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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,825 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,825
Reviews: 824
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.66%
Wants: 19
Gots: 130 | 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:
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)
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Ratings: 1,825 | Reviews: 824 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of scottoale
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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...

Photo of kmpitz2
3.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 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

Photo of hanco005
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

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.

Photo of CaskofFlyingDog
4.25/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of PeatReek
2.95/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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.

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

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.

Photo of apintofknowledge
2.65/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

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.

Photo of acrawf6
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of ppoitras
3.53/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of wheatyweiss
3.13/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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.

Photo of Franchise
2.65/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 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.

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

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.

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

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.

Photo of Drew966
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

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.

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

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.

Photo of lordofthewiens
2.48/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

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.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,825 ratings.