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 HeroJH
3.7/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This is an excellent gateway beer to give those people that have only ever had one type of beer that they purchase by the cartload. Nothing in this beer is overwhelming, offensive or requires a special taste and it provides enough flavor and interest to peak curiosity, but not so much that it looses it's thirst quenching abilities. An excellent session beer.

A - Nice dark gold/copper with a good head.

S - cereal, lightly toasted, slightly sweet, good sweet hop aroma. Nice notes of dried apricot. Almost like an apricot fruit roll-up, heh.

T - lightly toasted grain and hob bitterness. Average intensity.

M - coating full flavor lingers away to leave a good average bitterness with a little dryness.

D - I'd say very good. It's not overpowering in any way flavor wise, it doesn't have any negative characteristics that would seem to build up or get annoying over a few. But it has enough flavor and mild complexity to keep you interested and reaching for another.

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Photo of Stunner97
4.4/5  rDev +28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This beer to me is a good buy near where i live still, a buck or two cheaper then many other beers of its style. The taste is to me very good in what you would expect from a beer of this style. Tasting it now I get notes of sweet malts but still that little kick of bitterness. To me this a good sessionable beer at 5.8 that is still a step up far above the low quality stuff and can save you a few bucks if trying to watch the budget. Found it didn't dazzle me at first but is a beer that really grows on you. I would recommend it to someone and think it would be a good first step into the esb style of beer.

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Photo of jeffthecheff
3.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a bottle because this has a reputation as being a great American brew. I was a bit disappointed.

Pours a very pretty copper with great clarity and a good head and lacing.

Very gentle hop aroma. I'm picking up citrus, but the aroma isn't strong enough to pick up unless you make it a point to sniff it.

The taste here is not anything special. Just like the smell, it isn't very aggressive. I know ESB's are supposed to be very balanced beers but something about this was just boring.

Something about the mouthfeel put me off a bit. Aftertaste is quite strong for such a light bodied ale. Drinkability is okay but honestly I'm not looking for another right now.

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

was expecting a bit more with this one. ok lacing and really not that great of a nose. balanced flavor but a bit weak in the fullness you would expect from an esb at 5.7%. had a bit of an off aftertaste that took away from enjoyment. not sure if its the hoping that gave it this aftertaste, but not overall great.

Average ESB that I remember as being much better.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours darker yellow, good carbination.

S: Not much to speak about, some hops, but very light.

T: Slight citrus, some malt, good finish.

M: Noticed the carbination, flavorful as held in the mouth.

D: Goes down easy, I could easily knock back a few of these and not notice.

Overall I think this is a very tasty beer. Certainly not extraordinary, but a solid ESB.

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Photo of beerman21
3.47/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

first off i am not a big fan of ESB's at least the limited selection i have tried thus far. Although i would rather enjoy a beer of more complexity Redhooks ESB satisfies both thirst and flavor.

Poured form a bottle copper coler creamy white head which most often depends on your pour but was inmpressive. Sluggish but pronouced bubbling carbonation. Nothing impressive decent in appearence.

Smell was nothing to pronouced but i like what came to my senses. Wheat bread which covered a malty citrus background.

Taste was salty sweet malt. grapfruit kind of bready throughout. Creamy texture not expected.

Drinkability i can for sure knock down a few of these in one night and when i say a few i mean more then three. Recommended as a social beer. alchole content is 5.8 so carful it does sneak up on you.

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Photo of mjaskula
3.55/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass. Pours a light copper with a thin fading head. Smells a bit fruity, but light. Taste is a good balance of malt and hops. The smells of fruit are not apparent in the taste. Overall very good, but I wouldn't choose it over Fuller's.

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Photo of philipquarles
2.91/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear orange yellow with a small white head that dissipates to leave a foam collar and pretty decent lacing. Smells slightly fruity (almost plum-like) with biscuity malt. Very slight hop presence. Hops are much stronger upon tasting, where some grapefruit comes through. Malt comes through before a dry finish. Overall, a very mediocre beer for the style, though this may be a bit unfair as my only other experience comes from ESBs on cask in the UK.

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Photo of remllof
3.07/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

appearance almost a golden brown with good carbination
smell not too much for sent all i could smell a hint of hops
taste have a nice bit of hop flavor bitterness but not too much and a nice clean after taste
mouthfeel is fiarly light and crisp a
drinkability overall a decent beer for looking for something to drink with a burger or a pizza and dosnt come at too bad a price either.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.57/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Chilled 12oz into a pilsner glass.

A: Light amber color with strong carbonation and a 1-finger head that recedes quickly into a film. Light lacing throughout the drink.

S: Strong caramel and toasted malts and a light citrusy hop profile.

T: Flavor is first represented by the sweet / caramel / toasted malts, with a strong citrusy hop finish. A nice complement and a good taste, but doesn't seem like an ESB at all.

M: Medium-to-light bodied, with medium carbonation.

D: Good session beer. I look forward to having this again.

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Photo of hopman333
4.32/5  rDev +26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Ok, this brew has been hit and miss over the year's as I usually include their product's in my shuffle from time to time because of the $4.99 6er price at my go to liqour store here in Chicago. Also depend's on the freshness bigtime, in my opinion the ESB and the Longhammer should be consumed within 30 days of the born on date or they are not worthy of a purchase.

Just getting over a cold and can still smell a nice mix of marichino cherries , rich caramel malt and that classic leathery/earthiness of an ESB. Almost forgot, the appearnace is average for the style.

When tasted fresh, it starts out malty rich with a nice tingle of carbonation on the tip of you're toungue. Again as I stated with the aroma the cherry , woodsy and caramel flavors seem to be in almost near perfect harmony with one another, it then shifts over to the nicely balanced hop flavors and bitterness imparted from the american tettnang hops to linger on for quite a bit. Dead on for the style.

I realize some of my fellow BA's will think I'm nut's for the good review on this brew, however as I said earlier, the 30 day freshness window has a huge impact on this beer and can bring this brew from a below average rating to an all around great example of the style. So if you can get this within a 30 day window from the born on date, it's a great beer at a great price....

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Photo of seanpachefddfa
2.86/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

appearance- golden amber color with a thin white head. leaves some sticky strings of lace
smell- some malt and a bit of fruit
taste- bready malts and some citrus hops
mouthfeel- light body with medium carbonation
drinkability- a easy to drink beer. but i would not want more than one.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.31/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Yellowish-gold, with a nice foamy white head that leaves some sticky strings of lace on the way down.

S: Malty, some slight buttery notes, and a citrus hoppiness that rounds it all out.

T: A little more fruity than I noticed on the nose. The buttery hints are still there, and the citrus flavours of the hops are a little sweeter than bitter.

M + D: A pretty straight forward beer. Softer medium body, fairly smooth, with a lingering flavour left behind. It's a solid offering, if nothing else.

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

poured from the bottle into a pint glass

A - Pours a perfectly clear amber-brown with few streams of bubbles. Nice one and a half finger tan head. Head falls apart 2/3 down the glass. Leaves marginal lacing.

S - Very pleasant, balanced smell. Earthy hops against a sweet caramel malt background.

T - very complex up front with hops, alcohol and sweet tones all making an appearance. Very biscuity and balanced body with just enough earthy hops to make it interesting. Smooth and balanced finish with only slightly more hop presence. Leaves a lingering biscuit aftertaste before hop bitterness slowly kicks in. Very well crafted ESB.

M - Nice and chewy with low carbonation and a medium body.

D - A highly drinkable ESB, with great balance and a good natural taste.This is a subtle beer, that deserves appreciation. For some reason, I didn't like this as well the first time, but this is a standard ESB that I will definitely come back to in the future.

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Photo of colts9016
3.21/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: There is a nice amber hue that had a nice one finger head. As the head dissipated it left some lacing on the glass. The beers clarity is mostly clear with some hazing.

Nose There is a nice toasted malt, with esters, and citrus. There are notes of yeast and honey.

Taste: A malt complex that is backed up to a nice hop overtone. There is a sweet hint with esters, and citrus.

Overall: I was surprised by this beer. It is a nice and easy drinking beer. The mouth feel is astringent, and the finish is bitter with it lingering on the palate for a few moments. I think that beer has some balance to it. The beer is average, not great but not bad.

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Photo of KOPBeerDrinker
3.51/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass. Copper in color with a 1" fluffy white head. Left a fair amount of lacing as it subsided.

Smells of hops, caramel, with some biscuity notes.

Tastes of bready malt with hops in the end. Can't distinguish too much here, though I do like it.

Mouthfeel is medium with a crisp finish. I could drink a few of these.

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Photo of pittvkyle7
3.48/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A bright clear orange with a of redness. Short lived white head leaving just some lacing on the sides.

S- A quick shot of citrus hops, grapefruit and lemon but fades to sweet caramel malts.

T- Up front hop flavor, not bitterness, kind of vegetable like but still citrusy. A very thin flavor, and a out of place harsh bitterness quality after swallowing. The beer has the right amount of IBU's they just are not well placed.

M- Light body and good carbonation.

D- An easy going beer. not bad, easy to drink.

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Photo of cvfish
2.77/5  rDev -19%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A - poured a hazy orange color that produced a fizzy white head that disappeared quickly and left no lacing

S - bready malts, nothing more

T - some bready malts, some fruits, but nothing great

M - medium bodied, lots of carbonation

D - not something i would look forward to drinking again

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Photo of Beernoisseur
3.58/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is a decent brew. More like an amber than an ESB. Not a whole lot of bitterness there. It's mild in bitterness, but the balance is good. Pours a beautiful clear copper color. there are some citrusy notes on the nose, and in the taste, maybe cherry and grapefruit?

Good beer. Really drinkable. Not especially bitter, but oh well.

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Photo of KBomb
3.83/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Highly carbonated red amber. Small head disappears pretty quick. Light aroma--some biscuity notes, a touch of grapefruit citrus. Taste is mild; light bready sweetness balanced by slightly bitter hops. The only thing interesting about it is a whisper of spice and chocolate in the background, but mostly its just a plain kind of ale. Maybe more like an amber ale than an ESB. Simple and unremarkable, but nothing particularly wrong with that. Fairly smooth and quite easy to drink.

I'm currently visiting family way out in the sticks. Kind of a craftbeer wasteland, but I was satisfied to find this on tap at a local dive. It was decent enough to drink when your other options are swill. Its a good reliable standby. I might even suggest that the ESB that comes from the Washington brewery is better than the stuff that comes from their New England brewery. I'd also say that Redhook ESB is another good gateway to craft beer for the novice.

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Photo of Mistofminn
4.01/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from "Redhook Greatest Hits" box.

I'm re-reviewing this one because my previous score (3.0 2.5 3.0 3.0 2.5 Overall 2.85 C) was from a time when I hated this style. I feel the score I gave it was very unwarranted, so I'm giving it my updated score.

Boy is it different this time around.

Color is orange-redish amber. Pour produces a nice thick one finger head that sticks around for a couple of minutes, eventually reducing to a thin layer that doesn't go away. Not much lacing.

The nose is packed with floral and earthy hops. Very pleasant smell. Granted, it is light and not as noticeable as I would like, but a good swirl will allow you to take a nice whiff.

Taste is very pleasing as well. Much like the nose, but much more prominent. Earthy and floral hops balance nicely with the malt. Pretty sweet if you ask me (you can take that both ways, both are valid).

Mouthfeel is light to medium with a crisp carbonation. The malt makes it pretty smooth. Very drinkable, I'll be coming back for seconds.

Definitely my favorite ESB to date. So far, most of the ESB's I've had are overly malty, this one is heavier on the hops, which suits me better. I'm starting to like Redhook more and more. Too bad I didn't see this the first time around.

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Photo of patobandito
3.1/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I tend to drink this as most of my friends will by it, thinking its a 'good' beer. Its not bad, but there are better.

Pours a yellow-copper color, with a thin head, and very little lacing. Smells a bit like malt, with a tinge of bitterness thrown in. It tastes similar. More bitter than malt though. Its a bit on the thin side, as i have found most of Redhook's beers to be. Its a fairly drinkable beer, easy for session drinking.

Overall its pretty middle of the road.

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Photo of WakeandBake
2.9/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Amber color with moderate white head. Sweet grains and bready aroma with little of the expected hoppiness for an ESB. Malty flavor up front with some bitterness on the back of the tongue with a rather dry finish - a little metallic too. Medium body, with mild carbonation. Drinkable for sure.

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

Enjoyable beer. Pours clear copper with a short off-white head. Caramel and crystal malt in the nose, with a little grapefruit. Actually tastes a little like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but somehow smoother. Good blend of hops and malt flavors, less of the caramel and more of the crystal and citrus hops.

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

The Rhook ESB poured a light amber color with a 1-2 finger foam head that had a tight bubble formation on the top layer of beer that stayed for quite a while.

The aroma really smelled like a lager. It was a tad bit bitter on the back of the throat but not overly pronounced. It had more depth of character than a lager but not by much. It was spicy which separated it but malt profile was a tad bit in the background. Overall not my favorite of the ESB mold.

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