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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,723 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,723
Reviews: 818
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 19
Gots: 93 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,723 | Reviews: 818 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of stumac


3.83/5  rDev +12.3%

This brew pours up a nice cloudy copper color with a decent ivory colored head. nice lacing. the nose is dough, light fruits, sweet malts, caramel, floral hops. A very enticing aroma. the taste is subtle chewy malts, a little sweet, nice bitter hops, piney, almost a little more hoppy than so balanced. medium bodied, medium carbo. Beat the hell outta what I thought it was gonna be like. Actually a very good brew!

03-23-2009 20:44:01 | More by stumac
Photo of JEngler


2.88/5  rDev -15.5%

Poured from bottle, refrigerated overnight, to pint glass. The head appeared just above one finger and disappeared shortly after the pour. There was very little lacing from start to finish. The appearance was slightly cloudy with a tangerine amber color. The only aroma, which wasn't very strong, was a sharp sour smell. The mouthfeel was very acceptable but the flavors never really came out. It was a very average tasting ale, lacking any unique characteristics.

03-22-2009 00:15:14 | More by JEngler
Photo of climax


3.65/5  rDev +7%

redhook's flagship poured a copper orange, pretty clear, a little murky. not much head, but it faded to a film that stayed for quite a while. laces well

smell was malty up front, a bit of iron twang and band-aid at moments, sweet and fruity hops towards the rear, apricots and a bit of diacetyl as it warmed and spice flavors

it did have a good flavor, although not a ton or anything real distinct. spicey and sweet simultaneously, more of the malt shined while there was a bit of hop bitterness trying to balance, salty finish

body was thin-medium and may have been a tad overcarbonated. but it was crisp with a pretty subtle finishing feel

nothing about this beer is bad, but nothing is fantastic... all in all this is a non-offensive drinkable beer that i would not turn down, but i wouldn't go out of my way to pick up

03-11-2009 04:52:19 | More by climax
Photo of Redwood21


3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

A: this beer has a slight bit of head that sorta sticks around and there is an amber body. this is a solid beer but nothing crazy

S: there is no aroma...sorry maybe i should have a better nose, but that's all

T: extremely clean and balanced, though lacking a full bodied flavor i like more flavorful beer so, while i can enjoy this it won't be my favorite, for people who want a more light bodied and flavored esb with a good deal of balance and no bitterness you might really like it

03-10-2009 03:35:12 | More by Redwood21
Photo of pd360


3.35/5  rDev -1.8%

Pours a nice golden amber, with a small head. Aroma is not so appealing, reminded me of my dogs after a bath. Definitely a wet dog smell that unfortunately affected the taste. That said, once half the glass is gone, it starts to taste a little better. My head a bit fuzzy from the alcohol starts to enjoy this beer. The flavor is spot on if not for the wet dog. Maybe I have a bad batch?

03-08-2009 23:10:53 | More by pd360
Photo of showell


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

Golden color, with a fairly thin head. It has an aroma of malt with a hint of citrus. The flavor is mostly malt with a light flavor of hops. It also has a hint of a citrus flavor. It's not bad. I'd probably get it again. It really doesn't taste like an ESB to me though. More like a pale ale honestly.

Update... I've changed my mind. This time I can taste the bitter. I'm not sure why I didn't catch the bitter in the first bottle as it's quite pronounced in this one. Less flavor of citrus in this bottle as well, though it's still there. Not my favorite, but not bad either. It reminds me a lot of New Belgium's 2 Below. The hops is more pronounced in this bottle too. I think overall my rating remains the same. I just wanted to update the flavor I'm noticing. Try it. It's unique.

03-02-2009 03:06:05 | More by showell
Photo of livingregret


4.05/5  rDev +18.8%

Serving Type: I've enjoyed this on tap and I am reviewing it straight out of a bottle

Appearance: Pours a golden amber w/ 2 finger worth of head and ample lacing.

Smell: Citrus, sweet fruit apart from the citrus, some malt...and a touch of spice.

Taste: Malt w/ a touch of citrus and a slightly hopy finish. A touch of bitterness and no alcohol taste for it being 5.8% It is a crisp feeling in your mouth...somewhat smooth...and crisp feel. Goes down easy....

Drinability: I've walked past this beer so many times and never once though about trying it. Took the Red Hook tour and found out I actually really enjoy most of there beers, except IPA's because I despise them, and am putting this beer into my rotation. Good beer to relax to

03-01-2009 00:04:23 | More by livingregret
Photo of CityBoy1986


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%

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

The pour is a golden colour with a finger's worth of white head. Retention and lacing are low.

The nose is made of some citrus, dark fruits, some toasted malts and a bit of spice. The taste is the same as the nose with a mild bitterness throughout.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with quite a bit of carbonation, maybe a little too much. Drinkability is high; I could have more than a couple in a sitting.

It's decent and would make a nice beer for people just branching into the world of crafts, but other than that it's nothing to get excited about.

02-20-2009 01:14:52 | More by CityBoy1986
Photo of Minkybut


2.95/5  rDev -13.5%

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. This beer had potential but I believe it was old. It was cloudy at the pour and had not one bit of head. The smell was bready and yeasty. The taste was just plain flat with a bit of a citrusy taste. I will give this one another try if I can be sure it is not old.?

02-13-2009 00:20:15 | More by Minkybut
Photo of Frosthazard


3.58/5  rDev +5%

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass

A - Poured nice amber hue, a little whiteish head that faded and left delicate lacing. Fine bubbles in the head.

S - A little mild for a ESB, a sweet maltyness, little hops.

T - Better than the smell, which seemed a little light. Slight aftertaste, but not bad. Calmer than Seirra Nevada's ESB. Very good for someone being introduced to "darker" beers.

M - Good carbonation, a little bitter and dry, but not bitter enough. Fruity flavors when held in the mouth.

D - I could drink this, but it is not my favorite ESB, a little light on smell and flavor, I got through the dozen pretty quickly.

02-12-2009 23:25:02 | More by Frosthazard
Photo of TheMistler

District of Columbia

3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

The Verizon Center here in DC has some pretty decent craft beer if you wander around enough, but this is the one of the more easily found options. When taking in a game, this sure beats Miller Lite or the like, but where will it stack up as I finally sit down to give it a proper review?

A light and clear gold / orange. White creamy head doesn't display much retention. Spotty lacing.

A bright, somewhat fruity nose. Some light citrus. Caramel?

Malty fruity taste too, with some slight bittering.

A good amount of carbonation - maybe a tad too much - and a crisp feel.

02-03-2009 20:10:12 | More by TheMistler
Photo of gonzo46and2


4.25/5  rDev +24.6%

Pours a light copper or amber color with a soft head that is a bit like meringue with very soft tiny bubbles.

Aroma is very nice floral hops with bits of grapefruit and other citrus peel.

Taste is sweet and balanced.

Mouthfeel is clean and easy to drink. Perfect carbonation.

This is was really a big surprise. I've walked past this beer many times in the grocery store but now I'll think twice before passing it up. This could be a staple beer. I could drink this any time.

02-02-2009 05:25:45 | More by gonzo46and2
Photo of HeroJH


3.7/5  rDev +8.5%

This is an excellent gateway beer to give those people that have only ever had one type of beer that they purchase by the cartload. Nothing in this beer is overwhelming, offensive or requires a special taste and it provides enough flavor and interest to peak curiosity, but not so much that it looses it's thirst quenching abilities. An excellent session beer.

A - Nice dark gold/copper with a good head.

S - cereal, lightly toasted, slightly sweet, good sweet hop aroma. Nice notes of dried apricot. Almost like an apricot fruit roll-up, heh.

T - lightly toasted grain and hob bitterness. Average intensity.

M - coating full flavor lingers away to leave a good average bitterness with a little dryness.

D - I'd say very good. It's not overpowering in any way flavor wise, it doesn't have any negative characteristics that would seem to build up or get annoying over a few. But it has enough flavor and mild complexity to keep you interested and reaching for another.

01-26-2009 20:41:56 | More by HeroJH
Photo of Stunner97

New Jersey

4.43/5  rDev +29.9%

This beer to me is a good buy near where i live still, a buck or two cheaper then many other beers of its style. The taste is to me very good in what you would expect from a beer of this style. Tasting it now I get notes of sweet malts but still that little kick of bitterness. To me this a good sessionable beer at 5.8 that is still a step up far above the low quality stuff and can save you a few bucks if trying to watch the budget. Found it didn't dazzle me at first but is a beer that really grows on you. I would recommend it to someone and think it would be a good first step into the esb style of beer.

01-23-2009 18:35:28 | More by Stunner97
Photo of jeffthecheff


3.13/5  rDev -8.2%

Picked up a bottle because this has a reputation as being a great American brew. I was a bit disappointed.

Pours a very pretty copper with great clarity and a good head and lacing.

Very gentle hop aroma. I'm picking up citrus, but the aroma isn't strong enough to pick up unless you make it a point to sniff it.

The taste here is not anything special. Just like the smell, it isn't very aggressive. I know ESB's are supposed to be very balanced beers but something about this was just boring.

Something about the mouthfeel put me off a bit. Aftertaste is quite strong for such a light bodied ale. Drinkability is okay but honestly I'm not looking for another right now.

01-23-2009 01:34:38 | More by jeffthecheff
Photo of OatmattStout


3.1/5  rDev -9.1%

was expecting a bit more with this one. ok lacing and really not that great of a nose. balanced flavor but a bit weak in the fullness you would expect from an esb at 5.7%. had a bit of an off aftertaste that took away from enjoyment. not sure if its the hoping that gave it this aftertaste, but not overall great.

Average ESB that I remember as being much better.

01-22-2009 01:21:11 | More by OatmattStout
Photo of KTCamm

New Jersey

3.63/5  rDev +6.5%

A: Pours darker yellow, good carbination.

S: Not much to speak about, some hops, but very light.

T: Slight citrus, some malt, good finish.

M: Noticed the carbination, flavorful as held in the mouth.

D: Goes down easy, I could easily knock back a few of these and not notice.

Overall I think this is a very tasty beer. Certainly not extraordinary, but a solid ESB.

01-19-2009 00:19:24 | More by KTCamm
Photo of beerman21


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

first off i am not a big fan of ESB's at least the limited selection i have tried thus far. Although i would rather enjoy a beer of more complexity Redhooks ESB satisfies both thirst and flavor.

Poured form a bottle copper coler creamy white head which most often depends on your pour but was inmpressive. Sluggish but pronouced bubbling carbonation. Nothing impressive decent in appearence.

Smell was nothing to pronouced but i like what came to my senses. Wheat bread which covered a malty citrus background.

Taste was salty sweet malt. grapfruit kind of bready throughout. Creamy texture not expected.

Drinkability i can for sure knock down a few of these in one night and when i say a few i mean more then three. Recommended as a social beer. alchole content is 5.8 so carful it does sneak up on you.

01-16-2009 04:06:10 | More by beerman21
Photo of mjaskula

New York

3.6/5  rDev +5.6%

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours a light copper with a thin fading head. Smells a bit fruity, but light. Taste is a good balance of malt and hops. The smells of fruit are not apparent in the taste. Overall very good, but I wouldn't choose it over Fuller's.

01-15-2009 02:40:26 | More by mjaskula
Photo of philipquarles


2.93/5  rDev -14.1%

Pours a clear orange yellow with a small white head that dissipates to leave a foam collar and pretty decent lacing. Smells slightly fruity (almost plum-like) with biscuity malt. Very slight hop presence. Hops are much stronger upon tasting, where some grapefruit comes through. Malt comes through before a dry finish. Overall, a very mediocre beer for the style, though this may be a bit unfair as my only other experience comes from ESBs on cask in the UK.

01-13-2009 03:10:16 | More by philipquarles
Photo of remllof

North Carolina

3.1/5  rDev -9.1%

appearance almost a golden brown with good carbination
smell not too much for sent all i could smell a hint of hops
taste have a nice bit of hop flavor bitterness but not too much and a nice clean after taste
mouthfeel is fiarly light and crisp a
drinkability overall a decent beer for looking for something to drink with a burger or a pizza and dosnt come at too bad a price either.

01-13-2009 02:18:20 | More by remllof
Photo of Arbitrator


3.58/5  rDev +5%

Chilled 12oz into a pilsner glass.

A: Light amber color with strong carbonation and a 1-finger head that recedes quickly into a film. Light lacing throughout the drink.

S: Strong caramel and toasted malts and a light citrusy hop profile.

T: Flavor is first represented by the sweet / caramel / toasted malts, with a strong citrusy hop finish. A nice complement and a good taste, but doesn't seem like an ESB at all.

M: Medium-to-light bodied, with medium carbonation.

D: Good session beer. I look forward to having this again.

01-11-2009 03:54:41 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of hopman333


4.3/5  rDev +26.1%

Ok, this brew has been hit and miss over the year's as I usually include their product's in my shuffle from time to time because of the $4.99 6er price at my go to liqour store here in Chicago. Also depend's on the freshness bigtime, in my opinion the ESB and the Longhammer should be consumed within 30 days of the born on date or they are not worthy of a purchase.

Just getting over a cold and can still smell a nice mix of marichino cherries , rich caramel malt and that classic leathery/earthiness of an ESB. Almost forgot, the appearnace is average for the style.

When tasted fresh, it starts out malty rich with a nice tingle of carbonation on the tip of you're toungue. Again as I stated with the aroma the cherry , woodsy and caramel flavors seem to be in almost near perfect harmony with one another, it then shifts over to the nicely balanced hop flavors and bitterness imparted from the american tettnang hops to linger on for quite a bit. Dead on for the style.

I realize some of my fellow BA's will think I'm nut's for the good review on this brew, however as I said earlier, the 30 day freshness window has a huge impact on this beer and can bring this brew from a below average rating to an all around great example of the style. So if you can get this within a 30 day window from the born on date, it's a great beer at a great price....

01-07-2009 03:17:38 | More by hopman333
Photo of seanpachefddfa


2.83/5  rDev -17%

appearance- golden amber color with a thin white head. leaves some sticky strings of lace
smell- some malt and a bit of fruit
taste- bready malts and some citrus hops
mouthfeel- light body with medium carbonation
drinkability- a easy to drink beer. but i would not want more than one.

01-06-2009 22:42:27 | More by seanpachefddfa
Photo of Proteus93


3.3/5  rDev -3.2%

A: Yellowish-gold, with a nice foamy white head that leaves some sticky strings of lace on the way down.

S: Malty, some slight buttery notes, and a citrus hoppiness that rounds it all out.

T: A little more fruity than I noticed on the nose. The buttery hints are still there, and the citrus flavours of the hops are a little sweeter than bitter.

M + D: A pretty straight forward beer. Softer medium body, fairly smooth, with a lingering flavour left behind. It's a solid offering, if nothing else.

01-05-2009 00:39:42 | More by Proteus93
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,723 ratings.