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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

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1,858 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,858
Reviews: 829
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 22
Gots: 169 | 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: 1,858 | Reviews: 829 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rxdrewthejew
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This has long been one of my favorites.

A: A light reddish-brown, maybe closer to amber, and quite hazy. Bubbly two finger head with a more solid top, leaving a significant amount of lacing.

S: (I have a cold) Sweet comes out with some very mild bitterness as well. Tough to smell much, though, in my current condition.

T: Fairly bitter, hops dominate the flavor. Sweetness and malt is quite subtle.

MF: Thin and very bubbly. Little to no aftertaste. Very little warming, the alcohol is masked well.

D: Love this beer when hanging out with friends or watching sports, etc. Not nearly as complex as Fuller's ESB but a good flavor nonetheless. This is a solid, consistent beer that I could drink all night.

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

Came to me in a pint looked light amber with a thin head. It had a slight fruit and malty smell. I enjoyed the taste it was malty and a little bitter after taste. It has a medium carbonation that goes down pretty smooth. To me I think it had a great taste to it and could drink it for some time but it does get a little bitter.

Photo of kmo1030
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

crystal orange-amber with little head.
grainy malty caramel and toffee dominate the nose. a little too grainy though. hint of citrus.
the taste is a pretty average ESB. it's got the malty caramel toffee and biscuit components and some balancing bitterness. it's fine, but it's missing some richness (for lack of a better term) that is usually found in a good ESB.
the mouth feel is fine if not a little on the thin side, with moderate carbonation.
a decent enough beer, but missing any distinction, that might bring me back to it or keep my interested. no knock on the beer, but it's just a little one demensional.

Photo of jdhilt
3.11/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a two-finger white head that fades slowly to a thin layer leaving a good lace. Crystal clear amber color. Slight hoppy nose. Medium carbonation and medium bodied. Flavor has some sweetness with hoppiness and the usual-for an ESB- lingering hoppy aftertaste. 12oz bottle $1.50 from Capitol Convenience Concord, NH.

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

This brew was included in the 12 mix pack from Redhook. The brew pours to a light brown color with a fair sized tan head. Seems to have pretty good retention and left a little lacing on the glass. The aroma seems to be dominated by malt, which lead to a caramel scent while also having a less pronounced hop smell. The taste is pretty good; malt flavors dominate with some fruit highlights. Fair hop presence, which gives it a spice like feel along with some pine like flavor. Over all this is a ok brew, not the highlight of the offerings but and all around good beer.

Photo of Mebuzzard
2.83/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

At a local bar with two each bud, bud light, coors light taps, this beer was the best choice of the bunch.
A reddish, straw colored body that, when first poured, produced a nice, semi white head of about 1 finger. The bartender kept pouring to force that head down the drain. Oh well.
Smells of slightly old malt, a bit sweet. Some earthy hints as well...mushroom? Served very cold, which no doubt affected this brew.
Taste is a bit sweeter than a Bud or the like. More robust, but still very light. ESB is not very appropriate for what I had. Still, it wasn't a bad beer. Easy drinking, didn't leave a bad or lingering aftertaste.

Photo of david131
3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A- A perfectly clear golden beer with some decent streams of rising carbonation. The head that sits on top is about a quarter of an inch, but it has some excellent retention and leaves some great lacing.

S- Some citrus. When I say some, I mean a very little bit. A decent malt backing.

T- Some bitter hops and some biscuity malt. Nothing special here, but this is a good drinkin' beer.

M- Kind of astringent, but at least it has a clean finish.

D- A good beer to kick back with and enjoy some pizza with your boys. Nothing special, but who cares?

Photo of reeder
2.79/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

a less than rich amber color. kind of watery looking.

malty nose with some citrus and a little bit of berries. a bit cheap smelling.

right away kind of a sourness. some malt. not much in the way of interesting flavors.

watery mouthfeel. a bit too much carbonation.

overall drinkable, but not a beer that i would choose given other non-macro options. i even let the beer warm up, as per the alstrom bros suggestion. This beer did not compare to even the standard bitters that i have tried in the UK.

Photo of jbsteiny
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An orange amber, the initial two fingers of light orange head fad to a wispy covering. Some retention on the glass. Hop aromas are light and fruity; toasted malts; a bit of caramel. The smooth diacetyl butters up the smell, but it's too present on the tongue. A little oily, this is a very drinkable brew, but I don't think it really does credit to the style. I don't mind that it's simple, but it's not super flavorful, and I think there's too much diacetyl. Not bad, but nothing special.

Photo of JamesS
3.76/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wasn't sure I'd like a bitter, but a friend of mine had been telling me about them for a while, so I finally broke down and got a six-pack of Redhook ESB about a week ago. My nightly beer for most of the past few nights has been this. It has a very nice molten copper color. For a bottled beer it has good head and lacing. The smell is good, not great, but does give a pleasant hint of the hops. The taste is wonderful! It goes down smooth, has an excellent hoppy flavor without being overly bitter. If you want to try a bitter, it would be hard to find a better one that is easy to find.

Photo of BMoney575
3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampled on 8-25-07
Bottled on 5-1-07

Pours a clear amber, with a foamy, quickly fading white head. Sticky bubbles cling to the glass.

Smell is tame, not much there. Maybe some subtle floral hops.

Taste is plain, beery, but with a good hop/malt balance.

Mouthfeel is rather tart and astringent, becomes annoying.

Drinkability is good, but still just this side of a macro.

Overall, not something I'll probably drink again. This is the kind of beer that's good if there's absolutely nothing else.

Photo of soupyman10
3.41/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this one on tap at Joe Kool's in Troy, MI. Pours a good looking amber color with a nice finger of white-ish head on top. A touch of lacing. Nose is weak - very light malt presence, but beyond that, not much. Not bad, just not really there. Taste is a little better, although still fairly mild. Caramel malt, some light saltiness, and then very mild hop character at the back. Feel is medium bodied, with solid carbonation. I like what the Alstrom Bros said about this one, and am in agreement - it's a starter beer for the style, although not one you'd really recommend to a long-time beer drinker.

Photo of 1fastz28
3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a light honey color with some decent carbonation. smells good with roasted malts dominating the smell, tastes good, some maltiness to it. has a slight bitterness to it, but the taste is pretty darn good, has a full mouthfeel and has a good malty tasty. much like red hooks other beers, good beer at a great price can't go wrong

Photo of berserker256
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The beer is dark gold. It has a nice fizzy off-white head that lingers for a minute. The smell of hops is the most dominant aroma characteristic. Tastes good. A touch bitter, as it's supposed to be, but not overpowering. I like this beer. I would definitely buy it agian.

Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.27/5  rDev +25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a clear dark amber cherry color with almost no active carbonation in the glass. A few ropes of bubbles here and there but that is about it. The head on this beer saves it, with a vigourus pour I got a two inch frothy white head that melted into a decent sized ring with a decent about of lacing. I wish there were more bubbles though, it almost looks flat.

S: This one smells a bit like a fat tire but a bit more subdued, the malt presence is there and quite sweet but hop characters also work in a with a nice balance, the overall effect of this almost makes this beer smell like peaches.

T/MF: Pretty damn creamy for a bitter, which I've always sort of liked. A lot more subdued than IPAs and other bitter beers. There is a nice bready sweetness with caramel and hints of apple, finishes quite clean on the palate and relatively light bodied, very drinkable for an almost 6% abv beer.

D: No matter how many times I've tried this beer I always seem to be comming back to it. I must have had this beer on at least a dozen different occasions, which is a big deal for me because I am always looking for new beers to try.

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!

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,858 ratings.