Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

Redhook ESBRedhook ESB
2,112 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 2,112 |  Reviews: 873
Photo of philbertk
3.06/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

ESB 1998 12 oz. 5.40% ABV.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich copper color. Rich roasted malt body. Enough hops to be detectable, but not so visible as to overshadow tasty body.

1999-Rich Amber Beer 12 oz. 5.70% ABV.(3.75 / 5.0) Bright golden color and rich appearance. Good malt body, but a little light. Hops subdued making this more of an amber. Sampled 11/27/1998.

2000-12 oz. 5.70% ABV.(4.0 / 5.0) Aged 11 months. Light sediment. Slightly hazy thin bright amber color. Bisquit mild floral hop front. Light head. Good lace. Smooth thin fruit dough caramel body. Mellow aged hop malt ESB end. Easy. Mild. Sampled 10/29/2001.

2002-22 oz. 5.70% ABV.(4.0 / 5.0) Clear thin amber color with copper hint. Creamy white lacy head. Lightly toasted floral light hop front. Smooth mild slightly sweet caramel body. Light bisquit flavor. Clean lingering mild toasted hop end. Sampled 3/24/2002.

2003-12 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Light sediment. Hazy light copper amber color. Light mild lace head. Mild toasted floral hop front. Smooth subtle mild earthy crusty toasted bisquit caramel body. Dry mild earthy hop end. English mild ESB. Sampled 8/17/2003.

2003-B-12 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.75 / 5.0) Clear thin bright light coper amber color. Light lacy head. Mild earthy floral light toasted hop front. Smooth dry sweet mild bisquit caramel body. Creamy mild hop end. English mild ESB. Too mild. 8/19/2003.

2004-22 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.75 / 5.0) Clear thin bright amber color. Mild lacy head. Toasted floral fruit hop front. Thin crisp smooth dry sweet light toasted caramel fruit biscuit ESB body. Mild tangy clean citrus hop end. Bland. Sampled 3/16/2004.

2005-12 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.75 / 5.0) Mild head. Clear thin light amber color. Delicate sweet mild floral hop front. Crisp thin butterscotch caramel mild bisquit body. Mellow earthy sweet flavor. Lingering mild hop end. Amber easy ESB. 1/30/2005.

2005-ESB Original Ale-22 oz. 5.77% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Clear thin copper amber color. Mild hop front. Clean thin crisp mild toasted caramel fruit dry sweet mild doughy base body. Easy mild earthy hop end. Clean,crisp,tasty,well made mild ESB. Sampled 5/31/2005.

2005-B 12 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lacy head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild hop front. Tangy mild earthy toasted caramel dry sweet light doughy fruit body. Crisp tangy mild citrus hop fresh end. Mild ESB. Tasty Brew. Sampled 6/3/2005.

2005-22 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich lacy head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild toasted hop front. Fresh smooth mellow sweet mild fruit biscuit caramel amber body. Mild hop clean refreshing end. Good Amber but not ESB.

2006-Purple Label 12 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Mild lace head. Clear thin bright amber color. Mild hop front. Dry sweet thin crisp caramel mild earthy toasted biscuit body. Clean refreshing easy mild hop spice end. Crisp Amber not ESB clean tasty brew. Sampled 11/1/2006.

2008 New Solid Block Graphic 12 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(4.0 / 5.0) Rich lacy dense off white head. Clear thin bright light amber color. Mild toasted malt hop front. Crisp CO2 tangy delicate toasted bisquit caramel mild earthy sweet fruit hint thin body. Crisp mild tangy mild hop citrus hint clean satisfying end. Mild ESB. Sampled 8/6/2008. 6- Pack $6.99.

2008-22 oz. 5.80% ABV--24.3 IBU's.(3.85 / 5.0) Amber Ale. Rich mild lace head. Clear pretty bright amber gold color. Mild floral fruit hop front. Mild sweet light toffee fruit smooth mild bisquit Amber Ale body. Clean mild tangy mild hop end. Sampled 7/28/2008. 4 @ $2.69 Each.

Redhook ESB Original Ale--2010 12 oz. 5.80% ABV. 28 IBU's.(3.5 / 5.0) Mild lace white staying head. Clear thin bright light amber color. Mild hop light floral caramel front. Crisp mild sweet lightly toasted biscuit caramel soft Amber Ale fruit hint body. Smooth refreshing easy mild earthy hop hint mellow ESB-Amber end. Sampled 7/31/2010. 6-Pack $8.49.

RedHook ESB--In Fact, Extra Special, But Doesn't Let It Go To His Head--2011 12 oz. Retro Bottle. 5.80% ABV. 28 IBU's. (3.0 / 5.0) Amber Ale. Thin mild lace white head. Clear bright amber color. Mild hop delicate malt aroma front. Thin textured, mild sweet lightly flavored mild caramel fruit amber ale body missing any earthy ESB notes. Mild hop spice refreshing clean smooth end. A touch bland. Sampled 4/8/2011. Purchased 6-Pack for $7.99 at Fred Meyer--Ballard, Seattle on 4/8/2011.
22 oz. (3.0 / 5.0) Foamy mild lace thin white head. Clear bright amber color. Delicate floral hop front. Thin textured mild sweet mild caramel malt body with just a hint of toastiness. Mellow amber ale malt flavors. Clean refreshing smooth easy mild hop end. No earthy ESB Notes. Well made smooth refreshing yet bland ESB. Sampled 4/19/2011. Purchased for $2.69 at Fred Meyer--Ballard, Seattle on 4/19/2011.

Schizo Bland/Tasty Rich/Thin Refreshing depending on Bottle, Year, Mood?

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Photo of Bubba83
3.81/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler at 45 degrees. A very clear amber body topped with an offwhite two finger widths of head. Good retention and good lacing. Very impressive look to it.

Smells quite biscuity, with a decent green apple note and fresh baked bread. Also has some really nice floral components here. It's a bit subtle, and kind of hard to pick up on the flavors, but it's really clean and smells nice.

The taste is as clean as the aroma. A decent kick of malt up front, though decidedly less biscuity in flavor and a little more full of pale malt flavor. Green apple is in the midrange, but it's faint. Cleans up with a little bit of a hop bite but the flavor is a little dull in the finish especially. I want more flavor, but what's there I can't fault.

Mouthfeel is a little thinner than I am looking for but it's not too far off. Great level of carbonation, smooth feel in the mouth and finishes with the right amount of dryness.

Drinks like an absolute champ. I have to stop myself from drinking it really quickly. All around a nice flavor and I can understand why this is the commercial standard for the style in the U.S. If they amped the flavor up a couple notches it could be fantastic.

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

12oz bottle, procured at some random grocery store in rural Montana on Independence Day earlier this summer.

This beer pours a somewhat hazy, medium copper amber colour, with one finger of weakly foamy, and mostly just faintly bubbly ecru head, which leaves some low-lying, roiling sea foam lace around the glass as it quick abates.

It smells of mildly biscuity caramel malt, a touch of musty yeast, some sweet, indistinct orchard fruitiness, and plain earthy, leafy hops. The taste is pretty fruity right off the bat, the caramel malt tainted just so, with the earthy, leafy hops holding their own, that yeast from the aroma settling right in, and a small metallic edginess making me wonder if that slightly elevated alcohol is getting uppity, or what.

The carbonation is a bit north of average, in terms of pleasing to the palate frothiness, the body an adequate medium weight, a tad prickly (from whence?) in its blithely quotidian smoothness. It finishes rather off-dry, the fruity malt sparring still with the way-too mild hop offset.

A beer that falls into that particular no-man's land - well above BMC, sure, and definitely drinkable, but lacking in the roundness and fullness that would land it among the ranks of the crafty golden boys of the genre.

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Photo of beertunes
3.2/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a clean, clear gold-amber color with just a thin cap of white head that low retention and lacing. The aroma is a benignly balanced combination of malt sweetness and a slight hop tang. The taste is likewise neutral and semi-bland. The body is nicely crisp and smooth. Drinkability is very good, There's been times when I've had several of these over the course of the day and enjoyed every one. Overall, a decent, solid, unspectacular beer. Much better than BMC type brews.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.22/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip style glass

Pours a coppery yellow with big, coarse head (fades very fast), initially very strong carbonation with very large bubbles, which cling to the side of the glass. Carbonation fades quickly, very little lacing. Smell is fruity and sweet, mostly orange and maybe some nectarine or peach, strange for an ESB.

Taste is sweet, again fruity, with a sour rather than bitter aftertaste. Mouthfeel is dry and a little flat (surprising based on the looks). Drinkable, good for a baseball game on a hot day, I suppose.

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Photo of Blitzen15
3.4/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Orange Red in color with absolutely no head at all. there is obvious sediments floating around in it but it isn't as foggy as I would expect from a non-filtered beer. Furthermore, I don't know if this is filtered but I would assume not. Interestingly the color becomes more orange than red as the sediments sink to the bottom.

S - This is an interesting red meets pale type smell. I don't know what else to say about it but it is decent.

T - Not as bitter as the name would suggest but it has a distinct hop taste. I wouldn't exactly say the taste was exceptionally strong considering it's name. Overall I am slightly disappointed but I did have high hopes.

M - There is a little bit of a linger in the back of the throat allowing me to taste the bitter longer than that of a easy going lager.

D - I could cuddle up to this beer if it wasn't for my wonderful fiance' always cuddling up to me. It's nothing unique but it's tasty so who cares.

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Photo of jsprain1
3.57/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours a pleasing amber/copper color. The head is found to be lacking, however.
S- a bit of caramel, with some nice hop presence as well.
T- a bit of buttery diacetyl upfront, followed by a biting hop flavor, zesty i would say.
M- lively carbonation plays well with the hoppiness. a bit thin, but not overly so.
D- This is a beer that is actually not too shabby. it doesn't get much respect by some, but overall i find it to be a worthy intro to craft beer.

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Photo of aristeros
3.45/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a coppery amber, almost no head, and no lacing. Decent clarity, with mild carbonation visible. Moderate citrus hop presence in the nose, giving way to light honey and biscuit. Okay, but was hoping for more.

Buttered toast and light biscuit up front, but citrus and hop resins dominate the taste. Moderate carbonation goes well with a decent hop presence. Interesting enough to be pretty sessionable, but in this category, I'd prefer, say, Fuller's ESB because it's better balanced between malt and hops.

This is a damn good approximation of a British bitter. It's quaffable and makes me interested in their brown ale.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A medium reddish tan color with a two finger head from a rough pour, but the head dissipated quickly. Some lacing on glass. Not bad looking.

Smells distinctly hoppy, a little sweet, with some malts. Smells nice but not a very strong smell.

For a non-"trend towards hoppy-ness" type of guy, this hoppy beer is pretty good. I like the hops profile, which is a good part of the flavor. There's also some malt, peach or perhaps apricot fruitiness, and a touch of spice.

The mouthfeel is pretty decent, with ample carbonation, although it could be just a little thicker.

Drinkability is high, I'll buy again. Easy to down and on par with other beers of the same price range.

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Photo of jpittman80
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Copper red with little head. Poured from the tap at BJ's to basically fill all 16 oz. of the pint glass, so I won't blame the beer.

S - Caramel overwhelms everything. Slight earthy hopiness.

T - Wow. It tastes like caramel candy, or caramel corn, or something caramel. Again slight hop bitterness in the background to prevent it from becoming a candy beer.

M - Smooth light body, soft carbonation.

D - It got easier to drink the further it went on, but I think I was just opening up my throat and pouring it back without trying to taste it much so I could get to my next order: Bigfoot on draft!

I used to think this was a classy brew when I didn't know about beer. Now, it's pretty average.

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Photo of marcobrau
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Revisiting a beer that was an early 1990s staple for me. Pours amber in color with modest carbonation that forms an off-white head that quickly dissipate leaving a few little bits of lace behind and a thin collar of foam. Smells of apricot and marmalade and touch sour (lactic) which is odd. Tastes of buttery malt and a bit of caramel balanced by fruity yeastiness and lightly bitter hops. Tastes British and is quite drinkable, but nothing really exciting going on here. A good first beer in a session, or an ale to session while something else is going on (like a Chicago Blackhawks game.)

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Photo of SAtaMi
2.92/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance - Amber with hue of light gold color. Small head.

Smell - Hoppy with a touch of citrus.

Taste - The hoppy malty flavor is nice. The sour citric back on it is a little much.

Mouthfeel - Very light not much of a bite going on.

Drinkability - I am not impressed. Seems weak for a micro brew.

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Photo of wahhmaster
2.78/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic imperial pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy copper color. Has a two-finger head that dissipates quickly and leaves considerable lacing.

Smell: Smells strongly of citrusy and other hops. Backed by a considerable toasted and caramel malt smell.

Taste: Starts with considerable hoppy bitterness up front. Develops a sweeter malty taste towards the back. Leaves a crisp, hoppy aftertaste. Unfortunately, it also has a metallic twinge which seems to be a trend with Redhook's lineup (at least what I've tried so far).

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied and perhaps a tad over-carbonated.

Drinkability: Not an offensive beer but nothing exciting. This is one of the more affordable ESBs out there but I still can't see myself buying this one again.

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Photo of mrkc
2.92/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The bottle is fairly transparent, and you can see how clear the beer is without even the courtesy of a pour. Continuing in the trend of moulded glass, the bottle shows wheat in relief, along with what I have to assume are mountains from their logo. The beer is the colour of clear honey, with a light beige head that stretches tall after even the lightest agitation. The beer smells strongly of hops, and little else. Sipping it, this beer personifies the trend towards a strong hops flavour, with a background of grains. It's very dry in the mouth, and the bitter qualities seem to leave the palate more bereft of moisture after drinking than it had before. The beer is a little too simple, and a little too one directional. While it would be easy to learn to appreciate this beer, I'd prefer to avoid having to do so.

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Photo of SpecialK088
3.95/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-pretty basic look light amber with about a 1/2 finger head

S-not alot going on in the nose. Subtle grains and hops with a slight alcohol twinge and the slightest sweet undertone

T-very earthy hops with a slight sweet middle and very nice bitter finish. Lingering bitter hops and dry grains also linger well from drink to drink

M-light body with a great low carbonation that fits the beer perfectly .

D-very easy drinking and could be a great introduction to the style for someone as it gets all of the great esb qualities and is not overwhelming.

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Photo of morebeergood
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a mix twelve pack this past Friday for a bbq with my brother. There were three ESB bottles included. Poured into an Irish style pint glass. Dark brownish red color. Moderate white head that quickly faded down to nothing. Good amount of carbonation. Smell was a bit of prickly black pepper. Taste was very agreeable. Very nice upfront malt profile, with just a bit of hops in the background. Slight caramel flavor also noticed. Mouthfeel was a bit on the thin side, but it helped this beer to be very drinkable. The very mild flavor and the overall smoothness made this beer a nice afternoon brew to drink with our burgers.

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Photo of bgildea
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Very nice amber color with very little head and very little lacing.

S: No distinct aroma comes across. Slight background of hops and slight sweet smell, but that's about it.

T: Tastes a little watery, with a nice amount of hops to it. The malts and hops flavor does linger around for a little while, which was nice.

M: Very thin beer, I was hoping for a little more substance and chew.

D: It's drinkable cause it's so light. But it doesn't wow me enough for me to want to get another.

Overall: Nothing too special about this beer. Great color, but the taste doesnt really do it for me. There is a nice malt/hops flavor that stays with you though.

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Photo of mjw2808
3.28/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a copper color with about a 1 inch head that doesnt leave a whole lot of lacing. The smell is predominantly malt with some fruitiness, some grain, and slight hops. The taste is the same but I pick up an unpleasant metallic taste. Also, a little too watery for my tastes. Decent mouthfeel and pretty good drinkability. Not a bad beer, I dont regret buying a 6 pack of this by any means, as it was worth trying, but I wont be buying this beer again.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle served in my Sam Smith tulip at 48 degrees. 122809 pressed onto the label. Poured a slightly hazy, light copper with a loose, fizzy, one inch off-white head that quickly dispersed into a fairly consistent skim before settling into a swirl and a thin band around the shoulders. Some spots of lacing, but no legs. Nose reveals caramel malt up front with a suggestion of aromatic hops in the background, with the addition of some light, fruity esters dispersed in the mix. Taste consistent with nose - much maltier than I anticipated for the style. Starts out sweet upfront with some bitterness coming out towards the finish. Fruity quality reveals itself as the brew begins to warm, but is overshadowed by the malt. Mouthfeel is medium-light with an assertive, almost prickly carbonation that does a nice job of adding some crispness and breaking up the maltiness in the flavor profile. I was anticipating a less malty, more subdued brew with a little more hops presence; however, this was a fairly decent brew. Maybe not spot on for the style in my opinion, but not bad. Carbonation and malty backbone make it a little difficult to session though.

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Photo of Daybis
3.88/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours a golden/amber color. Clear, but my beer seemed to have a bit of yeast still in the bottle, but this is a good looking beer. The head was about a half inch tall and stayed around for a while with a good bit of lacing. Taste is very good, but the bitterness wasn't as extreme as I had expected. This has a good amount of carbonation and is very drinkable. It think this would have gone great with some hot wings and is a good beer to just sit on the back porch and enjoy.

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Photo of kshankar
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Harris Crab House in Kent Island, Maryland.

Pours amber with a thick white head with good retention and lacing. Aroma is malty, bready, some hops

Taste is malty and bready with a nice hop finish..the entire mouthfeel is a bit creamy and "buttery", if that makes sense. Body is on the lighter side of medium. Drinkability is good.

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Photo of thedrewski86
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass, thin white head with minimal lacing. Deep orange color with a slight haze. Smell doesn't reveal too much of the huge biscuity-malt flavor from this beer. Nice hop presence without being overwhelming; just right for the style. Great drinker, but I'm partial to the style.

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Photo of alysmith4
2.16/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Not impressed would sum up how I feel about this beer. It was decent, but definitely nothing special. Poured a plain brown color, with little to no head. Smell was of hay/straw and a little bit of pine. Tasted like grass and some toasted sugar, with some "dirty" undertones. I could drink this beer again, but it's not that great.

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Photo of LucienDeRubempre
3.68/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Small head from a hard pour that disappeared quickly without leaving any tracery. Nice red-gold color, very clear and crisp looking in the glass. Little smell that dissipates as quickly as the head. Rich maltiness accompanied immediately by the bite from the hops. The thing I love about this beer is the great balance between malt and hops. Feels good in the mouth, a little on the richer, syrupy side. Very drinkable, keeps you coming back for more. This is my beer when I'm at Winn-Dixie at 11:45 after a concert and the only other choice is Sam Addams.

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Photo of Tolnik
3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this darker amber/wheat beer into a pint glass. When first poured into the pint glass a fair amount of head presented itself. However, the head soon reduced to faint wisps of lacing. The aroma is that of a sweat grass, slight maltyness and a hint of hops. The taste follows suit in the sweat grass, and maltyness. Leaving with a hop flavorful mouth feel. Overall a great ESB.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
Beer rating: 3.41 out of 5 with 2,112 ratings
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