Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

865 Reviews
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Redhook ESBRedhook ESB

Brewed by:
Redhook Ale Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

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: 865 | Ratings: 2,093
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 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 pgroove
4.6/5  rDev +34.5%
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.

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Photo of Berta
4.56/5  rDev +33.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is one of my favorite beers! Delivers smooth and finishes with a crisp not too bitter finish. Caramel in color and toasty in taste. Easy to have more than one every time they're in the fridge!

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Photo of cyguyjg
4.53/5  rDev +32.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Sorry to buck the trend but I find this to be a special ESB. Great balance among flavor (caramel), alcohol and hops. And available all year long. Not like some brews for which you have to wait several months. This beer leaves those amber lagers in the dust.

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Photo of RushLimbmalt
4.52/5  rDev +32.2%
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!

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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 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.

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Photo of kjloewe
4.42/5  rDev +29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Redhook ESB Is THE TASTE OF SEATTLE, WA ! reminds me of home. It's in tough competition with Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. At one time, Redhook ESB was voted the best drink on the Washington Ferry System along with a Maple bar doughnut on a Friday afternoon ferry ride ! Wonderfull..
The Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, WA is across the street from the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery and the Columbia Crest Winery..A WONDERFUL place to RELAX !!!

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Photo of thebrood1987
4.4/5  rDev +28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I get smells rich and malty with the malt giving off hints of toffee. I also get smells of fruits from the yeast and a floral smell from the hops. On the taste I get a bit of a spicy hop in the front of the taste with an extremely smooth robust dark toffee malt taste and then ending with the floral bitterness and fruitness from the yeast.

The thing that impresses me the most about this beer is the exceptional mouthfeel. Its so creamy and delicious. It literally has tastes of a brown/scotch ale even though it doesn't look like one. The toffee malts are delicious. The floral hopiness also really comes through on the end and gives it a nice dry bitter bite.

This beer definitely surprised me especially for such a lower score and its cheap 6.99 a six pack price. You can definitely tell they have the right recipe down for this beer which is why its been brewed since I think 1987. An exceptional ESB right here.

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Photo of Stunner97
4.4/5  rDev +28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer to me is a good buy near where i live still, a buck or two cheaper then many other beers of its style. The taste is to me very good in what you would expect from a beer of this style. Tasting it now I get notes of sweet malts but still that little kick of bitterness. To me this a good sessionable beer at 5.8 that is still a step up far above the low quality stuff and can save you a few bucks if trying to watch the budget. Found it didn't dazzle me at first but is a beer that really grows on you. I would recommend it to someone and think it would be a good first step into the esb style of beer.

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Photo of CpnYates
4.39/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is about the best beer offered on average in a 20 mile radius of my house, so its one i find in my refig. pretty often.

While watching the O State vs. Michigan game, I decided to crack open what has become one of my favorite "everyday" beers.
This is a light, refreshing beer that is everybit as appropriate in the middle of summer or the dead of winter.Or anytime in between.

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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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Photo of scubahood
4.35/5  rDev +27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

One of my favorite breweries!!!.

Label says bottled on 12-27-04

Pours a great light amber color. Not a lot of head. I've had it right from the brewery and the head retention doesn't compare to that.

Smell: Classic hop aroma that isn't overpowering. Compliments the slightly sweet smell.

Taste: Starts with a malty flavor and light to medium mouthfeel. The beer ends very hoppy and the aftertaste remains bitter in a great way.

This is one of the best readily available beers that I have ever consumed. I recommend it for a great session beer that is very easy to drink. Also, it is an amazing deal for the price. A keg of ESB a day keeps the doctor away! [Well maybe not but close..] : )

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Photo of Jordan
4.34/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich and creamy. Have not tasted a barely wine, but when I imagine one, I imagine it must taste very similar to Redhook ESB. Malty, very low profile bitterneness. The appearance isn't top notch, but the taste is. Fruity notes on the palate and the nose. Delicious brew!

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Photo of xare
4.33/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Lovely clear copper color with a sizable head that looked very inviting. Definitely want to dive into this ale now.

Aroma is very light, hints of hops but mostly malts were detected, either way, very very light and nothing truly stands out or overwhelms the other. Better than average but not a truly outstanding aroma (especially when so light).

Tastes like a light alcohol malted drink with a dash of hops at the end. Pretty bitter but that's what it's meant to be. Overall, outstanding taste - doesn't overwhelm, no bitter aftertaste, finish is crisp and clean. Solid above average for sure.

Mouthfeel is truly exceptional, medium body, carbonated well, has a hoppy finish, goes down smooth, doesn't have a bitter aftertaste that lingers past its welcome. All around, outstanding.

Drinkability is excellent. I drank every last drop of this beer and would gladly have gone for a few more rounds given the opportunity, but I'll definitely be searching for more of this beer to add to my personal rotation.

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Photo of hopman333
4.32/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ok, this brew has been hit and miss over the year's as I usually include their product's in my shuffle from time to time because of the $4.99 6er price at my go to liqour store here in Chicago. Also depend's on the freshness bigtime, in my opinion the ESB and the Longhammer should be consumed within 30 days of the born on date or they are not worthy of a purchase.

Just getting over a cold and can still smell a nice mix of marichino cherries , rich caramel malt and that classic leathery/earthiness of an ESB. Almost forgot, the appearnace is average for the style.

When tasted fresh, it starts out malty rich with a nice tingle of carbonation on the tip of you're toungue. Again as I stated with the aroma the cherry , woodsy and caramel flavors seem to be in almost near perfect harmony with one another, it then shifts over to the nicely balanced hop flavors and bitterness imparted from the american tettnang hops to linger on for quite a bit. Dead on for the style.

I realize some of my fellow BA's will think I'm nut's for the good review on this brew, however as I said earlier, the 30 day freshness window has a huge impact on this beer and can bring this brew from a below average rating to an all around great example of the style. So if you can get this within a 30 day window from the born on date, it's a great beer at a great price....

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.3/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a copper with a strong reddish tint and a decent head and lacing.

Mostly a malty aroma with some herbal hop elements and a faint citrus aroma.

Deliciously hoppy, one of my favorite ESB's and probably my favorite overall from Redhook. Very well balanced by the caramel malt, finishes with a bitter aftertaste as it should. Not a big beer in terms of the hop flavor, but is easily drinkable and a good starter beer for those trying to get into beers that have more hops and bitterness.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.3/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on a trip while in Seattle, WA

I had Redhook ages ago and wasn't that impressed with it then. But I'm trying it again while visiting a friend and it is a wholly different beer than I remembered.

Nice light amber colored brew. Inviting aroma. Flavor is a good balance, but definitely hoppier than expected. Nice, clean fresh flavor with a good malty backbone.

This is a hop-forward beer but not bitter. Just a good balanced brew all around.

I like it. I'll get this again. Definitely a good session beer.

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Photo of captainwerd
4.3/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is one of my go-to beers when I'm drinking alone on the weekends. At the same time it's something I'd order at a bar if I didn't feel like choosing from the selection. Not too strong, not too weak. Just the right amount of flavor, making for a very good all-purpose beer. Usually can find it decently priced too, which is also important.

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Photo of JDK
4.3/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a nice amber color with a 1 finger head.
Some lacing on the glass that clung to the side for a short while
Smells nicely of hops, slightly sweet with mild citrus
Some carbonation that lingers on the tongue
Very nice taste that lingers for a few moments.
Could easily drink a few of these in one setting

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Photo of bill93063
4.27/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An excellent and affordable bitters in the tradition of English Extra Special Bitters like Fullers(which is arguably the best Bitters on the market). While not in the class of Fullers, it is far less expensive and for the money is a good example of an ESB. This one is also highly drinkable with a nice balance of hoppy bitterness and smooth malty notes, hinting at caramel and vanilla, highly recommended!

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Photo of bluemoonswoon
4.27/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a clear dark amber cherry color with almost no active carbonation in the glass. A few ropes of bubbles here and there but that is about it. The head on this beer saves it, with a vigourus pour I got a two inch frothy white head that melted into a decent sized ring with a decent about of lacing. I wish there were more bubbles though, it almost looks flat.

S: This one smells a bit like a fat tire but a bit more subdued, the malt presence is there and quite sweet but hop characters also work in a with a nice balance, the overall effect of this almost makes this beer smell like peaches.

T/MF: Pretty damn creamy for a bitter, which I've always sort of liked. A lot more subdued than IPAs and other bitter beers. There is a nice bready sweetness with caramel and hints of apple, finishes quite clean on the palate and relatively light bodied, very drinkable for an almost 6% abv beer.

D: No matter how many times I've tried this beer I always seem to be comming back to it. I must have had this beer on at least a dozen different occasions, which is a big deal for me because I am always looking for new beers to try.

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Photo of SargeC
4.27/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Amber brew with a golden-white head.

Smell: Sweet malt with a minor hop presence.

Taste: Sweet malt flavor with hints of citrus. Nice hop presence that does not dominate.

Mouthfeel: Lihght-medium body. Solid liquid with a slightly waxy quality.

Drinkablity: Easily sessionable, tasty brew. Plenty of flavor to satisfy.

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

Poured a nice crystal clear copper color with a nice two finger head. Very inviting! A little malt on the nose and not much hops. Very light aroma though. Great balance of hops and malt, with a little more hop than malt on the finish. Really no detectable alcohol taste, but a bit of warming as it went down. Very nice. Really suits my taste. Medium light carbonation with a medium body. Very drinkable. Will buy more of this one.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,093 ratings.
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