Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

2,107 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 2,107 |  Reviews: 871
Photo of andrewjraab
3.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Carmel Color with a foamy head that quickly disappears. The color is very transparent and bubbles like a light beer.

S - Faint Fruity Smell

T - Flat. I wonder if I just got a bad batch or something, but I tried a second beer and it was just plain flat. Some bitterness that leaves a carmel malty after taste.

M - Very light bodied feel in your mouth...almost to the point where it might feel a little flat.

O- This was my first beer from Redhook and I wouldn't try it again in the bottle.

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Photo of mnrider
3.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz. brown bottle. snub nose design.

A: Light amber/copper color with a quick forming quick disappearing head.

S: Fruits and caramel with some faint hops. Crisp tot the nose.

T/M: Creamy and smooth going down. The beer is a medium bodied with a strong malt presence. The hop bitterness tastes sadly mostly artificial, yet works in it's own way. Some fruits and caramel are also mixed in.

O: Good. Interesting mixture of hops and malts. I'd have it again if it was part of a mix pack or if it was on tap somewhere.


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Photo of hreb
3.45/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Cold stubby 12oz Bottled on Jun 2011. Served in tapered pint glass, beer pours a very pale brown amber with a thin, paler chestnut head.

Aroma is slightly nutty and roasty. Suggests a decent malt bill. Flavor is well moderated: sweet malt and grainy barley. Mild hopping and carbonation, appropriate for this British style, but the flavors are decidely American. Slightly oily, but not butterscotch or diacetyl.

A very good middle of the road ale when you want moderate ABV without going too hoppy, lagery, or to a more specialty style.

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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 spinrsx
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz Bottle

Appearance - Clear amber/copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some fairly good lacing. The head lasted for around 4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel, hops

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel/butterscotch, and a bit of dark fruit taste.. perhaps raisins. It finishes with a malty sweet aftertaste.

Overall - Not a terrible beer by any means. It reminded me a little bit of a Scotch Ale with shades of an ESB. I wouldn't go out my way to get this beer again, but I'm happy I tried it.

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Photo of Reaper16
1.64/5  rDev -52%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz. bottle served into a pint glass

Pours a lightly caramel brown color. 3/4 of a finger's worth of offwhite head. I'm struggling to say much of anything about this beer's appearance. It's utterly generic. If you go into Microsoft Word's library of ClipArt and search for "beer" you will find a picture of this beer.

Have you ever smelled bread sitting on the counter, from like two rooms away? That's what this beer smells like. It's dominantly bready in the most boring way possible: subtly and distantly. If you sniff very hard you can make out a flutter of peanut shell and a wink of musty hops. But this is bread central and it is so utterly boring because of it.

Finishing this bottle is going to be a chore because I am rapidly falling asleep while drinking it. Here's a bad sign as to how boring and underdeveloped this flavor profile is: I can taste the water. Redhook ESB has notes of bread, nuts, an insultingly low percentage of bitterness, and yes, mineral water. This is an utterly benign ale that the English would be embarrassed to see labeled as an ESB. Watery flavor begets watery mouthfeel. This beer is Paper Mario-thin.

Overall: this beer's existence caused the London riots.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
3.4/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a 3" slightly yellowed head. Clear light amber body color. Medium malty smell. Taste was more malt and minimal hops. Still, this has a lot more look, smell, and flavor than most of the BMCs out there. And I like the price, the bottling, and the labeling. So I could see this a great choice for an everyday any purpose beer.

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

Aroma is fairly average, I suppose. A bit buttery and fruity...overall pretty sweet with not much semblence of hops.

Taste has a breadiness to it in addition to a bit of a buttery note, along with a fruitiness that's present as well. Bitterness at the finish is noticeable but pretty subdued and not all that powerful. Small tart note is there as well.

Pretty standard stuff, I suppose. Nothing exciting but eminently drinkable.

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

I picked this up as part of a mix-a-six at Al's, poured chilled into a tumbler.

The color is amber with translucent color, head of ecru retains well. The lace sticks well. The smell is slightly bready and has a hint of diacetyl with some mild caramel and hint of toast. The feel is smooth with more malt as focus than anything gentle yeast and very light sweetness and spice with moderate carbonation and semi-dry finish.

The taste is pretty mild with slight tinges of fruit from the yeast. There is a mild toasted taste with some caramel sweetness but the diacetyl is present. It is present but not out of place, a good taste, but lacks a little in the hops, enough to bitter, but lacks hop flavor. I consider this just a slight notch above most, but has little to really separate it from the pack.

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Photo of CurtisLoew
3.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Cheap on tap. Had probably 10 too many. Good night.

Pours a nice color. Light burnt orange.

Smells like an average ESB. Not much else to say here.

Taste is good. Very drinkable. Fairly clean and refreshing. For the price and company, it more than did the job.

mouthfeel about what you would expect.

Overall, decent beer. Awesome night. Would definitely do it again.

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Photo of sommersb
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 07-27-2011
Freshness: Bottled on 05-03-2011
Packaging: 12 oz. brown bottle
Glassware: Nonic Pint
Purchased: Single from Midtown, Nashville

I think the new RedHook bottles are neat looking. They stand out if nothing else.

A: Clear, dark orange color, with a medium amount of bubbles in the glass. Head is creamy, off-white and only a finger high. Almost no lacing is present.

S: Aromas include some sweet, caramel notes from the malt and a dose of floral hops, but overall the smells are faint.

T: A good balance between the malty sweetness and some bittering from the hops. Hops have a citrus character. Taste improves as this beer warms up.

M: The high level of carbonation and medium body give it a crisp mouthfeel. Smooth, with an aftertaste that is somewhat bitter.

O: Nicely done brew. I've had it on tap and enjoyed it more than the bottled version, however.

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

I can't believe that I have never reviewed this beer in all these years. Here goes:

Pours to a one-inch head and bright copper-gold color. Aroma suggests caramel malt and sweet biscuits. There are also some slight buttery and alcohol notes in the nose. Flavor is a balanced blend of crystal malt and bittering and flavor hops. Some sweet alcohol presence as well. It's only 5.8% abv, so why the naked alcohol? Mouthfeel is light-medium with good CO2 (an acceptable US level though). Overall, this is a good beer but I can think of at least two other ESBs I'd rather be drinking.

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Photo of chillwinston
3.58/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Not a huge fan of the breweries out of the northwest US, the beers are always a little to malty for my tastes. First off this is not an British-style ESB I was hoping for. It tastes similar but has too much hop and too much carbonation, which makes it not a smooth as the ESB I had in the UK. Having it from a bottle as opposed to a cask might have something to do with that. Would try again if I could get it hand pumped.

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Photo of airforbes1
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear, copper color with a weak head. Not much aroma. Some toasted malt. That's about it.

I'm struggling to figure out an adequate way to describe the taste. The flavors are OK, but they don't seem to synchronize. I get mild generic ale fruitiness, a minute amount of hops, and then a touch of butterscotch. I feel like it skips around a little too quickly. Still enjoyable, even if it's far from perfect. Wouldn't seek out, wouldn't turn down.

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

I drank this from a pint glass...

It pours an burnt orange/ amber color with a thin white head that reduced to just a ring. The smell consists of sweet frain a hint of caramel and some spicy/ citrusy hops. The taste is similar but first you get the spicy hops and then smooth malt washes over leaving a balanced finish. The beer is medium bodied the carbonation is perfect and it has a nice lingering finish that is slightly bitter and dry. This is an all around solid beer, I would drink this again.

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Photo of jbphoto88
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Barely hazed dull orange beer with a yellow/ white head. The cap doesn't last long and eventually fades to a spits worth of skinny bubbles. An ok looking brew.

The nose is of dull stale grains and a musty twang of hops. Nothing but an average smelling brew...

Taste is again only average or just above it. The musty grains dominate the flavor profile as sweet and subtle bread flavors. Kind of earthy with a nice bitterness.

The mouthfeel follows the trend of just above average with some ok carbonation and ok bitterness. I don't have great things to say about this beer. It's boring, dull and plain but still drinkable. I'm glad to have tried it but I'm not thinking I'd ever get some again.

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Photo of brewerburgundy
3.52/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, Sam Adams perfect pint, bottled 6/9/11.

The color is copper, not so light as to be yellow and definitely not amber. A relatively creamy off white head sits on top with acceptable but not far ranging lacing.

Nuts, diacetyl, and spicy hop oil greet my nose. Oily citrus teases and drifts in and out making the impression more English and American.

While I've not had an exceptional number of ESBs, this is much what it seems they should basically be. The malt is full and comes through as toasted grain and nuts; crisp in the beginning and showing those flavors more in the finish. Those herbal, spicy hop oils are ever present, as is the teasing citrus. Nothing is dominant.

Small, soft carbonation is quite pleasant and lets you taste everything with ease. I can imagine that ESB or its smaller brethren on cask are sublime.

Like any kind of pale ale, the fresher the better. This is just over a month old and I think quite acceptable. I'm starting to appreciate attempts as subtle, balanced beers more.

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Photo of jeremy2027
3.6/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle to perfect pint

Hazy light amber with decent head, ok lacing with no head retention

light malt, toffee

Light and refreshing good session beer. Hints of amber malt and slight citrus.

Creamy mouth coating feeling, light carbonation and very drinkable. Best mouthfeel from any ESB I have had so far.

Good brew overall easily accessible decent price. I would recommend picking up a sixpack.

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

12oz bottle (bottled on 02/14/11) poured into a shaker pint glass.

Appearance: Hazy orange-amber on the table, translucent hazy orange-amber when held up to the light. Poured an initial 1/4" white foam, but this died down to a thin ring and thin film across the top. Not a lot in the way of lacing noted.

Smell: Sweet malt with a hint of orange and a floral scent. Nicely appealing.

Taste: Malt sweetness moving quickly into a citrus/orange flavor and then a very mild bitter finish. The bitterness is more pronounced and the flavors are sharper and better when the beer is cold. As it warms up it loses some charm and the bitterness takes on some lemon sweet tea flavor which I'm not crazy about.

Mouthfeel: Just right carbonation, thicker than water, with a little bit of a cling to the teeth. Coats the palate nicely but doesn't linger.

Overall / Drinkability: For a beer 5 months after bottling not too bad. Not a spectacular ESB, but it was nice at the end of a hot day. Despite my ambivalence, it's actually quite a drinkable beer. Not overpowering in any flavor, and I could go for another, or at least a serving larger than 12oz.

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Photo of chocosushi
4.02/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz - PBR Pint

A ~ Pale Toffee/Caramel with good clarity. Web-like lacing.

S ~ Woody hops and butter crackers. Getting a bit of a fruit preserve flavor towards the end of the glass. Mellow aromas.
Fearing it might be too hoppy for the style.

T ~ Not true. English hops follow through with a damp wood & pitted fruit flavor as well as dry white toast with a bit of asparagus rounding out to a hop-spicy finish on the throat.

M ~ Nice balance, really. Good peppery mouthfeel.

D ~ Pretty solid American ESB & one of my favorite styles. Had never heard of Red Rock, it's new to Oklahoma City. Good suggestion from Freemans Liquor!


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

A: Clear orange/copper color. Poured 1 finger off-white head that dissipated to ring on the inner edge of the glass. Decanted lightly. Laced in broken rings.

S: Sweet fruit and citrus, caramel. Earthy grassy hops.

T: Like the nose with fruit and crystal malt sweetness. Earthy bitter is relatively sharp and does not linger in the finish outside a bit of a toasty note.

M: Light-to-medium body. Moderate carbonation. Sweet and somewhat crisp and dry in a brief finish.

O: Flavorful and fairly clean in the finish with a bitter that doesn't linger past its welcome.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.36/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

On tap at BJ’s. Pours amber hue with a white, lasting head. Aroma is of bready malt and hints of ripe fruit.
Medium, crisp body. Taste is of piney, earthy hops and bready malt and caramel. The finish is long and bitter. In my opinion, the brew lacks some fruitiness of ESB on the palate.

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Photo of grittybrews
3.61/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a rich copper-amber into a tulip with a finger of light white head. Mild aroma of light grain and caramel.

Moderate carbonation and a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Bready malt up front with lemon and a touch of peppery bitterness on the finish.

Quite pleasant, light without being thin, and easy-drinking.

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Photo of BigB415
3.91/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours golden with medium head. High lacing. Smells of chlorine which is why I rated the smell low, it is pretty odd that it does smell like chlorine. Tastes of hops. Great session beer. I've only had one other ESB and I loved it. This is a close second.

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Photo of Rodekill
2.55/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Man, their beer has really gone downhill.

Bought a sampler 12 pack because I hadn't had any Redhook beers in a while.

I love the new bottle and labels.

Unfortunately, the packaging is the best part. I used to love Redhook ESB, but the current incarnation pales in comparison to what I remember.

Lackluster hop character, dull malt profile.


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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,107 ratings.
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