Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

2,100 Ratings
Read the review
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 866 | Ratings: 2,100
Photo of VoxRationis
3.14/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Production date 25 Feb 2017; decanted into a tulip pint glass.
A: Orange-copper color, little head, mostly around rim. Really seems a bit flat. No legs or lacing evident.
S: Medium roast malts, honey and ?pepper -- pretty thin bouquet though, had to dig into the glass for it.
T: Rather bitter throughout without the sweetness up front that I expect from the style.
M: Watery with little or no effervescence.
O: Not really that impressive compared to other examples of this style. Nor is this a "bad bottle."
Try a Fuller's, if there is an question about the scoring here.

 576 characters

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!

 197 characters

Photo of andrewh995
3.44/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Fruity and citrusy but not bitter at all which really surprised me based on the name. I guess after researching, this type of beer isn't actually supposed to be bitter? Odd name choice then.

 190 characters

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

Redhook ESB, 5.8% ABV, 28 IBU. Pours medium viscosity and orange, with a one finger white head, leaves foamy lacing. Nose is alcohol, malt, and hops, taste is a balance of malty and hoppy with a moderate bitter close. Decent mouthfeel, and overall good. I had expected an ESB to be extremely bitter, but it's not - actually less than many IPA's.

 349 characters

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.

 616 characters

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

From a 12 oz bottle in a snifter. This fine ale pours a medium dark copper color
with a nice head of white foam that subsides to a thick ring, thin layer, and features
some nice lacing. Nose of toasted malts and subtle grassy and herbal hop notes. Flavors
follow but exceed with character; smooth toasted malts offset by light herbal hops and a
medium to light hop bitterness that is perfect to the style. Medium carbonation is lightly
prickly and perfect to keep things lively and crisp with a lightly sweet moderately hoppy
finish that is very nice. Overall, nothing to hate and everything to like for a starter brew.
Just because it is distributed by a macro means little to the overall taste----it is a nice ESB
and one that I used to look forward to enjoying back in the day before they were distributed
by the "evil empire".


 847 characters

Photo of q33jeff
2.02/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2


AROMA: malt, vegetable
LOOK: Dark yellow pour. Eerie. No head to speak of.
TASTE: Vegetable, Soy….some lemon.

FEEL: ok carbonation, medium body.

Not really a fan of this one.

 199 characters

Photo of J_T_Arlington
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours copper with a small head that goes down to a thin lace.

Smells malty.

Tastes malty, barley, bready. Bitter, but without the pine taste of their IPA. Sipping is the way to go, gulps are too bitter. Slight hoppyness, especially on the aftertaste, but owhere near the level of an IPA.

Feels light, easy and refreshing.

Overall, definitely not bad. Good afternooner. Good for front-porching, sipping and philosophizing the time away.

 439 characters

Photo of drdiesel9483
3.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look - copper color with a quickly disappearing head.
Smell - barley and malts. Sweet spiced bread.
Taste - very similar to the smell
Feel - fairly light body with a slight crisp carbonation.
Overall - nothing outstanding

 224 characters

Photo of MichaelProcton
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pretty, clear honey-brown brew with hardly any carbonation. Smell is sweet and malty, but truthfully quite muted. Much rich, malty sweetness on the front end of the taste, too, though some hops sneak up on you at the back end. I do very much like the substantial, full feel of this beer.

 291 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
3.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A pint glass full of hazy orange brew with a short-lived white head.
Smell is decidedly sweeter than expected and with a noticeable orange scent to it. Malt and bread notes follow. Somewhat medicinal on the back nose.
Taste is as the nose promises, orange sweetness, malt, breadiness with a touch of hops to balance the whole shebang.
Smooth, medium plus body, lighter effervescence. An easily quaffable brew, very sessionable, too.

 433 characters

Photo of ricke49
3.67/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Was glad to see this in 22 oz. at a budget price. In that classic hop/malt balance, which make me love ESB's, this offering is a bit light in the hop element. As a 'malty' ESB it would be near ideal, if that was your desire. I note that many reviews observe a small, quickly dissapating head. The bottle I poured into a Becker pint glass was fairly robust in that department. Doesn't match some of my favorite ESB's (i.e. those served at Brewers Union Local 180 in Oakridge Oregon) - but at the price, I'm fine with it.

 521 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.24/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours an amber color, nice warm feel to it. Off white head 1/2" Aroma of earthy hops, forest like notes.

Toffee, caramel balance out about 35 ibus of bitterness. Much toasting. Guessing cascade hopped. Really enjoyed a lot of these back in the 90s, haven't been crushing them the same lately, the occasional baseball game, but with palate shifts and corporate ownership, something has pushed maltier the last 20 years.

 424 characters

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

Poured hard into Tulip. Lots of initial head, disappeared in 60 seconds. Fairly non-descript taste and smell. Good beer for after you've drank 3 or 4 other actually tasty and worthwhile beers and just want to continue your buzz. This used tI be a favorite of mine, it held mythical status and I used to search it out. Not so much anymore. But hey, it's better than bud and till contains alcohol! Eh!

 406 characters

Photo of Alpha309
3.21/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a nonic glass.

Pours a copper in color with a small layer of lacey head. Head quickly dissipates to a thin film on the top.

Sweet molasses nose. Slight grassy or earthy undertones. Maybe a little oak.

Molasses taste is dominant. Earthy notes underneath. Not very bitter for an esb.

Syrupy sticky body. Lingers on the tongue.

 364 characters

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

Pours a orange copper color, slightly hazy, with streaming bubbles and a soapy off white head.

Smell nothing really grabs a person. Barley and malts with some sweet notes some hops playing around in the background.

Taste is lightly sweet caramel taste with some hop notes just towards the finish.

Mouth feel is light and watery with a simple finish.

Overall this is a nice beer that makes for a great alternative to the macro lagers. Where I am at the price point and the ABV really helps sell this one for me.

 515 characters

Photo of TheNightlyPint
3.19/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

ESBs are among my favorite styles. Simple, approachable beers when complexity is not what you desire. A 12oz bottle poured into a shaker pint reveals a hazy amber brew with an eggshell head that quickly recedes to nothing. Pleasant malt aroma, with some mild citrus on the periphery. The flavor profile presents some caramel malt notes, with just a kiss of hops at the end. Medium mouthfeel with a finish that borders on a touch dry. Overall, a pleasant way to introduce your macro-drinking friends to craft, although certainly unremarkable for the style.

 555 characters

Photo of stcules
3.37/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Light amber, very clean. Not bad foam.
Light smell, malt, english hop, earthly and peppery. Some tea notes.
A bit more full taste: good maltiness, decent bitterness, again, earthly.
Decent bitter aftertaste, too, light body, bu not too light.
Aftert all, pleasant beer.

 269 characters

Photo of MNAle
3.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Slightly hazy amber with solid carbonation and a white head that recedes quickly. Bready aroma. Nice mouth feel, sweet malt taste transitions to a very mild bittering. This is a refreshing beer, but it is lacking the depth and complexity of flavors expected of an ESB. It has no glaring faults; it just doesn't stand up to the competition.

 339 characters

Photo of tekstr1der
3.8/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This stuff takes a beating in the ratings, but I find it pleasant. Pours a clear copper with thin white head. Aroma is biscuit and caramel. Flavor is similar with nice maltiness. It is a bit thin, and nothing like the wonder of Fullers, but it's drinkable and nothing glaringly bad sicks out at me.

 298 characters

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

This ESB poura a Golden/copper color.
Sweet caramel malt aroma. Taste is a malty sweetness
followed by a fruity, almost apricot flavor at the finish.

 150 characters

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

Pours a light golden copper color, left a white head that fizzled away immediately.

Smells fairly nice and toasty. Malts come through with a nice aroma.

Taste falls short quite a bit, definitely getting an adjunct taste with some mineral qualities and not much else. No bitterness to be had, aftertaste is nonexistent.

Thin, watery, leaves clean but wouldn't call it crisp.

Not really a beer I'd want to try again.

 419 characters

Photo of wilsnphd
2.3/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

There was a time when this was my favorite beer. I was willing to stay overnight at the Seattle airport if it meant I could have a few of these. When Budweiser bought them out I was hopeful, Budweiser is my favorite mass produced lager. But the beer we're evaluating today isn't even close to the special brew that was produced by Red Hook before Budweiser bought them. I gave up on Red Hook for many years, but just bought their newest sampler 12 pack. Every beer in the sampling is the same; a watered down version of what might have been a good idea.

 559 characters

Photo of mdfb79
3.02/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

From 11/26/15 notes. 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a transparent orange-amber color with one inch of white head and moderate carbonation evident. Bready malts, sweet corn, citrus, grapefruit, bitter hops, dough, and wheat. Medium body and low carbonation.

Overall not a very good beer.

 296 characters

Photo of Tone
3.26/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Pours a clear, copper color. Slight retention and slight lacing. Smells of cream, sweet malt, hint of pale malt, hint of hops, and a hint of caramel malt. Fits the style of an Extra Special / Strong Bitter. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of cream, sweet malt, hint of pale malt, hint of hops, and a hint of caramel malt. Overall, overly sweet, lacks complexity, and not the right combination of flavors for a good ESB.

 466 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,100 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.