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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

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1,856 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,856
Reviews: 829
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 22
Gots: 166 | 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: 1,856 | Reviews: 829 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of aristeros
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A medium reddish tan color with a two finger head from a rough pour, but the head dissipated quickly. Some lacing on glass. Not bad looking.

Smells distinctly hoppy, a little sweet, with some malts. Smells nice but not a very strong smell.

For a non-"trend towards hoppy-ness" type of guy, this hoppy beer is pretty good. I like the hops profile, which is a good part of the flavor. There's also some malt, peach or perhaps apricot fruitiness, and a touch of spice.

The mouthfeel is pretty decent, with ample carbonation, although it could be just a little thicker.

Drinkability is high, I'll buy again. Easy to down and on par with other beers of the same price range.

Photo of jpittman80
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Copper red with little head. Poured from the tap at BJ's to basically fill all 16 oz. of the pint glass, so I won't blame the beer.

S - Caramel overwhelms everything. Slight earthy hopiness.

T - Wow. It tastes like caramel candy, or caramel corn, or something caramel. Again slight hop bitterness in the background to prevent it from becoming a candy beer.

M - Smooth light body, soft carbonation.

D - It got easier to drink the further it went on, but I think I was just opening up my throat and pouring it back without trying to taste it much so I could get to my next order: Bigfoot on draft!

I used to think this was a classy brew when I didn't know about beer. Now, it's pretty average.

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

Revisiting a beer that was an early 1990s staple for me. Pours amber in color with modest carbonation that forms an off-white head that quickly dissipate leaving a few little bits of lace behind and a thin collar of foam. Smells of apricot and marmalade and touch sour (lactic) which is odd. Tastes of buttery malt and a bit of caramel balanced by fruity yeastiness and lightly bitter hops. Tastes British and is quite drinkable, but nothing really exciting going on here. A good first beer in a session, or an ale to session while something else is going on (like a Chicago Blackhawks game.)

Photo of SAtaMi
2.92/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Amber with hue of light gold color. Small head.

Smell - Hoppy with a touch of citrus.

Taste - The hoppy malty flavor is nice. The sour citric back on it is a little much.

Mouthfeel - Very light not much of a bite going on.

Drinkability - I am not impressed. Seems weak for a micro brew.

Photo of wahhmaster
2.78/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

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

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy copper color. Has a two-finger head that dissipates quickly and leaves considerable lacing.

Smell: Smells strongly of citrusy and other hops. Backed by a considerable toasted and caramel malt smell.

Taste: Starts with considerable hoppy bitterness up front. Develops a sweeter malty taste towards the back. Leaves a crisp, hoppy aftertaste. Unfortunately, it also has a metallic twinge which seems to be a trend with Redhook's lineup (at least what I've tried so far).

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied and perhaps a tad over-carbonated.

Drinkability: Not an offensive beer but nothing exciting. This is one of the more affordable ESBs out there but I still can't see myself buying this one again.

Photo of mrkc
2.92/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The bottle is fairly transparent, and you can see how clear the beer is without even the courtesy of a pour. Continuing in the trend of moulded glass, the bottle shows wheat in relief, along with what I have to assume are mountains from their logo. The beer is the colour of clear honey, with a light beige head that stretches tall after even the lightest agitation. The beer smells strongly of hops, and little else. Sipping it, this beer personifies the trend towards a strong hops flavour, with a background of grains. It's very dry in the mouth, and the bitter qualities seem to leave the palate more bereft of moisture after drinking than it had before. The beer is a little too simple, and a little too one directional. While it would be easy to learn to appreciate this beer, I'd prefer to avoid having to do so.

Photo of SpecialK088
3.95/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-pretty basic look light amber with about a 1/2 finger head

S-not alot going on in the nose. Subtle grains and hops with a slight alcohol twinge and the slightest sweet undertone

T-very earthy hops with a slight sweet middle and very nice bitter finish. Lingering bitter hops and dry grains also linger well from drink to drink

M-light body with a great low carbonation that fits the beer perfectly .

D-very easy drinking and could be a great introduction to the style for someone as it gets all of the great esb qualities and is not overwhelming.

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

Picked up a mix twelve pack this past Friday for a bbq with my brother. There were three ESB bottles included. Poured into an Irish style pint glass. Dark brownish red color. Moderate white head that quickly faded down to nothing. Good amount of carbonation. Smell was a bit of prickly black pepper. Taste was very agreeable. Very nice upfront malt profile, with just a bit of hops in the background. Slight caramel flavor also noticed. Mouthfeel was a bit on the thin side, but it helped this beer to be very drinkable. The very mild flavor and the overall smoothness made this beer a nice afternoon brew to drink with our burgers.

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

A: Very nice amber color with very little head and very little lacing.

S: No distinct aroma comes across. Slight background of hops and slight sweet smell, but that's about it.

T: Tastes a little watery, with a nice amount of hops to it. The malts and hops flavor does linger around for a little while, which was nice.

M: Very thin beer, I was hoping for a little more substance and chew.

D: It's drinkable cause it's so light. But it doesn't wow me enough for me to want to get another.

Overall: Nothing too special about this beer. Great color, but the taste doesnt really do it for me. There is a nice malt/hops flavor that stays with you though.

Photo of mjw2808
3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper color with about a 1 inch head that doesnt leave a whole lot of lacing. The smell is predominantly malt with some fruitiness, some grain, and slight hops. The taste is the same but I pick up an unpleasant metallic taste. Also, a little too watery for my tastes. Decent mouthfeel and pretty good drinkability. Not a bad beer, I dont regret buying a 6 pack of this by any means, as it was worth trying, but I wont be buying this beer again.

Photo of Jwale73
3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in my Sam Smith tulip at 48 degrees. 122809 pressed onto the label. Poured a slightly hazy, light copper with a loose, fizzy, one inch off-white head that quickly dispersed into a fairly consistent skim before settling into a swirl and a thin band around the shoulders. Some spots of lacing, but no legs. Nose reveals caramel malt up front with a suggestion of aromatic hops in the background, with the addition of some light, fruity esters dispersed in the mix. Taste consistent with nose - much maltier than I anticipated for the style. Starts out sweet upfront with some bitterness coming out towards the finish. Fruity quality reveals itself as the brew begins to warm, but is overshadowed by the malt. Mouthfeel is medium-light with an assertive, almost prickly carbonation that does a nice job of adding some crispness and breaking up the maltiness in the flavor profile. I was anticipating a less malty, more subdued brew with a little more hops presence; however, this was a fairly decent brew. Maybe not spot on for the style in my opinion, but not bad. Carbonation and malty backbone make it a little difficult to session though.

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

This beer pours a golden/amber color. Clear, but my beer seemed to have a bit of yeast still in the bottle, but this is a good looking beer. The head was about a half inch tall and stayed around for a while with a good bit of lacing. Taste is very good, but the bitterness wasn't as extreme as I had expected. This has a good amount of carbonation and is very drinkable. It think this would have gone great with some hot wings and is a good beer to just sit on the back porch and enjoy.

Photo of kshankar
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Harris Crab House in Kent Island, Maryland.

Pours amber with a thick white head with good retention and lacing. Aroma is malty, bready, some hops

Taste is malty and bready with a nice hop finish..the entire mouthfeel is a bit creamy and "buttery", if that makes sense. Body is on the lighter side of medium. Drinkability is good.

Photo of thedrewski86
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass, thin white head with minimal lacing. Deep orange color with a slight haze. Smell doesn't reveal too much of the huge biscuity-malt flavor from this beer. Nice hop presence without being overwhelming; just right for the style. Great drinker, but I'm partial to the style.

Photo of alysmith4
2.16/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Not impressed would sum up how I feel about this beer. It was decent, but definitely nothing special. Poured a plain brown color, with little to no head. Smell was of hay/straw and a little bit of pine. Tasted like grass and some toasted sugar, with some "dirty" undertones. I could drink this beer again, but it's not that great.

Photo of LucienDeRubempre
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Small head from a hard pour that disappeared quickly without leaving any tracery. Nice red-gold color, very clear and crisp looking in the glass. Little smell that dissipates as quickly as the head. Rich maltiness accompanied immediately by the bite from the hops. The thing I love about this beer is the great balance between malt and hops. Feels good in the mouth, a little on the richer, syrupy side. Very drinkable, keeps you coming back for more. This is my beer when I'm at Winn-Dixie at 11:45 after a concert and the only other choice is Sam Addams.

Photo of Tolnik
3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this darker amber/wheat beer into a pint glass. When first poured into the pint glass a fair amount of head presented itself. However, the head soon reduced to faint wisps of lacing. The aroma is that of a sweat grass, slight maltyness and a hint of hops. The taste follows suit in the sweat grass, and maltyness. Leaving with a hop flavorful mouth feel. Overall a great ESB.

Photo of droomyster
3.26/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber with a small white head. Aromas are negligible but the taste is pleasantly malty, with woodsy notes and a slight but perceptible earthy bitterness. No corners, uncomplicated and easily sessionable if not particularly interesting. Probably my favorite of the major Redhook styles.

Photo of MotorBuffalo
4.07/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served up out of a big 22 from the mini-mart on the corner, in my girlfriend's "Sturdy Bitch" pint glass from the handmade bike show, past my beard, and down my gullet. Drinkin it now.

This here comes across like a half-and-half glass of caramelly British ESB and American pale. The caramel whuffs out when you crack the bottle, and it's there rolling across your tongue with the first taste but it doesn't reach up your nose and stuff some butterscotch up there like Fuller's'll do. There's some grapefruit rind hoppiness coming in under the candy-sweet malt that wouldn't be present in a British ESB, but is pleasant here.

It looks like I'd expect from a pint of extra-special-and-bitter too, a bright brass color tinted a little bit red. I think next time I'm at the Horse Brass I'll ask them to make me a pint of ESBB and see how that works out.

I think I could drink this all night if it were all that were available, and not be too unhappy at the prospect.

Photo of puboflyons
4.07/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle brewed in Portsmouth New Hampshire dated 111709 and sampled on January 21, 2010. The pour is an orange-amber color with nice clarity and about a half inch of foamy off-white head that diminishes eventually. The aroma is a nice mix of caramel malts and fresh hops in the background. It comes with a mildly bitter flavor enhanced by its dry hopped finish and a bit of orange or tangerine. It is a nice variation on the ESB style.

Photo of OlRasputin989
4.15/5  rDev +21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into nonic pint...

A: Pours a light copper brew with a 1/2 to 1 finger head of fine white bubbles and decent clarity. head fades to a thin blanket of tiny bubbles.

S: Peanut butter, caramel apple, grassy aromas, almost hay like, grapefruit peel, a noticeable yeasty, estery aroma as well. However, aroma overall seems very light.

T: sweet and fruity up front(think apples and oranges) yet well balanced with the peanut buttery, caramel malty flavors. finishes with hop spices, yeast-like fruitiness of apples, caramel, biscuity with a hint of orange peel.

M: a medium bodied brew that adds to the drinkability, a little oily with a good carbonation that leads to crisp, dry finish

Overall, upon first impression I wasn't too impressed but after a couple I gained respect for this brew. While the appearance and aroma aren't impressive, the flavors are in good balance and fit the style well. A very drinkable beer as I could easily enjoy a few of these.

Photo of RedSpecial1
3.91/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear coppery with medium sized off white head that dissipates quickly.

Smells buttery with hints of caramel and bitterness too.

It tastes smooth with a little bit of hoppiness at the end. There's also a fair bit so caramel malt flavor as well. Overall pretty good, but a little watery.

This beer has a smooth mouthfeel, and I feel that this beer would be OK for a relatively cheap beer to drink for an evening.

Photo of rhinos00
2.43/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

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

A- Pours a hazy, orange amber color. Produced a thin half fingers width of white head. Quickly dissipated.

S- Has a malt background with a bready character. Slight sweetness almost gives it an aroma of iced tea.

T- Much like the aroma except I keep picking up an unpleasant, musty flavor in the background. Bit of hops in there as well.

M- Light bodied with some carbonation. Semi-dry feel on the palate.

D- I could see how this could potentially be a drinkable beer, however, the off flavors in this beer almost made me drain pour it.

Overall, after spending some time in Denver and the local brewpub scene, I definitely won't be wasting money on this one when I want an ESB.

Photo of bkeck33
4.17/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I poured this beer from the bottle and was struck by the orange color and cloudy appearance. The head was strong, remaining intact almost throughout the duration.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fullness of the taste. It was citrusy, but not too much so, and its fullness was welcome in my palate -- not heavy at all. I've had several Redhook beers of late, and this is my favorite -- a great compliment to dinner or a satisfying stand-alone drink.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,856 ratings.