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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,642 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,642
Reviews: 817
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 15
Gots: 61 | FT: 0
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: 1,642 | Reviews: 817 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of n00tz


3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A - Copper body, no head to speak of, not too much carbonation. I'm wondering how long it's been on the shelf before I bought it.

S - Spiced hoppy scent. I also detect a scent very similiar to the pure spring water smell.

T - Grassy hops, little bit of caramel malt on the finish.

M - Lingers on the tongue. none-too-pleasant after taste.

D - I've had it, now I'm done. It beats other massively store stocked brews though, and is fairly common around here.

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2008 23:34:18 | More by n00tz
Photo of Hojaminbag


2.98/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I have to say, this beer certainly looks exceptional. A dark copy body with a substantial bone white head. Awesome retention and a ton of sticky lacing left behind on my glass. Appearance is definitely the highlight of this beer.

Aroma is a little bit of hops along with something that is lint-like.

Tastes is mostly bitter hops rounded out with some sweet, but mild toffee-like malts. Mouthfeel is dry.

Average drinkability, not great or terrible.

Serving type: on-tap

10-06-2008 15:28:29 | More by Hojaminbag
Photo of oriolesfan4


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A pretty standard ESB. I think of them as kind of steady, boring type of beer but they always seem to look good in the glass which is a big plus. Taste wise it has some good maltiness to it and finishes crisp and clean. So basically, nothing really spectacular but a pretty good drinker.

Serving type: bottle

10-05-2008 18:39:32 | More by oriolesfan4
Photo of DoubleJ


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

On-tap at Draft Picks Pizza Pub, on to the beer:

It starts off well with an attractive orangish-amber color and a creamy lid. Reality bites back in the aroma, which is clean with some hops and not much else. To taste...all the flavors of a good ESB are there per se, but they exist on a small scale. Instead of a flavorful brew, you get bits and pieces of one. West coast hop varieties, there's some diacetyl, and faint esters. The finish is floral. In a pinch, this isn't bad, but one can do better.

Serving type: on-tap

10-01-2008 04:50:35 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of baseballrock


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

appearance - the color copper and it is very clear. nice off white head with a fair amount of lace left on my pintglass.

smell- nice hoopy aroma nice fresh and piney.

taste - to me this is just a middle of the road beer. This ESB has a nice mild bitterness with some linger, but there isant a whole lot else going on.

mouthfeel - this beer goes in easy and goes down easy. not heavy and leaves a nice tingle on the back of the tounge.

drinkability - ill probably drink another one in just a little while. 5.7 abv, sounds goo to me.

Serving type: bottle

09-22-2008 04:13:12 | More by baseballrock
Photo of stephens101


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

Pours amber with an off-white head that leaves some jagged lacing as it works its way down. Smells of sweet malts which are covered by a pleasant hoppy aroma and some subtle citruses. Tastes earthy, malty, hoppy and spicy. There's some candy in there as well. Has a medium body and is highly carbonated. Very drinkable and tasty. Up there close to the S.N. ESB, but not quite.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2008 23:31:09 | More by stephens101
Photo of thekevlarkid


3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

You see this one everywhere on the West Coast so I gave the flagship a chance... Out of the bottle this beer was a copper color with a fizzy head of soda-like foam. Retention is par for the course and some sticky lacing. The aroma was mostly malt, some biscuit and a bit of caramel sweetness. The flavors were at first all grains and some dry malts but then the caramel malts added a touch of sweetness in the middle. The finish however is bitter as it should be. Still, I find the flavors slightly 'off' in that they are defined but not quite appealing. Medium/light bodied and a good mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2008 13:22:42 | More by thekevlarkid
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 sholland119


3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very light honey brown with a thin tan head and some decent lacing.

Aroma has a faint hint of malt but not much else.

Taste is not bad. A little malt sweetness with a bid of dry acidity at the end.

Mouthfeel is a bit dry with medium carbonation.

Drinkable enough. When you are in the Budweiser Lounge at the Las Vegas airport this is as good as it gets.

Serving type: on-tap

09-11-2008 19:03:38 | More by sholland119
Photo of srandycarter


3.85/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Copper color small head, sudsy lacing

S- Sweet malt with some hops back.

T - Taste emulates smell. Nice center of sweetness, although narrow, balanced with some bittering hops at finish.

M - good coating and carb.

D - Easy to drink.

Haven't had one in awhile. Not bad in a pinch.

Serving type: on-tap

09-11-2008 04:44:27 | More by srandycarter
Photo of Stinkypuss


3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Tawny in color with a soda like head that doesn't retain well. Spotty lacing appears here and there. Looks like a pale ale.

S. Floral hops appear lightly to the nose. Also some malty nuances.

T. A fairly hoppy ESB. Toasted grains come through. The earthy hop tends to dominate the flavor, which is all around, kind of light. Bitter butter notes. Could do for a bit more balance.

M. Light, crisp, a bit aggressive on the palate with the bitter hop and high level of carbonation.

D. This is a fairly easy drinking ESB. A bit rough around the edges, a bit light in some flavor departments. Still a decent choice any day.

Serving type: bottle

09-10-2008 01:50:22 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of twiggamortis420


3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Medium copper color with a thin off-white head. Minimal retention but notice nice lacing as the glass drains.

Malts come to the forefront of the nose on this one. Bready scent with some floral hops. Nut as much minerality as the British versions.

Malts hit the tongue first followed by a short burst of hops. There is some balance here, perhaps a tad too sweet. More flowery west coast hoppyness, as opposed to the spicier English counterparts.

Plenty of flavor here, but it just doesn't come together quite right. Does taste fresh; doubt I would turn this down at a party!

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2008 04:09:39 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of superdedooperboy


3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Light amber in color with a solid one-finger head of tan foam that fades fairly quickly to a thin skin that leaves a nice webbing of lace on the glass.

Aroma is fruity with apple-like notes and a slight floral character.

Medium-bodied with too little in the area of carbonation; could certainly use more of the bubbly. On the tongue the beer is fairly sweet, and caramelly, with a nice balance of bitterness from the hops that is neither lacking nor overpowering. Finish is slightly dry and short.

None too complex, this would make a very good beer for quaffing. Very well-balanced, simple yet complex enough to stray from boring, with an alcohol content in just the right range.

Serving type: bottle

09-02-2008 04:31:34 | More by superdedooperboy
Photo of ClavisAurea

New York

3.85/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a pint glass.

Appearance: reddish brown with a thin head and no lace.

Smell: flowery with a hoppy malt smell

Taste: hops bite in the beginning and a flowery sweetness in the finish with malts to back it up.

I am starting to like pale ales and IPAs more now that I drink with a reviewing eye and mouth. I will continue to drink this one.

Serving type: on-tap

09-02-2008 00:38:40 | More by ClavisAurea
Photo of LarrBear


2.7/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

"B" isn't for "Bitter."

Beer pours an attractive burnt orange with a small amount of head and decent lacing. However, was expecting more of a hops bitterness, and was surprised by this beer's mild flavor. Would I drink it again? Well, I wouldn't turn one down if someone handed me one, but I won't be actively seeking out this brew in the future.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2008 23:43:39 | More by LarrBear
Photo of evanackerman


3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

beer pours a nice looking amber color, not much head, rings of lacing as beer is consumed.

aroma is faint, a little bit of bread, not much there

taste is .... well, where is the taste? kind of weak, nothing either good or offensive, maybe my palette is off today but I don't taste much of anything, perhaps a slight hop bitterness in the finish, i'm surprised by the lack of malt character for an ESB.

mouthfeel is thin

overall, a rather boring brew, nothing exceptional or offensive, i find myself writing this a lot when reviewing Redhook beers, probably will never buy again considering the multitude of choices available.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2008 23:46:06 | More by evanackerman
Photo of MTNboy


3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- A little darker than gold body but brass or bronze. It has a good thick head and some pretty decent lacing.

Smell- More of a hop bitter sweet aroma than a malt aroma.

Taste- It's sharp but the bitterness is not too harsh. Really there are more citrus and caramel tones than anything.

Mouthfeel- It has a lot of fizz bite.

Drinkability- It is a beer that I could buy just to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

08-24-2008 11:51:08 | More by MTNboy
Photo of changeup45


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

A pretty good beer. Not nearly as bitter as I thought it might be though. Copper color and poured a small white head. Some spotty lacing. A strong hoppy flavor, some sweet malts, with a bitter fruity finish. Pretty nicely balanced and easy drinking. I'd have it again.

Serving type: on-tap

08-23-2008 20:38:56 | More by changeup45
Photo of leif86


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

A: A nice golden-amber colored brew with a inch of cream colored froth on top.

S: Sweet, floral, and hoppy - you can tell right away that this beer doesn't really belong in the ESB field.

T: Very malty-sweet and the beginning, heavy on the caramel. This yields slightly to a growing grapefruit bitterness that ends pronouncedly yet doesn't linger very long.

M: A little over carbonated for what I expect from an ESB.

D: This is a good beer. It's a really, really solid brew you can get relatively cheap. It's just not a good "ESB". Buy to enjoy, but don't buy Fuller's or something else if you want a good example of what an ESB is supposed to be.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2008 21:43:42 | More by leif86
Photo of charlzm


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

Consumed 08/13/08 at Universal Bar & Grill, Universal City, CA.

Arrived in a pint glass exceptionally clear amber/gold with a one finger white head composed of fine bubbles. The head is a little sticky and left lacing on the glass. It also hung around almost to the bottom of the glass.

Aroma has interesting note of black pepper and some mild citrus.

Mouthfeel is similar to carbonated water.

Flavor is biscuity, salty malt with a thin, kind of unpleasant bitterness on the aftertaste. I cannot identify any hop character (citrus, pine, pepper) other than just bitter. I don't know if they use adjuncts at the brewery or if the lines at this bar aren't maintained properly, but there's something just off about this flavor.

I did manage to drink my pint without issue, but it was not a particularly enjoyable beer experience.

Serving type: on-tap

08-14-2008 15:08:41 | More by charlzm
Photo of MOShepp


3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden amber with a small off-white head and a little lacing.

Aromas of bread, caramel, and a hoppy herbal scent.

Tastes of caramel and biscuit with a lemon, floral, pepper bitterness. Good amount of hops with a nice balance of malts.

I enoyed this beer, easy to drink and I will buy again.

Serving type: bottle

08-12-2008 03:26:14 | More by MOShepp
Photo of heine1


1.83/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This beer has a pleasant, clear coppery-amber color in the glass, but this translates far too literally into a flavor suggestive of a red tea steeped with grubby--here I echo previous reviewers-- pennies. On top of this odd and utterly unrewarding metallic flavor, it is sweet, with an overbearing, unintegrated sweetness like a shot of molasses added at the end of brewing. I think I have liked other beers by these guys, Summer Rye, in particular, but this is one of the worst beers by a major brewer I have had. Bad batch?

Serving type: bottle

08-12-2008 00:20:41 | More by heine1
Photo of jasonjlewis


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

Pours a 1 1/2 finger head with very good retention. Nice amber color that I can see through.

Smell is of citrusy hops and some caramel malts. I do want a little bit more of a smell. It is enticing, but I worked way to hard in order to smell it. I want more of a caramel malt presence and that english hop smell. I know they aren't required, but I do yearn for more just a bit.

The caramel malts provide a nice sweetness with a dryness from some pale malts. The beer is a bit dry and this is followed by a citrusy hop bitterness. There is a bit of dry tannins that are a tiny bit off and there is a little bit of astringency, but it's not overly bad.

The mouthfeel is a tiny bit crisp and refreshing, but is a bit dry on the finish.

Overall, this is one of redhook's better offerings. It's not bad at all and is worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

08-08-2008 04:18:46 | More by jasonjlewis
Photo of Gambrinus1184


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

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a plain pint glass.

A: Poured a medium copper-amber color with a frothy head of creamy white foam and a decent level of floating carbonation.

S: Smell is semisweet and slightly bitter to the nose, with some candied fruit and sugar aromas rising up with a slight hop spiciness.

T: The flavor is creamy, malty and mellow at first, followed by a slight rush of bitter, fruity hops, before some unfortunate metallic flavor rear up in the palate. That's what dominates the aftertaste, and that hurts this beers drinkability a little bit.

M: Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied and slightly creamy.

D: Approaching 6% with a sturdy flavor and a few drawbacks, this could make for a decent pickup in a pinch. If something new or more trustworthy were available, I'd go for it, but as is, this ESB drinks fairly well.

For a flagship beer, not a bad style or representation, but it should be near perfect, and its not. The diacetyl is a bit much and slightly askew, leaving flavors and aftertastes out of whack at times.

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2008 05:04:54 | More by Gambrinus1184
Photo of Dogfishipas


4.03/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The ESB is probably my most favorite affordable beer that I buy in bulk. It is a great beer to drink on a hot day that won't break the bank.

Pours a nice light amber color with a scent that isn't over powering. The bitter aspect to this beer is minimal and makes a great beer to keep in the fridge at all times.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2008 05:01:34 | More by Dogfishipas
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,642 ratings.