Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

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1,830 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,830
Reviews: 825
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 14.66%
Wants: 19
Gots: 135 | 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: 1,830 | Reviews: 825 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Truh
2.45/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Went Ballard-up with this one on 8/28/2004. 16-oz pint pour at Legends Pool Hall in Portsmouth, NH.

Skein of initial head with lacing, though that disappears quickly, likely due to improper rinsing of the glassware. Amber and lilting gold to hue with some constant action, though difficult to discern in the poor lighting of the joint. Soapy, droopy malt and rancid pork rinds to bouquet – perhaps unclean lines? Challenged malt to taste with only suggestions of bitterness; however, after warming some bitter character did manage to power its way through. In the end, simply cannot recommend this as a result of its dreary all-around profile.

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

It poured a slightly burnt orange/amber in color without any head to mention. The hops were very much present, but they did not linger too long into the aftertaste. Not as bold a hoppiness as I find myself liking lately, but I was not displeased in any way. Definitely would make a good session beer. There were also hints of citrus in the taste.

Photo of RushLimbmalt
4.53/5  rDev +32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Definitely a great backup beer... It is a nice American ESB... not extreme, but a decent example of the style IMHO. It has a nice full malty, extremely hoppy flavor that I find extremely refreshing. It is not my first choice among readily available beers, but it is a strong second and it's only drawback is that I prefer other styles of beer. That said, when I am in the mood, I am more than willing to enjoy this fine beer!

Photo of Gagnonsux
3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is light amber, really weak head that disappears almost immediately. Smell is hoppy, with hint of citrus, but seems fairly mediocre. Taste is pretty hopped, with a strong citrus flavor. Citrus taste might be just a tad bit too strong for me. Still, I enjoyed Redhook ESB, it isn't great just very good. I haven't had any ESBs before, but I could see this being a good introduction to the style.

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

This beer poured an amber, that wasn't very dark and you could see through it. It poured a fairly sizeable head that stayed around with some lacing left on the glass. It's aroma was similar to other esb style ales but with a slight citrus to it. The taste was a little bit of a let down as it wasn't as bold as I expected but not bad by any means. I did like the hops bite that these type of beers are known for. An altogether good beer, I could see my self sitting down and drinking a few.

Photo of pgroove
4.65/5  rDev +36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Probably the best mass-produced bitter easily found here in the states. You can get it pretty much at any supermarket or liquor store on the west coast. I guess they call themselves a micro-brewery even though they have a nation-wide distribution. A very good brew--its actually my default when I don't feel like being experimental or if I'm at the local ralph's.

For some reason it's not rated too well here and I have a few ideas on why that might be the case. It is nothing unique, that is for sure, and there are many better beers to be had. However, I strongly feel that the popularity of this beer is a huge step in the right direction for the state of beer consumption in the US. In a country where Bud and the Silver Bullet reign supreme, for a beer like this to become so popular and have such a wide distribution is really quite significant.

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

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance: Clean, clear golden-red. Pours with decent head - lacing present.

Aroma: Strong, citrusy hop punch upfront with some citric fruitiness. There are also some diacetyl notes present, which hide behind a faint graininess.

Taste: Smooth and medium-bodied. There is a raw, bitter, upfront hop-punch. There is also an intense citrusy, almost grapefruit-like taste present. The finish is dry with some graininess

Overall: This is a little too raw and harsh on the palate for my tastes, though overall is a decent beer and is worth a try. It presents a very good example of its style, too.

Photo of kbub6f
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

There's one inch of yellowish-white-tan, dense, pillowy head on top of the clear, amber body. A slight red-pink blush. Runny spots and bigger structures of lacing. Nose is reminiscent of grape soda (really). Fruity grapes again in the slightly metallic front. Middle is thinning, with some tangy malt. Finishes nicely nutty, hoppy, bitter. It's not bad. Nothing really special: more like a plain American micro amber.

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

The beer poured a nice dark amber color with a persistent thick head which left plenty of lacing on the glass as I drank down the pint.

The nose seemed a bit light - some hints of hops and barley but not as thick as I would have expected. The taste on the other hand, was quite nice - all the malty, fruity complexity of an amber ale with a bit more of a hop bite at the end. I'd certainly describe this as a "dry beer with body" The feel on the tongue was nice and thick with the carbonation mixing with the sugars to give a real feeling of substance.

As far as drinkability goes, it's a very nice beer but a bit outside my style preferences... If you're an IPA drinker (or even a PA drinker) this has plenty of that nice hop crispness with the added bonus of a very nice complex malt taste with a respectable body. I'd certainly seek this beer out again but I don't think I'd ever drink more than one in a day...

Photo of bignick
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a very nice amber color with an impressive head. I was not quite as impessed with the taste. It is a malty taste, with a very mild hop taste. It does not have quite as full a body or as rich a taste as I would have expected with an ESB. Do not get me wrong, it is not a bad beer. It simply unimpressive, like many of Redhook's offerings.

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

My first from Redhook. I like other esbs alot. This one measures up pretty standard. Pours an orange amber, fairly clear body. Got a one and half finger head that was tan in color. The lace that lingers is nice with a good ring towards the top of the glass.

The aroma is hard to pinpoint, but there is a small amount of hoppiness in the smell. At first, I thought it to be somewhat skunky, maybe from too much light in the grocery store cooler.

The taste is definitely hoppy with a distinct bitterness in the aftertaste. This is a fairly good bitter considering how ubiquitous it is in the retail markets. Overall, a good brew.

Photo of scriabin
3.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This is good enough beer, I suppose. It's not terrible, it's not great, it's just a little on the bland side. The color, head, and smell are nice. The taste is of chocolate, bitterness, and malt. It's actually a decent taste, but there is just not enough of it to warrant a good review. If it were a little bit stronger, this could be a very good beer.

Photo of cbl2
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Slightly opaque copper-orange with a white bountiful head.


Extremely hoppy with hints of nut.


Quite flavorful. The hoppiness that was present in the aroma is well balanced with a sweet malt that subtley tickles the tongue along with the carbonation from this brew. Enjoyed at the 2003 NIT basketball championship game (Georgia Tech was victorious)

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

This was my first sampling of the ESB style, and I think that it might not have been a good place to start. I was expecting a hoppy beer on par with an IPA. What I got was a beer that was hopped more like an average pale. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the beer, just that I think it is wrongly categorized. A good session beer because of its subdued hop character.

Photo of watermelonman
2.8/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This poured to a great bright orange and yellow color with a modest head. It's lacing is present but thin.

The taste is mostly of malt. Hops peak through in the finish, but just barely. I can't tell of this was supposed to be more of an amber, or more of an ESB. It doesn't stack up that well against my favorites of either, however.

Photo of beertaster13
3.73/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap, poured a golden yellow with a frothy white head monster that remained throughout the glass, clunks of lacing surrounded the glass reminding you how far you have come. The smell is of citrus orange and lime, hints of lemon with a powerful tone of hops, a bit of rawness as well. The taste is a super creamy smooth refreshing bite of citrus and hops and malts. A hint of creamy heavy cream. A medium bodied refreshing brew. I usually stock a few of these in the basement fridge, a good ballgame beer here in Seattle.

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

This one ends up in my fridge once in a while, then I remember that it is good to have a “decent” brew around to keep things in perspective. The great clarity comes from the ultra filtering they do to increase the shelf-life, unfortunately it takes a bit of flavor out of the brew. Simple balance of malt and hops with an aleish like quality, clean a refresing. Not a bad brew at all, just not something that I go crazy for.

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

An average interpretation of the style. The beer poured a dark brown color with a medium sized head that stayed around awhile as a thin layer of foam on top. The smell has hints of hoppiness but is mostly made up of sweet malt scents. The flavor is very smoothe and non-intrusive. The malt flavors overpower the hops quite a bit but there is still a touch of hops in there. I give this one high marks for drinkability since is tastes like a good session beer but not one I will be buying on a regular basis.

Photo of oggg
3.9/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at Porter's Pub at UC San Diego in a 16oz pint glass.

The beer is tan brown with deep orange tints at the edges. It's brilliantly clear. There is a soft white head that leaves a marginal lace.

The aroma is slightly floral and I can't put my finger on it. Reminiscent of British bitter aroma but different, and yet not totally Cascades or whatever. Anyways, it's pleasant but not enough for me. I catch some butteriness in the aroma but it works well.

The taste is soft and malty with just a brief hello from the hops. Fruitiness is mild. The brief hop bite gives way to a toasty malty lingering flavor. Very nice. I don't get a lot of butter but maybe I'm not recognizing it. Finish is well balanced.

Medium bodied.

Nice session beer.

This strikes me as a wannabe Fuller's ESB. Only they stopped short. Way short. Maybe it's the filtering as mentioned in other reviews. Or I've heard this beer has lost a lot of character since making the big time. It's easy on the palate, so it could be a great beer for non-BAs to start with. I was looking for a maltier, hoppier beer -- try the Redhook IPA.

Photo of dippy
3/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

If I were entertaining a lot of people at a bbq this might be the brew to choose.

A nice orange coloring with a towering head after a hard pour. The head soon calmed down but left nice lacing as I drank this on down.

I thought I was getting hops but I was saddened by the lack of bite. Too balanced, A bitter should be more hoppy than malty but this was not the case. More carbonation than I am used to in a beer, not a bad thing just interesting. I feel like it was slightly metallic as well, but this may have been the tap.

A very good looking beer and a good beer in general but not great a ESB in my estimation. . Should have been better for Draught. The bottle I find are better at least with food.

Photo of Crotor
2.68/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

It is a sad tale, the story of Redhook ESB.

It is the story of an excellent, subtle, old world, strong bitter; a delightful, understated amber ale of reserve and blue-collar sophistication; a beautiful beer that has, alas, encountered the horrors of intense filtering.

In the interest of a prolonged shelf-life, of crossover appeal from the coors-drinking crowd, and of micro - to - macrobrewery expansion, the misguided folks a Redhook have filtered a beautiful ESB to death.

This beer has been stripped of body and mouthfeel. The taste has suffered impossibly. Never before have I encountered a taste profile so narrow in an ale.

It pains me to say these things about this beer, because I can tell by the delightful malt aroma and the ingeniously reserved hopping, that this would be a wonderful, interesting, highly drinkable beer were it not filtered to insane levels to please the marketing man with a product analysis that shows that the average consumer doesn't like to taste their beer.

It's a travesty.

Photo of SheepNutz
3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap poured into a Redhook ESB pint glass. It pours a reddish copper color with two fingers of head. There is lots of lacing left over. The smell is a mix of sweet malt and hops, but a little light though. The taste is malty at first, with some sweetness. The finish is fairly hoppy. The body is a little light, but the drinkability is fairly good. Not a bad ESB.

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

Picked up a six pack from my local Bi-Lo in Cleveland. Pours out a ruddy, coppery-orange. A majestic, creamy white head steams up a beautiful 3 fingers high thanks to an aggressive pour (didn’t have much of a head on previous less aggressive attempts) Small globs of lacing cling to the glass. Carbonation bubbles appear to be few and far between.

Smell is evidently fruity (citrus peels, apricots) a piney edge is present as well. Malt background is powdery and flat.

Taste leads off with bitterness dancing coyly across the tip of my tongue. Flat, piney hops backed up by those chalky fine malts dominate the middle. The citrusy flavors make their appearance at the end before they are pushed aside by one final flurry of dense coniferous flavors that linger into the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium light, carbonation is barely present in the mouth. Very dry feel here overall. I will have to say I wish the hops were more defined here instead of just so flatly bitter.

Not a half-bad sessioner, anything with this bitterness goes so well with spicy food. The two flavors just seem to open you up for each other. Nice little beer, although I see myself making many stops at other beers before I return.

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

I had this on tap at the new Winking Lizard in Columbus. Decent cloudy copper color with a small off white head. Barely any hops to smell or rather any smell at all. Expected a little citrus or spice...kind of bland unfortunately. Decent taste, nothing extraordinary to brag about. Decent use of hops and a little sugary not a bad beer just not my type of ESB, too bland. I enjoyed the drink and would have another but not when there's other offerings.

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

Ho-hum. I can't seem to find any emotion to describe this beer.

Redhook ESB sits in your glass with a amber-copper color. The head is small and fleeting. The scent is just a bit sweet and malty. The flavor is more balanced. You won't be bowled over by hops or malt. You'll probably notice a slightly bitter finish, but the overall product is very drinkable and would make a fine session beer.

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,830 ratings.