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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,857 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,857
Reviews: 829
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 22
Gots: 169 | 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: 1,857 | Reviews: 829 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kbnooshay
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

For the price there is no need for me to revisit this but nevertheless it was pleasant. This poured a nice clear golden amber with a nice creamy white/tannish head. The smell is hoppy as hell and sweet. The taste is quite citrusy that includes a nice balance of hops and malts. Mouthgeel is moderate yet creamy. Fairly drinkably too.

Photo of bigdeuce
4.1/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Yes, I will have to say, this is the only beer AB will ever get my money from anymore. And folks, this is a good one. Pours a rich amber color, smells like a true esb microbrew, very floral. Laces down the glass the whole way! Taste is exceptional with initial malts followed by a hoppy finish and yearns for you to take the next sip. Very quaffable beverage here and Redhook's IPA is a decent beer as well.

Photo of jakester
3.85/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is from a sampler case I bought at The Beer Mart in Reading, Pa. I drank it in a pilsner glass. Expiry date clearly marked on the case, and bottled on date clearly marked on the label. YAY!

Pours a clear light amber with a one finger head of off-white foam. The head drops to islands and a ring, with splotches of lacing.

Aroma is faint crystal malt, lightly bready, and very faint floral hops. The aroma improves as it warms.

The first flavor is sweet bready malt, on the faint side, gentle hop bitterness, and a decent floral hop flavor. The aftertaste is sweet and lightly hoppy.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with soft carbonation. Finish is long and sweet.

This is a damn poundable beer. Malty, lightly hopped, and very clean. Yes, it's 25% owned by AB, I don't care. Objectively, it's a good beer, and I'll gladly have another.

Photo of NClifestyle
3.6/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours clear amber with a big, fluffy head of just off-white foam. leaves great spiderweb lace on glass even before i take a sip.
smell of malt and hop about the same, bready malt first with a grassy hop behind, clean smell.
taste is of harder malt, in the earthy vein almost charcoal, first, followed by a somewhat flat hop flavor in the back of the mouth.
this esb feels very smooth in the mouth, almost thin. it has some carbonation, and gives a slight tingle to the tongue, but nothing out of control.
an easy drinker, and enough flavor to keep me going through the night, if i'm having quite a few.
as with many redhook beers, save maybe blackhook porter, they are fine beers, and i will take them over most typical bar or restaurant offerings, but would pass them up if given something a bit more exotic. it's easy to find, easy to drink, and still has flavor. works for me, in many typical cases.


Photo of maggotbrain
2.85/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer is sort of a golden orange color. An aggressive pour forms a medium sized white head that dies down to a little film. A little spotty lace forms on the glass as the beer is consumed. This beer looks very thin.

The smell has a odd, sort of sweet smell that isn't very appealing.

The odd sweetness is present in the flavor as well. The thin appearance makes sense since the beer tastes a bit watery. Maybe that odd sweetness is what not using enough malt makes a beer taste like.

The mouthfeel is pretty poor. Thin, thin, thin--everything about this beer is thin.

The drinkability of this beer is just okay, sure it goes down easy, but so does water.

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

Pours up ok with a 1 1/2 finger head that fades quickly lacing is marginal, color is a very nice amber with red highlights. Decent looking brew would be nicer if it had a little better head. The smell is almost non-existant, grainy, with some slight hop presence. The taste is oddly refreshing, somewhat sweet, with a little bit of a fruity finish with mild hops. The mouthfeel is a bit watery but creamier than I had expected. Overall an easy drinking beer...should keep this one around as a crossover for some of my buddies.

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.31/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wonderful, copper color leads to a frothy head, smooth drinkabillity, and softly lingering aftertaste. Hints of caramel, frutiness, and the bitterness of the hops only takes a slight adjusting for the novice ESB drinker.

The mouthfeel is the hallmark of this beer. It doesn't grab you from the start, but it slowly pulls you in after the first taste and swallow. I haven't seen very many beers yet with this frothiness, and it has the warmth and charm of a good Octoberfest without the spices, and of course, this is available year-round. A wonderful introduction to an ESB - for the inexperienced or seasoned beer drinker.

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

Found a sampler case at Costco 24 for 22.99. Bottled on 8/16/15.
Poured a pretty copper /red and had an aggressive head of near white foam that receded to a ring. A good amount of lacing all down the glass. Had a malty smell similar to some Euro strongs I've had.
Taste was sweet malt with slightly buttery tone following. Seemed pretty light on the hops to me and finished mildly. Had a medium bodied creamy mouthfeel. Ample carbonation. All in all a good start to this case of brews.

Photo of SetarconeX
3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Not a bad beer, really. Visually, it's a nice reddish brown, perhaps more brown than reddish. Scent is sweet and heavy on the malt, which is what you hit first when you take a sip of it. Too sweet, perhaps, starts with a bit of syrupyness, but the rather assertive hop flavor quickly takes over.

Unfortunately, the tail end of the flavor in this beer has a heavy graininess to it, which doesn't compliment the hop bitterness at all. It has a lingering aftertaste of bitter, toasted cereal which really doesn't work.

An ok bitter, I suppose, but completely unbalanced. The initial malts are overwhelmed by the grain and hop flavors, and the two don't blend, instead lingering and competing for your attention. Definately needs some work.

Photo of grindcore666
3.6/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this one impulsively due to a terrible selection at my local bar. On tap.

Taste was very sweet and crisp, followed by some hops. A dry and clean aftertaste remains. Still sweet. I had a hard time putting my glass down. Enjoyable, drinkable. A decent and readily available brew. Next time you see it, pick one up if you haven't already.

Photo of misterscooter
3.37/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

New look bottle, same beer. Pours a golden brown with a nice head and a good amount of lace. A fair amount of carbonation leaves a layer of foam on top after the head has left.

A slightly sweet apple smell mixed with a little cut grass.

The flavor is sweet with a dry aftertaste. The sweetness is that apple, like a watered-down apple juice or Martinelli's. Slightly bitter aftertaste but not much. Mostly dry and sweet throughout.

For some reason, one is enough for me in a sitting.

Photo of kegerator
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this was an all around pleasant beer.
very well blended between malt and hop.
it was deep orange/copper in color with a nice 1/2 inch head that stuck around nicely.
smell was faint, mild malt and hop aromas mostly of caramel sweetness and an earthy hop character.
taste was mild but very smooth with a slightly creamy mouthfeel.
it was a perfect beer at that moment.
very pleasant indeed

Photo of tgbljb
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured a hazy medium copper color with red tints, Moderate off-white head that fell to thin ring. Smell is sweet maltiness with notes of caramel. Taste is fruity and malty but the hops slowly begin to show their presence. Finishes with a caramel dryness that is very enjoyable. Very easy to drink.

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

The beer extracts from the 12-ounce brown bottle a deep clear amber color with a modest frothy light tan head that after depletion leaves a thin but concealing sheet of lace upon the glass. Nose is sweet with malt; crisp and clean, start is also sweet with a light but adequate grain presence, which leaves a pleasant feel at the top. Finish is prickly in its acidity, the hops adequate in their spiciness, quite dry and long lasting after taste, drinkable, and a nice refreshing beer after a long and tiring day in the desert.

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.03/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Yanked out of a 12 oz'er pours a clear golden amber hue with a scattered thin ivory head cap.

Initial scents of caramel malts and lolipop.

First swigs: Steady scents meet a mirrored lolipop and hard candy malt.

Medium bodied and cloying on the palate.

Last swigs: Bank teller lolipop candy malts. Overall, pretty lame.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

Photo of petercmartin1
2.99/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice copper-amber color with a nice head that lingers for awhile before disappating to a thing 1/4 inch head.

Light hop aroma, would have expected more from an ESB, but pleasant with a nice floral and light citrus tone.

Taste is rather disappointing. I expect a powerful hop kick from an ESB, but this one falls flat. Flavor is good, but most definately not in the style of an ESB. Really missing that hop bitterness and only a small amount of hop flavor.

Overall this is a very drinkable beer, but it in no way reflects what an ESB should be IMHO. Bland but unoffensive. I probably won't buy it again, but I wouldn't turn it down either if offered.

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

Pours out a brassy orange color with a thin white head that holds okay.

Smell is lightly floral, some fruitiness, and a bit of malt. Not a whole lot exploding in my nose.

Flavor is malty with a slight caramel note and a bitter bit of hoppiness. Not a whole lot going on, finishes kind of dry. Overall, a pretty bland take on the style.

Overall: Not the best ESB you can find out there. I drank the whole thing without a problem, but for a buck or two more a sixer you can get lots of much better examples of the style.

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

I'm having an ESB contest, featuring this, Arcadia Lake Superior ESB, Great Divide HotShot ESB, Greak Lakes Moondog Ale, and Lakefront Organic ESB.

Appearance: All appear similar. Redhook is a dark gold, with minimal head.

Smell: Really doesn't smell like much, save for some faint maltiness.

Taste: Smooth and malty upfront, with just a little bitter kick to it at the end.

Mouthfeel: Thinnish and unexceptional.

Drinkability: Bland but inoffensive.

Photo of sagito327
3.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer bottled 9 months previous to when I bought/drank it. Pours a golden color with red hue, decent head loses life quickly while lacing remains. Carbonation remains throughout. Smells more like an IPA than a "rich amber ale". Hops pungent, signs of fruit. Taste is that of overwhelming hoppiness mixed with citrus. Beer goes down leaving a strong taste of alcohol behind. Carbonation feels good on the tongue, making this an easy beer to drink. If an IPA and dark ale mated, it would be Redhook ESB.

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

pours transparent rich deep orangish amber. Not much of a head, but the foamy ring leaves pockets of fizz on the glass.

Smells citriusey, and floral hoppy.

Tastes like lemon peel and hops - there is enough going on here to make this a very refreshing flavor.

Mouthfeel is nice and coarsey fizzy.

The finish is sparkley with a pine snap.

Of course the body is lighter, but it goes well with the beer.

I'm quite surprised that this beverage is so good. If you are looking for a nice brew with a bit of a snap, go for this!

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

It poured a very amberish clear color with a frothy white head that took a while to settle. It smelled rather overly hoppy and just about nothing else. It was very creamy and went down smooth with good taste. I found it to be slightly more of a medium bodied beer when i was expecting a full-bodied. The beer was tasty but a little to bitter and nothing spectacular about it.

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

Appearance is an amber with white foam and some lacing. Aroma consists of citrus hops, brown sugar and malt. Initial taste is a smooth blend of fruit and herbs only marred by the excessive diacetyl that coats your tongue. Bitter hops and electrolytes are sharp, leaving the tongue a bit sore. I found it to be a little too raspy to have more than one.

Photo of KoG
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark amber with a touch of red. Pillowy head sticks to the sides and lasts a long time.

Smell is sweet caramel malt with some assertive hop presence. Very inviting.

Taste is smooth and creamy. A bit sweet at first rolling off into a citric bitterness and finishinga bit dry.

A tasty brew, but the dry finish along with how filling it gets knock it down a bit. Totally different than the bottled version, seems sweeter.

Photo of BamaScholar
3.61/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Jonathan's Grille (2 for 1 after 10 p.m., so really there were two of them...)

Pint was gold/bronze mix poured with little head although there was some decent lacing after I started sucking it down.

Smell wasn't too subtle or complex. Taste is (for an ESB) a mild balance between hop bitterness and malt sweetness. Finish is pretty clean and refreshing.

ESB is a style I haven't sampled many of so I'm not sure what it offers but I feel having read about the style that this may serve as a decent introduction to the style but not necessarily a good example of it. Drinkable, enjoyable enough.

Photo of GeoffFromSJ
3.66/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at Ashburn Alley in Citizen's Bank Park prior to the Red Sox-Phillies game. Much better than I expected, but nothing to get too excited about. Will do in a pinch. I think the two areas this excelled, appearance and mouthfeel, were due to the tap system at Citizen's Bank Park.

Clear amber with good, but not huge, head in a plastic cup. Very thick lacing that kept going and going. Reminded me of Brooklyn's Weizenbock.

Smell had some hops at first. Then not much. Good overall.

Taste is lacking the complexity of good ESBs. This is OK taste-wise. Some bready notes. Not much buttery tastes. Some hops poking through, but not enough for the style. I would probably give the taste a 3.25 if I had enough discrete points.

Mouthfeel: really, really smooth. But seems to be missing a little something. I could be insane. It was very smooth. But not much flavors/carbonation interact with me.

Drinkable? Yes. Will do in a pinch. I would recommend if it is the last vestage of hope in a non-beer bar.

This would probably be a good beer for introducing non-craft people to better beer. Much better ESBs out there in my not so humble experience.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,857 ratings.