Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

2,109 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: 2,109 |  Reviews: 871
Photo of sweett3k
2.68/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

First ESB beer I have tried. Great copper color with little to no head and good carbonation. Smells of carmel malts. Taste a little bitter on the tip of the tongue. A smooth metallic flavor. Lighter beer to drink. Not my favorite Redhook beer I had. Like I said before maybe Seattle should stick to coffe and throwing fish.

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Photo of secondtooth
2.82/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This classic pours a cloudy amber, with limited head and only a small amount of lacing.

Sweet and malty aroma. Hints of fruit. Nothing spectacular there.

Taste is mild, with no complexity. The hops seem tuned-down.

Maybe my 6 month-old bottle is skunked? I'm just not impressed here at all.

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Photo of echoes
3.78/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a glass. Born on Date: 11/22/2010

A: Color is amber. Looks a lot like a hefeweizen (in color at least). Head is thick and white and leaves a lot of lacing. Couldn't tell very well how long it would take to dissipate because I started drinking it quicker than usual but it seemed as if it would take quite a while. Very little carbonation visible.

S: Hops, toasted malts, and fruit/citrus. Smells all right. Nothing to write home about.

T: Starts off a little sweet with toasted malts (including caramel) and finishes with the hops and perhaps spices of some kind, which I can't put my finger on. No bitter aftertaste. Finishes very smoothly and cleanly, just how I like. Since balance is key in an ESB, I would say this balance out quite well.

M: Smooth and medium-bodied. Feels satisfying, especially if it is savored for a moment or more.

D: Drinkability is pretty good but not high.

This is my third time having this particular brew (first in 12 oz bottle, second on-tap (which I loved, it was "warmer" tasting) and third in a 1 pint 6 fl oz bottle).
Pretty decent. Evens out nicely in my opinion.
Appearance is pretty nice when you take the head and the lacing it leaves behind into consideration.
Smell isn't that remarkable but that may be due to my seemingly weak sense of smell.
Taste, as aforementioned, is well balanced but not weak in any department I'd say. Nice bitterness; but not too much to be off-putting, nice roasted malts, and a pleasant finish.
An above average micro I'd say. Worth trying.

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

Bottle has a born on date of 03/15/10.
Pours amber light and nearly clear with a slightly off tan head that provides some nice side lacing along with average to above average head retention.

Aroma, a tinge of skunk perhaps because it it 11 months from BOD. Aroma is tangy, orange and citrus with maybe a little earthy tones.
Taste starts malty sweet and finishes hoppy dry, which sounds wonderful except this is also a little flat and watery and somewhat disappointing.

Mouthfeel is similiar. Not a bad brew but only a little above average.

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Photo of jera1350
3.36/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a coppery color with a nice head of foam and a little lacing.

Smell is lightly malty with just a touch of hop bitterness.

Decent malt presence up front followed by a light hop bitterness at the back. A little bit of spice as well.

Smooth, light to medium bodied with a clean finish.

Drinks decently. Pretty average for the style. A nice beer, but there are way better choices for the style.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
2.58/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Usually out of the bottle but tastes better draft into a pint glass. Pours light amber with almost no head at the start but this lasts and leaves a little weak lacing. The aroma is mild, hint of caramel and grain but mostly apple juice. The taste is malt, grain, apple juice, a hint of sweetness. At 1st it seems too bitter and drying on the toungue, but this goes away after the 1st couple sips, with all mellowing out and blending togther into a solid, drinkable beer with a fairly well rounded body. A decent session beer (but had way better) and it has a grain-y aftertaste.

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Photo of MaltsOfGlory
2.95/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance is a orangy/amber color, nice two finger head that fades quickly. Looks like it's giving ok lacing. Nice hop bite in the nose and a definite sweet malt note in the back end of the smell. Wow, taste is not what I expected at all. I was expecting a generic ale taste, but I got something weird. I hardly get any hop bite, like almost none at all. Instead I get a malt mixed with sweetness taste, it's almost a little gross. I dunno, it's really weird. I mean you get the sweetness before you even get the malt, the malt is in the back end and like I said the hop is almost non existent. For a beer this color and with this smell I was expecting much more hops than anything else. Not very impressive here at all.

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Photo of maleman
2.45/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Poured from a 12oz bottle into an SA lager glass. I know...I'm breaking etiquette. No dating noted. Amber colored, slightly opaque. Very, very little head. Some light, clingy lacing.

S - Slightly bready, with some hops evident. Not much there.

T - First impression is metallic, then some light alcohol notes. For an ESB it is not especially bitter?

M - Somewhere between light and medium-bodied. Not much aftertaste.

D - Was given to me as a gift...I'm glad I didn't go out and buy it on my own. There just isn't a lot of taste, or character to this quaff. Won't be having another on any set frequency.

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3.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear light golden. Thick creamy offwhite head. Some small organic laces.

Rich, bready, toasted, and caramel. Slight fruitiness. Slight citrus and herbal.

Toasty bread, semi-rich caramel. slightly sweet. slight citrus. Pleasant herbal light bitterness. Sweet malty aftertaste.

medium light body. slow subtle carbonation. slightly dry and crisp.

Very drinkable. But not quite as much so as I remember.

I hadn't had a Redhook ESB in awhile. Remembered it as a solid brew. After my growth as a beer drinker, I find it now to be a decent mediocre beer. Still not bad, nice and session-able. Just doesnt do it for me quite like it used to.

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Photo of ramseye4
3.15/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A=thin, golden, 1 finger head that fades away into a quarter finger head, decent lacing.
S=Some malt, a bit of slight bitter hops, citrus
T=A bit of citrus, some thin malt, mild bitterness
M=Pops in the mouth, great carbonation, mildly bitter aftertaste, a bit thin in the body though
D=I could destroy a six pack of these, probably the high point of this beer

This isn't good, but not bad enough that I would turn away a free one. Redhook isn't a stellar brewery by any means, but this is not good compared to their other beers

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Photo of Arithmeticus
3.24/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

served cooled in flared glass

A: no head; carbonation quite low; very clear light reddish orange; no lacing
S: light aroma of malts, citrus--not much else
T: bitter; strong hop character; something isn't working in this, though, perhaps not enough malt
M: sharp mouthfeel, but a bit watery

Overall, this is ok, but not stellar

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Photo of industrialswill
2.71/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

This is one of the worst "craft beers" I've ever tried that I've given a passing grade to.
It passes, but just barely.
It's got a gorgeous golden amber color. The smell is non-descript and the flavor just isn't's nowhere to be found.
All I come away from each sip with is a sticky mouthfeel, some hops bite and the remainder alcohol.
I'm glad I just went for the bomber and not the whole six pack.

September 2011...Wow, I forgot all about trying this beer and giving it such a bad review.
I'm drinking some right now after a tiring day in the wheat field and it's tasting pretty good right now.
This is the first time I've ever had such an "on / off" experience with a beer since I've been doing reviews.
Live and learn.

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Photo of devinoconnor
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

RedHook ESB, from New Hampshire & Washington, pours a a nice golden color.

Smell is smooth, a bit of hops and almost a little pilsner flavor.

This beer goes down very smooth and easy, with a little edge on the finish.

Enjoy with meats and fish.

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Photo of BeerMeInMS
3.73/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drinking Date: 12/31/10
Bottled-on Date: 8/3/10

Glassware: Tulip

Appearance: hazy orange and yellow-gold at the edges. I found the haziness, which was nearly as hazy as a wheat beer, perplexing (not sure what caused that in an ale *If you know please share the knowledge*) White foamy head that thinned out somewhat quickly.

Smell: I did not get alot from the smell. I did note a faint citrus aroma.

Taste: The beer opened with some bitterness followed by a citrusy hop flavor. Then, the roasted taste comes in and creates a nicely balanced flavor that, though not exactly complex, has some depth to it with the mingling of bitter citrus and roasted tastes. This beer had a clean finish and left little aftertaste. I have drank these beer on numerous occasions and have always enjoyed the flavor.

Mouthfeel: Good bit of carbonation for an enjoyable tingle.

Drinkability: For me, the balanced, non over-powering flavor that stays interesting as I drink makes this a a good choice for repeated servings. (and has on several occasions)

Notes: Recommended. Though...I have had only a few ESB style beers to compare this one with stylistically...but it seems like a generally good, reliable beer.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
4/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Redhook ESB has a thin, off-white head, which has a slight orange hue to it, and a clear, copper appearance, with fine suspended particles floating throughout. There is a nice amount of lacing left down the glass. The aroma is of citrus and floral hops, but this is mild. Taste is also hoppy, but this is likewise on the mild side. Mouth-feel is moderate, and Redhook ESB finishes with no offensive taste notes. Overall, I really enjoyed this sample and would highly recommend giving it a try.


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Photo of Scotchboy
2.57/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Redhook ESB, SA Perfect Pint glass.

Pours a hazy marmalade orange/copper color with no head to speak of.

Smell is a distant grapefruit, with some bready malts and a light earthy/spicy vegetable smell. Smell is hazy...I'm having a tough time discerning scents. Too cold?

The smell may have been the high point of this beer: Initial taste is a malty sweetness, with a hint of orange zest. Slightly metallic. As you swirl it in your mouth the bitter hops begin to cling to your tongue. The spicy breadiness is the main flavor but everything carries an unpleasant bitterness. Imagine that.

Feels creamy, with malts and spices dancing on the pallet. Finish is subdued but bitter and dry.

There is an overall macro beer skunkiness that I couldn't shake, is that how an ESB is supposed to taste?

Not highly drinkable. Didn't care for this beer, overall the ESB from Deschutes is much more pleasant.

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Photo of gopens44
2.58/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Deep amber with a little foamy head

S - Malty with a touch of lemon.

T - Malty, vinegary, lemony. Tastes a tiny bit like a Chardonnay, oddly enough.

M - Dry, not too much else.

I used to drink this quite a bit back in the 90's and finally revisited it. What a disappointment. I guess either the recipe changed or my palate grew.

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Photo of bagpiper2005
3.13/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pour: Bright red-orange color with a small one-fingered head with decent retention and lacing.

Smell: Light caramel malty and bready aroma. Light hops.

Taste: Sweet caramel and a little fruity with a very light-hop bitterness. Very uninteresting.

Mouthfeel: Very light bodied with lots of tingly carbonation.

Drinkability: Goes down alright. Not really that impressed though.

Final Notes: An average beer, not one I'm going to go out of my way to drink. Definitely much better ESBs out there.

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Photo of tbern007
3/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours very clear, golden/copper color. Small head that goes away quickly but leaves a lot of lace.
S - sweet malt, earthiness.
T - sweet malt, a little hops. Pretty average all around.
M and D - Finishes dry. Aftertaste lingers a while - grainy. Seems watered down. As if a more flavorful product was simply diluted.
It's ok. Average in all areas. Better than the big guys' but not comparable to a lot of craft breweries.

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Photo of beerdown77
3.3/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This poured copper with two fingers of head that went away pretty quickly. It smelled and tasted malty and sweet. I found it to be pretty similar to Winterhook, only not as good. There was a certain grainy/nutty flavor that set it apart from Winterhook, however, I was expecting something a little more bitter. I did drink this after a Celebration Ale, that may have something to do with it. This beer was fine, but I cannot see myself buying this again.

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Photo of cbutova
3.33/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Orange with a frothy white cap that has decent retention. A pillow and ring leaves a good amount of lace.

S- Buttery and nutty caramel malt profile. Good overall strength.

T- Starts with grainy light caramel malt. Some fruit/citrus and zest is apparent as well. Finishes with a bit of spicy, earthy and grassy hops. Buttery in the end.

MF- A bit watery with high carbonation. Slightly bitter finish.

DB- Has a solid flavor but the watery body makes the overall experience weaker. Maybe a bit more citrus than I would expect in the style as well. Flavor sort of loses balance as I drink more.

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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 thekanna
3.98/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at Old Town Theater in Alexandria, VA.

A: Nice, nutty clear amber color with less than a finger of white head.

S: Slightly sweet malts, faint hops, and sweet citrus.

T: Sweet bouquet of citrus fruits and apple lead progressively to a bitter hop bite, but not nearly as biting as, say, an IPA.

M: Somewhat delicate body with a decent amount of carbonation and a slight diacetyl finish.

D: A nice, relaxing brew to pass the time. Good session beer.

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Photo of BigPlay1824
3.4/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served in a pint glass
Poured from a 12oz bottle

A: pours a very nice light amber color, small amount of thin head that disappears quickly, leaves a thin layer of lacing

S: nice scent, slight hoppiness, also has a bit of deapth

T: nice taste, very little hoppiness, deep maltiness

M/D: nice drinking brew, good deapth, kinda hard to place my finger on the actual flavors, drinks smooth and leaves a slight maltiness on the back of the tongue

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Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.11/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark and opaque orange with minimal white head

Smells of slight hops and citrus

Tastes of slight hops and citrus, orange and malts with a hint o tomato, not that bad.

Decent mouthfeel, sort of thin but with the right amount of carbonation for it.

Quite drinkable ale, I am actually much happier with this than I expected. Great price with a sixer for nine bucks.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,109 ratings.
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