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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,714 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,714
Reviews: 818
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 18
Gots: 87 | 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: 1,714 | Reviews: 818 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Offa


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

This seems to be a paradigmatic US "ESB" type and it certainly rather is to me in terms of its character - a less refined, less subtle, less complex, and less flavourful version of an English premium bitter, specifically Fuller's ESB, but otherwise vaguely reminiscent of the style. Like other US ESB imitators, it is smooth, malty, with light caramel and grain, but in the end fails to catch the subtle complexities and full, rich flavour of the English original. It's hardly great, but it's still a fairly good beer that is drinkable and goes pretty well with food. I have changed my opinion of it recently having decided that I now like it a little better, and find it slightly more characterful, than I did some years ago.

This is amber with a medium, off-white head steadily shrinking to a thin ring and wisps, with a little thin, weak lace.

The aroma is mild, mostly honey, caramelly toasty grain, bread, with hints of citrus (gentle lemon and grapefruit) and pine.

The taste is lightly sweet up front with faint mineral, citrus, then vague, light caramel, vague apple, mineral, citrus and leaf. It has a lightly bitter finish that fades pretty fast to a grainy aftertaste. All elements are rather light and thin, a bit vague, and the aftertaste dos not take long to fade to a general watery character and the whole thing is rather thin and watery overall.

04-22-2008 18:15:14 | More by Offa
Photo of BucBasil

South Carolina

3.48/5  rDev +2.1%

Appearance: Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. The beer is a crystal clear brownish orange color with a decent sized foamy head that is off-white. Very plain looking beer.

Smell: Clean aroma with a whiff of hops and a somewhat fruity backbone.

Taste: Nice smooth malty introduction, caramelly with a slightly bready taste. Goes down well with only a touch of hop. Finish is somewhat fruity and contains more bread notes.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly nice, not watery at all. Good medium body with slight carbonation that makes for a nice easy drink.

Drinkability: This is a good session that I will pick up again while just hanging out. Not one you have to think too hard about, but still has some substance to it.

04-18-2008 23:35:50 | More by BucBasil
Photo of shabbtastic

New York

2.9/5  rDev -15%

A - Poured a clear copper into a standard pint glass. A small 1 finger head that quickly dissipated, small amounts of lacing with decent carbonation.

S - Light malt grain, not much on the hop side. Overall you had to really work the nose to get much of anything.

T - Slight hop bitterness, quickly subsides to the semi-sweet roasted malt. A quick in and out that leaves a bitter after taste that is quite pleasant.

M - Light bodied, sufficiently carbonated.

D - It was refreshing but I remembered this beer being a lot better a few years back when I first had it, perhaps my standards are higher now? A decent beer but would go out of my way to pick it up, but at the same time would not refuse if offered to me. Try it out.

04-14-2008 12:47:50 | More by shabbtastic
Photo of bort11


3.78/5  rDev +10.9%

Grabbed one as part of a mix-six. I'm trying to find a new session beer.

12 oz bottle poured into a pub glass. Cream colored head stands about a fingers width and recedes to a thin filmy lace. Some lacing sticks to the glass. Color is a clear copper red with minimal carbonation activity.

Smell is mild. What is there is hoppy and reminiscent of oranges. Taste is also very mild with an even balance of hops and malts.

Mouthfeel is clean and crisp. Very refreshing. This would be good on a hot summer day.

04-14-2008 10:59:19 | More by bort11
Photo of Cromster


4/5  rDev +17.3%

Appearance - Copper color with a faint white creamy head. Decent lacing.

Smell - Hops and citrus.

Taste - Losts of hops right up front. Hints of caramel and lemons.

Mouthfeel - Light and easy drinking with a good refreshing feel to it.

Drinkability - Good session beer. I could spend a night drinking this with no problems. Doesn't overpower you.

04-12-2008 23:16:21 | More by Cromster
Photo of giblet


3.23/5  rDev -5.3%

i picked up a sixer of this yesterday. i had no idea what to expect. it poured a medium copper color with decent head and carbonation. the head settled quickly. it had a mild smell - not as much as i like for an esb.

taste was decent but not powerful. decent mix of malt and hop. this is an ok beer. not a great example of what an esb should be, but very drinkable.

suckem up and movem out.


04-06-2008 13:41:28 | More by giblet
Photo of Brad007


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%

Color: Dark copper color with a one-finger head that leaves some lacing in the glass.

Aroma: Strong, biscuit character. Hop bitterness intermingles well with malt.

Taste: Bitterness upfront with biscuit and malt characters underneath. Subtle. Easy to drink. Smooth.

Mouthfeel: Bitterness is light but there's a bready/biscuity finish to it.

Drinkability: Very drinkable. Simple. A good introduction to the style.

04-04-2008 22:42:59 | More by Brad007
Photo of Squelch

United Kingdom (England)

4.18/5  rDev +22.6%

Appearance: Copper Amber redish crystal clear beer with a small tan head.

Smell: Smells of British Noble Hops.

Taste: Wonderful balance of caramel maltiness and hob flavor. A little light on the bitterness but still one of my favorite domestic ESB's. I even like it better than fullers. Go figure.

Mouthfeel: Not very special in this department but that's ok with me.

Drinkability: I could drink a ton of these and still want for more. Great Great beer. Well done Redhook!

04-04-2008 02:15:42 | More by Squelch
Photo of BeanBone


3.9/5  rDev +14.4%

Appearance: Somewhat cloudy orange/amber body with thin fizzy head and nice effervescence

Aroma: Floral hops over caramel malt with notes of crisp citrus and green apple

Taste: Bitter floral hops dominate over caramel malt, citrus, tea, and spices

Mouthfeel: Coats well with good carbonation

Drinkability: Easily drinkable and refreshing

Verdict: Redhook ESB is a very drinkable and complex bitter ale. Don't be spooked by the new packaging, this beer is still a world-class icon. I can see enjoying a few rounds of this in a beer garden during a sunny Saturday afternoon or in a pub with some mates on a Saturday night. I guess the takeaway here is that this is a great beer for Saturdays

04-03-2008 05:58:14 | More by BeanBone
Photo of MusicaleMike


3.15/5  rDev -7.6%

Taking the advice of the "Bros," I reviewed this ESB at room temperature. The freshness date on the bottle read 02-06-08.

A: Redhook ESB pours a clear amber with orange undertones. The finger of head was white and fizzy, until it disappeared. There is not much carbonation (which is normal for ESB). The color is attractive, but the quickly fading head is lame.

S: It smelled very lightly of hops and toasty malts. There were hints of dried fruit. The aroma was too weak.

T: Upon first sip, there is a sweetness on the tip of the tongue which showcases the toasted malt. The first thing I understood about this beer was its well-balanced taste. It is very light on hop flavor, but remains bitter at the swallow. There is a pleasant aftertaste. The alcohol does come through in this beer, at almost 6%.

M: This is light-bodied, and lightly carbonated, which adheres to the style. It works well with the taste of the beer.

D: It is more interesting than a bad beer, but I do not think I would go for a six-pack. I imagine it would go well with a dinner though, maybe chicken.

04-02-2008 05:47:31 | More by MusicaleMike
Photo of trentley87


3.3/5  rDev -3.2%

Poured from 12oz. bottle into a glass.

A: Opaque copper color with two fingers of quickly receding white head.

S: Very mild just a hint of hops. Smells remarkably like a macro lager.

T: Taste got better as it warmed. Macro-esque with some decent hops flavors coming out towards the bottom. Very weak flavors overall. The bitter flavors come out in the finish.

M: Mouthfeel was very good. Slightly more body than I expected. Carbonation was right on.

D: Drinkability was very good. Not overly complex or flavorful IMO but good nonetheless.

03-31-2008 04:41:48 | More by trentley87
Photo of xare


4.33/5  rDev +27%

Lovely clear copper color with a sizable head that looked very inviting. Definitely want to dive into this ale now.

Aroma is very light, hints of hops but mostly malts were detected, either way, very very light and nothing truly stands out or overwhelms the other. Better than average but not a truly outstanding aroma (especially when so light).

Tastes like a light alcohol malted drink with a dash of hops at the end. Pretty bitter but that's what it's meant to be. Overall, outstanding taste - doesn't overwhelm, no bitter aftertaste, finish is crisp and clean. Solid above average for sure.

Mouthfeel is truly exceptional, medium body, carbonated well, has a hoppy finish, goes down smooth, doesn't have a bitter aftertaste that lingers past its welcome. All around, outstanding.

Drinkability is excellent. I drank every last drop of this beer and would gladly have gone for a few more rounds given the opportunity, but I'll definitely be searching for more of this beer to add to my personal rotation.

03-31-2008 01:27:18 | More by xare
Photo of BeerCheese


4.3/5  rDev +26.1%

Poured a nice crystal clear copper color with a nice two finger head. Very inviting! A little malt on the nose and not much hops. Very light aroma though. Great balance of hops and malt, with a little more hop than malt on the finish. Really no detectable alcohol taste, but a bit of warming as it went down. Very nice. Really suits my taste. Medium light carbonation with a medium body. Very drinkable. Will buy more of this one.

03-26-2008 03:49:41 | More by BeerCheese
Photo of Ecliptica


1.65/5  rDev -51.6%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle. Little head that dissipated quickly into a light copper color. Actually looked pretty attractive and drinkable, but alas. . .then I tasted it.

Perhaps I didn't take a good enough whiff, but all I could smell was malt with no aroma of hops at all. I had to give it 'average' because the smell wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either.

In my opinion, this is the worst tasting beer I have ever had. I typically like these extra special bitter-type beers, but either I had a bad bottle or it normally tastes this metallic. Slight hoppy taste, but hardly anything. I can see where people would like this type of flavor, but it really did nothing for me. It was a stuggle drinking the entire glass.

Mouthfeel is watery at best; nothing I can really boast about

Again, I appreciate where the brewers are coming from making this type of beer, but once I got about 75% of the way through I honestly didn't even want to finish it. The taste was too much for me and I don't plan on trying this again out of a bottle. I am still willing to get this on tap as I may have just had a bad bottle - as long as someone else is willing to pay :-)

03-22-2008 22:08:01 | More by Ecliptica
Photo of kwm13

New York

3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

Appearance: Beautiful amber hue with a nice head that disappeared rather quickly to nothing. Not much carbonation at all.

Smells like every other damn Redhook I have tasted. I swear they're all similar. Slight herbal hops smell with a hint of sweetness.

Upon tasting, the carbonation kicked in a bit and it had a sweet aftertaste, mild hint of alochol and was a bit hoppier than I was expecting.

Overall, it was a tasty ESB. I'd certainly try it.

03-18-2008 03:48:25 | More by kwm13
Photo of tempest


3.6/5  rDev +5.6%

Not bad and not bland. Served in a lager glass. Looks a nice amber with a slight haze and light tan head. The aroma is of very sweet, bready malts, almost like a sweet bread. The flavor carries the same bready taste and finishes with mild grassy and citrus hops. This beer could also me a very smooth American amber, but also works as an American adaptation of an ESB.

03-09-2008 19:05:50 | More by tempest
Photo of ckeegan04


3.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Bottle poured into mug.

A- Clear, darker golden color with almost no head. Almost too clean and clear. Good lacing down the mug as I drank it though.
S- Very weak citrusy aroma.
T- Malt sweetness followed by the hops. Hops were not as dominant as I was expecting them to be. Balanced taste.
M- Even balanced beer that is very smooth.
D- Very drinkable. If the taste was a little more powerful I would make a point of having this one around regularly.

03-08-2008 13:53:04 | More by ckeegan04
Photo of osi


3.53/5  rDev +3.5%

A - Poured a deep dull amber. Lace hangs around and coats the glass.

S - Malts and then gently moves to a sweet smell.

T - The malts hit first and then come the hops. A pinch of citrus flavor is squeezed in there too. Adds a nice touch without being too fake.It is funny that the smell could even barley hint at the hops yet the flavor was still there. The sweetness counter acts the bitterness of the beer and rounds it somewhat.

M - Good average mouthfeel with a light to medium build.

D - Good beer to have during this time of year. Will definitley keep this in mind for times to come.

02-24-2008 22:04:22 | More by osi
Photo of JDV


3.43/5  rDev +0.6%

Honey colored with almost no head. Unique malty smell.... Almost almond like, or amaretto sweetness to it. Maybe toffee? Taste is light nuttiness, again maybe of almonds, is smooth, slightly bitter in the finish and fairly good overall. Easy drinking, with a decent amount of flavor, and I could definitely have more than 1 of these.

02-22-2008 05:13:27 | More by JDV
Photo of PhageLab


3.73/5  rDev +9.4%

Poured into a nonic pint glass.

A - Hazy golden orange color, darker in certain areas. Produced a one tip's worth of head that stuck around a good while. Displayed spotted lacing.

S - Slightly bready sour mash, not too potent, but nice.

T - Pale malt, mildly bitter, some bready characteristics, and a smooth yet sour citrus undertone. Fairly complex for Redhook standards and surprisingly refreshing.

M - Light bodied, good carbonation level, crisp dry finish.

D - Pretty good, nothing overly outstanding but a great session brew. Good to enjoy when doing something remedial, as it is tasty but you don't necessarily have to think about it. Worth a try for sure.

02-19-2008 16:47:44 | More by PhageLab
Photo of SargeC


4.3/5  rDev +26.1%

Appearance: Amber brew with a golden-white head.

Smell: Sweet malt with a minor hop presence.

Taste: Sweet malt flavor with hints of citrus. Nice hop presence that does not dominate.

Mouthfeel: Lihght-medium body. Solid liquid with a slightly waxy quality.

Drinkablity: Easily sessionable, tasty brew. Plenty of flavor to satisfy.

02-19-2008 06:32:14 | More by SargeC
Photo of Baileyuk


3.15/5  rDev -7.6%

Had a enjoy by date which I liked, I have had a few beers recently that I think have aged, and not well, recently.

A: Poured a slighlty hazed amber color, a little on the light side. The head was decent although settled quickly to a very light covering.

S: Malty and Fruity

T: A slightly unpleasant earthy taste outweighs a pleasant fruity taste.

M: Great carbonation level, went down pleasantly.

D: An okay beer, but not a great and I am not sure if I would revisit. The earthy tones were not for me. Could probably put a few back without being too dissapointed but there is too much better beer to try.

02-17-2008 03:02:00 | More by Baileyuk
Photo of eberkman


3.38/5  rDev -0.9%

A fine looking brew -- pours a pretty, bright amber with a big, sticky, frothy off-white head characterized by outstanding retention. Leaves an attractive web of lacing on teh sides of the pint glass. Huge onrush of bubbles toward the surface that never slows down. But there was almost nothing in the nose -- maybe some faint, fruity notes, but overall almost odorless. The taste was a light, pleasant but forgettable combination of fruitiness, biscuity qualities and an understated hoppiness in the finish. Pretty devoid of an aftertaste. Decent crisp texture, albeit a little thinner than I'd like in an English-style bitter. An easy drinker that would be perfectly sessionable, though I imagine one would lose interest pretty quickly.

Nothing bad about this one, but nothing great. Overall pretty dull and bland -- a pattern I'm starting to detect from Red Hook. Seems like they were better before the Anheuser-Busch buy-in.

02-16-2008 02:51:01 | More by eberkman
Photo of RebelJunior

New Hampshire

3.55/5  rDev +4.1%

I've heard that this beer is quite carbonated, and because excessive carbonation gives me gas, I poured it from a 12 oz bottle into an empty milk jug and shook it up. That fixed the carbonation, but because the jug was somewhat opaque, I couldn't see the lacing. Also, I couldn't gauge the color too well except to say it seemed nicely amber. Honestly, I don't recommend drinking beer from an empty milk jug.

I'm not sure why some people have commented on the beer's lack of head, because after shaking the jug, the first half of the beer was nothing but head! Anyway, this "Americanized" version of an ESB was somewhat too bitter for my liking, but overall it was a yummy beer, sans the stupid milk jug.

02-15-2008 15:52:54 | More by RebelJunior
Photo of orangemoustache


3.88/5  rDev +13.8%

A-pours a cloudy amber,with a strong looking
off white head that leaves behind gobs of sticky lacing

S-citrus,oranges in particular,with some earthy aromas

T-lively hops(pine),fruits again,malts seem very hidden in this ESB

M-this is very soft and smooth swirling bitterness in a calm and controled manor,wonderfuly tame carbonation

D-could enjoy any time night or day,one or four,who's counting,this is a simple brew with plenty of character,not amazing,but well done.

02-14-2008 06:35:13 | More by orangemoustache
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,714 ratings.