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Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

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Redhook ESBRedhook ESB
2,132 Ratings
Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

Style: English 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,132 |  Reviews: 878
Reviews by Bang34:
Photo of Bang34
4.37/5  rDev +27.8%
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.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of OldSchoolMike
4.29/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I used to buy the RedHook sample twelve packs, as they were about the only sample twelve packs without some horrid blackberry or ugave or whatever non-beer additive that some crapft beer twerp wanted to add to the mix. Liked this one a lot. Too bad I can't find it around here any more.

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Photo of tippydog666
4.99/5  rDev +45.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm new to Beer Advocate since I just turned 21. I live in woodinville,wa where Redhook has a big brewery so I've been waiting to legally try them out for a long time. I really like the EBS By Redhook. Nice beer to sip and relax, I buy them in pints and will go through the pint in about 35 to 40 mins. It has a warm bitter taste with just the right amount of boldness. A very smooth beer but not creamy. I highly recommend this beer. Only $2.69 for a pint of good beer, it's pretty much a steal!

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Photo of Hackattack
4.5/5  rDev +31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am really dumbfounded that this has been getting such low reviews. I have been to numerous pubs in Great Britain and have experienced the taste of pulled from the tap.... what they call bitter. It's cellar temp. with low carbonation and every little town had at least one pub with their own signature homemade bitter. Red hook ESB is the closest thing I have tasted in the USA to the stuff I had in GB. We visited the RH brewery in Seattle and had it fresh on tap. This was in the very early days of the American microbrew revolution, so maybe my memories of that experience were due to the novelty of it.

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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!

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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 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 ExtraStout
3/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | 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 t2grogan
3/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of tbryan5
3/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of SIRIUS2
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

At first pour, I wasn't sure what to think as the aroma, though complex, wasn't very aggressive at all. The first taste wasn't incredibly aggressive either. I took a long pull and mulled it and found what makes this ale special. For a "bitter" this is an exceptionally smooth and balanced ale. It's smooth drinking and I appreciated the depth of flavors more and more with each swig.

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Photo of Dmann
3.35/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of markallmon
4/5  rDev +17%

Photo of FadetoBock
3.75/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of lordofthewiens
2.48/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This beer was a pretty copper color, with a very small head. It had a subtle sweet odor to it, but really didn't have much of a smell. There was a vague sweet taste, with a little hoppiness. The hops tended to linger, so the beer tasted bitter to me. It was mildly carbonated. Altogether, an uninspiring ESB.

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Photo of Kappakoosh
4/5  rDev +17%

Photo of equinox1
3.25/5  rDev -5%

Photo of Lazaro
3.75/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of Todd
2.87/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Presentation: Stumpy 12oz brown bottle with a stamped freshness date.

Appearance: Bright, clear golden/amber in colour with a creamy white head that reduces to a thin cream lace.

Smell: Fruity aroma with loads of hop aromatics (raw and citrusy). Light buttery-caramel (diacetyl) also lingers in the nose.

Taste: Ultra creamy and smooth on the palate. Malt sweetness peaks first with a nice fruity flavours and medium- to full-bodied texture. An assertive hop bitterness, with grapefruit, rind and salt flavours overwhelms the palate with a sharp bite, then settles with raw and earth flavours. Hop oils also coat the palate along with diacetyl/buttery-caramel, especially as the beer warms. Finishes dry, with lots of grain tannins.

Notes: The diacetyl in this beer is more than what you might expect, and can sometimes become too powerful for the style. The aftertaste is also a bit harsh on the palate.

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Photo of muffguy4beer
3.3/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear dark amber in color with decent white head.

Smell: Malt right off the go then come a little hops. Nothing too potent but pleasant none the less.

Taste: A fairly balanced ESB. Starts off a little sweet then a nice mild bitterness fills the back of the tongue.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, creamy and smooth.

Drinkability: Not the best ESB I have sampled but a nice attempt. I would definitely order this one in a bar/restaurant and occasionally pick up a sixer from the package store. A good entry beer into the style but it is a fairly easy style to enjoy with a short learning curve so don't dwell on this offering too long. If you are going to dwell on an ESB I suggest fuller's.

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Photo of kbt5273
3/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of Doomcifer
3/5  rDev -12.3%

Photo of Guden
2.47/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A- A peach colored copper with consistent carbonation bubbles and a one finger white head. Minimal lacing and a slight haziness are the only off points.

S- Lots going on with fruit (papaya and berries), hops (citrus) and sweet caramel taking the front with pine and bread also coming in.

T- Blech! Now I remember why I didn't like this beer. Up front is an off putting odd dough mixed with butter like quality mixed with pine and a strong sweetness which doesn't balance, this is met in the middle with stale malty bread and the finish rounds out with aspirin bitterness and a lingering bad dough taste on the tongue.

M- Moderately light in body and carbonation this one goes past the tongue fairly easy but not enough to escape the taste from hitting it. Seems right for the style but doesn't help the taste profile.

D- Not very drinkable, will not have again. There seems to be quite a bit going on here for an ESB but it just does not blend well and leads to a disjointed mess of a drink. There also seems to be some diacetyl that really ruins the flavor throughout.

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Photo of Jason
3.52/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of merlin48
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had never seen this in my area until yesterday, at a local Virginia, grocery. "Bottled on" date was only a month ago, and it was obviously a new arrival, not even chilled down in the store's cooler. Poured into a Redhook pint glass, it's a clear, shiny copper amber with a two finger offwhite head that retains well, and leaves islands of lace. Aroma is subdued, with caramel malt and a hint of fruity hops. Mouthfeel has medium to high carbonation, is a bit creamy and coating, and has a bitter hops bite. Taste is biscuity malt and bitter English style hops. Not very complex, and missing the nuttiness of a good ESB. This is closer to an amber ale in character, but not at all bad, and very drinkable. I had this on tap about 3 weeks ago, at Pazzo's in Lexington, Ky., and my notes from the draft tasting are virtually identical to this fresh bottle.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
Beer rating: 3.42 out of 5 with 2,132 ratings