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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,718 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,718
Reviews: 818
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 18
Gots: 89 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,718 | Reviews: 818 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of scottoale


3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

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...

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


3.25/5  rDev -4.7%

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.

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


3.33/5  rDev -2.3%

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

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


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

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.

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


4.25/5  rDev +24.6%

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.

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


2.95/5  rDev -13.5%

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.

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


3.38/5  rDev -0.9%

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.

02-22-2006 02:16:32 | More by Oxymoron
Photo of apintofknowledge

New Jersey

2.65/5  rDev -22.3%

Pours a crystal-clear reddish-orange hue with a frothy white head. The aroma is sweet and malty surprisingly (considering the hopped-up nature of most Redhook brews). The taste, however, is where the hops come into play. There's a mild initial sweetness followed by grassy, woody, earthy tannins from the hops. This one is overly bitter for the style to me, and just way off-balance. Leathery on my palate, and just not enjoyable to me, especially when I think of other ESB's I truly enjoy.

02-19-2006 22:56:46 | More by apintofknowledge
Photo of acrawf6


3.7/5  rDev +8.5%

Pours out a deeper clear amberish-orange with a slightly yellow head about an inch high. decent lacing.

Smells hoppy and sweet, a full caramel sweetness.it's nice, but not that complex i dont think.

Taste is nice. Nice rich hoppy flavor. I'm getting a lot of maltiness in this bottle, more than what i remembered from other bottles, and especially more than it on tap. It's a great hoppy beer when you're not in the mood for an american ipa hoppiness.

Mouthfeel is good. Good balance and good carbonation.

Overall i think i prefer this on tap. I used to not get this much because of their ties with anheiser-bush, but their blackhook and winterhook won me over. plus it's good, so why not buy it.

02-14-2006 02:03:06 | More by acrawf6
Photo of ppoitras


3.53/5  rDev +3.5%

Enjoyed on tap at CJ's Restaurant, a seafood joint in Monson, MA.

Presented in a Redhook pint. A 3/4" beige head over the dark golden brew, with excellent lacing for such a nice brew, especially since the head itself wasn't particularly long-lived. Aroma is more or less generic, pale malts and bitterness. Taste is quick pale grains sweetness, followed and overcome by somewhat non-descript but strong hops bitterness, which carry into the aftertaste. Mouthfeel could be a bit more approachable, but drinkability was still pretty good. Not a bad brew, and against competition of Amber Bock, Bud, Bud Light, a winner hands down.

02-11-2006 01:45:17 | More by ppoitras
Photo of wheatyweiss


3.13/5  rDev -8.2%

Brown 12 oz. bottle with stamped date that if accurate means my beer has been around a few months.

Pours a very light amber to copper color with a small head to start that dissipates fast leaving a small lace.

Nose is of corn and husk, adjuncts and a little bit of a mossy earthy undertone (but faint).

Flavor is a nice toasty, almost chewy malt with a little bit of hop bitterness that balances that malt nicely. I still get the corn husk and adjunct flavor coming through the finish. Hops stick around on the tongue for a second.

Mouthfeel is nice. This beer has a sort of creamy consistency that reminds me of a cream ale or light porter.

Drinkability is good. This would be an excellent session beer for the price. Ther bottle I have is marked at 5.8 ABV, which is something for a beer this light on the stomach.

Although the aroma did turn me off at first the beer slowly won me over. I thought I saw that this brewery is aligned with AB, which is too bad. Won't be long before the giant gets its claws into the production line on this one, if it hasn't already.
For the flavors I got that spoiled an otherwise decent offering...let's just hope I got an old batch.

02-08-2006 16:33:11 | More by wheatyweiss
Photo of GClarkage


3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

02/06/06- Purchased at Ledger's Liquors in San Mateo, CA.

Presentation- 12oz bottle with a bottled on date stamped on the neck of the bottle label. Poured into my Red Tail Ale pint glass.

Appearance- 1/2 inch white head, hangs around for a bit, but decreases to a light rim in a few minutes. Light amber kinda watery looking in color, Decent lacing left behind.

Smell- Light toasted caramel malt, lemony bitter hop scent also.

Taste- A bit thin in texture with some mellow toasted malt...maybe a touch bready. Very fruity flavored hops. Tasting a bit of orange and maybe lemon rather than grapefruit.

Mouthfeel- Light bitter aftertaste, mild carbonation.

Drinkability- Run of the mill ESB, but still drinkable and worth a try. Many others I like better than this one though.

02-06-2006 20:36:13 | More by GClarkage
Photo of Franchise


2.65/5  rDev -22.3%

Pours a dark blonde and leaves a 2in white head with giant bubbles in it. The aroma is sour, musty, like a wet blanket. There is no trace of hops or sweetness initally. The taste is pale, very weak and watery, but strong in a sourness aspect that isn't pleasing. As I let this beer warm up some, I smell a little sweetness, some honey, and the taste begins to strengthen a bit with some toasty wheat notes but not much. The taste still finishes watery, a very pour offering from Redhook.

02-04-2006 18:49:52 | More by Franchise
Photo of RJLarse


3.75/5  rDev +10%

Picked up a six-pack of Redhook ESB to review. I poured this beer into a pint tumbler.

Pours a pallid bronze/copper color, clear, and mildly effervescent. The head is thick foamy and sticky, dissipates to a quarter-inch thick resilient film across the surface of the beer. The foam laces the side of the glass nicely while drinking

The smell is pungent and acerbic. The beer has a sharp smell of bitter hops and some yeast.

The taste is also bitter, but not unpleasantly so. The taste of malt is hardly present, this one is all about hops, bitters, some yeast and a lightly sour flavor. The aftertaste lingers and is also mildly bitter, but pleasant.

Mouth feel is light and crisp. The beer is refreshing and easy too drink. It is a classic hop flavored beer.

This is a very drinkable beer, a full-flavored version of an American macro maybe, but it has a distinct character as well. It’s not a super beer, but an above average bitter just the same.

NOTE: The bottle has been redesigned since the BA picture was taken. It's a little classier looking bottle and label these days, but I hear the beer might have been better some years ago.

02-04-2006 06:58:21 | More by RJLarse
Photo of CultureJamMN


3.4/5  rDev -0.3%

Nothing really special about it... but when the selection is thin at the bar, and this is there... give it a go.

Nice copper color with decent clarity, no head and minimal lacing (possibly the fault of my local macro pub)

The smell is of malts, but there is a fruity presence here... i am also getting just a whiff of hops.

The taste is not exactly what i'd expected. Malty upfront, and it stays malty until very late. The finish is hoppy, but it's almost unpleasant. It's sort of like a late arriving guest to a party... they show up after the party has peaked, and want to start a rager... it just doesnt work for me. Malts are nice, and the fruity notes are pleasing.

Not obrtusive in the mouth, there is a decent amount of substance here. Finish is a tad dry, but no parching.

All in all this is a beer i could have 2 of but that's it. If I'm stuck in macroland, this'll do.

02-01-2006 17:54:30 | More by CultureJamMN
Photo of Drew966


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

Pours a nice copper color out of a twelve ounce longneck bottle (with the newer packaging, the label says chill above ESB, and I don't think that's a serving suggestion, but an attempt to be hip). I like this beer, it is a nicely balanced ale that I could drink all night. Doesn't really knock your socks off, but a good solid quaffing beer.

01-30-2006 23:56:54 | More by Drew966
Photo of Tupperwolf


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%

Pours a very clear redwood amber with a rocky but thin eggshell head (around a finger). It leaves surprisingly persistent webs of lacing. I'll admit it - I didn't have very high expectations for this beer, being a mass-marketed staple of the northwest, but it actually looks pretty good. The lacing, at least, is handsome.

The smell is of pear juice and orange peel, with an earthy and slightly spicy bready finish.

The flavor holds some bananas, spice, cloves, citrus; It's quite tasty indeed when cold, but as this beer warms it becomes one-sided and a little unpleasant; Best enjoyed chilled, as the flavors are actually more robust and interesting.

A medium body, boosted by only the lightest of fizzy carbonation, that works well enough.

This is a pretty drinkable beer, especially after you've had a couple already to get started. I was reasonably impressed. It's not earthshattering and I'm not sure how well it fits into the ESB category, but it's worth a try.

01-29-2006 19:00:38 | More by Tupperwolf
Photo of lordofthewiens


2.48/5  rDev -27.3%

This beer was a pretty copper color, with a very small head. It had a subtle sweet odor to it, but really didn't have much of a smell. There was a vague sweet taste, with a little hoppiness. The hops tended to linger, so the beer tasted bitter to me. It was mildly carbonated. Altogether, an uninspiring ESB.

01-29-2006 15:08:08 | More by lordofthewiens
Photo of maddamish


2.3/5  rDev -32.6%

I had this at the Winking Lizard in Fairlawn Ohio.

The beer was a light red color when poured. strong notes of strawberry were present in this bitter. I thought that I was in for a good experience as I had been drinking a lot of bitters lately.

This is one failed to live up to expectations.

The bad: Very watery. No body to this at all. It was only slightly bitter and it was not accompanied by any sweetness to balance it out. That would not be so bad but it was just a very bland beer over all. I had the Redhook Blonde and was a fan of that but this one is just a failure for a ESB.


01-17-2006 03:00:44 | More by maddamish
Photo of mooseisloose


3.28/5  rDev -3.8%

Poured from the bottle into 16 oz beer goblet. The smell from the bottle was a dry sweet smell. In the glass the ale was rose colored gold hue with a light head that disappeared quickly. The smell in the glass is also sweet.
The taste is a hoppy sweet beginning that you would expect from the smell with some bitter aftertones and a more bitter than sweet finish. Carbonation is good, not too much, nor too little. This ale would be preferrred by the european drinker who prefers more bitter finish. At the start the finish of this beer seemed too bitter for me but I think it may grow on me.

01-15-2006 00:26:44 | More by mooseisloose
Photo of casualbeerman

New Jersey

3.7/5  rDev +8.5%

This poured a nice red-gold with maybe a finger of head that lasted maybe a third of the way through the glass. Very attractive I thought. Smell was ok but not very strong. A little bit of sweet malt without much hops. Taste was pretty good. Sweet and slightly malty, with floral maybe fruity hops. Its hard to get more specific than that, I'm not really sure what kind of friut the hops suggest maybe a green apples- very vaguely. Though the sweet aspect definately tasted like honey. The finish, and only the finish is bitter. That bitterness does linger, but its not sharp and its balanced by the sweetness which lingers as well. Mouthfeel is ok. Not too heavy, not too light. Drinkability is good. It goes down easy and the first sip is as good as the last (better actually, I thought the head tasted a little wierd). The reason why I rated it only a little above average in this area is beause its kind of high on alcohol, and I think the otherwise easy drinking nature of this beer could ambush you. By all means if you have a driver and don't have to get up in the morning, then drink up. But otherwise I reccomend switching to something else after one to avoid adverse consequences. But alcohol content aside this was definately a good beer. Sort of like an ale version of Killian's. Oh, since this is the first beer labeled "ESB" that I've ever had, and its an American craft type brew, I have no idea how well this fits the style. I can tell you its a decent beer, but I have no clue if fans of ESB will like it. Anyway, if you're just looking for something a little different on a night out with your friends, this is definately worth a shot.

01-13-2006 02:36:45 | More by casualbeerman
Photo of Brodirt

New York

3.88/5  rDev +13.8%

Poured out red like rust. Nice color but thin looking, thin head too. Come to think of it thin carbonation and mouth feel too.

Smell was mild malt sweetness with nothing standing out.

Taste was smooh malt sweetness again, a bit of fruity hopiness that was quite nice and unexpected considering these guys IPA is not too hoppy.

Mouthfeel was thin to medium texture, light carbonation and smooth going down.

All in all an easy beer to drink. In fact it drank like a flavorful mass produced american lager and with that ease and the 5.8 alcohol content I can see this as being a beer that would get me in trouble.

01-04-2006 00:52:47 | More by Brodirt
Photo of scruffwhor


3.65/5  rDev +7%

Appearance- Light, quickly dissipating head. Tawny-amber coloer bitter. Hint of lacing.

Smell- A bit of hops, but a surprising wiff of bananas.

Taste- A very estery bananas, and hops flavor throughout. Inly subtle hints of malt.

Mouthfeel- A crisp, light palate excentuauated by hops.

Drinkability- A little too sweet for a ESB but definetly dynamic.

12-21-2005 23:48:12 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of ski271


3.38/5  rDev -0.9%

Pours a clear, medium brownish-amber with a small, off-white, frothy head with good retention. The smell is moderately malty with light hops, light bread, some caramel and herbs, and a hint of milk chocolate? The taste is more like what I expect from an ESB, much larger herbal hop presence and a moderately bitter finish. It has a medium body, dry texture and soft carbonation. Slightly above average as far as ESBs go, but nothing special.

12-21-2005 21:06:55 | More by ski271
Photo of charlatan

United Kingdom (Scotland)

3.05/5  rDev -10.6%

This has a copper hue and a moderate head. Very little hoppiness is apparent from the sniff test which suggests this will be biscuity malt with a little fruitiness all the way.

Upon tasting I realise that there is a subtle bitterness underlying the rather pleasant malty flavour. To be a good ESB the hops would have to have much more impact. This is passable but ultimately rather humdrum. There is a slightly creamy finish.

12-13-2005 06:10:25 | More by charlatan
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,718 ratings.