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Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,747 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,747
Reviews: 821
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.66%
Wants: 20
Gots: 106 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery visit their website
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,747 | Reviews: 821 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bruiser81
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer poured a rich amber color with a nice white and decent lacing. The aroma had sort of a fruity tone to it and perhaps some floral hops. It seemed to have that grainy macro swill aroma as well, although it wasn't bad smelling. The taste for me was sort of a let down. I was expecting something with a good bitterness but there was little of that here. The taste up front had hints of caramel and citrus flavors. The finish had little hops bitterness but it was more prevalent than anything else. The mouthfeel was sort of sharp up front but went down fairly smooth. Overall I liked this brew and would drink it again but there are many other beers to try first.

Bruiser81, Mar 07, 2003
Photo of Quaffer
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: This is an amber beer with a light head. There was not a lot of retention, quickly leaving just a ring around the beer. The lace was minimal.

Smell: This beer smells like a big tub of butter. There is also a sweet malt and caramel aroma, but mainly just butter. I could not smell any hops at all on this beer. Odd for an ESB

Mouthfeel: A very smooth beer, but not very full.

Taste: There are some light flavors of malt, caramel, and flowers. There is a little bit of hops present, but the buttery flavor wins out in the finish. This is a strange little brew. Overall, just not a lot of flavor.

Not very characteristic of the style, in my opinion. This is probably not a beer that I will go back to anytime soon.

Looking again at the bottle, it is called "Redhook ESB," but it also says "Rich Amber Ale." This beer is definitely more in-line with what I would call an amber. Even considering that, this brew is nothing special.

Quaffer, Feb 17, 2003
Photo of scottum
3.6/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A nice amber with a good white head. This is a smooth beer that goes down easy by the pint. There is a bit of a fruity taste that turns bitter towards the end as the beer drys out your mouth. This is a great brew to get fresh on tap. Buy your buddy a few of these to ween them from macroland.

scottum, Feb 16, 2003
Photo of Reidrover
4.03/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lucky for me some good friends came over for a session chez moi!
I had no cash so they bought me a 12 pack of this..always a session fav of mine.
What can I say? appearance is great nice coppery coloured beer with a large white head..that stays for a while.
The smell on this ESB is rather average..but not inoffensive at all.
I love the tatse of this beer..ok its not really the taste of a classic ESB.but it has just the right mixture of malt ( first) then hops near the end of the mouthful...i tend to tatse a faint dash of liquorice in this too.
the carbonation is not to high so fels good in the mouth..not too smooth though.
Very drinkable for me my session quaffer.
Only thing i am sad to see at RedHook is the "twist off " caps...i prefered the use of the bottle opener.

Reidrover, Feb 15, 2003
Photo of avylover
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good looking brew. Golden & clear with a 3/4 inch frothy head. Nice carbonation. Smells of barley malt, similar to a budweiser. Taste is not as complex as I expected. Some english type bitterness is there. This is a high octane, hoppier budweiser pretty much. Very easy to drink. Goes down smooth. Nothing special, but still a decent brew. Not worth the 6.50 a sixer though.

avylover, Feb 15, 2003
Photo of Mitchster
4/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed with 2-row Klages, and Caramel 60 malt. Hopped with Tettnag and Willamette.
13.2 SRM, 24.3 IBU, 5.77% ABV, OG=1.05454.

Filtered, huh? Could have fooled me...this beer has chunks of yeast floating in it, and a pretty thick chill haze. Orange to light amber in color with mild carbonation, forms a quickly thinning white head atop medium sized bubbles. Delicate white lacing with a medium body and crisp mouthfeel. Aroma is of earthy noble English hops (I pick up some German noble spiciness, too), lots of hop fruitiness, a nutty, roasted wheat character, and hardened water. Taste starts out with very rich fresh hop flavor, immediately spicy, then earthy...gives way to an obviously hardened water character, very subtle notes of iron, and ends in crisp toasted malt and very clean bittering hop finish (the finish is akin to Sam Adams Boston Lager in character and intensity). No off-flavors noted...caramel and butterscotch are nonexistent. Mouthfeel becomes softer as it warms and drinkability increases. ESB's are not my favorite, but this certainly is the best I've had, true to style or not.

Update: I just bought another bottle of this that was in a slim-neck bottle with a twist-off cap (the previous review was a squat bottle with a regular cap). Much different beer here! This one is crystal clear with no chill haze, and the head is atop small to medium-sized bubbles. Carbonation is now moderate. There is now a distinct adjunct flavor, like an A-B yeast strain. The finishing hops are completely different...with hints of corn and fusel alcohols...a completely different beer, and I won't buy it anymore. What happened? The review points are awarded in memory of the previous version:( This new beer gets a 4.0, 3.0, 3.0, 3.5, 3.0. Blargh!

Mitchster, Feb 13, 2003
Photo of Mark
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear copper color, head retention was decent, and lacing was nice. Aroma was rather weak and difficult to identify, but it wasn't bad. Fairly smooth and malty with a subtle hop presence. leans towards the English style but fails to live up to it at the same time. It went down nice so drinkability is there, a fall back beer at best.

Mark, Feb 10, 2003
Photo of Bang34
4.38/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Probably redhook's most widely available and flagship brew. I have had it from the bottle and from the tap-surprisingly I prefer the bottle on this one. Copper color with a small to medium head depending on the quality of the pour. The taste is smooth at first with a surprising bitter hoppyness that kicks in as you drink it down. The balance between sweet and hoppy is about perfect in this brew, in my opinion. Great drinkability and a beer that has introduced many of my friends who's heaviest preference previously was Hefeweizen to the world of darker beers. I had such an introduction about 4 years ago and I havn't turned back. One of my favorite beers.

Bang34, Feb 06, 2003
Photo of Morris729
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear and bright orange amber color with a creamy white head that fades into a thin bubbly lace. Nose is lightly toasted malts, caramel, spicy hops, and a touch of citrus. Very smooth and creamy in the mouth. Taste is sweet malts, buttery caramel, and a bit of fruit up front followed by a bite of bitter raw hops. Finish is crisp and leaves some of the hop oils and tannins behind in the aftertaste. An enjoyable brew that makes for a very nice session beer.

Morris729, Feb 06, 2003
Photo of BitteBier
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A rather lifeless pour, but the bottle was a little old. Cloudy, peachy amber color with minimal head. Smell is pleasant, highlighted by smooth citrus notes. Taste is smooth and sweet up front with a crisp, hoppy blast followed by the citrus the nose foretells. Dries out as it creeps back on the tongue, leaving a persistent aftertaste that's not the best feature of this beer. A popular choice at parties where people are looking for a beer that's neither skunky nor great, this one's OK on occasion.

BitteBier, Feb 03, 2003
Photo of PhantomVodoo
4.1/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Amber in color with a light tan head that leaves lace. Both roasted malts and hops can be detected in the aroma.

Taste starts with sweet caramel malts. Then the hops kick in middle to finish for a nice bitterness. Then the malt sweetness seems to chime back in and linger a bit after the finish. Nicely balanced.

Medium body with good mouthfeel.
Good drinkability.
Overall, a good ESB.

PhantomVodoo, Feb 01, 2003
Photo of zacharius
3.35/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This review was poured out of the new 22 ounce redhook bottle which poured into a large mug I acquired in Munich at Oktoberfest.

This beer pours a nice clean clear look typical of the style. Aroma is very mild, pleasant and clean but I expect more complex hoppy smell for this style. This is an easy drinking mildy carbonated ale. I like the low carbonation that gives it the authentic touch.

At first this beer seemed more like an amber ale rather than an ESB but after a second the bitterness hits. This leaves a bitter aftertaste in your mouth which is good because you can taste the beer for a good 5-25 seconds after drinking it--this gives you time to savor the flavor Because I find the initial taste mild, this aftertaste is a pleasant suprise that makes this an enjoyable sipping beer. Not everyone likes the bitter aftertaste and even I would like some of it to hit a little earlier.

This is a good beer, not my favorite but I do enjoy it quite frequently. Probably the mildest tasting ESB I've had, a great first microbrew to turn on your macrobew buddies.

zacharius, Jan 16, 2003
Photo of BeerManDan
3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap is better than the bottle version. Nice clear golden color with a off white foamy head. The smell was pleasant enough and the taste was refreshing with just a hint of hop bitterness. I do like the tap better the the bottle!

BeerManDan, Jan 01, 2003
Photo of JISurfer
3.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not a bad little brew. Never really tried it until a few days ago, just not interested. I'm not unbelievably happy that i had it, but it was pretty good though. Had a nice bitterness to it and a golden color. I liked it with a lemon in it. Give it a shot.

JISurfer, Dec 28, 2002
Photo of Jarod
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Found this bottle in the basement so it is a year old, but, it poured into the glass a dark copper color. There was only a skim of a head present that was white in color. The aroma was of hops, fruit, alcohol and some lite malt. The taste first was of malt, and fruit, then HOPS and some fruit. It finished up with the hop flavor. Still well carbonated and bitter. If this beer is this good for its age, then fresh has to be better.

Jarod, Dec 18, 2002
Photo of maxpower
2.65/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours clear amber color, bready aroma, medium body nice mild caremel flavor, mabye a little bland no bitterness at all, is this an amber ale or an ESB?, its very smooth and mild, not bitter and has low carbonation seemed flat.

maxpower, Dec 13, 2002
Photo of Reverand
3.9/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours to a really nice amber colored with a small white head that vanishes rather quickly. Not much in aroma but a faint malt smell. Beutiful balance of malt and hops that finishes quickly with bit of bitterness. Overall a quality bitter that cold end up as my next new session brew.

Reverand, Nov 11, 2002
Photo of aaronh
2.17/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours with a light head. It is a medium orange-amber, with a slight haze. The aroma is very faint, but smells of malt. The head dissipates quickly. The initial taste is ahint of hops with some malt. It feels quite thin on the tongue with noticable carbonation, and leaves a mouthwash aftertaste. With the questionable taste, I wouldn't drink many of these, ever.

aaronh, Oct 25, 2002
Photo of Dogbrick
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got the draught version at Promowest Pavilion for the Stone Temple Pilots show. Like most concert venues, the beer selection is pretty weak there. I'm not sure if it was all in my head, but this beer seems to be a milder formula since their distribution has gotten jacked up. Not as bitter as I expected it to be, and therefore probably a good lead-in to the more bitter amber ales. Decent color and aroma but overall not as exotic as the label implies.

Dogbrick, Oct 18, 2002
Photo of BeerAngel
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear copper/amber color with a small head. Very nice appearance. Nice smell with caramel notes coming through the hops. The taste was not quite consistant with the smell as it had an oaky taste (not that I go around chewing on trees) with slight caramel notes and crisp hops. Not very well balanced and leaves a slightly soapy aftertaste in your mouth. Middle of the road brew to me. Cheers!

BeerAngel, Sep 29, 2002
Photo of jackndan
2.65/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Redhook ESB: In a bottle. Nice head, the beer seemed to have a reddish color. Not overly impressed on the taste. Seemed like the hops did their job, but the malts seemed kind of adjuncty/grainy. With an unpleasant processed taste at the end. Easy to drink, just not too tasty.

jackndan, Sep 28, 2002
Photo of cokes
2.95/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours an amber glass with a hefty beige head that shows nice durablity.
Citric and metallic hop note on the nose, some buttery toffee as well. Fairly nice smelling.
Starts minorly carmel, with ever-so-slight fruity esters. This gets demolished by a diacetyl bulldozer. Huge (even for the style) nutty and buttery tones. Nothing disgusting, but certainly distracting. Ends with some salty, metallic hops.
Medium bodied. Sort of lifeless and bland. Not especially smooth.
Moving on.....

cokes, Sep 21, 2002
Photo of tang214
3.6/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This is just a decent beer. Not bad but nothing special. It has a nice copper color with a faint cloudiness. The smell is one of the nicest things about the beer with a fruity flavor. It has a slightly above average taste with a less than average mouthfeel. I do think, however, that it has a good drinkability. Depsite it being only okay, I'll probably end up getting this beer more often now that i found a place that sells it in my area. If you haven't had it, it is at least worth a try.

tang214, Sep 15, 2002
Photo of sinistersteve
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clean copper color with a fruity scent on the nose.Excellent thick head on the pour and laces the glass very nicely. Full malt assult on the mouth and not much in hop bitterness. Decent beer when picked up on sale, but probably not worth the full price.

sinistersteve, Sep 08, 2002
Photo of bditty187
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Light amber color, apple juice-like…very small head, little retention, no lace. The nose is weakly citrus fruit and soft caramel. The taste was lackluster for an ESB with subtle maltiness, noticeable fruitiness, buttery, caramel, and a hint of grain. Little bitterness. Fair mouthfeel... normal carbonation, medium-light body. This beer is hardly noteworthy and, frankly, not a very good ESB.

bditty187, Sep 05, 2002
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,747 ratings.