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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,844 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,844
Reviews: 828
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 21
Gots: 153 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

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

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 07-30-2001

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
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,844 | Reviews: 828 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bagpiper2005
3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour: Bright red-orange color with a small one-fingered head with decent retention and lacing.

Smell: Light caramel malty and bready aroma. Light hops.

Taste: Sweet caramel and a little fruity with a very light-hop bitterness. Very uninteresting.

Mouthfeel: Very light bodied with lots of tingly carbonation.

Drinkability: Goes down alright. Not really that impressed though.

Final Notes: An average beer, not one I'm going to go out of my way to drink. Definitely much better ESBs out there.

Photo of tbern007
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours very clear, golden/copper color. Small head that goes away quickly but leaves a lot of lace.
S - sweet malt, earthiness.
T - sweet malt, a little hops. Pretty average all around.
M and D - Finishes dry. Aftertaste lingers a while - grainy. Seems watered down. As if a more flavorful product was simply diluted.
It's ok. Average in all areas. Better than the big guys' but not comparable to a lot of craft breweries.

Photo of beerdown77
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured copper with two fingers of head that went away pretty quickly. It smelled and tasted malty and sweet. I found it to be pretty similar to Winterhook, only not as good. There was a certain grainy/nutty flavor that set it apart from Winterhook, however, I was expecting something a little more bitter. I did drink this after a Celebration Ale, that may have something to do with it. This beer was fine, but I cannot see myself buying this again.

Photo of cbutova
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Orange with a frothy white cap that has decent retention. A pillow and ring leaves a good amount of lace.

S- Buttery and nutty caramel malt profile. Good overall strength.

T- Starts with grainy light caramel malt. Some fruit/citrus and zest is apparent as well. Finishes with a bit of spicy, earthy and grassy hops. Buttery in the end.

MF- A bit watery with high carbonation. Slightly bitter finish.

DB- Has a solid flavor but the watery body makes the overall experience weaker. Maybe a bit more citrus than I would expect in the style as well. Flavor sort of loses balance as I drink more.

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

This is one of my go-to beers when I'm drinking alone on the weekends. At the same time it's something I'd order at a bar if I didn't feel like choosing from the selection. Not too strong, not too weak. Just the right amount of flavor, making for a very good all-purpose beer. Usually can find it decently priced too, which is also important.

Photo of thekanna
3.98/5  rDev +16.7%
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.

Photo of BigPlay1824
3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass
Poured from a 12oz bottle

A: pours a very nice light amber color, small amount of thin head that disappears quickly, leaves a thin layer of lacing

S: nice scent, slight hoppiness, also has a bit of deapth

T: nice taste, very little hoppiness, deep maltiness

M/D: nice drinking brew, good deapth, kinda hard to place my finger on the actual flavors, drinks smooth and leaves a slight maltiness on the back of the tongue

Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.11/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark and opaque orange with minimal white head

Smells of slight hops and citrus

Tastes of slight hops and citrus, orange and malts with a hint o tomato, not that bad.

Decent mouthfeel, sort of thin but with the right amount of carbonation for it.

Quite drinkable ale, I am actually much happier with this than I expected. Great price with a sixer for nine bucks.

Photo of bushbeer75
2.98/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz brown bottle with an embossed label dated 6/30/10

Redhook ESB poured a clear amber/copper color and produced no head to speak of and NO lacing what-so-ever left behind. The nose is a week aroma of malty caramel tones. The taste is dominated by light caramel malt with a bit of light hops. The finish is light and dry. Mouth feel is to the lighter side and a little thin for my taste.

Not a bad brew or anything special - just not one I would seek out.

Photo of steve8robin
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this one from a friend. Have never tried anything from Redhook. Let's see. 12oz bottle...

A: A nice golden honey color with a small white head that fades quickly to a white lace atop the brew. Good.

S: I get an earthy malt scent upfront with some candy sugars upfront with a hint of breadiness in the middle. Kind of like dishwater on the backend. Decent.

T: I get a strange metallic / breadiness upfront. Some sugary malts in the middle. Not much on the backend. Eh.

M: Light body with a nice carbonation. Kind of creamy on the finish. Decent.

D: Goes down easy.

All in all, this is nothing you need to worry about. Extra Special Bitter? This is an ESB? There is not bitter anywhere in here. Shouldn't a brewery know how to categorize there beer? This is false advertising in my opinion. I've had a boat load of more bitter brews and this is not bitter by any means.

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

A- Pours out with a one inch head, is clear and light copper in color. The head fades down within a few minutes but leaves a nice lacing that lines the glass as it goes down.

S- Smell is floral and hoppy, very good smell to this beer, not too strong but just right.

T- The first sip brings on flavors mainly of hops and bread like flavors. Sort of has a smokey and bitter hop flavor as it goes down.

M- Feels pretty good on the palate although it seems to linger in your mouth for longer than one would like.

D- The drinkabililty of this beer is fairly decent, I really enjoyed this one and could definitely put back 6 or more of them in a sitting if I had the inclination to.

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.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.24/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Thin amber pour and a little bit of head. Smell is a little bit dry and sweet.

Taste, bitterness largely absent, this used to be a very bitter beer, I'm sure its went through some recipe change over the years and ownership. Now, its just muted, less dry. A little sweeter and woodier. Caramel is still there. A little bit of honey, maybe even some pepper when it is fresh and original.

Price is decent enough, but I would never pay more than $7 for a 6er of this, hopefully they don't dumb it down any further.

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.

Photo of streetcommander
4.2/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Sourced from variety pack.

Pleasant surprise. Very good brew.

Two finger head, quickly disipated. Color and clarity was impecable. -not that clarity must affect taste. Golden-straw-amber.

Taste great, very crisp. Similar to a good extract homebrew batch. Spicy floral hops on top of balanced ambermalts. Not as bitter as the name may imply. Well balanced.

I could easily swirl 10-12 back.

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

Nice Amber color. some haziness after pour. 1 finger head dissipates quickly.

Smells of roasted malts, mild hops, spice and light on the fruit and nuts. pleasing.

Taste is pretty well balanced malty, less hops (would like more bite here), then the lite fruit / nut hints.

Medium in the mouth with decent carbonation zing! Not too heavy.

Very drinkable, goes down well over and over again.

Overall a very decent brew. I'll buy it when it's on sale as I do with Fat Tire or Sam Adams ales or lagers. Wouldn't turn one down!

Photo of jacobseyb
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a standard pint glass a nice orangish brown with a tan head that dissipated quickly to crown with some errant bubbles, little lacing. Smell of some spice and pepper mixed with malts, a faint fruit nose as well. Taste is malty with the fruit a little more pronounced and a spicy finish. Feel is well carbonated and medium bodied. Overall I really enjoyed this beer and will definitely be having it again.

Photo of wallaceandvomit
3.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a- nice light amber color, small head, light ring of lacing around the glass
s- nice caramel malt and spice smell, definitely some pepper in it, maybe a hint of honey
t- pretty much the same as the smell but stronger
m- light mouthfeel but not really too light, dries my mouth slightly after swallowing
d- pretty good beer, decent price, give it a shot if you like esbs

Photo of sjverla
3.61/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nose: A nice spiciness balanced with a full, roasty malt profile, and a hint of black pepper that adds a final accent.

Appearance: Gorgeous ruby-shaded gold. Perfect clarity with a creamy, but short-lived head.

Taste: Peppery hoppyness. Big, smokey flavor. Complex and nicely balanced. Fairly smooth feel from pleasantly mild carbonation.

Overall: Stellar color and clarity really help the experience.

Photo of Mit
3.19/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a-Pours a pretty typical amber colour with a very quickly dissipating head.

s-Bready smells mixed with a crisp freshness.

t-malty and slightly sweet at the outset rounded out by a nice bitterness.

m-Thicker than I would have expected and I like that.

d- Pretty drinkable...got a little sweeter than I normally like as it warmed up to room temp.

Photo of DaveBlack
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A: Light amber color with maybe 1/4 inch head that disappears quickly. It leaves behind a small amount of spotty lace.

S: Some caramel malt, a slightly fruity smell. Nothing too overwhelming or special, but it's not unpleasant. Just fairly nondescript.

T: I'm not entirely sure what makes this beer extra special or bitter. Theres a fair bit of maltiness and some slight hops, but certainly nothing special. It is a well balanced beer, some sweetness up front with a bit of fruitiness and some hops to finish. I was expecting more hops, but it's a pretty decent beer for what it is.

M: A decent amount of carbonation. The biggest problem is that it feels really sticky. It just coats my mouth and won't let go. This is probably the worst part of this beer and it actually kind of ruins the rest for me.

D: Would be good if not for that sticky, sweet residue that it leaves in my mouth. I couldn't drink much of this even though it's light.

Photo of velosuds
3.04/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a clear pint glass with very attractive label. Bottled on Jul 08 10. Single purchased at local grocer from a broken six pack for $1.38.

A-Pours a light amber-orange with a two finger off-white head. Decent retention and attractive lacing. Very effervescent.

S-I am straining to discern any aroma. The best I can tell is a nondescript maltiness and mild fruitiness. Disappointing.

T-Fruity with pleasant malt sweetness. Finishes with serviceable hop bitterness. Kind of bland.

M-Very smooth and somewhat creamy. Feel is better than smell and taste.

D-Overall this is a huge disappointment. This was the first microbrew I ever had over 20 years ago. I used to like this. Either my tastes have changed since joining BA (probable), or this beer is not brewed the way it used be (likely), or both. The Redhook website calls this an amber ale. It wouldn't rate any better under that style. I was hoping this might have a place since it was my craft beer introduction. Unfortunately, it will only be a memory.

Photo of B967ierhunter177
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours an hazy, copper color with eighth inch foam but no lasting lace. It's aroma is of toast, pineapple, and pine that is well balanced. The flavor consists of toast, raisin, grapefruit, and ginger notes. It begins with a bitter aftertaste that lessens with each swallow.
There is a creamy, medium mouthfeel that adds to the balance and overall quality. Definitely not a session beer due to being filling and with a mild warming feeling as it goes down. Redhook ESB Original Ale is a good representation of the ESB style. Recommended!

Photo of chickenflea
3.42/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear amber with a small soapy white head. Good lacing and retention. The aroma has smooth caramel malt, some fruitiness and light spicy hops. Medium crisp body with sharp carbonation. The flavor starts with tinny fruit, woody / spicy hops and light caramel malt. The finish is peppery and has cotton candy-like sweetness. Refreshing.

Photo of smcolw
3.85/5  rDev +12.9%
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).

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,844 ratings.