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Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

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Redhook ESBRedhook ESB
2,117 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: 2,117 |  Reviews: 875
Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.6/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a plain pint glass.

A: Poured a medium copper-amber color with a frothy head of creamy white foam and a decent level of floating carbonation.

S: Smell is semisweet and slightly bitter to the nose, with some candied fruit and sugar aromas rising up with a slight hop spiciness.

T: The flavor is creamy, malty and mellow at first, followed by a slight rush of bitter, fruity hops, before some unfortunate metallic flavor rear up in the palate. That's what dominates the aftertaste, and that hurts this beers drinkability a little bit.

M: Mouthfeel is light-medium bodied and slightly creamy.

D: Approaching 6% with a sturdy flavor and a few drawbacks, this could make for a decent pickup in a pinch. If something new or more trustworthy were available, I'd go for it, but as is, this ESB drinks fairly well.

For a flagship beer, not a bad style or representation, but it should be near perfect, and its not. The diacetyl is a bit much and slightly askew, leaving flavors and aftertastes out of whack at times.

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Photo of Dogfishipas
3.97/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The ESB is probably my most favorite affordable beer that I buy in bulk. It is a great beer to drink on a hot day that won't break the bank.

Pours a nice light amber color with a scent that isn't over powering. The bitter aspect to this beer is minimal and makes a great beer to keep in the fridge at all times.

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Photo of lawman834
3.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Copper. Cloudy. White head dissapates quickly.

S-Caramel Malts, with some grassy hops.

T-Very Nice. Good strong hop bite with rich caramel malts to balance it out. To me there are tiny hints of citrus and spice.

D-This one will go high on my list. Very good and easy to drink.

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Photo of cvstrickland
3.56/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12-ounce bottle poured into a shaker pint glass yields a clear bronze-amber body with plenty of active carbonation and a finger of white foam that retains at a bubbly sheet that leaves wisps of lacing on the glass.

Smell is faintly sweet and spicy, maybe, but not much else.

Taste is toasty-sweet and a bit pale-malty with a touch of citrus peel bitterness.

Light-medium bodied with good carbonation. Plenty drinkable.

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

A - A nice dark golden ESB. A finger-width head, not too bad.

S - A little bit of hops and some citrus. Definitely not a powerful smell or intriguing, but decent.

T - A very nice blend of malt and hops. Smooth with a bitter finish and citrus aftertaste.

M - Just enough carbonation, nothing overwhelming.

D - This is a very good ESB and easily exceeded my expectations. I could drink a few of these; would love to try it on tap too.

I will definitely buy this again.

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Photo of ATPete
3.76/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, printed as 5.8%


A- Redhook ESB pours a nice transparent orange color with a big off white head.

S- Funky nose, fumes of malts with a hop balance

T- Bright flavor, fruity malts, some spice and a pleasant, mildly bitter hop bite, citrusy/metallic aftertaste

M- good body, great amount of carbonation

D- Good, not bad, i would definitely try this on tap.

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Photo of Brew33
3.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Redhook ESB. I hadn't had one in a long time so I figured I would revisit while available on draft. This specimen was served on tap in a 16 oz pint glass. It smells slightly sweet and very malty. But the taste is where this beer shines it is very well balanced and has a smooth subtle hop bitterness hidden behind the maltiness. It is incredibly drinkable and has a overall smoothness in mouthfeel like very few beers I've ever had. I would have no problem drinking many pints of this ESB. There is nothing terribly exciting or special about this beer but it is VERY good.

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

12oz bottle in pint glass

bottled 3.31.08

Had not had one of these in about 7 years, $12.50 for a 12 pack was too good to pass up given beer prices these days.

A: Light copper color with thick off white head that lingers, surprisingly little lace given the head.
S: Slightly spicy, almost like a light version of a Belgian ale. No hops presence at all.
T: Again, a hint of a Belgian yeast (very surprising). Some bready malts with a little caramel sweetness, completely dominated by the yeast.
M: Crisp, medium body, high level of carbonation.
D: An interesting beer, definitely not an English ESB. I am somewhat confused by this beer. I like the yeast/malt combination, they make for a solid gateway beer, but not at all what I was expecting. Certainly not the best beer but, for the price, I love this beer. Worth trying.

edit: just read through some other reviews and I am more confused. Nobody seems to have the spiciness and most seem to mention citrus hops????

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.72/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one can be found just about anywhere for usually $6-7 for a six pack of 12 oz bottles. I've had plenty of these in the past, but this one I'm actually reviewing. Never really stood out to me as being a great beer, but not bad by any means. Poured into a pint glass.

Very fizzy, small bubbly head that disappears quickly. Cloudy with lots of very small particles. Copper in color. Minimal lacing.
Little carbonation.

Smells of buttery biscuity malts and grassy hops. Hints of citrus, somewhat similar to an APA. Smells of quality ingredients well balanced.

Tastes of quality hops with hints of citrus that balance with sweeter malts. A well balanced tasty brew that is easy to drink. Light to medium bodied. Lightly carbonated.

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

a: pours a darker amber colorwith about a half inch of head that dissapears quickly leaving a little lacing on the top of the beer as well as down the side of the glass
s: caramel malts dominate the aroma as well as grassy and citrusy hops in the background
t: caramel malts jump out but there is some deffinate grassy and citrusy hops in the background
m: medium bodied beer with good carbonation

overall, i enjoyed this but its not anything that deserves to be sought out

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Photo of foxmul924
4.18/5  rDev +22.6%
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 -7.3%
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%
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 +0.6%
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 but...it'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 -9.7%
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%
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 +4.7%
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 -15.2%
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 +3.2%
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 +4.1%
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 +5%
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 +17.3%
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 +12.3%
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 -4.1%
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 +2.6%
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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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
Beer rating: 3.41 out of 5 with 2,117 ratings
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