Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

Redhook ESBRedhook ESB
Liked This Beer
3.41 w/ 2,111 ratings
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: 2,111 |  Reviews: 872
Photo of mikeg67
3.36/5  rDev -1.5%
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 +5.9%
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 +14.7%
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 -25.2%
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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Photo of rowew
2.7/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Presentation: 12 oz bottle, strange new Redhook bottles - sort of a tall stubby? Bottled date is printed on the label.

Appearance: Copper colored and clear, thin head.

Smell: Grassy and a bit of sweet malt aroma.

Taste: Fairly sweet - this could definitely use some more hops if it is going to masquerade as an ESB.

Overall impression: With the light hopping this comes across as a fairly average amber. It's not unpleasant, but nothing to go out of the way for.

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Photo of Duhast500
3.33/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Playboy pint glass.

The color is a clear orange/copper with thin finger of head and some slight lacing left on the glass.

The smell has a slight berry aroma with a touch of cherry or strawberry in the nice. There is a tease of an earthy hop in the nose as well.

The taste is has a hoppy outline that speaks earthy bitterness that washes off rather quickly and does not linger. There is a bit of a pale malt flavor with a caramel flavor and a light toasty flavor. There is a little small grape flavor toward the back that makes this taste a little dryer.

The feel of this beer medium to light with a good a crispy finish. This happens to be pretty drinkable and would not disappoint a lover of the style.

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

Clear, coppery orange color, moderate carbonation and white to off-white head. Fruit and hops aroma - citrus, berry and a touch of pine resin. Slightly floral. The flavor is a nice mix of malt and hops; good fruit flavors with some caramel sweetness. A touch of bitterness toward the end. A very decent, well-balanced beer at a pretty nice price.

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Photo of BeerLover99
3.03/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: light copper/rust body, trace head, very little lacing

S: mild whiff of sweet grain/malt

T: sweet malt, semi-biscuit, mild slow bitter finish

M: light/med body, bit prickly on the tongue

O: Nothing impressed me. Almost was a bitter
Fat Tire; would not seek this out again.
Could be sessionable for sure.


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Photo of Abarhan
3.72/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Light copper with a foamy white head. Pretty light for an ESB

S: Nice toastiness. Pretty sweet malt. Little hops in smell

T: A very tasty brew that has a little

M: Very weak mouthfeel. Expected this to be a little rougher in taste being a ESB.

O: OK but not as bitter as expected.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of Knapp85
3.48/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured out as a nice looking amber color, the head was creamy and white. The la in was pretty good on the glass. The smell of the beer is grainy and has a nice sweet malt aroma to it. The taste has a good bitterness to it. The mouthfeel is a bit watered down. Overall I liked the beer and would drink it again.

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Photo of Jimmys
3.14/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

reviewed on 5/29/11 - from notes:

A: clear light copper with a friendly white head. on the lighter side for an ESB.

S: a rich toastiness. the sweetness has a faint caramel that is reminiscent to a lightened wee heavy. herbal hop notes work well with the sweet malt.

T: much more aggressive hopping on the palate than the nose. a good sweetness is sort of overpowered.

M: very soft mouthfeel. too soft. wouldn’t hate for it to be a little harder.

D: okay, but really nothing to go crazy about.

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Photo of ChadQuest
2.06/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Clear golden with some bubbles rising, cap at first that turns to a collar. some lacing.
Not much aroma to speak of honestly, caramel and corn are about all i get.
After a few sips i cant tell if this is some kind of caramel malts or some off buttered popcorn issues, maybe a bit of both. There has to be an issue there is alot of butter in here and honestly it masks alot of the rest of the beer, the hops come in for a slight pine note, and the malts barely poke over. Low carb and mod mouthfeel, something ill pass on from now on.

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Photo of ElCommodoro
3.01/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

The colour is a light amber-brown that is transparent. The head was somewhat retained and left some lacing. It was an off-white colour.
The smell is fantastic. It's smells of dark sweet, robust malts with a hint of spiciness. I can't wait.
The taste is not what I would expect from the smell. The malt is much less robust and less sweet than I was expecting from the smell. The hops are more astringent than I would like. The taste is a bit on the sour side. This is not really what I was hoping for. The hop character isn't as balanced by malty sweetness as it should be. It's good as a moderately hopped beer that's a bit on the hoppy side, but I don't find it to be balanced.
The mouthfeel's good, though.

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Photo of BeerMarshall
3.82/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Decent head retention, hoppy aroma. Bitter but fairly well balanced. I do agree with whomever made the comment that this is probably over-filtered. Not as refined as other examples, but a decent example for the price and overall a good beer for hot weather.

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Photo of Bookseeb
3.34/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance is a very light copper amber with a fair head and spotty lace. Smell has a nice blend of malt and hops giving way to a sweet grapefruit aroma. Taste seems easy going, nothing complex, but tasty nontheless with light sweet malt with a mild bitter hop. Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation. Satisfying easy going ESB.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.32/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Stole one out of my buddies fridge.
A clear golden amber with a thick head. The nose has a bunch of fruity hops and a bit of sourdough. The flavor is smooth over a creamy body. After the initial sourdough bread body there is a tingle of citrus and tropical fruits. These flavors dissipate quickly and turn into a bitter bite that finishes rather dry. I was not expecting this beer to become so sharp after such a smooth first impression.

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Photo of Carolvs
3.12/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a standard ale pint glass.

Appearance: Maybe one pinky finger of head and a bit of lacing.

Smell: Faint yet pleasant fruitiness.

Taste: Mild lingering bitterness, but not unpleasantly so.

Overall: It is what it is... Not bad, but not great. Would do it again, but the fact I only paid $12.99 for a 12-count variety pack probably influences that decision quite a bit.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
3.47/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pretty much an American industrial version of an ESB. Likely compressed and reformatted over the years. Better by a few hairs than some comparable stiff domestic examples I've had.

Really clear, pale yellow-orange (light amber) in color. Some fizzy head with a center pour. No retention, but not flat in the end. Turn-offs: that lack of healthy, lasting head and the degree of yellow in the color.

Thick crystal malt cloud groggily creeping into the nose holes. Acerbic bitterness impending. Garden weed nuance to the hops.

Slow-toasted toasty toastness - kind of lightly-burnt-caramelly malty flavor. Nice stomach acidy bitterness from start to finish. Caramel and a vaguely orange citrus tang stays behind for awhile - actually the best part of this beer.

Thankfully its fairly clean. I wouldn't be up for a full-on thick-bodied more English-style version of this (or would I?). Alright for what it's become.

(bottled 03/31/11 - NH)

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Photo of vangambrel
3.06/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This used to be a beer I enjoyed, but I got into hoppier and more interesting beers. I found that I enjoy the really hoppier IPAs and Pale Ales to this ESB. I also prefer American hop varieties over European ones. I think this is the standard for DMS, but I can't remember. It's been awhile since I had one.

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Photo of cbarrett4
3.18/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hey, it's a Wednesday night kind of beer. At a bar. This is not a serious beer, not really one for analyzing. It's better than a bud though!

Rather light bodied with decent bitterness, but not much complexity. It's true session beer, but I have tasted many better ESBs on the market.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.09/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

During a visit to Portsmouth we took the opportunity to visit Redhook Brewery. Tried the Redhook ESB. The color was golden clear with nice carbonation that gave way to a decent white head and lacing. The nose was a very faint citrus, if any. The taste was good, there was a little bit of hop and touch of lemon. The mouthfeel was good and I certainly could do a Session with this beer.

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Photo of flyingspatula
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I'm surprised someone said this was the clearest beer they've seen. The one I had is very hazy. Little head tops this orange/yellow brew. The smell and taste have strong grain aroma and taste, with hops mostly on the aftertaste. Also a little tart fruitiness on the aftertaste, but I really taste the barely in this beer. It's not bad. I probably wouldn't get a six pack of it.

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Photo of G2Brew
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a session glass at about 45 degrees. Bottled NOV-15-10. It's now MAR 11, so this one is about 4 months old.

A - Honey Amber color, with modest white head, and light lacing. This one had a lot of chill haze.

S - Not much nose. An ESB doesn't have to, but if you're doing an American style, I think it's expected, so that costs it points with me. A little malt, but the hops are MIA.

T - The citrus hits you up front, followed by some caramel malt. It's not what I'd call a great blend on the tongue. It seems like it should work, but somehow it just doesn't. I'm getting some bitterness and astringency in the aftertaste.

M - Very thin and watery, but the aftertaste leaves more mouthfeel impression than is really there. This is too weak for an ESB.

O - I can drink this if it's handed to me, but there are better options so you won't find it in my fridge.

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Photo of robbrandes
2.52/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

poured from a 12oz bottle that ended up at my house following a rotisserie baseball auction...

far and away, the best characteristic of red hook ESB is the clarity. clearest beer i think i've seen, thin head, decent retention and lacing.

the smell is unremarkable at best. faint toasty malt, but the hops are non-existent. i don't need much for the style, but at least a whiff...

taste follows smell. nothing offensive, but this beer doesn't bring much to the table. i guess it's balanced, but it's easy to balance when there's nothing going on. a cement slab is balanced.

i thought about letting it warm up, so i could pretend i was at an over-priced concert festival and it was 110 degrees outside and this was the only option.

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Photo of hiku7
3.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured in a nonic.

A - Honey amber color. Very clear. 2 finger white head. Light lacing.

S - Floral and citrus fruity with light hop aroma.

T - Light toasted caramel malt with very mild hops. Slightly bready or yeasty.

M - Very light, a bit thin on the palate, especially for an ESB.

D - Could probably put away several of these quickly. Sessionable.

I enjoyed the taste overall, but it struck me as a bit thin and mild, and generally not full bodied enough for an ESB. Very drinkable though.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
Beer rating: 25.2% out of 100 with 2,111 ratings
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