Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,831 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,831
Reviews: 825
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.66%
Wants: 19
Gots: 135 | 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:
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)
View: Beers (39) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Redhook ESB Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,831 | Reviews: 825 | Display Reviews Only:
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
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
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
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
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
3.93/5  rDev +15.2%
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
3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
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
3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
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 a little sweeter than I normally like as it warmed up to room temp.

Photo of DaveBlack
3.03/5  rDev -11.1%
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
3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
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
3.43/5  rDev +0.6%
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
3.88/5  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).

Photo of PintOHops
3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Glass - Nonix

A - An aggressive pour produced little head, about 1-2 fingers worth and it dissipated very fast. It's a slightly hazy orange colored brew that looks like an American IPA rather than an ESB. It left a couple spots on my glass but no lacing.

S - Sweet candied sugary aroma of orange candy with hints of caramel, bread, muted spice and faint floral hop. Leans mostly toward sweet malts with no hop presence.

T - Again with the candy! This beer is sweet like expected with little hop presence. Bready flavors are second to sweet candied orange & date. I get a touch of caramel with finishing flavors being pretty much the same as the upfront flavors with the exception of soft floral hop notes and a decent bitterness.

M - Very smooth and creamy feel with lite-moderate crispness and a medium-full body.

D - Drinkable in the way of a couple pints, for me anyway. I didn't like the sweet flavor profile with the absence of hop flavors & bitterness to balance. Not a bad beer but not something I recommend or would come back to unless I was on a budget. Pass.

Photo of JosiahS
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

glass: nonix

a: Appearance is a hazy honey color, aggressive pour yielded a 1-2 finger white head. Lots of carbonation. Off-color for an ESB.

s: Sweet orange, some caramel, soft plumb and lavender. Sugary.

m: Light, not watery though. High CO2.

t: Sweet candied orange. Almost exactly like those little gummy mandarin orange wedges that have sugar sprinkled over them. Floral hops, again, lavender. Decent bitterness.

d: High CO2 makes this hard to drink for me. I could probably only have one, them move on to a more session able beer.

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.

Photo of CBlack85
3.43/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass

This beer pours an amber/orange color with a small frothy white-ish head that recedes quickly and leaves behind moderate lacing.

The nose is light and sweet with some grainy and toasty notes. Not much in the way of hops, just a hint of spicy hops here and there that seems to perk up as the beer warms.

The taste is malty and sweet with some toasty notes. Slightly fruity and nutty with just a hint of hop bitterness. Light/medium bodied and well (almost overly) carbonated. Easy to drink and enjoyable but lacking any real character. Not bad, but not spectacular.

Photo of JDH2000
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a generic pint glass.

A- nice honey/amber color with just a thin layer of bubbles on the surface.

S- malty aroma of biscuits, some bread. Followed by a faint, earthy hops scent.

T- again, the biscuit malts with a light bitterness.

M- relatively light bodied with low carbonation.

D- overall, not bad, but not great. But would try again, perhaps on tap.

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

ESB 1998 12 oz. 5.40% ABV.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich copper color. Rich roasted malt body. Enough hops to be detectable, but not so visible as to overshadow tasty body.

1999-Rich Amber Beer 12 oz. 5.70% ABV.(3.75 / 5.0) Bright golden color and rich appearance. Good malt body, but a little light. Hops subdued making this more of an amber. Sampled 11/27/1998.

2000-12 oz. 5.70% ABV.(4.0 / 5.0) Aged 11 months. Light sediment. Slightly hazy thin bright amber color. Bisquit mild floral hop front. Light head. Good lace. Smooth thin fruit dough caramel body. Mellow aged hop malt ESB end. Easy. Mild. Sampled 10/29/2001.

2002-22 oz. 5.70% ABV.(4.0 / 5.0) Clear thin amber color with copper hint. Creamy white lacy head. Lightly toasted floral light hop front. Smooth mild slightly sweet caramel body. Light bisquit flavor. Clean lingering mild toasted hop end. Sampled 3/24/2002.

2003-12 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Light sediment. Hazy light copper amber color. Light mild lace head. Mild toasted floral hop front. Smooth subtle mild earthy crusty toasted bisquit caramel body. Dry mild earthy hop end. English mild ESB. Sampled 8/17/2003.

2003-B-12 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.75 / 5.0) Clear thin bright light coper amber color. Light lacy head. Mild earthy floral light toasted hop front. Smooth dry sweet mild bisquit caramel body. Creamy mild hop end. English mild ESB. Too mild. 8/19/2003.

2004-22 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.75 / 5.0) Clear thin bright amber color. Mild lacy head. Toasted floral fruit hop front. Thin crisp smooth dry sweet light toasted caramel fruit biscuit ESB body. Mild tangy clean citrus hop end. Bland. Sampled 3/16/2004.

2005-12 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.75 / 5.0) Mild head. Clear thin light amber color. Delicate sweet mild floral hop front. Crisp thin butterscotch caramel mild bisquit body. Mellow earthy sweet flavor. Lingering mild hop end. Amber easy ESB. 1/30/2005.

2005-ESB Original Ale-22 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Clear thin copper amber color. Mild hop front. Clean thin crisp mild toasted caramel fruit dry sweet mild doughy base body. Easy mild earthy hop end. Clean,crisp,tasty,well made mild ESB. Sampled 5/31/2005.

2005-B 12 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild hop front. Tangy mild earthy toasted caramel dry sweet light doughy fruit body. Crisp tangy mild citrus hop fresh end. Mild ESB. Tasty Brew. Sampled 6/3/2005.

2005-22 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich lacy head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild toasted hop front. Fresh smooth mellow sweet mild fruit biscuit caramel amber body. Mild hop clean refreshing end. Good Amber but not ESB.

2006-Purple Label 12 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild hop front. Dry sweet thin crisp caramel mild earthy toasted biscuit body. Clean refreshing easy mild hop spice end. Crisp Amber not ESB clean tasty brew. Sampled 11/1/2006.

2008 New Solid Block Graphic 12 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich lacy dense off white head. Clear thin bright light amber color. Mild toasted malt hop front. Crisp CO2 tangy delicate toasted bisquit caramel mild earthy sweet fruit hint thin body. Crisp mild tangy mild hop citrus hint clean satisfying end. Mild ESB. Sampled 8/6/2008. 6- Pack $6.99.

2008-22 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.85 / 5.0) Amber Ale. Rich mild lace head. Clear pretty bright amber gold color. Mild floral fruit hop front. Mild sweet light toffee fruit smooth mild bisquit Amber Ale body. Clean mild tangy mild hop end. Sampled 7/28/2008. 4 @ $2.69 Each.

Redhook ESB Original Ale--2010 12 oz. 5.80% ABV. 28 IBU's.(3.5 / 5.0) Mild lace white staying head. Clear thin bright light amber color. Mild hop light floral caramel front. Crisp mild sweet lightly toasted biscuit caramel soft Amber Ale fruit hint body. Smooth refreshing easy mild earthy hop hint mellow ESB-Amber end. Sampled 7/31/2010. 6-Pack $8.49.

RedHook ESB--In Fact, Extra Special, But Doesn't Let It Go To His Head--2011 12 oz. Retro Bottle. 5.80% ABV. 28 IBU's. (3.0 / 5.0) Amber Ale. Thin mild lace white head. Clear bright amber color. Mild hop delicate malt aroma front. Thin textured, mild sweet lightly flavored mild caramel fruit amber ale body missing any earthy ESB notes. Mild hop spice refreshing clean smooth end. A touch bland. Sampled 4/8/2011. Purchased 6-Pack for $7.99 at Fred Meyer--Ballard, Seattle on 4/8/2011.
22 oz. (3.0 / 5.0) Foamy mild lace thin white head. Clear bright amber color. Delicate floral hop front. Thin textured mild sweet mild caramel malt body with just a hint of toastiness. Mellow amber ale malt flavors. Clean refreshing smooth easy mild hop end. No earthy ESB Notes. Well made smooth refreshing yet bland ESB. Sampled 4/19/2011. Purchased for $2.69 at Fred Meyer--Ballard, Seattle on 4/19/2011.

Schizo Bland/Tasty Rich/Thin Refreshing depending on Bottle, Year, Mood?

Photo of Bubba83
3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler at 45 degrees. A very clear amber body topped with an offwhite two finger widths of head. Good retention and good lacing. Very impressive look to it.

Smells quite biscuity, with a decent green apple note and fresh baked bread. Also has some really nice floral components here. It's a bit subtle, and kind of hard to pick up on the flavors, but it's really clean and smells nice.

The taste is as clean as the aroma. A decent kick of malt up front, though decidedly less biscuity in flavor and a little more full of pale malt flavor. Green apple is in the midrange, but it's faint. Cleans up with a little bit of a hop bite but the flavor is a little dull in the finish especially. I want more flavor, but what's there I can't fault.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I am looking for but it's not too far off. Great level of carbonation, smooth feel in the mouth and finishes with the right amount of dryness.

Drinks like an absolute champ. I have to stop myself from drinking it really quickly. All around a nice flavor and I can understand why this is the commercial standard for the style in the U.S. If they amped the flavor up a couple notches it could be fantastic.

Photo of biboergosum
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...

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

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear gold-amber color with just a thin cap of white head that low retention and lacing. The aroma is a benignly balanced combination of malt sweetness and a slight hop tang. The taste is likewise neutral and semi-bland. The body is nicely crisp and smooth. Drinkability is very good, There's been times when I've had several of these over the course of the day and enjoyed every one. Overall, a decent, solid, unspectacular beer. Much better than BMC type brews.

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

12oz bottle into a tulip style glass

Pours a coppery yellow with big, coarse head (fades very fast), initially very strong carbonation with very large bubbles, which cling to the side of the glass. Carbonation fades quickly, very little lacing. Smell is fruity and sweet, mostly orange and maybe some nectarine or peach, strange for an ESB.

Taste is sweet, again fruity, with a sour rather than bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is dry and a little flat (surprising based on the looks). Drinkable, good for a baseball game on a hot day, I suppose.

Photo of Blitzen15
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Orange Red in color with absolutely no head at all. there is obvious sediments floating around in it but it isn't as foggy as I would expect from a non-filtered beer. Furthermore, I don't know if this is filtered but I would assume not. Interestingly the color becomes more orange than red as the sediments sink to the bottom.

S - This is an interesting red meets pale type smell. I don't know what else to say about it but it is decent.

T - Not as bitter as the name would suggest but it has a distinct hop taste. I wouldn't exactly say the taste was exceptionally strong considering it's name. Overall I am slightly disappointed but I did have high hopes.

M - There is a little bit of a linger in the back of the throat allowing me to taste the bitter longer than that of a easy going lager.

D - I could cuddle up to this beer if it wasn't for my wonderful fiance' always cuddling up to me. It's nothing unique but it's tasty so who cares.

Photo of jsprain1
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a pleasing amber/copper color. The head is found to be lacking, however.
S- a bit of caramel, with some nice hop presence as well.
T- a bit of buttery diacetyl upfront, followed by a biting hop flavor, zesty i would say.
M- lively carbonation plays well with the hoppiness. a bit thin, but not overly so.
D- This is a beer that is actually not too shabby. it doesn't get much respect by some, but overall i find it to be a worthy intro to craft beer.

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

Pours a coppery amber, almost no head, and no lacing. Decent clarity, with mild carbonation visible. Moderate citrus hop presence in the nose, giving way to light honey and biscuit. Okay, but was hoping for more.

Buttered toast and light biscuit up front, but citrus and hop resins dominate the taste. Moderate carbonation goes well with a decent hop presence. Interesting enough to be pretty sessionable, but in this category, I'd prefer, say, Fuller's ESB because it's better balanced between malt and hops.

This is a damn good approximation of a British bitter. It's quaffable and makes me interested in their brown ale.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,831 ratings.