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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,661 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,661
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: 1,661 | Reviews: 817 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ViveLaChouffe


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

Pours a very clear pale copper with a thin ivory head. Not much lace to speak of. Smells of fruity malt and light sweet hops.

Tastes of fruity biscuity malt. Low level herbal hops that build as you drink. Mouth is lightly sticky. Pretty easy drinker. Not bad, hits the spot.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2006 03:51:33 | More by ViveLaChouffe
Photo of psinderson


3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured mostly clear from a bottle.

Appearance: Light amber color with 1 finger white head...good lacing.

Smell: Roasty, malty, definitely sweet aroma. Rice??

Taste: The sweet, malty character hits you hard up front and finishes with a background bitterness that doesn't quite balance the sweetness for me.

Mouthfeel: Good body - I'd say medium to full. Nice carbonation feel.

Drinkability: A few sips and the sweetness seems to overpower me a bit. Not sure if I could drink more than 1 serving at a time. I'm new to the style but it just seemed a little extreme to me.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2006 00:56:05 | More by psinderson
Photo of shererjt


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

Poured a copper clear color and somewhat watery looking. Head was billowy and white. Aroma was crystal malt with some fruit, maybe some hints of raisins or dates, and some yeast in the background as well. Flavor leaned to the malt but had a fair amount of hop flavor that was somewhat citrusy. The bitterness was appropriately balanced. Could use a bit more flavor, but oh well. Body was lacking a bit; a little on the thin side, especially for an ESB. Drinkability, though, is quite good. Be careful, as it will sneak up on you.

Not a bad American ESB, but I like the British ones I've had much better. Also probably my least favorite of the Redhook beers I've tried, but here in Houston it's by far the easiest to find.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2006 01:23:09 | More by shererjt
Photo of KyleVick4


3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz
Gotta say, this ws the beer that weaned me into microbrews, even though in retrospect its not much of a micro itself anymore...

A: Looks good, light amber color with a few bubbles climbing the beer. Nice head that doesnt last that long. But leaves wonderful lacing all over the glass.

S: Not much of any smell. Maybe some malt? Mostly water. I do catch a tinge of sweetness here and there. At least its not offensive, I guess...

T: The crispness of the malt is dominant. A little sweet followed by a tinge of hops. Tough to find the hops though. A taste of mild carmel somewhere in the mix also. I am biased towards this beer because it reminds me of good times and was my gateway beer out of the BMC world.

M: Light bodied, perfect carbonation enough to feel, but not a dominating precense.

D: Superb. A true session beer and at 5.77% abv it will ensure a good time... I would drink this until I couldnt see and my liver begged me to take a break in my younger years (read: yesterday)

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2006 22:27:32 | More by KyleVick4
Photo of sammy44


3.93/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not my favorite ESB but a good one to have around.

Pours a light brownish color that is perfectly transparent. Has a fairly dense half inch head that fades and laces the glass on the way down. No carbonation bubbles (which holds to the style).

Smells great with lots of toastiness to the malts. Not a coffee roast smell, more like the roasted smell you get when toasting rice for a pilaf.

Taste has some toasty sweet elements with some good hops on the back end. Hops are more of the piney type than the citrusy type. Good balance. A little metallic wang aftertaste.

Feels a little heavy in the mouth. Would be a good session beer but for the metallic taste.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2006 22:15:06 | More by sammy44
Photo of pweis909


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

Appears a brilliantly translucent amber, with a large head that thins out soon after pouring.

Smell is malt and fruitiness. No hop aromas.

A balanced malt carries the flavor, with a light but sufficient bitterness. Otherwise, no hop character.

This is a good tasty thirst quencher, simple and undemanding.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2006 14:53:09 | More by pweis909
Photo of Citadel82

New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one hit me as being a great easy drinking session beer. The price is rather modest and it is readily available. I will make it a point to keep this one on hand this summer.

Poured a nice dark gold. The creamy white head left some decent lacing. Aroma wise this one has a nicely balanced toasty malt and spicy hop aroma. Taste is a spicy mix of pine and citrus with a toasty/nutty backdrop. Light bodied, smooth and very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2006 19:13:20 | More by Citadel82
Photo of SkeeterHawk


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

Appearance: Pours a very clear light burnt orange color with only a 1/4" head of off white bubbles. The head was gone within about 20 seconds to end up as just a small ring around the top of the beer. There are some bubbles rising up through the center of the beer, but they don't do much for the head. There is some mild lacing left on the glass after drinking.

Aroma: I initially get only a bit of British hops along with a very restrained caramel component. As the beer sits a bit, there is a much more noticeable contribution from toasty British malts.

Taste: The flavor is rather unusual. The hops are the big player here in the flavor, but they don't contribute all that much to the mouthfeel or finish. The buttery and toasty British malts are a really big player in the flavor at the beginning, but it seems that everything falls apart in the finish. There really isn't that much to say about it. I guess I would have to say that the malt is in charge of the balance, but there is still enough hop flavor (not bittering) to keep your palate confused at the end. There is a mild alcoholic warmth left in the throat that is noticeable long after the sip.

Opinion: This beer was a bit more unusual for me than most to nail down. About the only thing that I can figure is that there is a lot of flavoring hops here to give the impression of an ESB while the bittering hops are lessened to accentuate the alcohol and malt. Other than this, about the only time I have drunk this beer is at a renaissance festival. Judging from my impression now...it is better than most of the rot-gut beers they have there, but this isn't one that I will be drinking outside of the $20-30 a ticket confines.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2006 01:10:24 | More by SkeeterHawk
Photo of MrSeth


4.05/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

App. Bright copper body, the head fizzles out pretty quickly but there is bubbly creeping through and some lace on the surface.

Sm. Lots of good stuff, some green vegetable aromas, fancy hot teas, and of course hoppy and malty wafts abound.

Ta. Wham! That is a great example of the style. A big slap of marmelade on toast! The balance if commendable.

Mf. Well carbonated, I'd like to have it a bit warmer than it is right from the store cooler.

Da. High. This is a perfect session ale.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2006 21:51:13 | More by MrSeth
Photo of mcallister


4.13/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great looking golden copper with a pearl white head and significant lacing.

Smells of sweet roasted malt, caramel, butterscotch, melted butter, and biscuit.

For this brewery you can't expect anything over the top but I think this is the pinnacle of their selections. A very delectable beer, very creamy, buttery mouthfeel. Slight butterscotch edge with intense malt flavors. Extremely smooth, extremely drinkable, enjoyable every day type of beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-11-2006 01:20:51 | More by mcallister
Photo of Higravity


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

Ordered a 60 Minutes and the bar wench (as she calls herself) pours me this instead. I wouldn't have ordered it on purpose but now that I have had it I would do so by choice. Nice light amber color and large white head and some lacing in the glass. Smells slight caramel malt with a metallic twist in with a hop citrus splash. The taste is not too metallic but there is more in here than I care for I am guessing to help with the dryness. Still it is a good solid ESB all way round. Not something to crave but something to be enjoyed for sure.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2006 16:01:14 | More by Higravity
Photo of Rezzin


3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Golden copper color that's very clean and a fluffy white head.

S - Biscuit and malty aromas with some earthy hops. A little fruity.

T - Sweet malt with an even bitterness to round things out. Somewhat of a metallic flavor.

M - Moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is really nice on this beer - has a very refreshing quality to it. Mellow going down and nicely dry in the finish.

D - Not a bad beer overall but not one of my favorites. I'd drink this again but not sure if I'd buy it again.

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2006 03:39:46 | More by Rezzin
Photo of GuinnessHero


3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Very nice clear crisp brown/amber hue. Two-finger head that sticks around the entire session.

S - Weak for me. Comparing this to the other offerings from ESB, the smell was incredibly disappointing to me.

T - A good ale filled with a sting of bitterness that lasts for a second or two. Clear finish and not too heavy.

M - Very light for some reason. Yet, it felt like it coated my palet well.

D - I could drink a few of these in a row. The overall bitter flavor however would get to me after two or three.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2006 21:43:28 | More by GuinnessHero
Photo of oelergud


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

Orange bronze clear body with moderate carbonation
slightly off-white head with ok retention and lace.
Sweet strong flowery malty scent, caramel and toffee
taste is butterscotch and caramel with a short aftertaste and not much hop presence.
Some coating and moderately fullness of body, dry finish.
Great drinkability and an obvious session brew.


Serving type: bottle

04-01-2006 14:19:30 | More by oelergud
Photo of sacfly


2.78/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled 103105
Pours a hazy orange/yellow. Small particles in suspension. Modest head of large tan bubbles. Aroma reminds me of walking around apple trees in the fall with fermenting apples on the ground. Interesting.

Taste is rather bland. Candy sweetness muted by a musty yeast character. The aftertaste is mostly yeast. Nothing much going on here.

Plenty of better ESB’s to choose from. This one is getting the hook. Pun intended.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2006 23:02:12 | More by sacfly
Photo of Enola

North Carolina

3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As far as ESB's go, this one was a little weak. The color was a nice translucent red. The smell was fruity. The taste was similar to a hoppy spiced beer. The beer seemed fine but started to turn a bit sour as it warmed. I could drink these again. Not a very good representation of the style but overall a good brew.

Serving type: on-tap

03-29-2006 02:34:33 | More by Enola
Photo of jhammerly


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

A nice looking beer after the pour. It has a golden orange body with a twi-fingered white head.

The smell is light, a slight hop presence, but not much there.

Taste is all right, sort of bitter with a bit of sweetness. The bitterness that lingers on the tongue afterwards isn't too pleasant.

Kind of light for this type of beer, a little watery.

This would be a good gateway beer into the world of craft beers. It's an ale that is safe enough for a drinker of macros looking to expand a little. Something that I would only choose again if I didn't want to get too fancy or wanted something during the summer months.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2006 17:11:40 | More by jhammerly
Photo of BuckeyeNation


2.93/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brassy orange with polished brass edges, capped by a smallish head of pastel orange that isn't all that remarkable. It starts life at two fingers and is down to one within several minutes, dragging a pathetically short collar of lace in its wake. This is an okay looking beer that strikes me as barely better than average.

The nose, however, struggles to reach average... and fails. It doesn't have much gumption, even when I get my nose within dipping distance. The 'best by' date tells me that the beer is pretty fresh, but it doesn't smell fresh (what I can appreciate, that is). Mildly pale malty, faintly fruity and... uh... I'm thinking.

Things are a little better on the palate, but not much. Redhook ESB is too meekly flavored and reminds me of an ESB as envisioned by BMC: short on both malt and hops, and therefore, on taste. Does 'affilitated with' mean 'inspired by', I wonder? Just when the taste buds ready themselves for even a minor burst of *something*, the flavor fades away without having delivered the payload.

I'm not sure whether malt or hops have less of an impact. Given the 'quinine-like, divorced from any trace of hoppy flavor' bitterness that lingers long after beer has left mouth, I'd say that malt is more deficient. Underneath the bitterness, ESB is mildly sweet and somewhat orange fruity, but has the depth of the shallow end of the kiddie pool.

I keep telling myself that the metallic quality that was evident with my first mouthful will fade (any minute now... ), but so far it hasn't. The mouthfeel isn't that bad. It's well within the bounds of acceptable for the style, but lacks a decent cargo.

I love Winterhook, but the other Redhook brews (that I've tried) have been pedestrian at best. I was in the mood for a good little ESB this evening. Unfortunately, I didn't find one inside this bottle.

Serving type: bottle

03-26-2006 00:20:41 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of scottoale


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

The 22oz brown bottle with simple label has big bold letters "ESB" Original Ale with an ABV of 5.8% and a bottled date of: JUN 16 05.

Pours a burnt orange, darkish amber ale with an inch of off-white bubbly foam on top. Head leaves quickly with some healthy lacing left behind. Each sip laces as you drink.

Smell has a nice toasty malt head with yeasty fresh bread dough to hop finish. Not really sweet, smells a bit nutty and just like fresh bread before it is baked...mmm, good.

Taste is malty and toasty with an orange peel hop bitter finish. The balance is perfect, nothing really stands out but just blends together smoothly. It actually tastes quite healthy or holsum like, very pleasant. Very good aftertaste similar to a tasty wheatbeer.

Good mouthfeel, kind of marshmellowy with a clean, light alcohol finish. A very easy to drink beer, good for sessions as well as a crowd pleaser. Definitely worth your while...

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2006 08:25:14 | More by scottoale
Photo of kmpitz2


3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very solid copper color with excellent clarity. A light coating of white head sits atop, with just a few rogue bubbles boiling up from the bottom. The nose is light orange citrusy, light caramel, light toastyness, with a faint peppery hop character. Nothing seems to want to take the lead in the aroma. Flavor shows a moderate toasty bread quality on the start, moving to a light caramel, moderate citrusy orange hop, finishing again with the toastyness and a very mild bitter. Also on the finish, the hopping gives this one a slight metallic tinge that I'm not enjoying all that much. The feel is on the light end of moderate, with a light carbonaiton. I'd like to see a touch more body and a touch more carbonation. It's not as lively as I would like it to be. Overall, this one isn't bad, but its not doing anything to make a major impression for me. The metallic finish really puts me off.

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2006 01:29:27 | More by kmpitz2
Photo of sinstaineddemon


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

like the previous reviewer, the bottle said "Chill" in big pale yellow letters, unlike the pic. hope its the same.

A - this ESB pours a light tan/dark yellow color, a thin wispy head wells up and quickly melts to a lace around the perimeter of the glass

S - a very fruity aroma surrounds the malty smells, very inviting

T - the bitterness of this ESB are delightful, almost a hint of celery as you down your swallow

M - the carbonation bubbles playfully on the tongue, a little acidic as well as bitter, would be better with food

D - again, would be better with food, but otherwise drinkable, not my favorite ESB but tasty enough, would buy again

Serving type: bottle

03-16-2006 01:48:30 | More by sinstaineddemon
Photo of hanco005


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle date 020106 so only about 6 weeks old. Bottle says CHILL in big pale yellow letters (not like the picture on the BA site), don’t know if that is the temp to serve it or the attitude when drinking it. Poured into a pint glass.

A—clear rusty amber with an impressive 2 inch off white fluffy head, big pillows of foam, excellent retention, had ¾ of the foamy pillows left when I finished, thick lacing was produced as well

S—sweet, buttery, candy, mild hop scents, very fragrant and pleasant

T—bitterness at the start, followed by a little sweetness in the middle and finishes dry, some floral taste, didn’t pick out any fruit taste, but was expecting some.

M—somewhat chalky…absorbed all of the spit out of my mouth, really dry, medium bodied, more than average carbonation

D—good flavor, but I probably won’t have it again after I finish the 6 pack I bought. One of the driest beers that I have had.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2006 15:07:09 | More by hanco005
Photo of CaskofFlyingDog


4.25/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Drank in a regular pint glass. Appearance amber/red/brownish. Awesome creamy head! Great lacing. Smell: hoppy caramelly very complex but i can't put a finger on it. Taste - nutty, creamy head, caramelly, bitter (of course) a bit toasty. Mouthfeel - sticky, medium thickness.

I really enjoy this beer. It's one of my 'low-brow' favorites.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2006 02:22:44 | More by CaskofFlyingDog
Photo of PeatReek


2.95/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 12-oz bottle with apparent batch # printed on the label: 010306. Nowhere to look this up online, though.

Appearance:Crystal clear yellow/amber body with a 1/2" yellowish head.

Aroma: very cool smelling, very faint yeast aroma and a hint of fresh hops.

Taste & mouthfeel: hello, hops! Sip starts with a tangy American hop flavor combined with some bready malt. The thick body is all that betrays this as a relatively strong beer for its style; the alcohol doesn't come through. Sip finishes with a clean palate, and a nice smooth bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability: a little too thick & strong to have too many of. Maybe a couple.

Serving type: bottle

02-24-2006 02:15:59 | More by PeatReek
Photo of Oxymoron


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

I picked up this beer as a recommendation for an example a diacetyl. That and its large availability.

The pour is a coppery orange hue with light red coloring. A crystal clear base and decent head but didn't stay around for the end. Limited lacing as well.

The smell had some limited malt characteristics. I noticed a touch of sweet butter as recommended but you have to look for it (and I wonder if it was in my head). The hop aroma was limited as well but there was a yeasty, sour aroma.

The taste had more of the butterscotch flavor I was to key on (then the smell would indicate). The malt blended well and left a limited caramel offshoot as well. The hops were not over the top but noticed at the end of the tasting. Mixed well with the carbonation for a good feel.

The body was light but still a good taste. For an ESB I would have liked more bittering but still and enjoyable beer.

The butterscotch flavor became more noticeable as the beer started to warm and left imprints even after I was done with the beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-22-2006 02:16:32 | More by Oxymoron
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,661 ratings.