Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

865 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: 865 | Ratings: 2,093
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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Photo of Mojo
3.28/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 ounce bottle poured into Samuel Adams Perfect Pint glass

A - crystal clear deep amber with a lingering one finger head and good retention.

S - very grassy nose with a grain quality

T - sweet caramel malts dominate up front following by a mild bitter finish

M - average thickness with decent carbonation.

O - This is a good beer and it is very easy to drink. My problem is that it is sort of wimpy. Dial up the malt profile about 50% and the hop profile 100% and it would be a winner. As it is it's just another average easy to drink beer.

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Photo of Shindelins
4.47/5  rDev +30.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer is special. The Red Hook medicine bottle look is so fitting for the thick sweetness of this beer. I agree with how many have already noted it is a beer you want on a hot summer day and how session able it is. It's a more modest ESB, but it still defines the genre in its principle tastes, yet I've never had a beer quite like it. It's my favorite beer because there is not a beer that I enjoy have one after the another more than this one.

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Photo of scotorum
3.79/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a; Clear amber with an inch and a half tall white head which receded to even surface foam and patchy lacing.

s: Alcohol and sweet malt.

t; Oddly the alcohol hits the palate first, followed by the medium caramel malt. Some bitterness for balance.

m; Light to medium. Quite smooth.

o: A pretty good ESB, not as tasty as some but ok at least as a meal accompaniment. First impression was that this tasted more like beer than most beers.

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Photo of Act25
3.28/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Red hook not my cup of tea, despite being rather tea like. I do like Winterhook.
A: Brass, dark copper color with almost no head, and rising pin point bubbles, a tiny lace. Date = 10-13 in 3-14
S; Nose is barely present. Pale malty, caramel, a little fruit, but like a flavored soda water.
T: Best facet of this beer and it gets better as it warms. ESB is a session beer, and so too is this.
MF: "quinine-like" one review wrote - and I agree - it's a tea/ soda like experience, too thin for this reviewer.

Mid-pack at best.

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Photo of Premo88
2.31/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle poured into nonic

L: gold-amber ... 1/2-inch head off a hard pour, white foam, little stick or lace; brew is clear with just a bit of haziness to it, still easy to see through

S: corn, medicine, sour grain

T: corn, grain, sour grain; toasted barley, some bitterness that often feels more like medicine than hops

F: solid, very drinkable

O: major dissapointment ... there's nothing English nor ESB about this brew; it tastes like a corn tortilla chip dipped in Nyquil ... as macro-brew tasting as any "craft" beer I've tried.

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Photo of microbrewlover
3.12/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This brew pours a golden color, almost completely clear with a small white fluffy head and strong carbonation; moderate lacing.

The smell is musty, sweetbreads, sweet malts, and a little piney. Light fruits and maybe nuts.

If the taste followed the nose it would be great but sadly it does not. The taste is musty and a little sweet with mild hop bitterness on the back end. There is a slightly oily, piney and musty aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is chewy but oily on the back end as some hop oils are left on the tongue after swallowing.

Overall, this is not a bad beer, just not a great one. If the taste followed the nose more it would be better. It is kind of plain, but sessionable. I could drink several of these on a hot summer day. I don't hate it but I don't love it.

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Photo of samtrillo
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours like an IPA. Give it some head and it'll be just like you're at a bar.

S - Smells like a liquid forest.

T - Malty sweetness with some hops. At first you think the hops will be the predominant taste, but the brown sweetness takes over sip after sip. Good for what it is, though.

M - Goes down smoothly. A bit much on the caramel for me.

O - A quality ESB. If you are enticed by IPAs but don't want as much bitterness, start here! Won't be disappointed.

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Photo of BeerWithMike
3.46/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sampling right now on 1/6/14. Bottle chilled down to 36 degrees F in mu beer cooler and poured into a pilsner glass.

Pours a nice amber in color with a very thin white head. Some lacing is seen with each sip. Lots of bubbles streaming up from the bottle of the glass. The aroma is of grains with a light fruity aroma as well. The taste is actually mild and not bitter as I was totally expecting for this one. Very surprised for sure. No bitter or harsh finish as I thought when first opened. Goes down pretty easy. Tastes like a good ale.

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Photo of DrJay
2.92/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear, light amber with a fine beige cap. Decent head retention. Aromas of grain, fruity and earthy hops, biscuit malt, mild overall. Medium to low bitterness, balanced to the sweet side, a bit of fruity, spicy hop character, mineral finish with a hint of lemon. Slightly coarse. Light bodied, average carbonation. Pretty average overall.

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Photo of a0lbudman
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A-hazy amber color with an off white head that leaves a great lace on the glass
S-hops is high, but as the head fades the malt aroma takes over with hints of caramel
T-caramel malt sweetness that gives you a good hop bitterness in the aftertaste, but the malt takes back over in the finish
M-medium body and low carbonation
O-this is a very drinkable beer. Good beer

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Photo of mattLummus
3.14/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This one is okay, but not great. Deep head but lacks much of an aroma. If anything its a little nutty. Decent carbonation but light body. Taste is rather bland actually without any noticeable finish. Could definitely choose a better beer by Red Hook.

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Photo of tippydog666
4.99/5  rDev +45.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm new to Beer Advocate since I just turned 21. I live in woodinville,wa where Redhook has a big brewery so I've been waiting to legally try them out for a long time. I really like the EBS By Redhook. Nice beer to sip and relax, I buy them in pints and will go through the pint in about 35 to 40 mins. It has a warm bitter taste with just the right amount of boldness. A very smooth beer but not creamy. I highly recommend this beer. Only $2.69 for a pint of good beer, it's pretty much a steal!

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Photo of TheBeerDog
4.2/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Just polished off my first six-pack of this beer over the past week. I'm very surprised by the lukewarm ratings and reviews. I think it's an excellent beer, well balanced, and very enjoyable. In fact, it inspired me to attempt to homebrew a clone of this beer. If it comes out anywhere near as good as this beer, then I will be a very camper in 4-5 weeks from now.

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Photo of ssteakley
3.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I was pleased with the first taste and a bit surprised. This is a beer you car take to the party And share and everyone will be glad you did. This is a well rounded beer for all those weekend occasions, a tailgate, or even a baby shower where the guys are invited.

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Photo of Nugganooch
3.31/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle from the variety pack – Dated Mar. 5, 2013
*notes taken 06/08/13

A: Dark caramel color body sits mostly clear in the glass. Fizzy head of thick taupe foam is quite active only holding form for a minute or so. Some slippery remnants of lace with low cling.

S: Smells of bready malts with a bit of stone fruit pronounced esters coming through. There is a light herbal hop note and a real mineral like quality to the aroma. Aroma seems pretty fair for the style.

T: Tastes offers a nice foundation of bready malts with some understated caramel sweetness and hints of apple or pear like fruity yeast esters. There is a distinct mineral water flavor with a dash of herbals and pine mixed in. Moderate to low levels of bitterness as to be expected with alcohol completely masked. Clean finish. Nothing particularly wrong here but a little pedestrian for me.

M: Lightly on the thin side with a moderately filling body. Soft creaminess provided by the carbonation. Low to moderate bitterness. Touch watery on the finish.

D: A decent ESB and nice job of staying true to the style. Nothing particularly flawed however nothing very stand out either.

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Photo of IchLiebeBier
3.25/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Bright amber/gold; medium frothy head, long lasting, effervescent

Aroma: malty; bready; grassy; light citrus

Taste: Juicy, creamy malt on start that flows to hoppy citrus in the mid; finishes slightly dry; smooth and refreshing, but not complex; drinkable, though

Remarks: Did not score A, T, S, M at that time; disregard those scores

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Photo of Kooz
3.17/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a very light orange color with little head leaving no lacing.

Smells hoppy right up front, then fades to a mellow sweetness. Appetizing!

Bitter and sweet at the same time. This beer has a slight bite to it, but finishes sweet, and there's a sweetness throughout.

Decent mouthfeel. RedHook has come a long way, but it's not quite up to BBC or Dogfish. This beer has some body, and its crispness is nice, but something isn't clicking here.

This is a nice beer, I'm happy I had it, I'd have it again, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something to cap off a long day.

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Photo of StevenStevens
3/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

My wife surprised me tonight by bringing me a "new ESB" for me to try.
I opened it almost immediately and it bored a golden yellow. I could tell, from lack of head, that it was very carbonated. The smell was very woody and a bit skunky.

I was surprised by the taste, as it wasn't looking good, from the look and smell. It drank well enough for an ESB.

I think the best review came from my wife, who said, "It's a beer." I agree. The Reddhook ESB is a beer. Not a particularly an over-the-top beer but it's drinkable. I'm just not rushing to the store to purchase another one anytime soon.

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Photo of tigg924
3.36/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: dark gold in color, 1/3 inch head, clear, high carbonation

Smell: toasted malt, toffee, woodsy

Taste: meadow, grain, toffee, light lemon and citrus hops

Mouthfeel: medium bodied, high carbonation, nice combo of bitter and sweet

Overall: Nice, complex, and malty with enough hops to add some balance. A solid, if not spectacular beer that is better than most of the rest of what I have had from Redhook. I could do a couple on a hot day but am in no rush to get it again.

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Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,093 ratings.
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