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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 karengarys


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

pours transparent rich deep orangish amber. Not much of a head, but the foamy ring leaves pockets of fizz on the glass.

Smells citriusey, and floral hoppy.

Tastes like lemon peel and hops - there is enough going on here to make this a very refreshing flavor.

Mouthfeel is nice and coarsey fizzy.

The finish is sparkley with a pine snap.

Of course the body is lighter, but it goes well with the beer.

I'm quite surprised that this beverage is so good. If you are looking for a nice brew with a bit of a snap, go for this!

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2005 02:00:39 | More by karengarys
Photo of ryantupy


3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It poured a very amberish clear color with a frothy white head that took a while to settle. It smelled rather overly hoppy and just about nothing else. It was very creamy and went down smooth with good taste. I found it to be slightly more of a medium bodied beer when i was expecting a full-bodied. The beer was tasty but a little to bitter and nothing spectacular about it.

Serving type: on-tap

07-18-2005 21:40:48 | More by ryantupy
Photo of palliko


2.63/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance is an amber with white foam and some lacing. Aroma consists of citrus hops, brown sugar and malt. Initial taste is a smooth blend of fruit and herbs only marred by the excessive diacetyl that coats your tongue. Bitter hops and electrolytes are sharp, leaving the tongue a bit sore. I found it to be a little too raspy to have more than one.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2005 05:32:46 | More by palliko
Photo of KoG


3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark amber with a touch of red. Pillowy head sticks to the sides and lasts a long time.

Smell is sweet caramel malt with some assertive hop presence. Very inviting.

Taste is smooth and creamy. A bit sweet at first rolling off into a citric bitterness and finishinga bit dry.

A tasty brew, but the dry finish along with how filling it gets knock it down a bit. Totally different than the bottled version, seems sweeter.

Serving type: on-tap

07-09-2005 23:38:36 | More by KoG
Photo of BamaScholar


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

On-tap at Jonathan's Grille (2 for 1 after 10 p.m., so really there were two of them...)

Pint was gold/bronze mix poured with little head although there was some decent lacing after I started sucking it down.

Smell wasn't too subtle or complex. Taste is (for an ESB) a mild balance between hop bitterness and malt sweetness. Finish is pretty clean and refreshing.

ESB is a style I haven't sampled many of so I'm not sure what it offers but I feel having read about the style that this may serve as a decent introduction to the style but not necessarily a good example of it. Drinkable, enjoyable enough.

Serving type: on-tap

07-04-2005 16:50:14 | More by BamaScholar
Photo of GeoffFromSJ

New Jersey

3.65/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at Ashburn Alley in Citizen's Bank Park prior to the Red Sox-Phillies game. Much better than I expected, but nothing to get too excited about. Will do in a pinch. I think the two areas this excelled, appearance and mouthfeel, were due to the tap system at Citizen's Bank Park.

Clear amber with good, but not huge, head in a plastic cup. Very thick lacing that kept going and going. Reminded me of Brooklyn's Weizenbock.

Smell had some hops at first. Then not much. Good overall.

Taste is lacking the complexity of good ESBs. This is OK taste-wise. Some bready notes. Not much buttery tastes. Some hops poking through, but not enough for the style. I would probably give the taste a 3.25 if I had enough discrete points.

Mouthfeel: really, really smooth. But seems to be missing a little something. I could be insane. It was very smooth. But not much flavors/carbonation interact with me.

Drinkable? Yes. Will do in a pinch. I would recommend if it is the last vestage of hope in a non-beer bar.

This would probably be a good beer for introducing non-craft people to better beer. Much better ESBs out there in my not so humble experience.

Serving type: on-tap

06-25-2005 04:33:18 | More by GeoffFromSJ
Photo of AlexJ

North Carolina

2.85/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear, shiney copper colored with a breifly dense beige head that quickly settles down to a thin veil, leaving very little lace.

The nose is caramel biscuity malts and some floral hops. Very light nose overall.

Flavor is initially bready, cooked malts, slightly sweet. Then a zippy dose of floral hops takes over. On the bland side of things.

Medium to light in body with excessive carbonation, almost seltzer like.

Serving type: bottle

06-12-2005 15:53:02 | More by AlexJ
Photo of MichaelMeister


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

This is one of the better ESB's I've tried. Good head and lacing. Nose of fruit and hops. Taste was less bitter than expected and the citrus flavor came through with a bit of hoppiness. It had a good mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation, but without the bite. It finishes quite smooth and left me wanting for another. Will have to remember this ESB.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2005 02:21:17 | More by MichaelMeister
Photo of jasonpeckins32


3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light hazy bronze color with a bubbly head that dissipates very quickly. It has a faint aroma. Nothing much at all. The taste is somewhat bitter, but not nearly as ferocious as I was hoping for. You can taste a few hops and a mild malt character, almost reminds me of a watered down pale ale. There also seems to be some sort of chemical aftertaste... it only lasts for a second, but it finds its way into every sip... hmmm. The mouthfeel is definitly thin and light-bodied. Not incredibly drinkable, but I wouldnt mind having more than one.

Serving type: bottle

05-24-2005 13:26:33 | More by jasonpeckins32
Photo of Luigi

North Carolina

3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber color with a creamy white head. Good head retention. Sticks around the glass. The aroma is hoppy with a fruit tartness. Sweet malts are present (kind of buttery). The taste is balanced. A fair amount of fruity hops are balanced by a buttery malt. Meduim bodied with a dry finish. This is an ok ESB. For the style, it is average. Not enough hoppiness for an ESB, but over all it is drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2005 07:04:06 | More by Luigi
Photo of deejaydan


3.9/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great clarity on this beer, beautiful brilliant copper color to this. Similar color to a newly shined brew kettle. Low head, decent lacing. I would like more lacing on this one.

Carmelly aroma, some spicy hops present as well. Clean, I didn't pick up diacetyl. I would like more hop aroma present though.

Flavor-- Well balance, but I'd expect more hops. Some carmelly and nutty notes, but minimal hops, for an ESB.

Mouthfeel is okay, but I'd like some alcohol warming from an ESB.

A very drinkable ESB all in all, not 100% to style, but good.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2005 01:40:56 | More by deejaydan
Photo of RedLion


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

Pours a medium amber, nice head, and great clarity. Nice hoppy taste, and a very smooth feel on the tongue. Not very bitter compared to other bitters, but is more accessible to the novice than, say, Fuller's ESB. I don't know if I got a bad batch, but it feels like the beer turned flat quicker that it should have. I've only had this beer a couple of times before. I was attracted to it because of their Winterhook (truely a great beer). I just don't see any of the specialness in this beer that I found in the Winterhook. Overall, it's an above average beer that's worth drinking, but not on a regular basis.

Serving type: bottle

04-21-2005 02:05:19 | More by RedLion
Photo of beersarang


3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light amber with brilliant clarity, the head however dissapates like a macro, which I found to be dissapointing.

Smells lightly of hops and butterscotch.

Upfront smooth malt, good hop bite, buttery diacetyl at the exhale, but then the really astringent grains come in for the finish. Unpleasant and rough finish.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied (not heavy enough for the style) and drinkablility suffers from the nearly awful finish.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2005 22:51:06 | More by beersarang
Photo of PatandDavid


3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had on tap at the Brewpub. Pour when served was very light copper in color. It came topped with a faint frothy head that did stay around long enough to deliver rings of lace in my glass. Clean aroma. While drinking, the first thing I noticed was some initial metallic notes that seemed more like cleaning agents. Mostly the malt came through, and I thought the finish was a bit sweet. I did enjoy watching the slow bubbles of carbonation rise in my glass.

Serving type: on-tap

04-16-2005 18:06:25 | More by PatandDavid
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

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

Appearance: Pours a clear medium amber body with a small head that fades to a collar pretty quickly

Smell: Mostly caramel malts with a hint of hops; clearly a touch of diacetyl

Taste: Bursts onto the tongue with a blast of caramel malt; eventually blends into a bit of bitterness to the finish; a bit sweeter than I would have expected, almost like an Amber Ale

Mouthfeel: A bit slick with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A pleasant, if sweet swill

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2005 22:28:10 | More by brentk56
Photo of thesilverhand

British Columbia (Canada)

3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Well, it started off nicely, looking quite impressive. Poured a nice orange-hued amber with a nice thick beige foam head that left nice lacing on my glass.
The aroma was a little underwhelming. Far from extra special...it seemed rather plain. I got light citrus hops, some sweet maltiness and a touch of yeast.
The initial taste is nice, a good balance of sweet malt with a pleasant hop bite up front. The promise fades somewhat, but it remains an okay beer, finishing rather dry.
It's a nice brew on the palate, and pleasantly drinkable. I certainly prefer my beer a little more adventurous, but this is a nicely drinkable brew. Tasty and accessible.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2005 11:28:34 | More by thesilverhand
Photo of BigRedN


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

Apearance: Poured from a stubby twist off 12 oz bottle (bottled on 2/15/05 date) into a pint glass. The beer is orangish/copper with a 1/2 inch white head that fell to a partial covering over the liquid. Minimal lacing. Small bubbles float to the top of the liquid.

Smell: Surprisingly there is a malty aroma present. There are some hops here, but for something called an Extra Special/Strong Bitter, I guess I was expecting a more hoppy beer.

Taste: Slight hops bitterness, then some smooth sweet maltiness in the middle, with a hop finish. Very well rounded and balanced. Again, I was hoping for a more hoppy beer, I do think this would make a good APA.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, smooth, and well carbonated. Does well to hide its alcohol.

Drinkability: While I am not well versed in the style, I imagine that this has to be a lightly hopped, easy drinker. That is what this beer is to me. It seems to fit well as an APA, not overly bitter, and well balanced. A good beer for the masses to wean them off BMC. Purchase on sale for $4.99 a six, regularly $6.99. Overall a decent if average beer, it probably should go for $4.99, otherwise it is overpriced IMO.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2005 04:08:36 | More by BigRedN
Photo of arizcards


3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at AJ's back in January for $1.19.

Upon the pour this looked to be a promising beer. It came out in a fine white 3 inch head and is leaving a nice lacing. Smell is of malts with almost a spicy hint to it. Taste is very malty with only a slight hint of hops. Not much in terms of the "Bitter" as advertised in the "ESB". Mouthfeel is average in weight and somewhat lively. Overall drinkability is not bad. This is definitely a quaffable brew but one I will not seek out in the future.

Serving type: bottle

02-27-2005 22:30:00 | More by arizcards
Photo of karst


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

Redhook ESB copper-colored ale's complex balance between the bitterness of the hops and the sweetness of a heavier caramel malting from blend of two-row Klages and Caramel 60 barley malts. Citrus aroma from a late addition of Willamette and U.S.-grown Tettnanger hops. This balance and the nice bitter finish help it pair well with grilled meats and many meals. Availabile in 48 states after hooking up with AB which holds 1/3 of Redhook.

Picked up a 6 pack last Christmas in W. Va.and this was the last bottle. Apparently it has a great shelf life when kept cool.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2005 10:01:14 | More by karst
Photo of NJpadreFan

New Jersey

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

Redhook ESB

On tap at Applebee's. Owned by AB- thats why.

Appearance- orangy/ red with a mediocre head that doesn't hold up well.
Smell- slight fruity/ citrus hops.
Taste- light citrus hops. Watery.

Overall- a decent offering when surrounded by bud, miller, and coors. Wouldn't purchase a 6 of it but wasn't disappointed.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2005 17:46:08 | More by NJpadreFan
Photo of DFN


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

The "ESB" in this beer's names supposedly stands for Extra Special/Strong BItter, but it's neither especially strong nor especially bitter. In fact, it's kind of mild -- a pleasant, slightly fruity ale that pours out a deep reddish orange and goes down easy. Carbonation is light, and the head dissipates fast. Overall, I'd rate this beer as above-average; not one of the great ones, but pleasant and satisfying.

PS: The bottle I tasted for this review was bottled on 11-30-2004 and consumed on 2-18-2005.

Serving type: bottle

02-18-2005 21:34:59 | More by DFN
Photo of Frozensoul327


2.58/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured out to a very light orange color, with a short lived white lacey head that quickly disappeared. Odors of oranges and fruit with a touch of hops. Kind of reminds me of a weak ale, even mouth feel with flavors of bitterness, malt and hops. Has a watery quality to it, that is not all that undesireable in a brew of this nature. Nothing special, but in no way a short coming. Worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2005 00:39:09 | More by Frozensoul327
Photo of clemtig76

South Carolina

2.85/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Born on date 12/07/04. In my opinion, Redhook ESB has really gone down hill since being aquired by AB. Very faint hop aroma that used to dominate this brew. Pours a pale amber brown. Very little hop bitterness that I remember when it was packaged in stubby brown bottles. I won't waste my time with this one again.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2005 01:42:14 | More by clemtig76
Photo of scubahood


4.38/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

One of my favorite breweries!!!.

Label says bottled on 12-27-04

Pours a great light amber color. Not a lot of head. I've had it right from the brewery and the head retention doesn't compare to that.

Smell: Classic hop aroma that isn't overpowering. Compliments the slightly sweet smell.

Taste: Starts with a malty flavor and light to medium mouthfeel. The beer ends very hoppy and the aftertaste remains bitter in a great way.

This is one of the best readily available beers that I have ever consumed. I recommend it for a great session beer that is very easy to drink. Also, it is an amazing deal for the price. A keg of ESB a day keeps the doctor away! [Well maybe not but close..] : )

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2005 05:04:38 | More by scubahood
Photo of GuinnessSmurf


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

Appearance: Beer pours a nice yellow/orange like a dark gingeale.

Smell: It has a nice clean, bitter odor. Some sugary after thoughts, but it might be influenced by the ginger ale appearance.

Taste: Smooth, mild bitter flavor. There is a special bitter in there - my friend Ben and I agree that it has a dry, metalic bitter. In a good way mind you.


Serving type: bottle

01-20-2005 01:43:39 | More by GuinnessSmurf
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,663 ratings.