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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

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1,874 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,874
Reviews: 834
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.37%
Wants: 22
Gots: 181 | 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: 1,874 | Reviews: 834
Photo of mooseisloose
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into 16 oz beer goblet. The smell from the bottle was a dry sweet smell. In the glass the ale was rose colored gold hue with a light head that disappeared quickly. The smell in the glass is also sweet.
The taste is a hoppy sweet beginning that you would expect from the smell with some bitter aftertones and a more bitter than sweet finish. Carbonation is good, not too much, nor too little. This ale would be preferrred by the european drinker who prefers more bitter finish. At the start the finish of this beer seemed too bitter for me but I think it may grow on me.

Photo of casualbeerman
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This poured a nice red-gold with maybe a finger of head that lasted maybe a third of the way through the glass. Very attractive I thought. Smell was ok but not very strong. A little bit of sweet malt without much hops. Taste was pretty good. Sweet and slightly malty, with floral maybe fruity hops. Its hard to get more specific than that, I'm not really sure what kind of friut the hops suggest maybe a green apples- very vaguely. Though the sweet aspect definately tasted like honey. The finish, and only the finish is bitter. That bitterness does linger, but its not sharp and its balanced by the sweetness which lingers as well. Mouthfeel is ok. Not too heavy, not too light. Drinkability is good. It goes down easy and the first sip is as good as the last (better actually, I thought the head tasted a little wierd). The reason why I rated it only a little above average in this area is beause its kind of high on alcohol, and I think the otherwise easy drinking nature of this beer could ambush you. By all means if you have a driver and don't have to get up in the morning, then drink up. But otherwise I reccomend switching to something else after one to avoid adverse consequences. But alcohol content aside this was definately a good beer. Sort of like an ale version of Killian's. Oh, since this is the first beer labeled "ESB" that I've ever had, and its an American craft type brew, I have no idea how well this fits the style. I can tell you its a decent beer, but I have no clue if fans of ESB will like it. Anyway, if you're just looking for something a little different on a night out with your friends, this is definately worth a shot.

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

Poured out red like rust. Nice color but thin looking, thin head too. Come to think of it thin carbonation and mouth feel too.

Smell was mild malt sweetness with nothing standing out.

Taste was smooh malt sweetness again, a bit of fruity hopiness that was quite nice and unexpected considering these guys IPA is not too hoppy.

Mouthfeel was thin to medium texture, light carbonation and smooth going down.

All in all an easy beer to drink. In fact it drank like a flavorful mass produced american lager and with that ease and the 5.8 alcohol content I can see this as being a beer that would get me in trouble.

Photo of scruffwhor
3.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- Light, quickly dissipating head. Tawny-amber coloer bitter. Hint of lacing.

Smell- A bit of hops, but a surprising wiff of bananas.

Taste- A very estery bananas, and hops flavor throughout. Inly subtle hints of malt.

Mouthfeel- A crisp, light palate excentuauated by hops.

Drinkability- A little too sweet for a ESB but definetly dynamic.

Photo of ski271
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, medium brownish-amber with a small, off-white, frothy head with good retention. The smell is moderately malty with light hops, light bread, some caramel and herbs, and a hint of milk chocolate? The taste is more like what I expect from an ESB, much larger herbal hop presence and a moderately bitter finish. It has a medium body, dry texture and soft carbonation. Slightly above average as far as ESBs go, but nothing special.

Photo of charlatan
3.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This has a copper hue and a moderate head. Very little hoppiness is apparent from the sniff test which suggests this will be biscuity malt with a little fruitiness all the way.

Upon tasting I realise that there is a subtle bitterness underlying the rather pleasant malty flavour. To be a good ESB the hops would have to have much more impact. This is passable but ultimately rather humdrum. There is a slightly creamy finish.

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

Pours a bright orange amber with a foamy (but brief) off-white head that leaves a slight lace. A mellow, sweet maltiness to the aroma, with some subtle hop as well. The flavor is incredibly smooth and exceptionally balanced: some light fruitiness, caramel, citrus hops, toastiness, and grain. The really nice thing about this beer is that no one flavor is dominant or overly assertive. The mouthfeel is wonderfully creamy while the carbonation is pretty subdued.

Even though I generally go for more robust brews I always end up having this one at least a couple times a year. Next to Anchor Steam Beer, this is one of the best session beers out there. Highly recommended.

Photo of Mitchel
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright, clear orange, copper with a small head which swiftly fades away leaving a small amount of lace.

The smell is what one might expect of an ESB: hoppy. Not just hoppy, but like raw hops as well as orange and lemon. It smells eccentrically creamy. I wasn’t expecting that at all.

It is unpredictably smooth and creamy. This is a rather balanced beer with a hoppy bite and a nice grainy body. The carbonation in the beer is very light which makes it a little more drinkable in my book.

I will admit that I bought this beer because the price was right (they were having a sale, sixer for $5). It surprised me though. This is the kind of beer that I would have to use as a springboard into more hoppy beers. The bitterness is nice, the malt is enjoyable. It almost reminds me of an ale or maybe even a cider. All around a good beer. Not great, but a good one to comeback to every now and then.

Photo of Pegasus
3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Slightly hazy copper color, with a moderate off-white head, which persists quite well. The lacing is thick and broken; there are numerous streams of fine carbonation.

Aroma: Mild toasted malt vie with pleasant grassy hops.

Taste: Opens with rich, lightly toasted malts. Midway through the taste, mild citrus hops appear. Finishes with a slight, but lingering metallic bitterness.

Mouth feel: Smooth and full, pleasant, no carbonation noticed.

Drinkability/notes: Quite pleasant and drinkable, at 5.8%, the ABV is a bit high for a session beer, but pleasing, nonetheless, a solid and quite drinkable ESB. Date of bottling was 10/19/05.

Presentation: Packaged in a twelve ounce brown glass longneck ith a pop-off crown, served in a standard pint tap glass. The bottle is a departure for Redhook, which until recently had employed a thin glass longneck bottle with a twist-off crown. The new bottle style is eminently suited for bottling homebrewed beer.

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

This was one of the first micro's I've ever had back in CA around 1996. Then it was in the smaller/rounder bottle. Pours a clear golden/amber color, nice carbonation, small head, but leaves some nice lacing throughout. Scents of hops, malt, bananna (?). The taste is bitter, sweet, but there's a flatness that I don't remember from about the last time I had it maybe 2 years ago from a liquor store in Sliverthorne, CO. Medium body. Still very drinkable, but it's not the same as it use to be, not sure if I will buy it again.

Photo of xoqx
3.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - This beer arrived from the cask draught an orange-amber with a offwhite, minimal head exhibiting zero retention and wispy lacing. The lack of retention is influenced by the beer engine because I have seen much more in standard taps and bottles of this beer.

Smell - yeast, malty. I think the yeast comes out much more on the cask conditioned version of this beer.

Taste - This beer tastes of caramel and is fruity with honey notes and a tangy medium-length finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied, creamy.

Drinkability – Just better than average – maybe a little better on cask. This beer should be dry hopped. Redhook could stand to be less conservative on this solid beer.

Photo of jmz62565
3.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a reddish amber color,but the head is a little smallish.
The smell is a little hoppish,but there's not alot there.The aroma is average at best,and I am being generous.The taste,however,is pretty good.This is bitter with a sour like aftertaste.A nice full m/f,a total bitter explosion in your mouth.
This is a pretty good ESB that I would have again.

Photo of Bcant
2.61/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

They have changed the bottle shape and label and from what I remember, the beer has changed too.

It is the color of tarnished (but not oxidized) brass and has a small white head made of miniscule bubbles that stick alright to the side. Actually rather nice looking. The smell is not as pleasant, caramels with hints of sour lemon. Lots of chewy malt flavor but pretty one dimensional, hop finish is biting rather than bettering. A bit sharp in the mouth and it leaves a metallic aftertaste but carbionated alright. I think I am being a bit hard but I am really disappointed because I remember enjoying this beer previously.

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

Copper in color. Decent sized head creamy and lasting. Good hoppiness about it. Finish is sweet and bitter. Good beer. A floral scent and somewhat citrus with a decent bitter bite on the hops but not extra bitter. Maybe a little spice in the mix. It definately finishes dry. I wouldn't kick this beer out of bed.

Photo of danielharper
3.32/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased from Target in Jones Valley in Huntsville.

Pours a deep red color with a bit of haze to the body. Thin white head dissipates quickly. About as expected.

Smell is moderately decent, with hints of apples and maltiness with a nice hop balance. Better than anticipated, but it doesn't really draw me in.

Taste is about like the smell. Not too strong, but with some maltiness and apple goodness mixed with with a moderate hop balance. A very well-balanced beer, but not really tasty and doesn't knock my socks off.

Mouthfeel is thin and watery, but with a bit of a bite from carbonation. As expected.

I'm giving it a three for drinkability, because I like it just fine, will finish this one with no problems, but don't find myself really wanting another anytime soon. If I find it on sale... maybe.

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

Pours a very clear red amber. The dense two finger head shows good retention but very weak lacing. The nose is a blend of cascade hops and amber malts with a touch of molasses. Soft caramel malt sweetness, followed by a sharp but balanced hop bite. Dry and earthy hop aftertaste. The low carbonation and medium body keep the mouthfeel smooth, while the ratio of sweet malt to bitter hops puts the finish somewhere between dry and residual but easily drinkable.

Photo of 67cuda
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a good amber color, with about one finger of white head. I really like the new bottle design, with the split label and the design in the glass between the 2 halves of the label.. very nice! It smells nice and sweet, and a bit hoppy as well. It tastes somewhat sweet at first, and finishes with a bit of bitterness. The mouthfeel is good, a little thin but with a good amount of carbonation. This is a very drinkable beer, as it is quite easy to find, and not terribly expensive. There are better ESBs, but I can always find this one.

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.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,874 ratings.