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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,663 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,663
Reviews: 817
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 17
Gots: 69 | 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)
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Ratings: 1,663 | Reviews: 817 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ccrida


2.53/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass, it is a bright copper with a small off-white head that quickly dissipated, leaving very little lace. The aroma is slight, a bit of toasted malt. The taste is similar, pretty one dimensional with the toasted malt, although some hop bitterness and lots of minerals on the finish, leaving an almost lagerish aftertaste, and mouthfeel as well. There was nothing about this beer that would make me want to drink another, although it wasn't particularly bad, just not that good.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2007 01:24:01 | More by ccrida
Photo of nairb80


3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured bottle into stien. The color was a nice copper tone that looked very tasty. There was about one finger width of head the disappeared in about 45-60 sec. The smell was nice and inticed my tase buds! The first sip went down smooth. I recommend and would buy again.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2007 01:05:02 | More by nairb80
Photo of MurphyMacManus


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz. brown bottle into Imperial pint glass.

A: slightly cloudy red-gold with a dense white head that fades slowly and leaves a bit of lace.

S: A little heavy on the hops. Not overpowering, but a distinct note of American hops that's stronger than the malt.

T/M: This one tastes more like an American pale ale than a British style. I really like it, but I think the American hops take away from the balance that is the key to the ESB style. Mouthfeel is refreshing.

D: I could drink this all day.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2007 06:07:39 | More by MurphyMacManus
Photo of goochpunch


2.38/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours out a tangerine tinted honey color with a 1/4" head that is fed by a good amount of carbonation within the body of the beer. Stringy lacing. Nose is extremely toasty with a kick of citrus and herbs. A little medicinal. Flavor starts off with a metallic twang mixed with toasted malt and sickly sweetness. Hops don't offer so much in the area of flavors aside from a muddy bitterness. Ends medicinal and cloying. Mouthfeel is sticky and prickly all at once. I'll finish this, but I won't be buying it again.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2007 06:52:30 | More by goochpunch
Photo of mnj21655


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

Pours a nice clear copper color with a finger of off-white head and no lacing to be seen. Nice sweet malty aroma, faitly simple and doesn't quite indicate what is to come in the taste. Taste is initially of caramel malts, with a hint of spices. Bittering slightly piney hops quickly make their presence felt. Good mouthfeel, nice medium body and a good amount of carbonation. Drinkability is good. A relatively simple ESB but easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

01-22-2007 02:17:49 | More by mnj21655


3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours to a color of honey with decent carbonation. One solid inch of head is a even tan color that leaves a slight lace. Nose is soft and subtle but a nice mix of hops and nuttiness. Slightly bitter as it first touches the tongue but mellows quickly as the palate develops. Even yeilds a bit of soft sweetness. This is a testament to how tastes do change, I can remember not liking this one many years ago before I was an advocate. Mellow mineral feel on the mouth. Not hugely complex but easy to drink.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2007 18:14:41 | More by SPLITGRIN
Photo of ghostmech007


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tumbler

Clear amber coloring with white head that goes to a small lace.

Very nice nose to it. Loads of hops and fruity sniffs. A nice caramel wiff as well.

Super creamy and smooth on the palate but not what I was expecting after the smell. Almost a full bodied experience with a sweet and fruity punch. Hops are there in full force. Fruits really bite getting into the beer and finished with a stripped down flavor. Very dry finish with lots of malts.

Rather potent for the sytle of beer but the after taste is very dry to just make you drink more. You clever brewers!!

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2006 00:12:59 | More by ghostmech007
Photo of BeerSox


3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into mug.

Super clear amber hue with a thin head. A pillowy cap is eventually formed.

Husky malt base along with some estery fruit and sharp piney hops.

Dusty grains along with balancing hops. Not the most bitter beer, but that's not what this style is about (even though bitter is in the name of the style). Thin, with some sweet candy like characteristics. The finish is clean with some of the citrusy hops hanging around.

Some of the flavor is missing in this one because of a filtering process. Still, it's a decent ESB, and one worth trying.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2006 05:32:20 | More by BeerSox
Photo of treehugger02010


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I got this pint on-tap at Malones Restraunt in Old Boston (Lexington Virginia). It poured a pretty, very light brown color. There was about one and a half fingers of head that produced very thin lacing. The retention wa also fast. The smell was very bitter and had a great hoppy blend. The taste was also bitter but not as well blended as the smell. A solid esb.

Serving type: on-tap

12-07-2006 03:40:37 | More by treehugger02010
Photo of rarevos

New York

3.65/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Translucent light amber with some short-lived white head. Lively bubbles.

S: Mild sweet malt and low hop profile. You get a whiff of citrus, but it's mild, subdued.

T/M: Nice plain malt backbone, bit of bitterness, but ESB is a style, not a descriptor. If you want big bitterness, look elsewhere. This is a pretty decent, malty, lightly hopped ale. Mostly sweet and fruity, tiny bit of citric bitterness at the finish. Mouthfeel is crisp, and carbonation is evident but not too fizzy.

D: Yes, and I think that's the whole point. This isn't a sipping beer. It's easy to drink, though not unique enough where I'd ever be in the mood for this (and only this) beer. Still, it's widely available, and there have been more than a few times when I've found myself in a smalltown hotel where the only gas station open late at night had nothing good in the cooler except this. Is often the best thing on tap at restaurants. A good, crisp, uncomplicated ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2006 20:57:38 | More by rarevos
Photo of CpnYates


4.43/5  rDev +29.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is about the best beer offered on average in a 20 mile radius of my house, so its one i find in my refig. pretty often.

While watching the O State vs. Michigan game, I decided to crack open what has become one of my favorite "everyday" beers.
This is a light, refreshing beer that is everybit as appropriate in the middle of summer or the dead of winter.Or anytime in between.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2006 21:39:28 | More by CpnYates
Photo of SMark


3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured 2 glasses of this copper colored ale and both displayed about 1 3/4 fingers of head. They also lasted in excess of 2 minutes. Good lacing effect also as the foam and residue just coated the glass.

Did not get the smell I was expecting from caramel and hops but was satisfied.

Taste slightly better than smell with a more pronounced bittering due to hops.

About the same feeling in the mouth. Moderate lasting taste lingered for a short period of time.

Marriage of all components worked quite well giving this standard a good drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2006 19:37:38 | More by SMark
Photo of guinnessfan


3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into Das Festhaus pint glass.

A: Dark orange color with big fluffy ivory head. Good retention and nice sticky lacing.

S: Slight malt with a prominent hoppiness.

T: Hops, not very powerful though. Somewhat bitter, as expected.

M: Slightly thin with medium carbonation.

D: Not great, but not bad. A solid choice if pressed for time.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2006 15:19:10 | More by guinnessfan
Photo of nadpolice9


3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A dense head formed (about 1.5 inches) after the pour, which was quite pleasing. The beer was an orange-brown color and looked beautiful. The aroma was sweet and caramel notes were abundant, with a slight floral background. The beer has simple malt characteristics, with good mouthfeel. The sweetness of the beer comes through with the first sip, and a slight bitterness finishes it. A very drinkable beer (like all RedHook beers).

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2006 14:47:18 | More by nadpolice9
Photo of goschool


3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This was the first "good" beer I got into. Before I turned 21, my only experience with beer was with domestic and Mexican macros and Guinness. I knew that there was better beer to be found, I just didn't know what it was. I saw a great ad for this stuff on the back on a magazine I read where the label/logo was done up to look like a Hendrix album cover with the slogan, "Are you ESBerienced?" I looked online and read a review in which the author rated this beer rather high. It was somewhat outdated, but I didn't know about A-B's takeover. I was very excited to see it on-tap at a bar near my dorm a few days after my birthday and I thought it was fantastic. This is still the only beer that I have ever bought a case of for myself (Not for a party). After a month and a half my love affair with Redhook came to an end when I found a great bar that sold Belgians for half price on Tuesdays and I didn't look back. This is my first bottle of my former favorite in more than two years.

Appearance: The pour is more amber than golden, but it still is lighter than most ESBs. The off-white head starts out large and fades a little, but it still covers most of the beer.

Smell: The weak aroma is sweet and malty with an English hop character.

Taste: This is almost the Shiner Bock of ESBs... almost. There is enough flavor- caramel malts and nuts, up front, accented by a light fruity English hop bitterness- to keep this semi-interesting.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is on the lighter end of the medium spectrum until it takes on a thinner, watery character as I swallow.

Drinkability: I was hoping to still find this beer, which had impressed me so much a couple of years ago, at least moderately tasty, but this failed to do much of anything for me. It led me in the right direction and for that, it will always have a special place in my heart.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2006 07:42:19 | More by goschool
Photo of afinepilsner


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

12oz brown bottle

Redhook ESB was a golden orange color with very good clarity. It had an off-white head with good retention and lacing. The aroma was light, but a little malt and a hint of hops was there. The taste was lightly bitter with some crystal malt and english hops. The finish was dry and somewhat bitter. It was medium bodied with medium carbonation. Drinkability was good. It's a pretty simple and easy drinking bitter that would work well as a session beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2006 22:37:02 | More by afinepilsner
Photo of brdc


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got this with ribs around a pool table, so I did not exactly put my nose into it and tasted it slowly. Decided to write because I tought it was much better than a bottle I had one year ago.

I personally prefer dark beers' appearance, but for a "blonde" this is nice: copper/light brown, with a white foamy head that lasted a few minutes.
Smell was faint, possibly a little bit of alcohol and a little bit of caramel, but nothing overwhelming.
Taste was slightly bitter, less than the average ESB, with some maltiness to it as well. A simple taste, not exactly multiple layers but still quite pleasant.
Mouthfeel: Average for similar beers, light to medium body, nothing special.
Easy to drink, had a few of these (partially due to lack of other options), but it is a nice, simple beer for a pool game or other times when you are not exactly "tasting" your beer.
I cannot recall details from the bottles I had a year or so ago, but this is definitely better than the bottle version.

Serving type: on-tap

11-05-2006 03:31:46 | More by brdc
Photo of Cadyfatcat

New York

2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Smells of caramel malts, with reasonable floral hop character

A decent beer, somewhat lackluster but certainly alright. Some caramel malt in the beginning, but bitterness is a little too dry, and some metallic taste is present. I thought at first this beer would shine in its drinkability, but I didn’t seem to get through it that quickly. The taste left on the palate is a bit unsettling and doesn’t provoke immediate re-visitation. Could be a mediator for those who only drink macros

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2006 02:10:25 | More by Cadyfatcat
Photo of Phatz


4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a copper color with decent off white head and decent medium lacing.

Smell: Sweet and malty. It has a great English ale aroma. Nice!

Taste: It has a lightly fruity flavor in the nose and mouth but seems to be dominated by a caramel malt attribute. Sweet and very approachable with a poke and prod of spice here and there. The light pine hop is balanced with sweet toasty malts and a hint of nuts that come out more in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and easy medium body beer with decent carbonation.

Drinkability: This is an easy simple ESB. Nothing special but easy drinking.

Hope this is helpful.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2006 04:48:52 | More by Phatz
Photo of Vancer


2.9/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The first thing you notice is the very clear, bright amber orange pour – produced a frothy ivory head, too. Just some thin, and I mean subtle, hints of toasted barley bread.

Hey, it’s lacing the glass!

Oh, the quaff. Soft and easy-going malts with a heavier emphasis on hops. Just not a whole lot going on here.

Again, got this in a sample pack with Blonde and harvest ale – nothing to look at here folks, move along.

I will say this, if they would say it’s an amber ale, it would pass. But an ESB? Poor attempt.

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2006 00:53:24 | More by Vancer
Photo of marzen


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

A slightly redish golden amber, with a creamy smooth head. There is a slight, but noticeable hops aroma. The ale has a taste of hops and a full bodied flavor. This is a good flavorful beer, a potential gateway beer if you are trying to convince some friends to move beyond pilsners. I had this beer previosuly with a basic plate of pasta and marinara sauce and I've been recommending as a good Italian food beer ever since.

Serving type: bottle

10-06-2006 17:43:44 | More by marzen
Photo of pmcadamis


3.95/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice one finger head with lots of suddsy bubbles. Hazy and light amber brew.

Smells very malty, warm and pleasant. Some dank and outdoorsy notes are very inviting. Slightly vegetal, some mild hops and lots of warm and brown sugary malt notes.

Smooth caramel and brown sugar along with some dark fruits. Maybe some apple and apricot too. Excellent.

Smooth and lightly carbonated. Very drinkable. This is a very nice and easy drinking ESB. One of the better ESB's I've tasted.

Serving type: bottle

10-02-2006 02:52:13 | More by pmcadamis
Photo of Hibernator


3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Redhook ESB
12 oz brown bottle
Bottled 06/20/06
Served in a 20 oz Redhook tulip pint glass

Pours a light brown with tan highlights on the bottom of the glass. Fluffy white head on top that leaves really nice patterns of sticky lace on the glassware.

Whiffs of sweet malts, dairy and spicy hops.

Sweet cararmel malt backbone with a dextrin sugar kick. Snappy hop punch on the finish. Nicely balanced with a biting hop presence. A surprising 5.7% ABV rings in on this American ESB. The mouthfeel is a tad thin and watered down for the style.

Reasonably priced and one of Redhook's better offerings.

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2006 23:15:40 | More by Hibernator
Photo of KevPet84


3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I personally liked it, but not one that I would go out searching for. The flavor was right where I thought it would be. Hops were absolutly the overall taste with a nutty background that was trying its best to show that it was there. The mouthfeel was what got me to not jump up and down. It was lacking structure. Watery thats what I meant. And almost no aroma from the little head that was there. Not awful but not impressed. Very drinkable with a lighter meal like baked chicken, but not good for grills or pastas.

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2006 00:49:47 | More by KevPet84
Photo of GratefulBeerGuy

New Hampshire

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

AP: Golden Amber with red hues in direct light. Thin 1" off-white head, leaving a thick ring around the edge.

Smell: A hearty wheaty semi-sweet malt scent fruity hop (berries)

Taste: A nice complex malted barley flavor with wheat with a semi-bitter mild hop ending.

MF: Crisp and clean but substantial and not at all thin.

DA: Not too bad at all.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2006 02:39:31 | More by GratefulBeerGuy
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,663 ratings.