.93/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brassy orange with polished brass edges, capped by a smallish head of pastel orange that isn't all that remarkable. It starts life at two fingers and is down to one within several minutes, dragging a pathetically short collar of lace in its wake. This is an okay looking beer that strikes me as barely better than average.

The nose, however, struggles to reach average... and fails. It doesn't have much gumption, even when I get my nose within dipping distance. The 'best by' date tells me that the beer is pretty fresh, but it doesn't smell fresh (what I can appreciate, that is). Mildly pale malty, faintly fruity and... uh... I'm thinking.

Things are a little better on the palate, but not much. Redhook ESB is too meekly flavored and reminds me of an ESB as envisioned by BMC: short on both malt and hops, and therefore, on taste. Does 'affilitated with' mean 'inspired by', I wonder? Just when the taste buds ready themselves for even a minor burst of *something*, the flavor fades away without having delivered the payload.

I'm not sure whether malt or hops have less of an impact. Given the 'quinine-like, divorced from any trace of hoppy flavor' bitterness that lingers long after beer has left mouth, I'd say that malt is more deficient. Underneath the bitterness, ESB is mildly sweet and somewhat orange fruity, but has the depth of the shallow end of the kiddie pool.

I keep telling myself that the metallic quality that was evident with my first mouthful will fade (any minute now... ), but so far it hasn't. The mouthfeel isn't that bad. It's well within the bounds of acceptable for the style, but lacks a decent cargo.

I love Winterhook, but the other Redhook brews (that I've tried) have been pedestrian at best. I was in the mood for a good little ESB this evening. Unfortunately, I didn't find one inside this bottle.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2006 00:20:41 | More by BuckeyeNation
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 womencantsail


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

A: The pour is amber/light copper with a creamy off-white head.

S: Some moderate caramel and toffee notes and a floral, earthy hoppiness. Not an overly intense nose, but it's an English style afterall...

T: Very bready on the palate with a pretty significant amount of hop bitterness. Again, the hops are primarily floral and earthy, and the sweetness is not quite as noticeable as on the nose.

M: The body is medium and so is the level of carbonation. The finish leaves a lingering bitterness.

D: I'm not an expert on ESBs, but I think this one isn't too bad. Sure, not perfectly to style (or maybe even close), but it's easy to drink and flavorful.

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2010 18:55:34 | More by womencantsail
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

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

Appearance: Pours a clear medium amber body with a small head that fades to a collar pretty quickly

Smell: Mostly caramel malts with a hint of hops; clearly a touch of diacetyl

Taste: Bursts onto the tongue with a blast of caramel malt; eventually blends into a bit of bitterness to the finish; a bit sweeter than I would have expected, almost like an Amber Ale

Mouthfeel: A bit slick with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A pleasant, if sweet swill

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2005 22:28:10 | More by brentk56
Photo of BEERchitect


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

Second sampling: As a brew there is really nothing to criticize, but as an ESB it reaks of blandness. Just use the proper ingredients and exercise proper brewing techniques for classic ESB's and the beer will turn out fine. It happens in homebrewing, so why do we accept less in commercial brewing. This ESB just lacks the differitiators than would make it a classic example. Show me some richness with breadiness and yeastiness. Show me a caramelly, toffee-ey maltiness. Show me a hop spiciness with English hops. Show me a clean ale finish. I'll be happy then, I promise.

First sampling 7-17-05

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2006 03:17:25 | More by BEERchitect
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 metter98

New York

3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is slightly hazy deep yellow in color with amber highlights and has a light to moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a thin white head that quickly died down and left large patches of bubbles on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are light aromas of fruity yeast in the nose.
T: The taste has flavors of biscuit and toasted malts along with some hints of fruity yeast. The finish has some hints of sweetness and a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very easy to drink and rather sessionable. There’s a good amount of malts in the beer, but it doesn’t feel filling.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2012 22:46:52 | More by metter98
Photo of ChainGangGuy


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

12 oz. bottle purchased at Total Wine in Kennesaw, Georgia. Bottled: 05 05 08.

Appearance: Pours an amber body with a smallish, white head.

Smell: Malty nose laden with caramel tones and a note of grainy bread. Decent spicy hoppiness in the nose.

Taste: Maltiness tasting of a blend of grains and caramel with the faintest, and I do mean faintest touch of roast. Sip of cool spring water. Lightly fruity. Spicy, lightly floral hops with a restrained bitterness. Bittersweet finish with a minor touch of lingering fruitiness and spice.

Mouthfeel: Just barely medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Paired with the film "Karate Kid", though I'll refrain from singing the song that goes "you're the BEST around" to this brew. Certainly not the be all and end all of ESB's, but you can definitely do alot worse.

Serving type: bottle

09-13-2008 04:12:48 | More by ChainGangGuy
Photo of oberon

North Carolina

3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep golden/amber color with a light somewhat fizzy head,aroma is lightly sweet but not much there.Taste is malty and a little nutty with some caramel tones,the best part of this beer is the taste.I have had this beer many times hoping it would be better but it never is.At one time I guess this was top-notch.

Serving type: bottle

08-06-2003 13:25:42 | More by oberon
Photo of TMoney2591


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

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

Another random single from the local Binny's. It pours a mostly clear sunrise golden amber topped by a finger of relatively short-lived off-white foam. The nose comprises biscuits, orange peel, flowers, buttery caramel, and grass. The taste holds notes of orange flesh, light grass, light buttery biscuits, and honey. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a sorta chunky feel (if that makes any sense). Overall, not too bad a brew, not the best ESB I've ever had, but it's pretty easy to drink and in no way offensive.

Serving type: bottle

08-29-2011 18:39:19 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.2/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A really nice English-style ale. Many American brewers take it too far. This beer is right where it should be; offering some really nice characteristics but maintaining a high level of drinkability. The beers pours an orange-tinted amber with a nice, but somewhat short lived, head. The aroma has an extremely nice, soft fruity character. A creamy mouthfeel and well rounded lightly caramel malt flavor is backed by an expansive but restrained bitterness. Again, this is very English in character. The finish is lightly dry; and will probably leave you with a nice hop burp! A very nice, restrained English-style ale.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2002 06:26:34 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of biboergosum

Alberta (Canada)

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

This beer pours a somewhat hazy medium copper colour, with pretty much no head, just a small meniscus, and some remnants of splatter from the pour. It smells of mild biscuit malt, some sweet orchard fruitiness, and leafy hops. The taste is pretty fruity, the malt quite evident, with the earthy, leafy hops holding their own, and a small metallic edge. The carbonation is a bit north of the equator, the body medium weight, a tad prickly, and it finishes off-dry, the fruity malt sparring still with the mild hop offset.

A beer that falls into that no-man's land range - well above BMC, definitely drinkable, but lacking in the roundness and fullness that would put in among the ranks of the micro golden boys...

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2010 22:53:03 | More by biboergosum
Photo of feloniousmonk


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear, coppery color, big, bubbly, off-white head,tly leaving lace.
Aroma: fresh, lightly fruity, yeasty, but all told, mild, and pleasant.
Taste: decent. A mostly milquetoast-ish offering of hops, but a vast load of malts, caramel, mostly, I'd say, gives off a fruity taste, bright, refreshing, easy-drinking. Light in body, lightly on the palate, not much involved in the finish, but neither should I find fault from this lack of lasting attributes, for the brew fully fulfills it's intentions and aims, an amiably quaffed, fine tasting brew that can happily pass away the hours with one, and not distract from matters of conversation or gamesmanship.
Gets drier toward the end, hop bitterness is more evident, but not more than mild, either.
Again, does it's job, just...not what I'm looking for in a beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-05-2004 11:33:34 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep gold color, with a short off-white head that fades very quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of caramel, citrus, hops and lightly roasted malts.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel and citrus. Then there's a strong hops bitterness that comes in and brings some balance. The malt character is a bit on the thin side for the style but provides some substance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly hoppy.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, light-to-medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: A little tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, not the best representation of style as there's a little too much sweetness for a typical ESB, it's not a bad beer but there are several others in the style that I would pick first.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2009 00:25:06 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.9/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a dark golden/amber color with a nice white head that fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It is dry and malty. It has the musty smell that a lot of English Ales posess. The taste is good. It also is dry and malty. It is quite bitter. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This beer is rather enjoyable; a good ESB.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2003 01:01:20 | More by WesWes
Photo of zeff80


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

A - Pours out a copper/amber color with a small, off-white, foamy head. Not much in the way of lacing.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and some floral notes.

T - It tasted of some sweet malt with a slight bitter kick.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is an okay ESB. It served as a "gateway" beer for me in college that led to drinking better beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2008 22:00:05 | More by zeff80
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.85/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 08/12/03. Slightly Hazy amber gold color, pours with an off-white head that is fairly persistant but with largish bubbles. Aroma is of a hoppy, floral, citrus one, with a bit of sweetness thrown in the mix. A nutty malty taste mixed with a solid hop flavor. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and a certain dryness. This beer has a fullness of body to it that coats one's mouth as you sip it. Eminantly Quaffable.

Serving type: on-tap

10-25-2003 00:40:59 | More by Gueuzedude
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 jwc215


3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured an orange/amber - somewhat thin - with a decent head that became a lacing after a short while.
The smell was of something sweet that I couldn't quite place - sugary - caramel, maybe - not bad, but a bit thin and one-dimensional.
The taste was of a sweet water - like rock candy almost - oddly enough though - the sweetness was not in the aftertaste - which was more bitter, if anything. It was a bit too watery and thin. Nothing was bad about it, but nothing nearly as good as the English ESB's (such as Fuller's or American micros I've had.)
There were no hop flavors while I was drinking it - all malt, but a slight hint of hops became apparent in the aftertaste.
It's too sweet to be a good example of this style. While it wasn't terrible, nothing is telling me to grab another.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2006 20:45:25 | More by jwc215
Photo of smcolw


3.88/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Modest head that dies to a single layer of bubbles. It does leave good ring lace. The beer is light amber and very cloudy.

Strong caramel aroma with a definitive light hop spice to the nose. Sweet malt sugar smells.

I like the balance: Strong caramel malt flavors which gives the beer a full body feel. There's also a healthy level hops which provide a good peppery finish. The aftertaste is a combination of the two predominate flavors--long lasting.

What can I say, I think this is better than other reviews have suggested. Not that my taste buds are better than others but it makes me wonder if most tastings should be blind (including my own).

Serving type: bottle

09-12-2010 20:21:54 | More by smcolw
Photo of Halcyondays


3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a very clear and clean looking light amber, with a light white head.

S: Standard caramel malt, with a light earthiness from the hops.

T: Malt mixed with a husky cereal grain flavour form the main flavour. Hops give a grassy note, the beer ends with a sugary finish.

M: Overall light-bodied, fizzy at times and watery.

D: A nice inexpensive beer right here, not going to blow you away, but quite drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2008 06:09:00 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of mactrail


3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I wonder how many small brewery beers are still around after 10 years? In this case, I'm not sure why. I'd call it the Fat Tire of the Northwest.

Attractive light amber in the wide glass. It hits that earthy bitter note right off and sticks with it. Well carbonated with a nice beery mouthfeel. Bready flavor with an herbal note, like old dried parsley. Some decent malt in the middle. I am not partial to this hoppy flavor, but it's clean and crisp. A funny gummy aftertaste as the bitterness fades. Slight aroma of malt and crackers.

Only three bucks for the 22 oz bottle.

Serving type: bottle

04-01-2012 03:55:27 | More by mactrail
Photo of barleywinefiend


3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very golden, light amber with a thin, bright white head that surprisingly left a thin ring of spotty and fine lacing. The beer's nose was kind of tame and uneventful, and the flavor was a balanced light hoppiness with a malt character that transitioned to a iced tea like character as it slid across the tongue. The drinkability is hindered by my own personal lack of interest in this particular beer. I like this style, but better examples of it exist.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2008 23:22:10 | More by barleywinefiend
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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,565 ratings.