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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 jasonpeckins32
2.94/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a light hazy bronze color with a bubbly head that dissipates very quickly. It has a faint aroma. Nothing much at all. The taste is somewhat bitter, but not nearly as ferocious as I was hoping for. You can taste a few hops and a mild malt character, almost reminds me of a watered down pale ale. There also seems to be some sort of chemical aftertaste... it only lasts for a second, but it finds its way into every sip... hmmm. The mouthfeel is definitly thin and light-bodied. Not incredibly drinkable, but I wouldnt mind having more than one.

Photo of Luigi
3.21/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear amber color with a creamy white head. Good head retention. Sticks around the glass. The aroma is hoppy with a fruit tartness. Sweet malts are present (kind of buttery). The taste is balanced. A fair amount of fruity hops are balanced by a buttery malt. Meduim bodied with a dry finish. This is an ok ESB. For the style, it is average. Not enough hoppiness for an ESB, but over all it is drinkable.

Photo of deejaydan
3.93/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great clarity on this beer, beautiful brilliant copper color to this. Similar color to a newly shined brew kettle. Low head, decent lacing. I would like more lacing on this one.

Carmelly aroma, some spicy hops present as well. Clean, I didn't pick up diacetyl. I would like more hop aroma present though.

Flavor-- Well balance, but I'd expect more hops. Some carmelly and nutty notes, but minimal hops, for an ESB.

Mouthfeel is okay, but I'd like some alcohol warming from an ESB.

A very drinkable ESB all in all, not 100% to style, but good.

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

Pours a medium amber, nice head, and great clarity. Nice hoppy taste, and a very smooth feel on the tongue. Not very bitter compared to other bitters, but is more accessible to the novice than, say, Fuller's ESB. I don't know if I got a bad batch, but it feels like the beer turned flat quicker that it should have. I've only had this beer a couple of times before. I was attracted to it because of their Winterhook (truely a great beer). I just don't see any of the specialness in this beer that I found in the Winterhook. Overall, it's an above average beer that's worth drinking, but not on a regular basis.

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

Pours a light amber with brilliant clarity, the head however dissapates like a macro, which I found to be dissapointing.

Smells lightly of hops and butterscotch.

Upfront smooth malt, good hop bite, buttery diacetyl at the exhale, but then the really astringent grains come in for the finish. Unpleasant and rough finish.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied (not heavy enough for the style) and drinkablility suffers from the nearly awful finish.

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

Had on tap at the Brewpub. Pour when served was very light copper in color. It came topped with a faint frothy head that did stay around long enough to deliver rings of lace in my glass. Clean aroma. While drinking, the first thing I noticed was some initial metallic notes that seemed more like cleaning agents. Mostly the malt came through, and I thought the finish was a bit sweet. I did enjoy watching the slow bubbles of carbonation rise in my glass.

Photo of brentk56
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear medium amber body with a small head that fades to a collar pretty quickly

Smell: Mostly caramel malts with a hint of hops; clearly a touch of diacetyl

Taste: Bursts onto the tongue with a blast of caramel malt; eventually blends into a bit of bitterness to the finish; a bit sweeter than I would have expected, almost like an Amber Ale

Mouthfeel: A bit slick with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A pleasant, if sweet swill

Photo of thesilverhand
3.19/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Well, it started off nicely, looking quite impressive. Poured a nice orange-hued amber with a nice thick beige foam head that left nice lacing on my glass.
The aroma was a little underwhelming. Far from extra special...it seemed rather plain. I got light citrus hops, some sweet maltiness and a touch of yeast.
The initial taste is nice, a good balance of sweet malt with a pleasant hop bite up front. The promise fades somewhat, but it remains an okay beer, finishing rather dry.
It's a nice brew on the palate, and pleasantly drinkable. I certainly prefer my beer a little more adventurous, but this is a nicely drinkable brew. Tasty and accessible.

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

Apearance: Poured from a stubby twist off 12 oz bottle (bottled on 2/15/05 date) into a pint glass. The beer is orangish/copper with a 1/2 inch white head that fell to a partial covering over the liquid. Minimal lacing. Small bubbles float to the top of the liquid.

Smell: Surprisingly there is a malty aroma present. There are some hops here, but for something called an Extra Special/Strong Bitter, I guess I was expecting a more hoppy beer.

Taste: Slight hops bitterness, then some smooth sweet maltiness in the middle, with a hop finish. Very well rounded and balanced. Again, I was hoping for a more hoppy beer, I do think this would make a good APA.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, smooth, and well carbonated. Does well to hide its alcohol.

Drinkability: While I am not well versed in the style, I imagine that this has to be a lightly hopped, easy drinker. That is what this beer is to me. It seems to fit well as an APA, not overly bitter, and well balanced. A good beer for the masses to wean them off BMC. Purchase on sale for $4.99 a six, regularly $6.99. Overall a decent if average beer, it probably should go for $4.99, otherwise it is overpriced IMO.

Photo of arizcards
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at AJ's back in January for $1.19.

Upon the pour this looked to be a promising beer. It came out in a fine white 3 inch head and is leaving a nice lacing. Smell is of malts with almost a spicy hint to it. Taste is very malty with only a slight hint of hops. Not much in terms of the "Bitter" as advertised in the "ESB". Mouthfeel is average in weight and somewhat lively. Overall drinkability is not bad. This is definitely a quaffable brew but one I will not seek out in the future.

Photo of karst
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Redhook ESB copper-colored ale's complex balance between the bitterness of the hops and the sweetness of a heavier caramel malting from blend of two-row Klages and Caramel 60 barley malts. Citrus aroma from a late addition of Willamette and U.S.-grown Tettnanger hops. This balance and the nice bitter finish help it pair well with grilled meats and many meals. Availabile in 48 states after hooking up with AB which holds 1/3 of Redhook.

Picked up a 6 pack last Christmas in W. Va.and this was the last bottle. Apparently it has a great shelf life when kept cool.

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Redhook ESB

On tap at Applebee's. Owned by AB- thats why.

Appearance- orangy/ red with a mediocre head that doesn't hold up well.
Smell- slight fruity/ citrus hops.
Taste- light citrus hops. Watery.

Overall- a decent offering when surrounded by bud, miller, and coors. Wouldn't purchase a 6 of it but wasn't disappointed.

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

The "ESB" in this beer's names supposedly stands for Extra Special/Strong BItter, but it's neither especially strong nor especially bitter. In fact, it's kind of mild -- a pleasant, slightly fruity ale that pours out a deep reddish orange and goes down easy. Carbonation is light, and the head dissipates fast. Overall, I'd rate this beer as above-average; not one of the great ones, but pleasant and satisfying.

PS: The bottle I tasted for this review was bottled on 11-30-2004 and consumed on 2-18-2005.

Photo of Frozensoul327
2.58/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured out to a very light orange color, with a short lived white lacey head that quickly disappeared. Odors of oranges and fruit with a touch of hops. Kind of reminds me of a weak ale, even mouth feel with flavors of bitterness, malt and hops. Has a watery quality to it, that is not all that undesireable in a brew of this nature. Nothing special, but in no way a short coming. Worth a try.

Photo of clemtig76
2.85/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Born on date 12/07/04. In my opinion, Redhook ESB has really gone down hill since being aquired by AB. Very faint hop aroma that used to dominate this brew. Pours a pale amber brown. Very little hop bitterness that I remember when it was packaged in stubby brown bottles. I won't waste my time with this one again.

Photo of scubahood
4.35/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

One of my favorite breweries!!!.

Label says bottled on 12-27-04

Pours a great light amber color. Not a lot of head. I've had it right from the brewery and the head retention doesn't compare to that.

Smell: Classic hop aroma that isn't overpowering. Compliments the slightly sweet smell.

Taste: Starts with a malty flavor and light to medium mouthfeel. The beer ends very hoppy and the aftertaste remains bitter in a great way.

This is one of the best readily available beers that I have ever consumed. I recommend it for a great session beer that is very easy to drink. Also, it is an amazing deal for the price. A keg of ESB a day keeps the doctor away! [Well maybe not but close..] : )

Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.23/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Beer pours a nice yellow/orange like a dark gingeale.

Smell: It has a nice clean, bitter odor. Some sugary after thoughts, but it might be influenced by the ginger ale appearance.

Taste: Smooth, mild bitter flavor. There is a special bitter in there - my friend Ben and I agree that it has a dry, metalic bitter. In a good way mind you.


Photo of twilight
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear pale copper, that aspires to be almost colorless. No head to speak of. Aroma is that slight metallic scent found in British Pale Ales mixed with the faintest hint of hops and a slight scent of malt.

Taste is slightly bitter, with a weak malt presence up front and a nice clean hop finish that is more akin to a pale ale than an ESB, so in this regard it comes short. It kind of tastes like Bass with more malt. Quite carbonated. Body is a bit thin and in general it's like drinking semi flat beer soda. Not bad beer soda, but soda nevertheless. It's good, but I wouldn't want to make this a session brew. Only in a pinch, and only if they didn't have Sierra, which would be impossible if they had this and not that.

Photo of twelvsies
2.5/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

There's a chance that something could have been wrong with this sixer, but the date said that it wasn't bottled too long ago, so go figure. Typical appearance, amber color, nothing particularly outstanding so I won't waste any space. Smell is pretty non-descript. A definate hop profile. Fruity, citrusy maybe, and a tad buttery or oily or something. Also a little metalic and dusty, but not in that desirable saison funkyness way if you know what I mean. That metalic smell definately comes through in the taste as well, and kind of takes away from the whole experience. Too watery for sure. Watery watery watery. I really hate to bash a beer, but this one really didn't impress me at all, and before my beeradvocate days I remember having a liking for Red Hook, but I really wouldn't want to go back to this one.

Photo of surfmeister
3.88/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A really nice brew...
Clear copper, firm, tan head with great fortitude, malty/fruity scent that was slightly subdued, full flavored, not as aggresively hopped as others, which I enjoyed, very satisfying, well balanced, deserves it's popularity, I'll buy it again

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

Light orange brown color. Large head initially, but it fades fast. Sweet malty aroma which improves as the beer warms. Malty taste with a touch of caramel and honey. Decent hop presence as well. English character. The high carbonation detracts slightly from the drinkability.

Nice pale ale, but nothing too exciting.

Photo of hero27
2.96/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a pale amber-orange color into the glass. I was actually impressed with the head retention because it seems to be a fairly light ESB initially.

Smell: Nothing too distinct here. A touch of citrus, a bit of grassy hops...but surprisingly faint.

Taste: Maybe it's just me, but I wasn't blown away by the taste. ESB? Call me crazy, but it reminded me more of a Pilsner or Lager than anything..wasn't very bitter either.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thin..but I'll give it this..the carbonation is good, it's definitely crisp, and hell, it's even refreshing. It's lack of any complex taste or characteristics at least lends well to drinkability and mouthfeel.

Drinkability: Good drinkability because it does go down rather smooth and is a nice thirst-quencher if you reach into your fridge and happen to grab one. Drinkability is the best aspect of this brew, but it is not a "bad" beer overall..just lacking in typical ESB qualities and any real defining character. Pretty run of the mill.

Photo of Tang07
2.81/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Redhook IPA is one of my favorite beers, but for some reason Bud, Redhook's distriuting partner(note the Born/Brewed on date) doesn't have as many places carry the IPA as the ESB. The ESB is pretty ubiquitous, while the IPA is a bit harder to find.

I was in the mood for a Redhook product, while I'm not a fan of amber ales, I recall the beer being OK.

I had a few last night and they just weren't that exciting. They look great. Great amber color, a nice head develops when poured, but the smell is weak, the flavor is not what you'd expect from an ESB. It wasn't bitter at all! There was a mild flavor. Certainly nothing to get excited about.

Don't get me wrong. I'll drink the rest of the sixer, I just remember this beer completely different than what I had last night. My brewed on date was from about a month ago, so I isn't old. I'm on the east coast so maybe travel time ruined it. It just tasted a lot more boring than I recall.

You can drink lots of them because there is not much to them. I'd certainly rather drink these than a macro, but I don't think that I'll be buying it again unless it's on sale or something.

I guess I know why BA frowns upon rating from memory.

Photo of donnebaby
3.43/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Very nice, rich apricot-orange color body pulses. A creamy off-white bubbly head falls quickly and leaves almost nothing behind. A thin rim of cream.

Nose is practically imperceptible, with some alcohol whiffs and pungent malts and a little cinnamon.

Taste is not too spectacular. A fizzy grape malt body and solid, nutty notes. Cinnamon. Smooth, nutty aftertaste. Refreshing and highly drinkable. Very fizzy mouthfeel, a little strange. Bitter -- but strangely bitter -- hops there, too.

I find that I prefer to drink Redhook out of the bottle. Can't explain that.

Photo of moocey
3.27/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz longneck into a 24oz pilsner glass. I just dumped it in there so I've got about 3 inches of head.

Appearance - Standard amber. 18 degrees maybe? It looks a bit too filtered, though not too shabby.

Smell - Not bursting with aroma, but what's here is pleasant and malty.

Taste - Sweet malty and biscuity up front followed up by a slighty hoppy and pleasanty bitter bite at the end. This isn't anything special, but it's tasty enough as a session beer to have around - if it cost a bit less.

Mouthfeel - Substantial enough. Not disappointed, not impressed.

Drinkability - Yes. Heck of a session beer. Not something you want to sit down and analyze, cause there's not a ton of flavor. But it's a good beer to enjoy whilst doing something else that's engaging. This might be a good transition brew to give your BMC friends.

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