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Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

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859 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 859 | Ratings: 2,076
Photo of pat61
3.77/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma: nice delicate malt aroma, fruit aroma quickly dissipates, caramel to honey malts, caramel, low hop aromas, Appearance: creamy head hangs around, brilliant gold with a little copper, Flavor: caramel sweet finish, a lot of curious sweet action and a little fruit way in the background, medium hops that do not dominate, moderate to low esters, finish a little sweet. Mouthfeel: medium body, medium carbonation. WSomewhat dull overall.

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Photo of Carlson8tor
2.4/5  rDev -29.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

Better than a Coors or a bad lager. Malty to the nose and malty up front with a little bitterness at the finish and very dry finish. Seems to be too watery for the beer in my opinion.

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Photo of Beric
3.42/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Serving: Sampler, on tap, on the brewpub tour in Woodinville, WA
Served: 4 July 2015

Appearance: Brownish red, but definitely more on the brown side. Dirty, off white head that looks pretty creamy at first but quickly dwindles down to just about nothing.

Smell: Caramel notes and standard 'beer' aroma.

Taste: A slight assertion of toasted bread, caramel, or light brown corn syrup but otherwise pretty nondescript. Tastes a lot like an amber ale.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with high carbonation. Very drinkable, but still feels a bit thin.

Overall: Not a bad beer, but one that's very pedestrian. Would drink if handed to me, but wouldn't buy on my own.

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Photo of Nickholland
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A good, widely available and inexpensive beer. If you want a break from all the super hoppy ales with a sweeter and malty palate then give this a try.

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Photo of HattedClassic
3.74/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a short white and foamy head that dissipates quickly. The beer itself is a beautiful copper color (light amber). The overall appearance is nice, nothing earth shattering but still good to look at.

The beer smell is pretty fruity with some light and nice caramel smell with a bit of a toasted malt nose. The fruity is pretty good and works well with the style. There also happens to be a slight buttery note to it.

The taste has similar notes as the smell but is still fairly different. The notes seem to more balanced between the hop and malt notes. The malt has a caramel taste with a slight toastiness to them while the hops are fairly fruity. The taste also has a light buttery flavor to it.

The mouthfeel is fairly creamy and smooth for the style, which isn't good. I wish that is more on the lighter side and refreshing as opposed to being medium bodied. Given the body, I see this more as a meal than anything else as opposed something I can have after work to take the edge off.

Overall, a fairly decent American style ESB and one that probably doesn't get enough credit. I thought that this was a fairly enjoyable beer and wouldn't mind getting it on tap if I can.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.74/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

On tap at Murphy's Taproom
Deep golden bordering on amber with a smallish off white head when it arrived at the table. Rich caramel and toffee maltiness with hints of earthy hop aroma and flavor. Clean and flavorful beer.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep amber color with a one finger head of white foam. The head has a decent level of retention, fading to leave a lighter level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is quite heavy of a bready smell mixed with some sweeter aromas of a caramel and brown sugar smell. Along with these aromas comes some lighter notes of earth and roast.

Taste – The taste begins with a slightly roasted and bready flavor mixed with a bit of a caramel sweetness. As the taste advances a bit more roast and some flavors of molasses join the flavor profile sweetening it up a bit. A little bit of a grainy and hop flavor of earth and hay come to the tongue at the end, leaving one with a rather smooth, moderately sweet, but easy going flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average side in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is on the slightly lower side. For the style the feel is rather nice as it keeps it easy drinking, all while accentuating the light hop and malty tastes of the brew rather nicely.

Overall – A very easy drinking esb overall. A little on the sweeter side with a little less hop, almost more amber like, but overall a rather tasty brew. A nice simple drinker.

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Photo of cyguyjg
4.53/5  rDev +32.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Sorry to buck the trend but I find this to be a special ESB. Great balance among flavor (caramel), alcohol and hops. And available all year long. Not like some brews for which you have to wait several months. This beer leaves those amber lagers in the dust.

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Photo of Roser
3.76/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A- nice big foamy head that lasted a good bit. No lacing. Semi clear/hazy. Honey gold.

S- clean, crisp. Strong malts up front. Moderately hoppy.

T- malty, sweet up front. Pleasant bitterness on the back.

M- light to medium body, creamy, smooth.

O- very nice. Nothing too complex (as it's designed). An easy drinker with good qualities, especially the taste given the reasonable (low) 5.8% ABV. Would have again and definitely recommend.


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Photo of baile208
2.79/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The color and aroma are subtle, not overpowering. The taste is pretty balanced and well-bodied. Good yeasty smell and taste, nice amber color. The aftertaste is a little uncomfortable, kind of chalky.

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Photo of dacrza1
3.79/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

DATE TASTED: April 23, 2015... GLASSWARE: Brew at the Zoo pint... OCCASION: a tough day on the JV diamond needs a Cavs win tonight... APPEARANCE: rather translucent copper body with slow bubbles; white head is swiftly evaporating and uneven but soapy; lacing is a haphazard occurrence... AROMA: Centennial and Willamette hops present an aromatic, bitter kick; immutable caramel malts provide a formidable one-two punch... PALATE: buttery smooth with a whisper of carbonation; a bitter finish of a medium-bodied, pleasantly drinkable ale ... TASTE: a nicely balanced mixture of bitter, almond-nutty, buttery base and softer aromatic hops--some bubblegum too; a tasty, mild, sessionable beer ... OVERALL: drinkable is the word--a pint worthy of an oaken bar and some pub fare; a good sports companion...

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Photo of CalgaryFMC
3.63/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Tasting notes: Unexpectedly light color. Subtle aroma. Nose and palate recall ginger ale, buttered pecans (diacetyl), white pepper, lemon-lime citrus, some Goldings type hop character. Moderate carbonation. Coats the mouth without seeming terribly thick. Not a bad brew but subtly flavored, does not compare with legit English examples of the style in depth of character. Neutered "for the masses".

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Photo of Safa1
3.88/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Good beer not bitter. Usually 2.49 a 22. Think about that the next time your 10 buck 22 double ipa rolled in shit fermented doubly in the basement bomber lets you down. This ain't even the long hammer.

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Photo of takusan1000
3.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It's a nice amber color with a solid head that stays strong along the edges. Good yeasty smell more than anything, and this prevails in the taste as well. While the bitterness is in line with standard ESB, it lacks the malty backbone that makes me love Fuller's and other standout beers of this variety. It is definitely a sessionable beer--nothing offensive here, but a chalky aftertaste persists and can only be alleviated by drinking more. I suppose that's the idea. Light to moderate mouthfeel, with minimal carbonation. Not bad, not excellent, but I wouldn't be turning my nose up at this in a pinch.

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Photo of vikinggary28
3.53/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love a good looking ale, and this one sure is pretty. But aroma, taste, mouthfeel, etc. are just slightly better than average. Or maybe after all the hype I was expecting more. Anyway, if you can pick it up on sale or have one offered to you, give it a try.

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Photo of Donkster46
2.72/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Had this with a sampler tray at their brew pub. Definitely have had better representations of this style. Slightly malty with a weird sweet after taste.

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Photo of DoctorEvil
5/5  rDev +46.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A revelation when I first tasted this in college in the 80's. And to think the brewery (then) was a few blocks from my grandmother's house in Ballard area was so cool....especially compared to the other local choices in town (Rainier, Oly, Lucky, Henry's, Killian's) at the time. This has been my standard baseline taste profile by which other IPA/DIPA/ESB's are judged in my experience. Really not too bitter for regular IPA drinkers (maybe for lager-hounds), but I believe it is perfectly balanced... really close in profile to Sierra Nevada and Schubros 680... oh...and Go Cougs!

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Photo of hophugger
3.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Simple review for a simple beer(no harm intended). Pours a semi-deep clear golden color with light head and decent lacing. Aroma is slightly malty and bready. Taste is light with some malt and hop bitterness coming through. Overall, carbonation is great but this beer seems a little weak. Weaker than I expected !

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Photo of beer-fan-1
4.02/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First craft style beer I had when I moved to Seattle 20 years ago. Goes with everything especially BBQ. Available everywhere by bottle, sometimes on tap. My go to when there is nothing else to try in the place I'm trying.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%

Pours a deep amber color with little head to it. The smell is full of hops in the beginning and then mellowing out into a sweeter scent. The taste was very good I thought with all of the notes being balanced very well to make a smooth beer. Not bad.

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Photo of leantom
3/5  rDev -12.3%

A little disappointing given what I thought of the game changer. Here goes:

A: Not that good. Cloudy brown, tiny head and no lacing. 2/5

S: Toasty caramel malt and simple grainy cereal; otherwise nothing. No hops or yeast. Very simple. 2.5/5

T: Very grainy. I'm used to ESB's having a lot more caramel (see Fuller's ESB). This beer, however, just tastes like a regular adjunct lager that's been infused with some caramel malt. In fact, the Game Changer pale ale tastes far more like an ESB than this beer. Drinkable, but not good. 3/5

M: Not bad. Well carbonated, glides down the tongue easily. About average for a pale ale. 3.5/5

O: Just OK. Nothing worth buying, however. Will not be having again.3/5

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Photo of S_Weinstein95
3.86/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: A beautiful gold with a pale head.

S: Citrusy hops meet the nose followed by a really nice floral aroma.

T: Grapefruity hops up front are followed by some more mild hoppy flavors. Caramel, roasted nuts, and a slight toasty flavor. A nice malty taste on the tail end.

M: Smooth with a slight carbonation that goes down nicely.

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Photo of Phigg1102
3.3/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Deep copper and brilliantly clear. Light off-white head that fades to nothing quickly. The malt presence and mulled spice in the nose is so powerful that I can't pick up much of anything else. I'm not overly familiar with the style but my impression was that this beer should be bitter, and all I get is grainy sweetness. The hop presence is minimal. Medium-full body with enough carbonation to cut the sweetness a bit. Overall impression is that of a pumpkin beer to be honest. It's not really bad but it is misleading.

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Photo of dcmchew
3.81/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Love these Red Hook tiny bottles.
Dark orange pour, one finger creamy head that goes away leaving almost no traces.
Smell of biscuits, fresh bread, oranges, faint toffee, hint of raisin and some spicy green hops. Should be good.
Bread crust and caramel biscuits, nice and rich malty backbone. Sweet citrus follows, with tangerines and blood orange, with a faint tropical note too. Bit of dark fruit too. Lots of peel and a pinch of peppercorn, hints of floral honey. Faint pine, some dry leafy hops and a bit of dankness too in the finish. Nice bitterness, with great spicy hops lingering in the aftertaste.
Medium body and carbonation, a bit creamy. Great mouthfeel for an ESB.
Though American notes are obvious, the build of this beer is actually very English, better than many ESBs from the old continent.

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Photo of Foyle
4.08/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1 1/2" off white head. Dissipates slowly leaving significant lacing. Lovely copper color. Considerable carbonation.

Aroma: I love the smell of this beer. Bread, fruity hop spice, sweet malts in a wonderful balance.

Mouthfeel: light to medium bodied and slightly sticky. Carbonation noticeable in the mouthfeel. Slightly wet finish.

Flavor: Mirrors the aroma. A nicely balanced ale. Nothing overwhelming. Sweet flavor of caramel malt with earthy, fruity hop bite.

Overall: This beer lives up to the noble name of ESB. I think it stands toe to toe with any English ESB’s I have ever tried. I could drink this everyday. Goes well with food also. Great job Redhook!

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,076 ratings.
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