Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
78
okay

849 Reviews
THE BROS
73
okay

(Read More)
Reviews: 849
Hads: 2,016
Avg: 3.42
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 28
Gots: 233 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery
New Hampshire, United States | website

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
View: Beers (46) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Redhook ESB Alström Bros
Reviews: 849 | Hads: 2,016
Photo of baile208
2.79/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color and aroma are subtle, not overpowering. The taste is pretty balanced and well-bodied. Good yeasty smell and taste, nice amber color. The aftertaste is a little uncomfortable, kind of chalky.

 200 characters

Photo of dacrza1
3.79/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

DATE TASTED: April 23, 2015... GLASSWARE: Brew at the Zoo pint... OCCASION: a tough day on the JV diamond needs a Cavs win tonight... APPEARANCE: rather translucent copper body with slow bubbles; white head is swiftly evaporating and uneven but soapy; lacing is a haphazard occurrence... AROMA: Centennial and Willamette hops present an aromatic, bitter kick; immutable caramel malts provide a formidable one-two punch... PALATE: buttery smooth with a whisper of carbonation; a bitter finish of a medium-bodied, pleasantly drinkable ale ... TASTE: a nicely balanced mixture of bitter, almond-nutty, buttery base and softer aromatic hops--some bubblegum too; a tasty, mild, sessionable beer ... OVERALL: drinkable is the word--a pint worthy of an oaken bar and some pub fare; a good sports companion...

 801 characters

Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasting notes: Unexpectedly light color. Subtle aroma. Nose and palate recall ginger ale, buttered pecans (diacetyl), white pepper, lemon-lime citrus, some Goldings type hop character. Moderate carbonation. Coats the mouth without seeming terribly thick. Not a bad brew but subtly flavored, does not compare with legit English examples of the style in depth of character. Neutered "for the masses".

 398 characters

Photo of Safa1
3.88/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Good beer not bitter. Usually 2.49 a 22. Think about that the next time your 10 buck 22 double ipa rolled in shit fermented doubly in the basement bomber lets you down. This ain't even the long hammer.

 201 characters

Photo of takusan1000
3.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's a nice amber color with a solid head that stays strong along the edges. Good yeasty smell more than anything, and this prevails in the taste as well. While the bitterness is in line with standard ESB, it lacks the malty backbone that makes me love Fuller's and other standout beers of this variety. It is definitely a sessionable beer--nothing offensive here, but a chalky aftertaste persists and can only be alleviated by drinking more. I suppose that's the idea. Light to moderate mouthfeel, with minimal carbonation. Not bad, not excellent, but I wouldn't be turning my nose up at this in a pinch.

 605 characters

Photo of vikinggary28
3.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love a good looking ale, and this one sure is pretty. But aroma, taste, mouthfeel, etc. are just slightly better than average. Or maybe after all the hype I was expecting more. Anyway, if you can pick it up on sale or have one offered to you, give it a try.

 259 characters

Photo of Donkster46
2.72/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Had this with a sampler tray at their brew pub. Definitely have had better representations of this style. Slightly malty with a weird sweet after taste.

 152 characters

Photo of DoctorEvil
5/5  rDev +46.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A revelation when I first tasted this in college in the 80's. And to think the brewery (then) was a few blocks from my grandmother's house in Ballard area was so cool....especially compared to the other local choices in town (Rainier, Oly, Lucky, Henry's, Killian's) at the time. This has been my standard baseline taste profile by which other IPA/DIPA/ESB's are judged in my experience. Really not too bitter for regular IPA drinkers (maybe for lager-hounds), but I believe it is perfectly balanced... really close in profile to Sierra Nevada and Schubros 680... oh...and Go Cougs!

 586 characters

Photo of hophugger
3.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Simple review for a simple beer(no harm intended). Pours a semi-deep clear golden color with light head and decent lacing. Aroma is slightly malty and bready. Taste is light with some malt and hop bitterness coming through. Overall, carbonation is great but this beer seems a little weak. Weaker than I expected !

 313 characters

Photo of beer-fan-1
4.02/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First craft style beer I had when I moved to Seattle 20 years ago. Goes with everything especially BBQ. Available everywhere by bottle, sometimes on tap. My go to when there is nothing else to try in the place I'm trying.

 224 characters

Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%

Pours a deep amber color with little head to it. The smell is full of hops in the beginning and then mellowing out into a sweeter scent. The taste was very good I thought with all of the notes being balanced very well to make a smooth beer. Not bad.

 249 characters

Photo of leantom
3/5  rDev -12.3%

A little disappointing given what I thought of the game changer. Here goes:

A: Not that good. Cloudy brown, tiny head and no lacing. 2/5

S: Toasty caramel malt and simple grainy cereal; otherwise nothing. No hops or yeast. Very simple. 2.5/5

T: Very grainy. I'm used to ESB's having a lot more caramel (see Fuller's ESB). This beer, however, just tastes like a regular adjunct lager that's been infused with some caramel malt. In fact, the Game Changer pale ale tastes far more like an ESB than this beer. Drinkable, but not good. 3/5

M: Not bad. Well carbonated, glides down the tongue easily. About average for a pale ale. 3.5/5

O: Just OK. Nothing worth buying, however. Will not be having again.3/5

 727 characters

Photo of S_Weinstein95
3.86/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: A beautiful gold with a pale head.

S: Citrusy hops meet the nose followed by a really nice floral aroma.

T: Grapefruity hops up front are followed by some more mild hoppy flavors. Caramel, roasted nuts, and a slight toasty flavor. A nice malty taste on the tail end.

M: Smooth with a slight carbonation that goes down nicely.

 334 characters

Photo of dcmchew
3.81/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Love these Red Hook tiny bottles.
Dark orange pour, one finger creamy head that goes away leaving almost no traces.
Smell of biscuits, fresh bread, oranges, faint toffee, hint of raisin and some spicy green hops. Should be good.
Bread crust and caramel biscuits, nice and rich malty backbone. Sweet citrus follows, with tangerines and blood orange, with a faint tropical note too. Bit of dark fruit too. Lots of peel and a pinch of peppercorn, hints of floral honey. Faint pine, some dry leafy hops and a bit of dankness too in the finish. Nice bitterness, with great spicy hops lingering in the aftertaste.
Medium body and carbonation, a bit creamy. Great mouthfeel for an ESB.
Though American notes are obvious, the build of this beer is actually very English, better than many ESBs from the old continent.

 808 characters

Photo of Foyle
4.08/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1 1/2" off white head. Dissipates slowly leaving significant lacing. Lovely copper color. Considerable carbonation.

Aroma: I love the smell of this beer. Bread, fruity hop spice, sweet malts in a wonderful balance.

Mouthfeel: light to medium bodied and slightly sticky. Carbonation noticeable in the mouthfeel. Slightly wet finish.

Flavor: Mirrors the aroma. A nicely balanced ale. Nothing overwhelming. Sweet flavor of caramel malt with earthy, fruity hop bite.

Overall: This beer lives up to the noble name of ESB. I think it stands toe to toe with any English ESB’s I have ever tried. I could drink this everyday. Goes well with food also. Great job Redhook!

 679 characters

Photo of Mojo
3.28/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 ounce bottle poured into Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass

A - crystal clear deep amber with a lingering one finger head and good retention.

S - very grassy nose with a grain quality

T - sweet caramel malts dominate up front following by a mild bitter finish

M - average thickness with decent carbonation.

O - This is a good beer and it is very easy to drink. My problem is that it is sort of wimpy. Dial up the malt profile about 50% and the hop profile 100% and it would be a winner. As it is it's just another average easy to drink beer.

 546 characters

Photo of Shindelins
4.47/5  rDev +30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is special. The Red Hook medicine bottle look is so fitting for the thick sweetness of this beer. I agree with how many have already noted it is a beer you want on a hot summer day and how session able it is. It's a more modest ESB, but it still defines the genre in its principle tastes, yet I've never had a beer quite like it. It's my favorite beer because there is not a beer that I enjoy have one after the another more than this one.

 449 characters

Photo of scotorum
3.79/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a; Clear amber with an inch and a half tall white head which receded to even surface foam and patchy lacing.

s: Alcohol and sweet malt.

t; Oddly the alcohol hits the palate first, followed by the medium caramel malt. Some bitterness for balance.

m; Light to medium. Quite smooth.

o: A pretty good ESB, not as tasty as some but ok at least as a meal accompaniment. First impression was that this tasted more like beer than most beers.

 496 characters

Photo of Act25
3.28/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Red hook not my cup of tea, despite being rather tea like. I do like Winterhook.
A: Brass, dark copper color with almost no head, and rising pin point bubbles, a tiny lace. Date = 10-13 in 3-14
S; Nose is barely present. Pale malty, caramel, a little fruit, but like a flavored soda water.
T: Best facet of this beer and it gets better as it warms. ESB is a session beer, and so too is this.
MF: "quinine-like" one review wrote - and I agree - it's a tea/ soda like experience, too thin for this reviewer.

Mid-pack at best.

 526 characters

Photo of Premo88
2.31/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into nonic

L: gold-amber ... 1/2-inch head off a hard pour, white foam, little stick or lace; brew is clear with just a bit of haziness to it, still easy to see through

S: corn, medicine, sour grain

T: corn, grain, sour grain; toasted barley, some bitterness that often feels more like medicine than hops

F: solid, very drinkable

O: major dissapointment ... there's nothing English nor ESB about this brew; it tastes like a corn tortilla chip dipped in Nyquil ... as macro-brew tasting as any "craft" beer I've tried.

 543 characters

Photo of microbrewlover
3.12/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This brew pours a golden color, almost completely clear with a small white fluffy head and strong carbonation; moderate lacing.

The smell is musty, sweetbreads, sweet malts, and a little piney. Light fruits and maybe nuts.

If the taste followed the nose it would be great but sadly it does not. The taste is musty and a little sweet with mild hop bitterness on the back end. There is a slightly oily, piney and musty aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is chewy but oily on the back end as some hop oils are left on the tongue after swallowing.

Overall, this is not a bad beer, just not a great one. If the taste followed the nose more it would be better. It is kind of plain, but sessionable. I could drink several of these on a hot summer day. I don't hate it but I don't love it.

 776 characters

Photo of samtrillo
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours like an IPA. Give it some head and it'll be just like you're at a bar.

S - Smells like a liquid forest.

T - Malty sweetness with some hops. At first you think the hops will be the predominant taste, but the brown sweetness takes over sip after sip. Good for what it is, though.

M - Goes down smoothly. A bit much on the caramel for me.

O - A quality ESB. If you are enticed by IPAs but don't want as much bitterness, start here! Won't be disappointed.

 467 characters

Photo of BeerWithMike
3.46/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampling right now on 1/6/14. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in mu beer cooler and poured into a pilsner glass.

Pours a nice amber in color with a very thin white head. Some lacing is seen with each sip. Lots of bubbles streaming up from the bottle of the glass. The aroma is of grains with a light fruity aroma as well. The taste is actually mild and not bitter as I was totally expecting for this one. Very surprised for sure. No bitter or harsh finish as I thought when first opened. Goes down pretty easy. Tastes like a good ale.

 539 characters

Photo of DrJay
2.92/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear, light amber with a fine beige cap. Decent head retention. Aromas of grain, fruity and earthy hops, biscuit malt, mild overall. Medium to low bitterness, balanced to the sweet side, a bit of fruity, spicy hop character, mineral finish with a hint of lemon. Slightly coarse. Light bodied, average carbonation. Pretty average overall.

 338 characters

Photo of a0lbudman
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-hazy amber color with an off white head that leaves a great lace on the glass
S-hops is high, but as the head fades the malt aroma takes over with hints of caramel
T-caramel malt sweetness that gives you a good hop bitterness in the aftertaste, but the malt takes back over in the finish
M-medium body and low carbonation
O-this is a very drinkable beer. Good beer

 366 characters

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 849 ratings.