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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,855 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,855
Reviews: 829
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 21
Gots: 165 | 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: 1,855 | Reviews: 829 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Rootdog316
3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Overall this is a pretty good beer. The hops are almost more of a spice, an accent, though, not the only featured, predominant flavor. The body is medium to full, with an oily/buttery slipperyness, smoothness, that makes it drink faster than it should with its bitterness level. There is yet more buttery diacetyl flavor in the aftertaste, and it lingers almost as long as the heavy curtain of lace on the sides of the glass.All in all, this is a clean, crisp and well-brewed beer

Photo of pibbxtrasucks
2.8/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

beer is a very clear, light amber color. has a weak, white head that doesn't last very long. has a malty smell (the kind of malty smell you get from a shake) slight hint of citrus... very little hop aroma. Tastes thicker than I expected it to. Very malty with a bitter after taste. a BIT over carbonated I think. overall its a decent beer. not too impressed, but its my first ESB, so I have nothing to compare it to. I think after a another one or two it may start growing on me, as it is very easy to drink.

Photo of silver0rlead
3.31/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color with a thick biege head that retains well. The aroma has some hints of caramel, but is mostly floral hops and a touch of breadiness. The flavor is also initially sweet with caramel malt flavors, followed by a floral and mineraly hops flavor, some toasted bread and some fruity esters. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy and drinkability is good. A descent ESB, pales in comparisson to Fuller's but like half the price.

Photo of MiScusi
3.34/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Seemed a bit similar to their IPA. Not great, not horrible. The Willamette & Tettnang hops gave it an interesting bittering character, although i'm not sure I liked it that much. You do get some malt up from but the hop bitterness really overshadowed any malt character.

Photo of BDTyre
3.06/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ehhh...not one of the best bitters I've had. Starts off promising, but quickly falls apart. Rather boring amber colour with a decent head on it. Smells malty, fruity almost like sweet bread. Not much hops in there. It comes off almost as a cream or blonde, definitely not an ESB.

The taste doesn't help much. It tastes like a blonde. Light malts, very little hops. Fruity, yeasty taste. No aftertaste.

On the plus side, this doesn't have a harsh feel on the tongue; in fact it is rather gentle and pleasing. Drinkable, but why bother? At least it was cheap.

Photo of Westsidethreat
2.63/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Golden color with an orange hue...copper. Off white head curls around the edges of the glass. Healthy layer covers the top of the body.

S: Malty and sweet like strawberries. Bready. Stale caramel.

T: This is not the same beer I group up with. Tastes like tap water with flavoring. Dull strawberry maltiness with old adjunct grains. Flows to a dry hop flavor around the middle of the tongue then finishes with a somewhat artificially nutrasweet flavor that stays in the mouth for a while

M: Decent and unobtrusive.

D: Where is the buttery flavor that this beer once had? What a shame.

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

12oz bottle poured into a chalice. Thin, off-white lacing atop a cloudy, dull copper body.

To the nose, half-hearted fruits and bread like sweetness. The expected floralness is absent.

In the mouth, buttery sweet - with just a hint of hop backbone. The fruityness is apparent - but can't overcome the candylike nature.

The feel is smooth and creamy - but thin. A nice carbonation keeps its tight and drinkable, but there is no substance to speak of. It finishes semi-dry, but with the same caramel undertones that are up front.

Musings: Bought this stuff dirt cheap at Costco. It's not a total failure - but has major misgivings and some might be downright scared by the taste.

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

This is the new style bottle, as is pictured on the Redhook ESB from New Hampshire, but it says right on the bottle that it was bottled in Washington State.

Solid ESB pour, bright brass amber--like a freshly polished doorknob--with a surprisingly retentive white head.

Smells of dull caramel and surprisingly potent dry cascade hops. The hops are rather plain--no fruit or spice complexities--but for a bitter they are quite strong.

The dull, sweet caramel is present in the start, followed by a rush of the surprisingly strong, dry hops, and then ending sadly on an adjunct grassiness and a bittersweet rice flavor that's similar to that of Bud or original Coors.

The poor finish is hardly enough to ruin the flavor, but it doesn't help it. I really don't know what to expect from a good ESB since the majority of the "authentic" ones imported here from the UK taste either stale or pasteurized by the time I get to drinking them, and since the majority of the ones made in the USA are usually just bland APAs. Reedhook seems to capture what I've been led to believe is a solid ESB: flavorful with a definite hop character, but not so bitter as to inhibit pounding.

Photo of Phocion
3.22/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Nice copper color, though this beer looks a little thin. Very little head which quickly fades into nothing, and only minor lacing left around the pint glass. Overall, doesn't look too impressive.

Mild, but sweet scent. Light, citrusy hops and caramel.

Wow, have to admit it tastes much better than I was expecting. Not too complex, but nicely balanced between the bitter hops and the creamy caramel. Unfortunately, that's it.

Medium-bodied, with the caramel adding in a bit of a creamy feel on the palate.

At 5.7%, this is a little over-the-top for a true session beer, but nonetheless it is rather easily drinkable. I could see myself bringing a couple 6-packs along to a party when I don't feel like drinking the macro swill they have there.

Photo of jwc215
3.08/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured an orange/amber - somewhat thin - with a decent head that became a lacing after a short while.
The smell was of something sweet that I couldn't quite place - sugary - caramel, maybe - not bad, but a bit thin and one-dimensional.
The taste was of a sweet water - like rock candy almost - oddly enough though - the sweetness was not in the aftertaste - which was more bitter, if anything. It was a bit too watery and thin. Nothing was bad about it, but nothing nearly as good as the English ESB's (such as Fuller's or American micros I've had.)
There were no hop flavors while I was drinking it - all malt, but a slight hint of hops became apparent in the aftertaste.
It's too sweet to be a good example of this style. While it wasn't terrible, nothing is telling me to grab another.

Photo of trep
4.05/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Copper hue sitting below a white creamy head that somewhat surprised me. Not bad.

Smells like rich caramel and roasted malts.

A super-tasty beer for what it is. A little hop bitterness and alot of sweet roasty malts. Some caramel and some earthy wood taste.

Carbonation feels about right as does the thickness. Not thick, but not thin.

A session beer for the masses. I could easily drink these all night and not get bored.

Photo of guitarmage
3.36/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Slightly cloudy dark orange with minimal head, left a few rings around the glass but nothing to speak of. The beer does not look especially inviting.

Smell: Pleasant hoppy aroma, cascade hops. Maybe a little grassy, not very malty, tasty.

Taste: Lightly toasty malt flavors but predominantly tasty citrus hop flavors that are not overbearing and stay on the tongue like bitter melon.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, not creamy nor watery. Well balanced.

Drinkability: I like this beer, it has a nice raw quality to it. It's a great hoppy beer but also very drinkable for any occasion. It would be good with some hot wings to cut through the spice but not overwhelm the meal.

Photo of barknee
4.19/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Redhook ESB is a delightful brew pouring a rich reddish-gold color with a generous foamy head. Aromas of “WHOPPERS”, you know… those malted milk balls....asends from the glass with a soft hop binding wrapped tightly around it. Malty and moderately rich, this brew drinks very well, as the balance of the slightly roasted malt and the ample hops make for uninhibited quaffing. Slightly dry and crisp, this ESB is user friendly and insistent on turning this tasting into a session. Perhaps lacking some of the hardware of the finest British examples, this brew deserves applause for what it is; a truly decent version of the real McCoy.

Photo of taez555
3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a bright amber/tan/golden body with a decent sized white head.

Nose was mild with hints of grain, caramel and very mild citrus hops.

Taste is light to medium bodied. Starts creamy with a nice caramel, biscuit and grain malt taste and ends with a more pronounced bitterness. Rather buttery and slick as well. There's a mild and present earthy and milder citrus hop taste. Mild grapefruit peel and even a bit salty. It's never over the top by always there.

Overall a nice simple session beer. Not an in your face English ESB, just a nice beer to chill and have a burger with at backyard BBQ.

Photo of mmmbeer
3.22/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz., bottled on 3/7/06 with the newer (east coast?) label, so I figured I should review it under the New Hampshire brewery because labels correspond. It pours a clear amber/orange color with decent lacing, but overall looks a little thin. There are mild notes of piney/citric hops with some sweet malt in the aroma along with a medium body that is slightly drying and a taste that reflects the aroma, leaving a medium bitterness and finish. It's a drinkable beer that is probably good for sessions, but doesn't seem too complex and might have lost some of its bitterness since the last time I've tried it, including both bottled and on-tap. Maybe they changed the recipe or maybe the NH brewery isn't up to par with the Washington one, who knows?

Photo of afordney
3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a copper color, thick creamy two finger head dissapeared quickly but looked great out of the bottle.

Smells fruity with hints of chocolate, slight scent of alcohol.

Tastes of fruit and chocolate, finishes light and fruity

Balanced hoppy bitterness and malty sweetness

A good balanced and tasty beer, looks refreshing coming out of the bottle but gives very complex flavors in the smell and taste.

Photo of IntriqKen
2.81/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Served on tap into a plastic pint glass.
Gorgeous orangish yellow color with a solid, thick 1/2 head that melted very slowly to very, very thick lacing.
Aroma was sort of cloying sweet malt...no noticable citrus or hops.
Taste was much like the aroma...cloyingly sweet malt without the balancing or contrasting hops I get from this same beer in the bottle.
Mouthfeel was thick and creamy, with little aftertaste. Again, bottle version leaves a nice crisp citrus hops in the mouth.
Disappointing on tap...didn't finish my pint by the time the meal was done and didn't hang around afterwards to finish it either.

Photo of JayTheFinn
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had one of these on tap at the Winchester on Main Street in Ventura.

It had a nice orangey golden look to it with a small white head. Had a decent orange scent. And the taste was citrusy/orangey as well. It's not too strong a taste. Sometimes these ESBs can get too fruity for me, but these one wasn't overwhelming in that regard. This would be an easy, sunny day drinker.

Photo of MSchae1017
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer was tasted in a pint glass from a bottle.

This beer poured a light orange with a foamy white head that takes a while to dissipate and leaves a little lace. The smell is all pale malts. The taste also hits you with the malts and comes acorss very sweet. There is a tad bit of bitterness at the end. The beer has a good mouthfeel with the thickness and the carbonation. Overall, not too drinkable. I am really not crazy about the sweetness.

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

Pours a very clear pale copper with a thin ivory head. Not much lace to speak of. Smells of fruity malt and light sweet hops.

Tastes of fruity biscuity malt. Low level herbal hops that build as you drink. Mouth is lightly sticky. Pretty easy drinker. Not bad, hits the spot.

Photo of psinderson
3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured mostly clear from a bottle.

Appearance: Light amber color with 1 finger white head...good lacing.

Smell: Roasty, malty, definitely sweet aroma. Rice??

Taste: The sweet, malty character hits you hard up front and finishes with a background bitterness that doesn't quite balance the sweetness for me.

Mouthfeel: Good body - I'd say medium to full. Nice carbonation feel.

Drinkability: A few sips and the sweetness seems to overpower me a bit. Not sure if I could drink more than 1 serving at a time. I'm new to the style but it just seemed a little extreme to me.

Photo of shererjt
3.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured a copper clear color and somewhat watery looking. Head was billowy and white. Aroma was crystal malt with some fruit, maybe some hints of raisins or dates, and some yeast in the background as well. Flavor leaned to the malt but had a fair amount of hop flavor that was somewhat citrusy. The bitterness was appropriately balanced. Could use a bit more flavor, but oh well. Body was lacking a bit; a little on the thin side, especially for an ESB. Drinkability, though, is quite good. Be careful, as it will sneak up on you.

Not a bad American ESB, but I like the British ones I've had much better. Also probably my least favorite of the Redhook beers I've tried, but here in Houston it's by far the easiest to find.

Photo of KyleVick4
3.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz
Gotta say, this ws the beer that weaned me into microbrews, even though in retrospect its not much of a micro itself anymore...

A: Looks good, light amber color with a few bubbles climbing the beer. Nice head that doesnt last that long. But leaves wonderful lacing all over the glass.

S: Not much of any smell. Maybe some malt? Mostly water. I do catch a tinge of sweetness here and there. At least its not offensive, I guess...

T: The crispness of the malt is dominant. A little sweet followed by a tinge of hops. Tough to find the hops though. A taste of mild carmel somewhere in the mix also. I am biased towards this beer because it reminds me of good times and was my gateway beer out of the BMC world.

M: Light bodied, perfect carbonation enough to feel, but not a dominating precense.

D: Superb. A true session beer and at 5.77% abv it will ensure a good time... I would drink this until I couldnt see and my liver begged me to take a break in my younger years (read: yesterday)

Photo of sammy44
3.94/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not my favorite ESB but a good one to have around.

Pours a light brownish color that is perfectly transparent. Has a fairly dense half inch head that fades and laces the glass on the way down. No carbonation bubbles (which holds to the style).

Smells great with lots of toastiness to the malts. Not a coffee roast smell, more like the roasted smell you get when toasting rice for a pilaf.

Taste has some toasty sweet elements with some good hops on the back end. Hops are more of the piney type than the citrusy type. Good balance. A little metallic wang aftertaste.

Feels a little heavy in the mouth. Would be a good session beer but for the metallic taste.

Photo of pweis909
3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appears a brilliantly translucent amber, with a large head that thins out soon after pouring.

Smell is malt and fruitiness. No hop aromas.

A balanced malt carries the flavor, with a light but sufficient bitterness. Otherwise, no hop character.

This is a good tasty thirst quencher, simple and undemanding.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,855 ratings.