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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

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1,843 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,843
Reviews: 828
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.66%
Wants: 21
Gots: 150 | 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: 1,843 | Reviews: 828 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of barknee
4.18/5  rDev +22.6%
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
3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
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
2.78/5  rDev -18.5%
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
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
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
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
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
3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
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
3.75/5  rDev +10%
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
3.93/5  rDev +15.2%
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.

Photo of Citadel82
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one hit me as being a great easy drinking session beer. The price is rather modest and it is readily available. I will make it a point to keep this one on hand this summer.

Poured a nice dark gold. The creamy white head left some decent lacing. Aroma wise this one has a nicely balanced toasty malt and spicy hop aroma. Taste is a spicy mix of pine and citrus with a toasty/nutty backdrop. Light bodied, smooth and very drinkable.

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

Appearance: Pours a very clear light burnt orange color with only a 1/4" head of off white bubbles. The head was gone within about 20 seconds to end up as just a small ring around the top of the beer. There are some bubbles rising up through the center of the beer, but they don't do much for the head. There is some mild lacing left on the glass after drinking.

Aroma: I initially get only a bit of British hops along with a very restrained caramel component. As the beer sits a bit, there is a much more noticeable contribution from toasty British malts.

Taste: The flavor is rather unusual. The hops are the big player here in the flavor, but they don't contribute all that much to the mouthfeel or finish. The buttery and toasty British malts are a really big player in the flavor at the beginning, but it seems that everything falls apart in the finish. There really isn't that much to say about it. I guess I would have to say that the malt is in charge of the balance, but there is still enough hop flavor (not bittering) to keep your palate confused at the end. There is a mild alcoholic warmth left in the throat that is noticeable long after the sip.

Opinion: This beer was a bit more unusual for me than most to nail down. About the only thing that I can figure is that there is a lot of flavoring hops here to give the impression of an ESB while the bittering hops are lessened to accentuate the alcohol and malt. Other than this, about the only time I have drunk this beer is at a renaissance festival. Judging from my impression now...it is better than most of the rot-gut beers they have there, but this isn't one that I will be drinking outside of the $20-30 a ticket confines.

Photo of MrSeth
4.05/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

App. Bright copper body, the head fizzles out pretty quickly but there is bubbly creeping through and some lace on the surface.

Sm. Lots of good stuff, some green vegetable aromas, fancy hot teas, and of course hoppy and malty wafts abound.

Ta. Wham! That is a great example of the style. A big slap of marmelade on toast! The balance if commendable.

Mf. Well carbonated, I'd like to have it a bit warmer than it is right from the store cooler.

Da. High. This is a perfect session ale.

Photo of mcallister
4.13/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great looking golden copper with a pearl white head and significant lacing.

Smells of sweet roasted malt, caramel, butterscotch, melted butter, and biscuit.

For this brewery you can't expect anything over the top but I think this is the pinnacle of their selections. A very delectable beer, very creamy, buttery mouthfeel. Slight butterscotch edge with intense malt flavors. Extremely smooth, extremely drinkable, enjoyable every day type of beer.

Photo of Higravity
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ordered a 60 Minutes and the bar wench (as she calls herself) pours me this instead. I wouldn't have ordered it on purpose but now that I have had it I would do so by choice. Nice light amber color and large white head and some lacing in the glass. Smells slight caramel malt with a metallic twist in with a hop citrus splash. The taste is not too metallic but there is more in here than I care for I am guessing to help with the dryness. Still it is a good solid ESB all way round. Not something to crave but something to be enjoyed for sure.

Photo of Rezzin
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Golden copper color that's very clean and a fluffy white head.

S - Biscuit and malty aromas with some earthy hops. A little fruity.

T - Sweet malt with an even bitterness to round things out. Somewhat of a metallic flavor.

M - Moderate carbonation. The mouthfeel is really nice on this beer - has a very refreshing quality to it. Mellow going down and nicely dry in the finish.

D - Not a bad beer overall but not one of my favorites. I'd drink this again but not sure if I'd buy it again.

Photo of GuinnessHero
3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Very nice clear crisp brown/amber hue. Two-finger head that sticks around the entire session.

S - Weak for me. Comparing this to the other offerings from ESB, the smell was incredibly disappointing to me.

T - A good ale filled with a sting of bitterness that lasts for a second or two. Clear finish and not too heavy.

M - Very light for some reason. Yet, it felt like it coated my palet well.

D - I could drink a few of these in a row. The overall bitter flavor however would get to me after two or three.

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

Orange bronze clear body with moderate carbonation
slightly off-white head with ok retention and lace.
Sweet strong flowery malty scent, caramel and toffee
taste is butterscotch and caramel with a short aftertaste and not much hop presence.
Some coating and moderately fullness of body, dry finish.
Great drinkability and an obvious session brew.


Photo of sacfly
2.78/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled 103105
Pours a hazy orange/yellow. Small particles in suspension. Modest head of large tan bubbles. Aroma reminds me of walking around apple trees in the fall with fermenting apples on the ground. Interesting.

Taste is rather bland. Candy sweetness muted by a musty yeast character. The aftertaste is mostly yeast. Nothing much going on here.

Plenty of better ESB’s to choose from. This one is getting the hook. Pun intended.

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

As far as ESB's go, this one was a little weak. The color was a nice translucent red. The smell was fruity. The taste was similar to a hoppy spiced beer. The beer seemed fine but started to turn a bit sour as it warmed. I could drink these again. Not a very good representation of the style but overall a good brew.

Photo of jhammerly
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A nice looking beer after the pour. It has a golden orange body with a twi-fingered white head.

The smell is light, a slight hop presence, but not much there.

Taste is all right, sort of bitter with a bit of sweetness. The bitterness that lingers on the tongue afterwards isn't too pleasant.

Kind of light for this type of beer, a little watery.

This would be a good gateway beer into the world of craft beers. It's an ale that is safe enough for a drinker of macros looking to expand a little. Something that I would only choose again if I didn't want to get too fancy or wanted something during the summer months.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.93/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brassy orange with polished brass edges, capped by a smallish head of pastel orange that isn't all that remarkable. It starts life at two fingers and is down to one within several minutes, dragging a pathetically short collar of lace in its wake. This is an okay looking beer that strikes me as barely better than average.

The nose, however, struggles to reach average... and fails. It doesn't have much gumption, even when I get my nose within dipping distance. The 'best by' date tells me that the beer is pretty fresh, but it doesn't smell fresh (what I can appreciate, that is). Mildly pale malty, faintly fruity and... uh... I'm thinking.

Things are a little better on the palate, but not much. Redhook ESB is too meekly flavored and reminds me of an ESB as envisioned by BMC: short on both malt and hops, and therefore, on taste. Does 'affilitated with' mean 'inspired by', I wonder? Just when the taste buds ready themselves for even a minor burst of *something*, the flavor fades away without having delivered the payload.

I'm not sure whether malt or hops have less of an impact. Given the 'quinine-like, divorced from any trace of hoppy flavor' bitterness that lingers long after beer has left mouth, I'd say that malt is more deficient. Underneath the bitterness, ESB is mildly sweet and somewhat orange fruity, but has the depth of the shallow end of the kiddie pool.

I keep telling myself that the metallic quality that was evident with my first mouthful will fade (any minute now... ), but so far it hasn't. The mouthfeel isn't that bad. It's well within the bounds of acceptable for the style, but lacks a decent cargo.

I love Winterhook, but the other Redhook brews (that I've tried) have been pedestrian at best. I was in the mood for a good little ESB this evening. Unfortunately, I didn't find one inside this bottle.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,843 ratings.