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 foxmul924
4.18/5  rDev +22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Bottle into Room-Temp Pint Glass)

Appearance: Light Orange Hue Clouded a Bit By Sediment and Topped with a Fair, Off-White Head.

Smell: Airy and Grassy.

Taste: Pale Malts 'Fruity' Sweetness is Quickly Followed By a Refreshingly Light Hop Finish. Less Bitter than what its name might lead people to believe--meaning it is actually true and very representative of its ESB character! Good Example of what an ESB is supposed to be: a beer that has well-balanced malty/hoppy characters.

Mouthfeel: Slightly Bready and Denser than it Appears. Almost Medium-Bodied, if not so.

Drinkability: I enjoyed this beer and believe I could drink it often enough to always have at least one in my fridge at all times. A fine beer during the summer and, I would imagine, in the winter months as well.

Other: "It is what it is"--Good Example of what an ESB is supposed to be: a beer that has well-balanced malty/hoppy characters.

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Photo of gestalt162
3.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a pint glass. Bottled on date: 02-06-08. A little old perhaps, but smells just fine.

A: Light copper colored body topped by a thin(1/2 finger) beige head that quickly dissolves into a paper thin head that only covers 1/2 the beer. A little bit of carbonation- to style. No lacing whatsoever.

S: Aroma primarily of caramel and toasty brown bread. Diacetyl (butterscotch) is there slightly. Hint of floral hops, and an even fainter hint of dark/dried fruit.

T: Initial touch of bitterness balanced out by a fairly standard ale bready/caramely malt profile. Keeps up the maltiness. Finishes with a buttery caramel, brown bread, and a kiss of dry hoppy bitterness.

MF: Medium bodied, fairly smooth, with just enough carbonation to keep it interesting, but not too much to give it an undesirable crisp flavor.

D: It's drinkable, and certainly won't offend anyone, but the lack of character left me bored about 3/4 of the way through the glass. Could I drink another? Sure. Would I want to if given the choice between this and other craft beers? Probably not. A good beer to share with your friends and enjoy early, but you'll want to move on from this.

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Photo of hoegaardenhero
3.41/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: nice fluffy off-white head w/ sticky foam lace on the sides; nice clear amber brown body

s: very subtle; light straw; caramel malts; biscuit

t: warm appley malys; caramel malts; light citrus hops and hoppy bitterness @ finish and some spice; pretty warm

m: a little too carbed and light in body but still smooth

d: a decent ESB; but not overwhelming

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.43/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought locally.

This pours a slightly hazy amber gold with a 2 finger head of foam. Nice head retention and the lacing is good for the style.

The smell doesn't have much to it to my nose. Slight notes of caramel and maybe some fruit.

The taste starts off very malty with caramel and bready notes. The hops come in towards the end with a slight citric bitterness and dominate the finish but by dominate, I don't mean they are overpowering and they *shouldn't* be as this is an ESB. Some light fruity flavours are in there as well but I'd like to see them play a bigger role here.

Good medium mouthfeel and the carbonation is lively.

All in all, this is a good beer's a better beer than it is an ESB, if that makes any sense. For me, it will be for occasional use only.

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Photo of Tbn2
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on tap in pint glass

A-Golden in color with a two finger white head that laced all the way down the glass.

S-A very bready smell is balance with some hop presence. I expected to smell a bunch of hop flavor and this one doesn't have what I expected. It is still there, but there is a balance between the grains and the hops I didn't expect.

M/T-About the same as the smell. I expected the hops to knock me over being that it is an ESB, but I wasn't. I had a sweet finish to it and the hops gave the beer a nice dry finish.

Overall this beer isn't too bad. I was expecting a little more hop flavor. It said bitter and I wanted it to be bitter. This one didn't knock my socks off, but it didn't let me down either.


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

Served on-tap in a plastic cup.

A: A clear amber color with a thin white head.

S: Some pale and biscuity malts.

T: A very light and weakly flavored ESB. The malts dominate the hops but neither one of them dominates the palate.

M: Medium bodied, average carbonation.

D: It is fairly drinkable, although it's uncomplicated and lightly flavored.

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Photo of zeff80
3.57/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours out a copper/amber color with a small, off-white, foamy head. Not much in the way of lacing.

S - It smelled of roasted malt and some floral notes.

T - It tasted of some sweet malt with a slight bitter kick.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is an okay ESB. It served as a "gateway" beer for me in college that led to drinking better beer.

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Photo of DontCallMeSurly
2.89/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

This beer pours a very clear amber color with little head and not much lacing. Smell is kind of fruity. That's all I can really say about it. There's a really delicate caramel malt taste which is kind of nice. It starts and finishes really dry, which I don't really care too much for. Medium, almost creamy mouthfeel with low carbonation. This would probably be a decent summertime beer, but I doubt I would seek it out again.

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

12oz bottle.
A: Copper color with a very small head.
S: Caramel and citrus aroma.
T: Very rich buttery/caramel, citrus (orange), hint of nuts and a little woody flavor.
M: Nice carbonation, medium body, slightly creamy feel.

Pretty good ale. Worth a try.

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

12 oz bottle picked up at the Grub Mart here in J'ville. Poured into a pint tumbler.

A: Clear amber color with a touch of cream colored head on this one. What head is there produces a little of sticky lace.

S: Floral hops, caramel, malt, and citrus.

T: Bitter hops, caramel, malt, lemon and orange flavors.

M: Moderate carbonation with a nice feel. Was not expecting this body. Very nice.

D: I could put these down. Nothing too crazy but it does mix it up a bit. Has some complexity but nothing that is going to kill your palate. Dig it.

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

Poured from 12 oz bottle into nonic pint glass.

A - Clear copper with 1-2 finger off-white head. Decent retention and some moderate lacing. Settles to an off-white cap.

S - Faint, but a lot of grain along with a metallic quality. Some citrus comes through at the end.

T - Begins with some sweet malt, lots of caramel and perhaps raisins and overripe fruit. Citrusy hops pull through mid palate and become earthy near the finish. Finish is full of dry grain with lingering hop bitterness. An interesting and flavorful balance.

M - High on the carbonation with a medium body, worked excellent with the flavor. Perhaps a little less carbonation would be in order.

D - Easily a great session beer; I may make this part of my regular purchases. Nothing overwhelming or mindblowing, but a very solid brew.

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

A- Great sticky 2 finger head that slowly recedes with some nice lacing.

S- caramel malt, some nice dry hop.

T- Nice caramel maltiness with a nice hopiness with a piney taste, but not harsh. The finish is clean with not much residual hopiness. Nice.

M- Low carbonation and very smooth mouthfeel.

D- @ 5.7% this is a nice brew that is easily sessionable.

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Photo of Durge
3.83/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This ESB is an amber color with a modest white foam head and equal lacing. It presents a somewhat weak, grassy hop aroma. But it's a tastey malt and herbal hop blend. Very tasteful carbonation with a solid, almost creamy body/feel. Very nice, very drinkable. A light flavor but good quality, a happy mouthful well worth a try.

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Photo of animal69
3.27/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a clear med. copper color with a thin white head which dissipates quickly leaving little lacing in my nonic ; not a strong smell, steely grains and some dark fruits a hint of alcohol as well ; flavor follows suit being on the thin side, a bit of a metallic taste, some nuts and some fruits including raison present but very subtle ; a light body and lots of co2 ; not a bad beer at all, def. sessionable...

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

Appearance - Deep red/amber. Clear with a foamy 1 finger head, and some patchy lacing.

Smell - Some carmel, dry malt, clean and simple.

Taste - A bit of malt sweetness with a nice assertive bitterness that glides through the rest of the way. Even dry aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, medium weight.

Drinkability - Just a very nice dry bitter ale. Paired well with a meal of seared scallops.

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Photo of phishgator
3.69/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Amber/copper color with a nice thick head that stays a 1/4" the entire session. The aroma is sort of bland, but I have yet to smell and ESB that has a great aroma. The taste is a sharp bitter bite upfront and drying effect to the palate from the hops. The malt is sufficent to help balance, but the hops dominant. The body is spot on. The drying effect is little much after two. A great version of the style and maybe the best brew I have had from Redhook.

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Photo of burnstar
3.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear gold with a touch of amber color. Nice sized persistant head. Aroma is herbal hops with a touch of toasted maltiness. Light toasted malt flavor. Fairly low sweetness. Herbal hops with a citrus note. Not all that much going on. Medium bodied. Pretty drinkable. Overall, this is pretty average. Not particularly exciting but not bad at all.

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Photo of allergictomacros
2.4/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Pours a hazy orange/copper without much of a head.

S - Fruity with some toast, metal. Hints of red fruit and some apple and caramel.

T - Very apple-y. Other fruitiness takes a back seat as does any darker malt or hops. Aftertaste is unimpressive. Really, the whole thing is a bit uninspired.

M - Mouthfeel is fine. Decent body and moderate carbonation.

D - Drinkable, but not something I would try again.

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Photo of AshevilleSippin
3.27/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured clear golden amber with a 2 finger white tempurpedic head. On the nose I got lemon grass, bready notes, and some hints of wet cardboard. Love the smell. Carbonation is busy.

Taste was surprisingly bright and crisp. Hop dominant but not especially bitter. Body is on the light side of medium. Unfortunately there is a weak metallic dishwatery characteristic to it that's hiding just underneath. I find this in quite a few beers that seem to be just a tad under par in quality. I wish I had a better word to describe it or knew what it was exactly. Dishwatery is too unflattering because it's not gross. Just undesirable and leaving a bit of a hollow feeling in the flavor and mouthfeel.

Finish is dry and grainy with a mild and pleasant hop bitterness to it. Aftertaste is also grainy but brief.

As it warms the malt comes forward more prominently. Unfortunately, so does that cheap mid-palate dishwater characteristic...

This has about 80% of the total package going for it. Just a gaping hold in the middle.

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

Haven't had this in awhile, so I bought a 6er.

A: Pours a nice orange, golden color...almost copper. Nice head that dies down after 4-5 minutes and leaves good lacing. A constant 1/2 inch head remains.
S: Hoppy and more hoppy. A hint of orange in the smell; invite you in.
T: Hoppy. One of my favorite ESBs, really easy going down with no harsh after taste or severely bitter remnants.
M: A thicker bier that meshes reflects the smell and taste.
D: A great session bier. Unassuming and a joy to have with a couple friends sitting on the patio or beach. Refreshing.

Enjoy one of these, it won't disappoint. Prosit!

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

This seems to be a paradigmatic US "ESB" type and it certainly rather is to me in terms of its character - a less refined, less subtle, less complex, and less flavourful version of an English premium bitter, specifically Fuller's ESB, but otherwise vaguely reminiscent of the style. Like other US ESB imitators, it is smooth, malty, with light caramel and grain, but in the end fails to catch the subtle complexities and full, rich flavour of the English original. It's hardly great, but it's still a fairly good beer that is drinkable and goes pretty well with food. I have changed my opinion of it recently having decided that I now like it a little better, and find it slightly more characterful, than I did some years ago.

This is amber with a medium, off-white head steadily shrinking to a thin ring and wisps, with a little thin, weak lace.

The aroma is mild, mostly honey, caramelly toasty grain, bread, with hints of citrus (gentle lemon and grapefruit) and pine.

The taste is lightly sweet up front with faint mineral, citrus, then vague, light caramel, vague apple, mineral, citrus and leaf. It has a lightly bitter finish that fades pretty fast to a grainy aftertaste. All elements are rather light and thin, a bit vague, and the aftertaste dos not take long to fade to a general watery character and the whole thing is rather thin and watery overall.

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Photo of BucBasil
3.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. The beer is a crystal clear brownish orange color with a decent sized foamy head that is off-white. Very plain looking beer.

Smell: Clean aroma with a whiff of hops and a somewhat fruity backbone.

Taste: Nice smooth malty introduction, caramelly with a slightly bready taste. Goes down well with only a touch of hop. Finish is somewhat fruity and contains more bread notes.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly nice, not watery at all. Good medium body with slight carbonation that makes for a nice easy drink.

Drinkability: This is a good session that I will pick up again while just hanging out. Not one you have to think too hard about, but still has some substance to it.

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Photo of shabbtastic
2.88/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Poured a clear copper into a standard pint glass. A small 1 finger head that quickly dissipated, small amounts of lacing with decent carbonation.

S - Light malt grain, not much on the hop side. Overall you had to really work the nose to get much of anything.

T - Slight hop bitterness, quickly subsides to the semi-sweet roasted malt. A quick in and out that leaves a bitter after taste that is quite pleasant.

M - Light bodied, sufficiently carbonated.

D - It was refreshing but I remembered this beer being a lot better a few years back when I first had it, perhaps my standards are higher now? A decent beer but would go out of my way to pick it up, but at the same time would not refuse if offered to me. Try it out.

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Photo of bort11
3.78/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed one as part of a mix-six. I'm trying to find a new session beer.

12 oz bottle poured into a pub glass. Cream colored head stands about a fingers width and recedes to a thin filmy lace. Some lacing sticks to the glass. Color is a clear copper red with minimal carbonation activity.

Smell is mild. What is there is hoppy and reminiscent of oranges. Taste is also very mild with an even balance of hops and malts.

Mouthfeel is clean and crisp. Very refreshing. This would be good on a hot summer day.

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

Appearance - Copper color with a faint white creamy head. Decent lacing.

Smell - Hops and citrus.

Taste - Losts of hops right up front. Hints of caramel and lemons.

Mouthfeel - Light and easy drinking with a good refreshing feel to it.

Drinkability - Good session beer. I could spend a night drinking this with no problems. Doesn't overpower you.

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