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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,782 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,782
Reviews: 822
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.66%
Wants: 21
Gots: 116 | FT: 1
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: 1,782 | Reviews: 822 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RickS95
3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not much head; pours copper, slightly hazy, suspended particles.

Flowery hops in the nose. A slight burning, refreshing feeling in the mouth...it's definitely a bitter, but there is a complex sweetness in the taste.

The finish starts off with a subtle sweet taste before giving way to the gentle bitterness of the hops.

This is one of my favorite bitters. Would go well with salty snacks during a ball game.

RickS95, Apr 03, 2009
Photo of RiekerStarBrew
3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle to my pint glass, it displayed a light copper color with average clarity. The aroma nicely displayed the hops with subtle malt notes to support. The taste is well balanced between hop bitterness, flavor and a sweet barley profile. The mouthfeel is slick with a light to medium body. Due to this beers balance, I believe it is very drinkable and good choice for anyone looking for something a little more complex then your traditional pale ale.

RiekerStarBrew, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of RedDiamond
3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm sure I've had this beer in bottles and on draught countless times over the past 20 years. But until I actually went to Woodinville and sat down for a pint at the brewery, I'd somehow managed to not form any substantive impression of it. A more deliberate evaluation shows the ESB to be remarkably fruitier than my memory conjures, with notes of cherry and strawberry that emerge and are quickly subsumed by a blasé yeasted overtone delivering the finish. It is flawless in its burnished copper color with a smattering of lather forming the equivalent of a 5 o'clock shadow across the glass. The aroma is of light bread crust.

Another serviceable but unadventuresome ale from this Anheuser-Busch affiliate.

RedDiamond, Mar 31, 2009
Photo of Yeastcakes
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Serving notes - 0.5L german glass, cellar temp
A - almost undetectable, some faint hops.
A - clear yellow-amber, very thin layer of head (almost non-existant)
M - light to medium body, medium carbonation.
T - Carmel maltiness, slight aftertaste on the roof of the mouth. Very little hop flavor.
D - Nothing really wrong with this beer, but nothing that gets me excited. Easy to drink

Yeastcakes, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of sarahspat
2.53/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours cloudy pale orange with about an inch and a half of thick bone white head. I see a few bubbles sitting on the bottom of the glass that drift up occasionally. A decent amount of lacing appears as you drink.

It smells a tiny bit floral, but mostly musty and kinda soapy and not much else. Not a very pleasant nose at all.

Thankfully, it tastes better than it smells. Starts off lightly caramelly and floral; a bit of citrus and an ever-so-slight glimpse of candied pineapple in the middle. Well-balanced, but pretty bland. It tastes alright, (but not too strong) while it's in your mouth, at least. Definitely not what I would call bitter.

I'm kind of confused by this beer, because I've enjoyed it in the past I'm trying to figure out the source of the discrepancy between my past experiences and my present one. Maybe my palate has changed. Or maybe I just wasn't scrutinizing it this closely before.

The mouthfeel is on the light side with moderate carbonation.

I kind of wanted to give Redhook the benefit of the doubt and believe that this was just an off bottle, but now that I look at the other reviews, I see my judgment is in pretty closely line with quite a few others. I probably won't be getting this again any time soon, but it's not completely undrinkable. I've had worse.

sarahspat, Mar 30, 2009
Photo of scottbrew4u
3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Orange to light amber in color with good clarity. Off white head is moderate but settles too quick.
S: Fresh herbal hops and light citrus aroma. Roasted malt sweetness with touches of caramel and fresh baked bread.
T: Soft roasted malt sweetness with touches of caramel, vanilla, and honey takes the lead. Hops come in as a understated balance of spicy herbal notes. Aftertaste husky grains and pinesap.
M: Medium body and moderate carbonation with no fusel alcohol on the breath.
D: Very easy to drink with decent flavor but not a lot of complexity. Several could go down easy and be refreshing.

scottbrew4u, Mar 27, 2009
Photo of Dodo2step
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

P- Market Cross pub in carlisle

A- a copper gold golor with a nice fluffy head. Not much lacing but enough to coat. not even a half finger head though and it runs off quickly.

S- doughy malt water. a sharp apricot smell towards the end.

T- malty apricot is the dominant taste but then there are sour grape type of flavor.

M- sour yet smooth feeling. A juicy apricot at times.

D- not a bad session beer but the flavor could be better.

Dodo2step, Mar 24, 2009
Photo of stumac
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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!

stumac, Mar 23, 2009
Photo of JEngler
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

JEngler, Mar 22, 2009
Photo of climax
3.65/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

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

climax, Mar 11, 2009
Photo of Redwood21
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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

Redwood21, Mar 10, 2009
Photo of pd360
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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?

pd360, Mar 08, 2009
Photo of showell
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

showell, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of livingregret
4.05/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

livingregret, Mar 01, 2009
Photo of CityBoy1986
3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

CityBoy1986, Feb 20, 2009
Photo of Minkybut
2.95/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.?

Minkybut, Feb 13, 2009
Photo of Frosthazard
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Frosthazard, Feb 12, 2009
Photo of TheMistler
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

TheMistler, Feb 03, 2009
Photo of gonzo46and2
4.25/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

gonzo46and2, Feb 02, 2009
Photo of HeroJH
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

HeroJH, Jan 26, 2009
Photo of Stunner97
4.43/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.

Stunner97, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of jeffthecheff
3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

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.

jeffthecheff, Jan 23, 2009
Photo of OatmattStout
3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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.

OatmattStout, Jan 22, 2009
Photo of KTCamm
3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

KTCamm, Jan 19, 2009
Photo of beerman21
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

beerman21, Jan 16, 2009
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,782 ratings.