Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and 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.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Redhook ESB - Redhook Ale Brewery

Not Rated.
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Educational use only; do not reuse.

841 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 841
Hads: 1,983
Avg: 3.42
pDev: 21.93%
Wants: 28
Gots: 228 | 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
View: Beers (47) | 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: 841 | Hads: 1,983
Photo of tigg924
3.36/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: dark gold in color, 1/3 inch head, clear, high carbonation

Smell: toasted malt, toffee, woodsy

Taste: meadow, grain, toffee, light lemon and citrus hops

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, high carbonation, nice combo of bitter and sweet

Overall: Nice, complex, and malty with enough hops to add some balance. A solid, if not spectacular beer that is better than most of the rest of what I have had from Redhook. I could do a couple on a hot day but am in no rush to get it again.

 488 characters

Photo of Why-P-A
3.31/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Beautiful, red amber color, this is one of the highlights of this beer.

S: Minimal aroma, not much detectable in the way of either hops of malt.

T: The flavor has much more going on that the nose suggests. Very good bready malt body matches the color of the beer. Hops are mild and in the background but their addition help to make this a well rounded beer.

M: Very smooth and drinkable, carbonation in the bottle is usually dialed as it should be for a large brewery like Redhook.

O: It seems like this beer has changed slightly over the years but still is one of the industry standards in the category due to it's lovely color, solid malt body, and subtle bitter finish. Redhook ESB is an easy drinking session beer prefect for any activity or season.

 761 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.54/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

One of the last from my foray into the Knickerbocker Hotel's cooler for which I will forever be ashamed. Don't do it to yourself!

From the bottle: "Original Ale"; "Liquid goodness since 1982."

My pour created a finger of bubbly, tawny head with decent retention. Color was a slightly hazy deep amber. The nose emanated a definite malty sweetness with an underlying pine-like hoppiness and it occurred to me that this could be fun. Mouthfeel was medium and the malt and the hops seemed to be having a wrestling match on my tongue to see which would emerge dominant. I am going to declare it a pleasant draw. I could not discern between one or the other, especially on the finish. I would totally enjoy this if they put it in a CAN. I liked it from the bottle, but I would be hard-pressed to choose it for away from home in this format.

 836 characters

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a shaker pint glass.

The beer is a light amber color. A foamy white head recedes to a wisp with light white rings of lacing on the glass. The aroma is subdued, but toasty grains and a faint tea-like hop presence emerge. The beer tastes of toasted grains, biscuits, and caramel malt sweetness up front. Some floral and citrusy hops bring in balance on the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to light. Overall, this isn't world class, but it's balanced and complex enough to not regret a 6 pack.

 503 characters

Photo of StJamesGate
3.58/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tawny pale body with creamy white foam that settles to film that laces.
Buttery toffee with tea leaf and some orange rind on the nose.
White fruit scone, a big apricot jam hit and orange and cedar hops.
Spicy finish and drying linger.
Light to medium, slight chew, round.

Biggest surprise about this is it does a fair job of reproducing the taste of Maris Otter. The hops hit is very EKG, too. But in the end it's too thin, veers form too sweet to too spicy as it goes cold to warm (extremes, rather than balance) and just doesn't hit the nuance of an English ale.

I could see where it hung around since the 80s, when there was nothing else like it (fresh, anyway) but this isn't anything more than average - as an amber or a special bitter.

 745 characters

Photo of jaycle
3.29/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Honey colored with a slight haze. A weak head with little retention and large bubbles.


T: fruit and floral, wheat finish. Very mellow. and Balanced

M: medium carbonation, thin feeling, dry finish

O: Good, but average. This was my first ESB, and from what I read, it is to be expected from this style. I enjoyed it, but there are just so many other good beers.

 377 characters

Photo of GratefulEdd
3.19/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance is a bright amber color light enough to see all the carbonation to come flowing up. One finger of wheat-colored head shows up and sticks around for the party.

Smell is very middle-of-the-road, walking the line between a piney hop and light malt roast. Nothing too over-powering but where it needs to be for this style.

Taste goes down as smooth as you would wish for a session-able ESB. A little biscuit-y on the tongue to start with, but a mellow finish that begs for another sip.

Mouthfeel goes along with the taste and smell. Very balanced, easy to drink down. I thought the carbonation would be a little too much for an ESB on the pour, but it mellowed out in the glass.

Overall this beer provides a good session beer. It doesn't overwhelm any of the senses but gives you enough to think over while the glasses are going down.

 890 characters

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

This is a decent beer. It is an Extra Special Bitter, so don't go into expecting the hop character and depth of flavor of an american IPA. Pours a nice copper with a nice head that quickly recedes to a finger. Smells of malt with a bit of spice and toffee. Crisp and refreshing feel to it. A tasty malt character with hops and caramel in the background. This isn't an exciting beer but for it's style, it's a good beer. A good session beer.

 440 characters

Photo of DerAtomsmasher
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Sits damn near in the middle of the X/Y axis of beer; hops are there, providing a black tea-reminiscent bitterness & beneath that, a ghost of shortbread-y maltiness. Easy drinking and nothing especially fantastic.

Easy to forget; this is my first bottle in some years - a reminder.

 282 characters

Photo of atr2605
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a orange copper color with a white head with low retention and leaves a small lace
S-sweet malt, biscuit, honey, low hop aroma
T-malty and sweet with a bit of the dry biscuit in the finish
M-medium-light bodied
O-Extremely drinkable and pretty well balanced. I am not very well versed in this style but I thought it was pretty well done

 344 characters

Photo of fstorey
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Served from a 12 oz. bottle in a pint mug.
A - Nice coppery amber color with a thin off-white head that quickly dissipates. Some cloudiness, not like a wheat beer but more than I expected. Not much lacing.
S - malty aroma with caramel and a little bit of walnut. The hops is there but definitely in the background.
T - modest flavor: mild sweetness from the malt
M - good creaminess, finishing with a slight powdery feel.
I like the flavor and mouthfeel so I would definitely drink this again. Not bad.

 502 characters

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

A- Dark gold/orange color, crystal clear with lots of carbonation activity, 1 finger of spritzy white head that fades slowly

S- light caramel malt and diacetyl esters, a bit boozy, but pleasant.

T- it's balanced very well, it's kinda malty, kinda hoppy, and has a slight alcohol feel. it's nice beer.

M- it's spritzy, medium-light bodied, and quite dry

O- i like it- it's not amazing, but it's a fair ESB. I'd consider this a session beer for sure. I could see myself ordering it in a bar, but i don't think i'd buy a six pack.

 532 characters

Photo of BigCheese
3.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear copper, almost no head, no lacing.

S: Bready english malts, some toffee.

T: Taste is similar, some brown bread malt. Tastes very "red", definitely english style. Some tea like bitterness. Pretty bland/tasteless, though not offensive.

M: Thin body, high carbonation, a bit watery. Quite sessionable.

O: Nothing too fancy, reminds me of a Smithwicks or Killians. Not bad hangout beer but nothing that will blow your mind.

 433 characters

Photo of jimmah120
3.11/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz no date, generic label

Look is a clear yellow-amber, small head that fades quickly. smell is light grain/spice. taste follows with a slightly bitter, semi sweet, spiced ale. feel is unremarkable and maybe a little slimy.

the best of the winter sampler sans the ipa. after the atrocious pilsner and amber this isn't half bad. this is a better amber than their amber.

 372 characters

Photo of mfnmbvp
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle, bottled on date reads March 21, 2012 so it's been chillin in the bottle for a nice 9 months.

A - Pours a cloudy orange color with no head whatsoever and no lacing on the glass.

S - I get a vague musty smell and maybe a slight hint of malts. Other than that, there is really no noticeable smell.

T - Tastes very similar to the Redhook Long Hammer IPA, to me the two are almost interchangeable, this one having the lower alcohol content. The taste is probably the best thing about this brew.

M - Kind of watery, the taste doesn't really linger.

Overall, I would recommend trying the Redhook Long Hammer IPA over this beer, but they are both decent. The IPA has a higher alcohol content and maybe some more flavor to it.

Redhook Extra Special Bitter ---3.5/5

 776 characters

Photo of mckenziac
3.2/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams Boston Lager glass. Taken from a Redhook mixed twelve pack.

Appearance: Pours a translucent, dull amber color. Has a large, fizzy head that dissipates quickly.

Smell: Has a faint, toasty smell backed by some caramel malts.

Taste: Has some mild, spicy hoppiness up front. Finishes sweet with caramel and toasty malts.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with an expressive carbonation.

Overall: A pretty unoffensive ESB. Definitely drinkable, something I could see myself drinking several of without really a thought. Nothing great, but not bad.

 585 characters

Photo of cyclonece09
3.11/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz glass into a snifter. Pours a dark straw color with a slight red tint with a small white head that leaves a little lacing in the glass. Smells of fruit and not much else. Tastes of grain mainly, not much bitterness at all, slight fruit flavor. Carbonation is fine for its light body and finish is smooth. Overall, a very average beer.

 354 characters

Photo of andrenaline
3.1/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Pours a clear light copper colour, thin layer of head with little retention or lacing.

S - Scent is quite mild, offering up only hints of caramel and some metallic leafy greens.

T - Thankfully the flavour offers up a bit more than the scent with a solid dose of musty caramel and leafy green hops. A sour citrus bitterness lingers alongside some toffee notes.

M - Medium bodied, smooth and touch of dryness.

O - Overall a tasty ESB, but a tad too mild for my liking. Much like their IPA offering, I feel as though they've held back a bit, making this mediocre. The flavour profile is there, it just needs a bit more 'oomph'.

 632 characters

Photo of N3rdM3t4l
3.15/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brown bomber into standard pint. Served cold.

A: half a finger of white head fell into splotchy cap but has a decent looking,I
ring around the outside. Very clear amber color with little bubbles rising to the top all over. Nothing amazing about this beers looks but for a pale ale it looks right.

S: caramel and sweet pale malt up front. A little bit of hops balances the aroma. Smells like a pretty good pale too.

T: I am not really a pale ale fan, simple beers are grest but I like something with a hearty specialty grain bill. Well here it goes. mmmm, opens with good malt flavor, transitions to a slightly sweet note I bet its the caramel malt, and finishes with a pleasant hop flavor. Not agressivly bitter like its american cousins but just enough to say "hey there is some boiled hops in me" but a lot of hop flavor. A little grassy and a little musty. Good stuff.

M: solid medium body, minimal carbonation and very smooth. A good beer for just drinking a pint or two while hanging out.

O:like I said, not a big pale ale fan. But if this is an average esb then I would love to try a good or great esb. Could be my exposure is mostly to NWPA and APA here in Oregon but I think I like me some English Pale

 1,215 characters

Photo of micromaniac129
3.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Has a thin white head sitting on top of a hazy amber colored ale. Not very carbonated.
Aroma is bready nutty malts with a hint of hops.
Taste finds the same, mostly malts here. Toffee and sweet caramel with some ceral or grain husk at end. Hops come into play towards the lending a bit of bitterness to counter the sweet malts.
Feels plain on the palette with a slightly bitter finish.
A good solid beer but nothing special although it is a tad sweet for my liking.

 465 characters

Photo of Cavanaghty
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on tap while on the brewery tour at the Portsmouth location.

Appearance: Amber light copper color with good amount of white head.

Smell: Hops, maybe some sugars.

Mouthfeel/Taste: Light to medium bodied and smooth. Mild bittersweet gives way to a slight kick of just bitter at the end.

Overall: Drinkable brew, good for a year round beer that goes well with many foods. I always enjoy this one, but have had better.

 425 characters

Photo of vkv822
2.96/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle : pint

Pours a clear, brown-orange with a fizzy, quickly dissolving head of off-white. Leaves no head at all.

A bit subdued, but some toasty malt, with light toffee notes in both the nose and palate.

Medium body, bubbly, slightly fizzy carbonation.

A decent ESB, basic flavor notes that are expected. An average beer all around, besides the disappointing lack of any head retention.

 398 characters

Photo of CraftBeerTastic
2.53/5  rDev -26%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Ba Review #204
Served On: 07/27/2012
Glassware: Dogfish Head Chalice
Labeled ABV: 5.8%
Date/ Code: 01/24/2012

Found this at Dewey Beach Liquors while visiting Coastal Delaware.

Look: Had a clear lighter copper color. The head was a patchy coating of foam. Carbonation bubbles were plentiful.

Smell: Light caramel, some spicy funk, clean grassy hops.

Taste: First was a light grainy caramel note. Then a quick bitterness. Then some faint roasted notes in the finish. That was about it.

This was a mediocre beer. I would probably compare this one to any of the quasi-craft brews out there. Like anything from Dundee or Stegmaier.

 634 characters

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

Pours a clear gold/amber with froathy white head, good retention. Bready malt and a hint of caramel, hops a subdued, almost hidden, earthy and citrus. Clean tasting, up front light bready malt with a hint of something darker. Hops take a backseat, but are earthy in character. Mouthfeel is crisp, but thin. Doesn't have the body I was expecting. Overall, ok, nothing special.

 375 characters

Photo of beergoot
3.36/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A decent looking solid gold body (excellent clarity) with a decent creamy, white head. Light aroma -- a touch of malt and barely any noticeable hops. Tasting brings out a bit more of the malt character and a slightly hard-edged hop bitterness. Mouthfeel was pretty light, a bit too much carbonation (for me).

Only slightly above average, overall, in my book. Great appearance but falls flat as far as any distinctive, stand-out appeal in the taste and smell department.

 470 characters

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 841 ratings.