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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,844 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,844
Reviews: 828
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 21
Gots: 153 | 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: 1,844 | Reviews: 828 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Risser09
3.01/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a wine glass

Appearance: Transparent brown and nice looking ruby red appearance: I'm not talking a brilliant red but a nice strawberry tinge that makes the beer look interesting, to say the least. Impressive 2" head that is slightly off-white leaves some lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell: Estery and crisp. Old plums and malts. Dried raisins and nuttiness.

Taste: Malt and not much hops. This beer tastes like a bitter brown ale. I was expecting a standard bitter bite at least in the finish. Anyway, the flavors are raisin and yogurt. Not a lot of complexity or excitement. Not much sugary sweetness either.

Mouthfeel: Not up to par for what an ESB should be. I like'em with a bite at the end, but without the hop oils. This one is smoothe, but has little to no finish.

Drinkability: Not bad, but it's quite a bland beer. I suppose this could be a transitional beer for those just getting into craft brew. Worth a try but not worth seeking out.

Photo of hustlesworth
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

i had this on tap a few weeks ago and it seemed tastier and more translucent. it's cloudy out of the bottle which adds a nice depth to the color.

A- hazy foggy orange honey amber brew with little bits (yeast?) floating around at the bottom. creamy off-white head settled fast to 1/8in leaving minimal remnants of lace.

S- orange peel and apricot, port wine, sour grapes, caramel malt, and a dash of sticky citrus hops at the end.

T- sour bread, fruity yeast, sweet malts, grains, slight pine sap and herbal citrus hop aftertaste that sticks around for awhile.

MF- sticky and tart. drinks fast but seems to go down slow stickin to your throat. nice mild carbonation.

D- for everything that's there, the taste seems diluted which offsets the slightly thick consistancy in a weird way. drinkin one makes me want something different, something more english.

Photo of jkrich
3.49/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottled on 6/13/07
Appearance: very attractive clear,copper similar to a Bass pale ale. Very little head with some lacing.

Smell: Minimal smell, just a hint of hops.

Taste: The first sip right after pouring into a pint glass had a watered down taste with very little hop taste and minimal malt. This had a very carbonated feel. As the beer warmed, there was a slightly sweet taste from the malt but little improvement in the hop flavors. I could detect a slight metallic taste as well.

Drinkability: I remember tasting this beer about 10 years ago ( I believe it was called Ballard Bitter) and thought the beer was strong in hops and alcohol. Perhaps I was only a novice then, but this beer is incredibly light on the palate. Difficult to believe the 5.8 % alcohol level. Not a great beer, but it is refreshing for the summer. Also, I like the clearly marked (stencilled) freshness date.

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

this was a clear deep copper. bouqet was a bit difficult to pick up, but it seems that i have more difficulty with that at bars. i got some sweet caramelly malts and a hint of pine andor citrus. taste is decent, a light to moderate sweetness with a decent amount of hop bitterness. light to medium in body, this finished clean with a nice level of carbonation.
via bottle, got minimal head and lacing. flavor more earthy, and also got a sourish off flavor.

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

Poured a nice copper color with nice head and lacing on glass. Didnt like this that much the first time I had it, but it was served to cold. Flavors really intensify as it warms. Very balanced flavor. Smooth and high on the drinkability scale. Makes a good gateway beer for people trying something other than BMC.

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

final of the four beers found in the Red Hook Variety case.

pours an amber color with a small foamy head which dissipates into a thin ring.

you can smell malts, but not much else. definitely a sweet character to the aroma too

real balanced flavor of bready malts with some sweetness on the back end.

not really much of an ESB, but not bad either. Give me a Fullers or Stouts Scarlet Lady over this anyday. Red Hook again gives a good macro, but not a great macro.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. pours a crystal clear amber with a couple fingers of almost white orange colored head.

smell is full of hop aromas. a light fruityness is present, with some sweet malts in the background. an overall slightly spicy hop character summarizes the aroma.

taste is malty up front, without the bitterness that the name suggests.after a few sips, the hops begin to show, but not in the fashion of the style. the fruity notes are still present here, as well as a well balanced overall character.

mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy the hops provide a touch of sharpness on the way down, but do not take away from the overall smooth nature of the brew.

drinkability is good, due to the fact that this beer is mild in all departments. nothing too special here, just a generally well balanced ale.

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

Bottle poured into an Imperial Pint glass

A- It poured a transparent copper color with medium carbonation, very little head, but decent lacing.

S- I thought this one was pretty well balanced between sweet malts and pine hops. There may have been a little more to the malt scents than the hops.

T- Initially met with a sweet and roasty malt flavor that was backed up by some grassy hops.

M- Very smooth mouthfeel. I felt it had some oily tones.

D- This is a very sessionable beer. While it was full of flavor, it felt on the lighter end of the scale. It's something I would come back to when I want to have more than a beer or two in a sitting.

Photo of loren01
3.66/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours golden color, good sized white head, good lacing down the glass
S: Very little smell, slightly malty sweet smelling
T: Sweet roasted maltiness up front, followed by a slight hop bitterness. Slight metallic flavor on the tongue.
M: Light to medium bodied, acceptable amount of carbonation.
D: Not too bad, I had this before and was not impressed. Not a bad middle of the road beer though, not too malty not too hoppy. Very sessionable.

Photo of drinkalot123
3.98/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I first got to try this beer while I was shopping at Total wine. I was looking for a good craft beer that would satisfy my daily beer drinking needs without breaking the bank.

This beer is a wonderful treat for just under $6 dollars a six pack.

It has a nice golden appearance like any other ESB of its kind.

The smell is what let me down. I wish it had more to deliver in that department.

The taste and drinkability are allmost perfect for this brew.

It is my beer of choice for any summer BBQ. The taste pairs very nicely with grilled jerk pork. The relatively high alcohol content in the beer cuts the spicyness of the jeck pork without being to heavy and filling. Enjoy!

Photo of Liquids
4.21/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had no interest in this beer until I tried it at the brewery, and decided I wsa impressed enough to try her in the bottle, and give her a chance at a place in my fridge.

Pours a transparent, lively orange copper hued color with a healthy, full white head that leaves good lacing. Smells is hops, hops, and not bad and this is what initially turned me off, until I sipped...Taste is ultra toasted malt, with an intense caramelized sweetness that is offset by a balanced floral and grapefruity bitterness which does not overwhelm, but compliments the malt. This is one of the most intensely flavored beers under 6% that I've had. It's really flavorful. Nothing like a great session beer.

I've had a lot of this brew, and note that if it's not ultra fresh, the malt is uninteresting and the very-important toasted note dissapears, making this beer booring. Fresh in the bottle and on tap, it's really impressive. Get a real fresh one when you give this beer a go...and while you're at it, let it warm up a bit. It's truly worth it. Mouthfeel is full and on par, carbonation level is a bit high for me, I ususally give her a rousing pour so that the carbonation doesn't overwhelm the flavors. Goes well with food, from wings to burgers--another big plus. One of the few 'paler' ales that can actually keep me interested, and at that, I seem to drinking this beer 2x more often than many others I stock in my fridge. I love this beer. The only challenge is finding her as fresh as I'd like and keeping her that way.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Some chill haze in a copper colored beer, droopy lacing not impressive.

Aroma and flavor are of alcohol-soaked dark ripe fruits, both have a touch of dextrin fullness. The flavor brings more caramel malt sweetness to offset the alcohol.

Smooth, well carbonated bitter. Alcohol is manageable, overall a decent stab at an ESB.

Photo of BeerBelcher
2.06/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This beer just didn't do anything for me...it was not very flavorful nor appealing, and it had a distinct metallic taste that I thought was a bit off-putting for something you'd find in your beer.

This beer came out of the bottle a very clear tan color with good commercial-looking (small consistent bubbles) head. Aroma was very minimal...some sweet maltiness. Flavor-wise, I could not get over this copper-metallic flavor. This beer tasted like a penny, or like water that had snaked through a bunch of copper piping. Mouthfeel was a bit harsh and unremarkable. I was very not impressed with this beer.

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

A- Dark Copper in color with nice white head. Good head retention.

S- Lots of hops with some sweet malt backing.

T- bitter hops all the way through from beginning to end. Not very balanced. A sweet and toasty malt backing can be detected but it has to find its way through the hops first. Not as bitter as an IPA but its definately not a balanced flavor.

M- medium carbonation and medium body weight.

D- It wasnt bad and I didn't have any problems drinking it. It certainly wasn't a bad experience but I can't say that I really enjoyed it all that much either. One was enough. Its worth a try.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.1/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am not sure why there are two entries under most of the Redhook brews, with two locations. I assume they are the same since my bottle lists both the NH and WA location. I chose the one closer to me, regionally.

Pours froma 12oz bottle into an imperial pint glass a bright copper color with a nice sized white head. Nice retention and great lacing down the side of the glass.

Aroma is hoppy and grainy. Certainly more english hops here as the hops arent as citrusy or grassy, more earthy and slightly fruity. Nice clean malt aroma as well.

Flavor is very well balanced. Nice hop bite on the back of the tongue with some slight sweetness to balance. Earthy hops and some fruitiness from both hops and maybe even the yeast.

Overall a very nice beer. I like the bitterness here as it isnt overly sweet. Very nicely balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Possibly a little overcarbonated for the style I think, but great otherwise. I could probably drink this all night (actually, I have on many occasions).

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

From the tap into a pint glass an amber-brown clear color with hearty carbonation. One-finger creamy whitish-brown head fades quickly leaving only a thin cap and ring, but the sheet-like lacing is great. Nose is primarily of piney hops. Tastes of good, mellow hop bitterness, slightly piney, with a good balance against semi-sweet malt. Malty, semi-dry finish. Mouth is of middle viscosity with tingly carbonation livening things up, wet and semi-creamy. Drinkability is not bad at all; this brew is tasty and smooth, tingly on the tongue, and thirst-quenching. Definitely sessionable.

Overall: A good middle-of-the-road ESB, tasty and drinkable. Worth a try for sure.

Photo of auxiliary
3.96/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

appearance - Amber color with a fluffy head, and some nice show of lace in the glass too.

smell - Very nice sweet smell of malt in this one.

taste - Nice sweet malt taste but not overpowering. Then some bitterness at the end.

mouthfeel - Medium body that was carbonated.

drinkability - Nice beer if you don't like a thick malt beer. Something to start off on the malt side if you are a hop head. Enjoyed this beer. I understand why this is the flagship of the company.

Photo of theopholis
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This is one of the beers I cut my teeth on.

Appearance- Clear dark orange/amber in color with decent white head. Some staying power, some lacing. Not much of either.

Aroma- Malt sweetness, a decend blend of bittering and aroma hops. Not outstanding, but pleasant.

Taste- Decent mix of flavoring and bittering hops right up front. Some malt sweetness in theretowards the middle. the hops linger a bit in the jowels and back of toungue. A little more complexity and character would be nice, but overall, not bad.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, nice carboantion..

Drinkability: Not the best ESB but well worth trying. This is a lot of people's 1st ESB, and even some people's 1st "real" beer.

Photo of rrg1gb
3.36/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a copper color with an off-white head, with little retention. It looks well carbonated, though.

S: Mainly a sweet malty aroma, but there’s a bit of spiciness from the hops poking through as well.

T: There’s a dominant, roasted caramel malt flavor, but some dryness from the hops. It does have a light sweetness to it, but there’s a good balance between hops and malt.

M: Not bad, but it tastes kind of watered down after the first sip. There’s also a metallic edge to it, but nothing too offensive. It’s definitely smooth and easy to drink. The carbonation holds up well too.

D: Not bad, but definitely the American version of an ESB. Nothing special but easy drinking. Will I grab another? Sure. Especially with the pricing at $6.99 a six-pack.

Photo of pumarocks
3.91/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I recently picked up this beer at a local Target of all places. It has a wonderful amber color. The head is great and hung around for a very long time. I dont know why they call this ESB. There is little to no bitterness. It has a malty flavor and a decent mouthfeel. I drank this beer with some mild cheddar i picked up from the kroger deli. What a great combo! The cheese really brings out the flavor in the beer. This could be the gateway ESB, I now want to try others.

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

A crystal clear, rust hued body with a solid finger of wet, cream colored head and an already nice lace trail. The clarity does reveal a mass of carbonation bubbles travelling headward. Nose is doughy and malty with a little bit of hop balance but nothing too impressive.

A swig reveals my worst fears founded about the carbonation, with it too active up front particularly. The aftertaste is marred by a metallic tint. Otherwise, you have a par for the course ESB with a strong malt backbone, moderate hopping, and a nice, smooth texture. Drinkable but far from essential.

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

On tap at the Eagle Street Grill and Pub in St. Paul.
Served in standard pint glass, clear golden / reddish color with a white head that reduces to a thin cap, this strings of lace. Slightly fruity aroma with lots of citrus hops. A bit of caramel also present. A very creamy and smooth flavor. Malt sweetness combined with hop bitterness. Grapefruit in the taste, with sharp bite in the finish. Very nice sessional ESB.

Photo of muffguy4beer
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear dark amber in color with decent white head.

Smell: Malt right off the go then come a little hops. Nothing too potent but pleasant none the less.

Taste: A fairly balanced ESB. Starts off a little sweet then a nice mild bitterness fills the back of the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, creamy and smooth.

Drinkability: Not the best ESB I have sampled but a nice attempt. I would definitely order this one in a bar/restaurant and occasionally pick up a sixer from the package store. A good entry beer into the style but it is a fairly easy style to enjoy with a short learning curve so don't dwell on this offering too long. If you are going to dwell on an ESB I suggest fuller's.

Photo of beerphan
3.06/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz bottle -> goblet
bottled on : 01 24 07

Pours a clear coppered amber with a small thick white blanket of a head. The head fades quickly to scattered soap suds, but leaves behind some nice lacing. Carbonation appears low.

Nose: Malty nose, some bread, caramel, of something that smells of oxidation

Week flavor, some sweetness from pale malts, but very little in hop flavor, or bitterness for that matter. Lightly bittered on the finish but like the rest of this brew, pretty weak.

Mouth is bigger than expected but end slightly metallic.

I got a free sample from an AB rep friend, so i'm pretty happy i didn't spend any ching on this brew.

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

Poured a light copper color with a thin, quickly dissipating head. The smell was reminiscent of stale bread with some faint fruit odors as well. The taste is a defined improvement on the smell -- sweet, light fruit malts with a bit of an earthy hop backing. Not spectacular in any way, but a well-flavored, balanced brew nonetheless. The mouthfeel is smooth with nice, fine carbonation. This is actually quite drinkable. I was pleasantly surprised -- the first time I tried this beer I did not like it all, but I find it pretty tasty now.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,844 ratings.