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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,711 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,711
Reviews: 818
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 18
Gots: 87 | 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: 1,711 | Reviews: 818 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of dippy


3/5  rDev -12%

If I were entertaining a lot of people at a bbq this might be the brew to choose.

A nice orange coloring with a towering head after a hard pour. The head soon calmed down but left nice lacing as I drank this on down.

I thought I was getting hops but I was saddened by the lack of bite. Too balanced, A bitter should be more hoppy than malty but this was not the case. More carbonation than I am used to in a beer, not a bad thing just interesting. I feel like it was slightly metallic as well, but this may have been the tap.

A very good looking beer and a good beer in general but not great a ESB in my estimation. . Should have been better for Draught. The bottle I find are better at least with food.

04-22-2004 13:05:50 | More by dippy
Photo of Crotor


2.68/5  rDev -21.4%

It is a sad tale, the story of Redhook ESB.

It is the story of an excellent, subtle, old world, strong bitter; a delightful, understated amber ale of reserve and blue-collar sophistication; a beautiful beer that has, alas, encountered the horrors of intense filtering.

In the interest of a prolonged shelf-life, of crossover appeal from the coors-drinking crowd, and of micro - to - macrobrewery expansion, the misguided folks a Redhook have filtered a beautiful ESB to death.

This beer has been stripped of body and mouthfeel. The taste has suffered impossibly. Never before have I encountered a taste profile so narrow in an ale.

It pains me to say these things about this beer, because I can tell by the delightful malt aroma and the ingeniously reserved hopping, that this would be a wonderful, interesting, highly drinkable beer were it not filtered to insane levels to please the marketing man with a product analysis that shows that the average consumer doesn't like to taste their beer.

It's a travesty.

04-09-2004 23:39:05 | More by Crotor
Photo of SheepNutz


3.8/5  rDev +11.4%

On tap poured into a Redhook ESB pint glass. It pours a reddish copper color with two fingers of head. There is lots of lacing left over. The smell is a mix of sweet malt and hops, but a little light though. The taste is malty at first, with some sweetness. The finish is fairly hoppy. The body is a little light, but the drinkability is fairly good. Not a bad ESB.

04-01-2004 03:56:11 | More by SheepNutz
Photo of FormatKid


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%

Picked up a six pack from my local Bi-Lo in Cleveland. Pours out a ruddy, coppery-orange. A majestic, creamy white head steams up a beautiful 3 fingers high thanks to an aggressive pour (didn’t have much of a head on previous less aggressive attempts) Small globs of lacing cling to the glass. Carbonation bubbles appear to be few and far between.

Smell is evidently fruity (citrus peels, apricots) a piney edge is present as well. Malt background is powdery and flat.

Taste leads off with bitterness dancing coyly across the tip of my tongue. Flat, piney hops backed up by those chalky fine malts dominate the middle. The citrusy flavors make their appearance at the end before they are pushed aside by one final flurry of dense coniferous flavors that linger into the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium light, carbonation is barely present in the mouth. Very dry feel here overall. I will have to say I wish the hops were more defined here instead of just so flatly bitter.

Not a half-bad sessioner, anything with this bitterness goes so well with spicy food. The two flavors just seem to open you up for each other. Nice little beer, although I see myself making many stops at other beers before I return.

03-24-2004 03:06:21 | More by FormatKid
Photo of Ahhdball


3.35/5  rDev -1.8%

I had this on tap at the new Winking Lizard in Columbus. Decent cloudy copper color with a small off white head. Barely any hops to smell or rather any smell at all. Expected a little citrus or spice...kind of bland unfortunately. Decent taste, nothing extraordinary to brag about. Decent use of hops and a little sugary not a bad beer just not my type of ESB, too bland. I enjoyed the drink and would have another but not when there's other offerings.

03-13-2004 21:03:41 | More by Ahhdball
Photo of kwalters


3.1/5  rDev -9.1%

Ho-hum. I can't seem to find any emotion to describe this beer.

Redhook ESB sits in your glass with a amber-copper color. The head is small and fleeting. The scent is just a bit sweet and malty. The flavor is more balanced. You won't be bowled over by hops or malt. You'll probably notice a slightly bitter finish, but the overall product is very drinkable and would make a fine session beer.

03-09-2004 14:22:14 | More by kwalters
Photo of feloniousmonk


3.45/5  rDev +1.2%

Clear, coppery color, big, bubbly, off-white head,tly leaving lace.
Aroma: fresh, lightly fruity, yeasty, but all told, mild, and pleasant.
Taste: decent. A mostly milquetoast-ish offering of hops, but a vast load of malts, caramel, mostly, I'd say, gives off a fruity taste, bright, refreshing, easy-drinking. Light in body, lightly on the palate, not much involved in the finish, but neither should I find fault from this lack of lasting attributes, for the brew fully fulfills it's intentions and aims, an amiably quaffed, fine tasting brew that can happily pass away the hours with one, and not distract from matters of conversation or gamesmanship.
Gets drier toward the end, hop bitterness is more evident, but not more than mild, either.
Again, does it's job, just...not what I'm looking for in a beer.

03-05-2004 11:33:34 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of merlin48


3.63/5  rDev +6.5%

I had never seen this in my area until yesterday, at a local Virginia, grocery. "Bottled on" date was only a month ago, and it was obviously a new arrival, not even chilled down in the store's cooler. Poured into a Redhook pint glass, it's a clear, shiny copper amber with a two finger offwhite head that retains well, and leaves islands of lace. Aroma is subdued, with caramel malt and a hint of fruity hops. Mouthfeel has medium to high carbonation, is a bit creamy and coating, and has a bitter hops bite. Taste is biscuity malt and bitter English style hops. Not very complex, and missing the nuttiness of a good ESB. This is closer to an amber ale in character, but not at all bad, and very drinkable. I had this on tap about 3 weeks ago, at Pazzo's in Lexington, Ky., and my notes from the draft tasting are virtually identical to this fresh bottle.

02-29-2004 10:53:22 | More by merlin48
Photo of AllThingsNinja


3.73/5  rDev +9.4%

Poured into a pint glass, this brew is an orange-brown, and forms a substantial but short-lived white head. It smells like beer, and showcases a slight pacific northwest twist on a traditional British brew style. The hopping is not over the top. It's balanced by some mild malt flavors. It's a solid beer, which I wouldn't travel far to acquire but would accept as a reasonable substitute for more intricately crafted beers.

02-28-2004 13:26:09 | More by AllThingsNinja
Photo of Southernbrew


3.35/5  rDev -1.8%

Nice orange-gold color, little head that leaves quickly. Smells like a sweetwater IPA for those who have had one, crisp citrus hops aroma. Medium mouthfeel, strong hops feel. Slight bitterness in the finish (obviously). Not really what I would describe as an exceptional beer, but not anything noticably bad.

02-28-2004 02:23:35 | More by Southernbrew
Photo of jwilli7122


3.05/5  rDev -10.6%

Crystal clear amber color with lots of bubbles. moderate tan/off-white head. Appears to leave a lot of lacing at first, but most of it dissolves or slowly slips back down the glass.
Buttery malt smells, a little bit of spice, and a bit of that stale "beer" smell you get with all the macros.
Taste- I'm not all that impressed. Not too offensive, and has some flavor- but that flavor is just average at best. has some taste characterics of a lager -it's a little bit grainy. The start is buttery malts, fine here...then sourness-and a pinch of hops that helps, then alchohol, then more sourness in back, but different...sweet, bready, fruity, slightly metallic- but all combined to one simple flavor. Aftertaste is strangely bitter and bready. This is wierd, because there was almost no bitterness when the beer was in my mouth or throat. Mouthfeel is thin, but oily. All in all, to me this is acceptable.

02-27-2004 21:43:07 | More by jwilli7122
Photo of Joey7F


4/5  rDev +17.3%

I decided to try Redhook after a few recommendations. I will put some cards on the table initially. My everyday beer is Yuengling Traditional Lager. Both of the beers tend to be maltier, so if you are a hophead you probably will want another beer (though I would argue that the hops contribute to Red Hooks flavor significantly more so than YTL). That said, I really enjoyed it, and would consider making this my usual beer if it were cheaper. You can drink this beer all night, in fact, I am going to have another :)

The Alstrom brothers had a great line in their Yuengling review that went something like "Simple, Sturdy, Tasty" That applies very much to both brews. I will be buying again.


02-27-2004 01:08:17 | More by Joey7F
Photo of BeefyMee


3.48/5  rDev +2.1%

Appearance: Amber to light amber with a small white head.

Smell: Hoppy with a malt undercurrent.

Taste: Pretty good but nothing spectacular. Much like the smell, mildly hoppy with some buttery malt flavor.

Mouthfeel: A nice consistency but I don't really like the way it feels on my tongue. Perhaps too bubbly.

Drinkability: I'm sure I could polish off a six pack if I had nothing else.

Beef Notes: The first Redhook beer I've tried and, from what I can see, one of their most popular brews. Not impressive but easy to get along with. Maybe I'll buy it if I see it on sale. Now if I can just get my hands on some of that Double Black Stout...

02-12-2004 03:04:27 | More by BeefyMee
Photo of Zorro


3.83/5  rDev +12.3%

Pours a clear and deep amber gold color.

Smells extremely malty and hoppy, has a bit of fruitiness to it too. Slight sour smell too.

Good balanced flavors, a little sweet with lots of malt and a nice, but not bitter hops bite in the finish.

Mouthfeel is good.

Very drinkable brew! Not the best at anything but a solid competent beer.

02-10-2004 03:09:15 | More by Zorro
Photo of Billolick

New York

3.38/5  rDev -0.9%

Nothing special here, a decent middle of the road brew. Not as hoppy as the style would suggest. Faint hop nose, English malt and semi hoppy in the middle, and a dud of a finish. This one really didnt do much for me. This brewery is a mystery to me, I think there beers have gone to the middle of the beer road lately..

02-01-2004 13:21:26 | More by Billolick
Photo of MobBarley


3.85/5  rDev +12.9%

Pinkish, orange in color with a feeble, transient head. Ample carbonation. Aroma is instantly hoppy before caramel notes take over. A note of tomato lingers.

The taste is assertively hoppy and citric initially, with notes of lime and tangerine dominating. The taste settles down into a nice, smooth maltiness that sticks to the palate. Nice and chewy in the mouth, with a perfect amount of carbonation. This one is quite drinkable, both refreshing and potent.

01-27-2004 08:37:44 | More by MobBarley
Photo of TinusTime


3.3/5  rDev -3.2%

Pours a kinda ruddy reddish brown with very minimal head. The smell is a bit malty with a touch of spice, but not much too it at all. The flavour seems a bit heavy on the malt. It just doesnt have the bitter that an ESB needs. Not a bad beer just something lacking, a bit off style. Mouthfeel is a bit above average, the beer goes down smooth enough a bit oily though. Drinkability is average. Can drink a few of them but after a time, kinda get tired of the one track flavour. Also i noticed about an hour later I could still taste it in my mouth. which was not good

01-24-2004 15:34:12 | More by TinusTime
Photo of nomad


3.03/5  rDev -11.1%

A very dull copper beer but clear all the way through, it has a pocky head and tends to leave great rings of stain. But for an ESB, the color is weak. Smells nutty with spare floral licks, backed by a soft dough presence. Has a growing grassy feature, too. Taste is eerily too much like lemon, a bit fake to me. Roasty but muted flavors combine with earthy but thin caramel notes to create little of a malt backbone, especially in terms of body. Cracker-like flavors in the finish. Even more of is the full and thick mouthfeel accompanied by too much prickly carbonation.

A watered down ESB. Shame.

01-22-2004 02:43:42 | More by nomad
Photo of WetCoaster


3/5  rDev -12%

Appearance: A normal pour produces a dense, pure white head, which disappears quickly. A ring of foam clings to the glass throughout. The beer is a clear golden copper; pretty, but a bit pale.

Smell: Meek. A bit of malt, a bit of floral hop. Nothing offensive, but nothing to write home about, either.

Taste: Appropriate for the style, but quite mild. Starts sweet with a bit of chewy malt. Stays surprisingly sweet until the finish, with comes through with astringent hop bite. Unfortunately, the aftertaste has a strong metallic "wet penny" taste. The mouthfeel is light and smooth, with fine carbonation.

Drinkability: Mild taste + light body = very drinkable; I went through a 12-pack in no time.

Certainly, this is not the best example of an ESB you're going to run across. However, given the easy drinking and relatively cheap price, it's a good substitute for a wretched macro during a football/wing fest.

01-15-2004 06:32:01 | More by WetCoaster
Photo of Boto


3.5/5  rDev +2.6%

I hadn't had this one in awhile, but it is always a good stand-by when other "better" beers are unavailable. This one has a decent copper color to it. A bit of a head. An OK aroma of malts and hops. A fair bitterness to it, with a good malt body. I remember when I thought that this was a very bitter beer. Still, quite drinkable.

01-10-2004 20:29:41 | More by Boto
Photo of littlebibs

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +17.3%

I had this one on tap with dinner and althought it was a sweeter
beer than I usually drink, I enjoyed this as it warmed. The taste
was mellow, light almost but it has some character development as it goes along and most important, the beer had a nice taste. Not what
I usually think of a ESB beer it did have a dry end/bitter finish but
it was still smooth. Floral spice hop with a sweet malt blended
well together. I would buy this one tap anytime, not sure what
it will be like in a bottle.

01-09-2004 02:03:31 | More by littlebibs
Photo of TastyTaste


3.58/5  rDev +5%

Because of the situation, I drank this striaght from the bottle. Has a light body, and not enough of a bitterness that is important for an ESB. Still, this was an above average beer, and I'd definitely get it again if chosing between that or macros.

12-22-2003 05:49:50 | More by TastyTaste
Photo of WesWes

New York

3.9/5  rDev +14.4%

The beer pours a dark golden/amber color with a nice white head that fades to lacing. The aroma is decent. It is dry and malty. It has the musty smell that a lot of English Ales posess. The taste is good. It also is dry and malty. It is quite bitter. The mouthfeel is good. It is a medium bodied beer with good carbonation. This beer is rather enjoyable; a good ESB.

12-21-2003 01:01:20 | More by WesWes
Photo of WallyBoag


3.93/5  rDev +15.2%

For a bottled beer, this is extremely excellent! The amber color was beautiful. Head was thick at first, but disipated quickly, although the lacing was distinct as the glass emptied. Smelled pallatable but not memorable. Tasted bitter, but smooth. Lingering bitterness but pleasant in the mouth. Quite drinkable in the end.

12-19-2003 03:36:09 | More by WallyBoag
Photo of CBFanWish

New York

3.88/5  rDev +13.8%

An amber color with a quick disolving head that leaves pleanty of lace. A smell that was fruity, citrusy, and nutty. The taste was similar, yet it was very clean tasting. A nice bitter taste going down. Not a bad beer. I would without a doubt buy it again.

12-10-2003 12:01:33 | More by CBFanWish
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,711 ratings.