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Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

855 Reviews
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Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery
New Hampshire, United States | website

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.80%

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-30-2001

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Reviews: 855 | Ratings: 2,042
Photo of shirfan
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber orange color with a thin but persistent head that left some lacing.

Smell was mild, a mix of clean malt and some sour notes.

Taste was decidedly un-bitter...more of a light and bready english-ale malt flavor than anything. Hops are present but not especially strong, and I detected little citrus. More of a leafy, almost pilsner hop flavor than anything. Finish included a low, but detectable amount of sour diacetyl, which really wasn't bad since there's none of the damnable ringwood yeast flavor here.

The Redhook website says this has a sweet finish, but I found it decidedly dry. Not a bad beer, but not one I'd go out of my way to find again.

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Photo of woemad
2.83/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from a sixer bought at Roauer’s in Spokane. In 1999 I paid a visit to the Redhook brewery in Woodinville, WA. This was where I was introduced to Double Black Stout - when they still made it. I'd had their ESB before and thought it was alright. I had it again a few times later, but hadn't had it at all recently, so when I saw it on sale, I bought a 6-pack with the idea of reviewing them (and using them to prolong the life of my beer stash!).
Poured an orangy shade of amber, with a two inch white head that didn’t last for more than a minute, though some foaminess remained for some time.
The aroma is of sweet malt and a barely there floral hop scent.
The taste is of a mildly sweet maltiness and a very subdued floral hopiness. While I suppose you can say this is well balanced, its really a balance of two really bland sensations.
The mouthfeel is totally nondescript. Nothing really to say for or against it.
This is an ok session beer. Its a little over priced for that, however. There's really nothing about this that would make me replace Kokanee as my beer for "macro-drinking."

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Photo of Pooba001
3.78/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thin, fizzy appearance, but with a pleasing bright amber color. Hints of a citrus acidity and malt on the nose. One of the less bitter beers to carry a "bitter" name, those notes are mostly overpowered by a good balance of cereal and citrus flavors. Mouthfeel is good, if somewhat fizzy. Quite drinkable, by far this beer's strongest point. Not a terribly complex brew, but a good standby and something you can easily serve to company who may think a lager is man who cuts down trees.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.41/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Thin and orange in the body but with a monster head that foamed up easily, lingered for a while, pitted like volcanic lava, and covered the inside of my glass as it went down.

Smell – Grassy hops fill the nose of this ESB. I can pick up some faint sweetness, like cheap sucrose or something, but otherwise things are pretty bland.

Taste – The hidden (at least, hidden to me) malt comes out substantially in the taste along with some decent, light fruiting. The citrus hops supply some bitterness, but nothing to write home about.

Mouthfeel – Very refreshing and thirst quenching. The ale is definitely medium-bodied and somewhat smooth.

Drinkability – This is the beer’s strong point, IMHO. I don’t know if I’d call it a “strong” bitter, but the presence of bitter hops along with a decent malt backbone and a non-offensive fruity sweetness makes this well balanced and an easy drinker.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.83/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on 08/12/03. Slightly Hazy amber gold color, pours with an off-white head that is fairly persistant but with largish bubbles. Aroma is of a hoppy, floral, citrus one, with a bit of sweetness thrown in the mix. A nutty malty taste mixed with a solid hop flavor. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and a certain dryness. This beer has a fullness of body to it that coats one's mouth as you sip it. Eminantly Quaffable.

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Photo of Hex92
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am not a fan of hoppy/bitter beers, but I am a big fan of Redhook ESB. This was the second beer I tried from RH. The first was the double black stout which I liked alot. The ESB is very smooth and goes down easy. This is my swilling beer of choice in the winter. Good flavor, decent price. I have liked everything that I have tried from this brewery. They make good beer.

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Photo of Kwak
3.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I like this one on a hot day a good thirst quencher. Pours dark with amber high lights, the head is extremely white and foamy nice and thick. good bitter taste you can almost feel the hop popping in every sip. Very nice Finnish malty and dry, as soon as I was done I was looking for another!!

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Photo of beerguy101
3.58/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Medium gold color, slightly cloudy, medium head. Medium hopped and malted. Smooth beer, some malt sweetness. Light taste full flavor. Excellent balance of hops and malts. Full smooth round mouthfeel. Finish is smooth and clean. Aftertaste is slightly hoppy.On my top 10 list of 'everyday' beers.

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Photo of dmarch
2.83/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Looks rather pale with a clear orange-amber color. Lots of carbonation as well The only thing I could think of whith the aroma is metallic. The taste seems to be a bit grainy with that same metallic flavor. Thankfully there is a bit of caramel flavor in there as well, but it's just tastes to think to be very enjoyable. Too bad I can't find the double black stout anymore, this redhook was pretty much a disappointment.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.24/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: Smells like fresh bread, with some mild hops mixed in.
Appearance: Golden amber, make that orange, with some chill haze. Active head died down to a moderate white thin cover.
Flavor: Balance is on the hops (it IS an ESB) but some of the sweet malt peeks through. Guessing they went heavy on bittering hops, light on aroma hops. Overall taste is clean, but I noted a slight metallic twang deep in the first aftertaste, but was hard to find a second time. Hops don’t overpower the taste, but linger in the aftertaste deeply.
Mouthfeel: Light, with a carbonation prickle.
Overall Impression: A moderately good beer. No major flaws, but just not very lively. Drinkability isn’t bad, doesn’t slow you down, doesn’t invite you back for another.

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Photo of MediocreatBest
2.91/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

a really average beer....i msut admit it was my first ESB, so i dont have much to weigh it against. The packaging says its an ESB/amber ale, i think amber ale might be more appropriate cause i find little variation between this and other amber ales....its a fine ber don;t get me wrong, goes down easy, smooth, looks nice(redish amber color with quickly disapating head....i'd say its worth an attempt if your at a bar, but don't bother with a 6er of it, as you will be let down that you spent 7 bucks on such an average beer.

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Photo of francisweizen
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was purchased and drunk at the Belle & Sebastian, Celebrate Brooklyn - Charity concert in Prospect Park in Brooklyn!

It cost $4 for a 12oz bottle which was than poured into a plastic cup. The only other options were bud light and bud 16oz cans at the same price, so I thought that this was the obvious choice :-)

This beer was a nice amber colour with a fluffy, white head. The aromas were heavily malty, with some hops also in the nose. The taste was very malty, and sweet with a bit of a bitter hop finish. This stuff is very light on the palate, and the 5.5+%ABV is not noticeable at all. The mouthfeel isnice and the drinkability is good as well. This is a damn good beer, and it's usually cheap too.

Still, @ $4 a cup, this was a good thirst quencher, as I stood underneath a shady tree, right by the soundboard, watching one of my favorite bands, perform a very rare live concert in front of me...

Thank you and good night!


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Photo of brakspear
3.33/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An average beer that is jammed into the ESB category in name only. It pours a slight amber with a moderate head, minimal lacing. The aroma is filled with citrus notes, but not over-the-top. The flavor seems a bit harsh, with the malty flavors not blending particularly well with the hop bitterness. Overall I enjoy this beer more on tap than in the bottle.

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Photo of soilguy
2.68/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

What a disappointment. It looks decent in the glass, witha copper color and fine white head, but when the serious evaluation begins, this beer just can't stand up. The hop aroma is nonexistent - in fact, this beer is devoid of almost all aroma. At first sip, there is a barely perceptable hop bitterness, and a light malt presence, but that's it! No complex fruity esters or spicy hop flavors that I normally associate with E.S.B's. This beer is completely neutral in flavor. I was barely able to finish my first bottle and luckily I was able to foist off the rest of the six-pack on my unsuspecting neighbor.

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Photo of beerinator
3.37/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear golden reddish hue. Lingering white head.

Aroma: Sweet maltyness. Some sharp bitter is noted in the aroma as well.

Taste: Flavor is sharp, finishes mellow, with a bit of sweetness. Crisp beer, with a clean finish. Mouthfeel feels a bit thin for a bitter.

Notes: Thin mouthfeel. Good clean session beer. Not outstanding, not too noteworthy.

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Photo of tavernjef
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is a clear yellowy amber with a inch high head of off-white spongy foam that settles down slowly to leave spots of lace. Smell is faint of roasty malts kinda breadish like soft pretzels with a nice light dry hop backing. Taste is toasty malts and dry hops, balanced together well, a slight bread tone to the malts with a note of saltyness/nutty and a small bitterness lingers from the hops thats quite easy to handle and favors some herbal qualities and dryness. Feel is close to medium with a small kick just past midway. Not a bad ESB, I'd have it again if offered. So far one of the better beers I've had from Redhook.

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Photo of oberon
3.18/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep golden/amber color with a light somewhat fizzy head,aroma is lightly sweet but not much there.Taste is malty and a little nutty with some caramel tones,the best part of this beer is the taste.I have had this beer many times hoping it would be better but it never is.At one time I guess this was top-notch.

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

When this beer was poured into my glass, the head was small, ivory, and it contained fine-small bubbles.The body was carbonated and murky.The hue was copper and the lacing was sparse.The nose was hoppy and the flavor consisted of alcohol, hops and some bitterness.The mouthfeel was tingly on my tongue, smooth and somewhat thin.

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Photo of marburg
3.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Not terribly awe-inspiring. Pretty bland nose with some very subdued hints of citrus from the hops. A little leafiness and some malt. Flavor is plain. Starts with a little malt sweetness but finishes with a slightly grating hop bitterness -- herbal then bitter. Bitterness lingers and not in a pleasant way. A little off for the style, I think. I think they should have opted for a little more of the extra special and a little less of the bitter.

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Photo of goz
3.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear medium amber, big tan head that diminishes at the speed of light, minimal lacing. Aroma is fairly well balanced by some mild-sweet maltiness, and a mild floral hop aroma. Flavor starts sweet, clean and crisp, ends with some hoppiness and a little acidity. Slightly thin body, some metallic hints showed up middle-end.

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Photo of granger10
3.01/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This has an light red, almost amber color to it. Smells like a good mix of hops and malts. The hops and malts have a lot of interplay in this one, almost like they are each fighting to be the dominant flavor. I can't tell what is dominant in this beer though. I notice dextrin sweetness and some caramel malts. Floral hops are there and citrus fruit hops seem to be there. Finishes grainy and decent but not exceptional. An all around solid beer, but nothing great.

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Photo of Rumrunner
2.98/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

16Oz. Mug
A drinkable beer when one is in an establishement where Redhook is the most creative beer served. I felt this was an average but drinkable beer.

The appearance is a nice transparent amber. Decent carbonation. The head was off white with some lacing but the lacing did not finish until the end. A basic smell. I had to give this beer more than a few sniffs. I did not find much in the scent.

The flavor is slightly bitter. I expect more if the word 'bitter' is in the name of the beer. Some fruit flavors and a decent malt. Really nothing to jump up and down over. I little bit more bitter and they would have sold me on this beer. It finishes a bit weak.

It goes down easy and is very drinkable. To reiterate, a good but not great ESB.

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Photo of ZAP
3.98/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really think this is the crown jewel of the Red Hook line....pours a clean looking light orange...a soft white lace rests atop it...I like the nose....Sweet fruit and floral notes in the aroma...wish it was a tich stronger but still nice....body is about right for an ESB...firm and tight.....flavors combine a nice malt balance to the sweet fruit hops....on the finish a nice west coast citrus hop flavor emerges....I'm drinking this out of my brand new English style pint glasses and am happy to baptise them with the underrated ESB...

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Photo of far333
3.93/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Honey color with a creamy beige head. Excellent lacing around the glass as I drink. Aroma is strong hop, with floral and pine notes. Flavor is strong hop, not bitter, with pine and mild citrus. Very nice lingering hop aftertaste. Malt flavor seems to broaden and creep up on my tongue as I make my way through the glass. Mouthfeel is crisp and smooth. Not overly complex, but a very enjoyable and very drinkable beer.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.26/5  rDev +24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A beer by popular reputation that was worth trying. I wasn't dissappointed. Aroma was lighter than expected, but a nice mix of malt and hops (sweet a little, with a little citrus, but also flowery). Nice looking beer, with a bold amber color, medium head (a little fizzy), good stability and nice lacing. Bold enough flavor, with a good mix of malt foundation (with some sweetness) surrounded by complex hops character (some sour, bitter, citrus, but all pleasing). Nice smoothness (in spite of the bitterness) and the beer softens as it warms. Pleasant richness without excessiveness. I'm pretty impressed. May be a little sweet at times, otherwise very well rounded beer that I won't hesitate to purchase or imbide again.

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