Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Redhook ESB | Redhook Ale Brewery

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
859 Reviews
Read the review
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 859 | Ratings: 2,077
Photo of CBFanWish
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An amber color with a quick disolving head that leaves pleanty of lace. A smell that was fruity, citrusy, and nutty. The taste was similar, yet it was very clean tasting. A nice bitter taste going down. Not a bad beer. I would without a doubt buy it again.

 256 characters

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

Poured a clear amber with a head that had to be agressively conjured up. Quickly desolved to a thin, bubbly film. Lacing was good. Aroma was nice with a hoppy citrus and slightly hidden malts.A very mild taste from theis beer. Not very bitter, but still had nice balance and finished with a good dryness that didn't tire the palate.Drinkable was a plus. Although a bit different, a decent attempt at the style.

 410 characters

Photo of mschofield
3.05/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Light reddish-orange, with a good tall white head, however the head quickly settled to a small cap, and didn't lace well.
A little hop and a little malt in the aroma, nothing extra special yet.
Just a little extra sweet malt flavor, over very little hop flavor. It's not very strong flavored at all. What is there is a bit of citrus bitterness.
A little too light in the mouth.
Nothing to write home about, but it is an ok beer,
it's drinkability is it's high point.

 471 characters

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

Pours a light amber with minimal head. Slight lacing clings to the glass but isn't impressive.

There is a mild hop scent present. I can't really detect anything else.

This beer has a decent taste. Midly hoppy and malty. Good balance.

You can drink this beer all day long. The slight flavors make it an easlily consumable beer.

Nothing special, but pretty good.

 372 characters

Photo of shirfan
3.38/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep amber orange color with a thin but persistent head that left some lacing.

Smell was mild, a mix of clean malt and some sour notes.

Taste was decidedly un-bitter...more of a light and bready english-ale malt flavor than anything. Hops are present but not especially strong, and I detected little citrus. More of a leafy, almost pilsner hop flavor than anything. Finish included a low, but detectable amount of sour diacetyl, which really wasn't bad since there's none of the damnable ringwood yeast flavor here.

The Redhook website says this has a sweet finish, but I found it decidedly dry. Not a bad beer, but not one I'd go out of my way to find again.

 668 characters

Photo of woemad
2.83/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle from a sixer bought at Roauer’s in Spokane. In 1999 I paid a visit to the Redhook brewery in Woodinville, WA. This was where I was introduced to Double Black Stout - when they still made it. I'd had their ESB before and thought it was alright. I had it again a few times later, but hadn't had it at all recently, so when I saw it on sale, I bought a 6-pack with the idea of reviewing them (and using them to prolong the life of my beer stash!).
Poured an orangy shade of amber, with a two inch white head that didn’t last for more than a minute, though some foaminess remained for some time.
The aroma is of sweet malt and a barely there floral hop scent.
The taste is of a mildly sweet maltiness and a very subdued floral hopiness. While I suppose you can say this is well balanced, its really a balance of two really bland sensations.
The mouthfeel is totally nondescript. Nothing really to say for or against it.
This is an ok session beer. Its a little over priced for that, however. There's really nothing about this that would make me replace Kokanee as my beer for "macro-drinking."

 1,114 characters

Photo of Pooba001
3.78/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thin, fizzy appearance, but with a pleasing bright amber color. Hints of a citrus acidity and malt on the nose. One of the less bitter beers to carry a "bitter" name, those notes are mostly overpowered by a good balance of cereal and citrus flavors. Mouthfeel is good, if somewhat fizzy. Quite drinkable, by far this beer's strongest point. Not a terribly complex brew, but a good standby and something you can easily serve to company who may think a lager is man who cuts down trees.

 484 characters

Photo of RoyalT
3.41/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance – Thin and orange in the body but with a monster head that foamed up easily, lingered for a while, pitted like volcanic lava, and covered the inside of my glass as it went down.

Smell – Grassy hops fill the nose of this ESB. I can pick up some faint sweetness, like cheap sucrose or something, but otherwise things are pretty bland.

Taste – The hidden (at least, hidden to me) malt comes out substantially in the taste along with some decent, light fruiting. The citrus hops supply some bitterness, but nothing to write home about.

Mouthfeel – Very refreshing and thirst quenching. The ale is definitely medium-bodied and somewhat smooth.

Drinkability – This is the beer’s strong point, IMHO. I don’t know if I’d call it a “strong” bitter, but the presence of bitter hops along with a decent malt backbone and a non-offensive fruity sweetness makes this well balanced and an easy drinker.

 921 characters

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

Bottled on 08/12/03. Slightly Hazy amber gold color, pours with an off-white head that is fairly persistant but with largish bubbles. Aroma is of a hoppy, floral, citrus one, with a bit of sweetness thrown in the mix. A nutty malty taste mixed with a solid hop flavor. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and a certain dryness. This beer has a fullness of body to it that coats one's mouth as you sip it. Eminantly Quaffable.

 423 characters

Photo of Hex92
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I am not a fan of hoppy/bitter beers, but I am a big fan of Redhook ESB. This was the second beer I tried from RH. The first was the double black stout which I liked alot. The ESB is very smooth and goes down easy. This is my swilling beer of choice in the winter. Good flavor, decent price. I have liked everything that I have tried from this brewery. They make good beer.

 373 characters

Photo of Kwak
3.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I like this one on a hot day a good thirst quencher. Pours dark with amber high lights, the head is extremely white and foamy nice and thick. good bitter taste you can almost feel the hop popping in every sip. Very nice Finnish malty and dry, as soon as I was done I was looking for another!!

 292 characters

Photo of beerguy101
3.58/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Medium gold color, slightly cloudy, medium head. Medium hopped and malted. Smooth beer, some malt sweetness. Light taste full flavor. Excellent balance of hops and malts. Full smooth round mouthfeel. Finish is smooth and clean. Aftertaste is slightly hoppy.On my top 10 list of 'everyday' beers.

 295 characters

Photo of dmarch
2.83/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Looks rather pale with a clear orange-amber color. Lots of carbonation as well The only thing I could think of whith the aroma is metallic. The taste seems to be a bit grainy with that same metallic flavor. Thankfully there is a bit of caramel flavor in there as well, but it's just tastes to think to be very enjoyable. Too bad I can't find the double black stout anymore, this redhook was pretty much a disappointment.

 420 characters

Photo of HardTarget
3.24/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: Smells like fresh bread, with some mild hops mixed in.
Appearance: Golden amber, make that orange, with some chill haze. Active head died down to a moderate white thin cover.
Flavor: Balance is on the hops (it IS an ESB) but some of the sweet malt peeks through. Guessing they went heavy on bittering hops, light on aroma hops. Overall taste is clean, but I noted a slight metallic twang deep in the first aftertaste, but was hard to find a second time. Hops don’t overpower the taste, but linger in the aftertaste deeply.
Mouthfeel: Light, with a carbonation prickle.
Overall Impression: A moderately good beer. No major flaws, but just not very lively. Drinkability isn’t bad, doesn’t slow you down, doesn’t invite you back for another.

 774 characters

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

a really average beer....i msut admit it was my first ESB, so i dont have much to weigh it against. The packaging says its an ESB/amber ale, i think amber ale might be more appropriate cause i find little variation between this and other amber ales....its a fine ber don;t get me wrong, goes down easy, smooth, looks nice(redish amber color with quickly disapating head....i'd say its worth an attempt if your at a bar, but don't bother with a 6er of it, as you will be let down that you spent 7 bucks on such an average beer.

 526 characters

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

This beer was purchased and drunk at the Belle & Sebastian, Celebrate Brooklyn - Charity concert in Prospect Park in Brooklyn!

It cost $4 for a 12oz bottle which was than poured into a plastic cup. The only other options were bud light and bud 16oz cans at the same price, so I thought that this was the obvious choice :-)

This beer was a nice amber colour with a fluffy, white head. The aromas were heavily malty, with some hops also in the nose. The taste was very malty, and sweet with a bit of a bitter hop finish. This stuff is very light on the palate, and the 5.5+%ABV is not noticeable at all. The mouthfeel isnice and the drinkability is good as well. This is a damn good beer, and it's usually cheap too.

Still, @ $4 a cup, this was a good thirst quencher, as I stood underneath a shady tree, right by the soundboard, watching one of my favorite bands, perform a very rare live concert in front of me...

Thank you and good night!


 956 characters

Photo of brakspear
3.33/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An average beer that is jammed into the ESB category in name only. It pours a slight amber with a moderate head, minimal lacing. The aroma is filled with citrus notes, but not over-the-top. The flavor seems a bit harsh, with the malty flavors not blending particularly well with the hop bitterness. Overall I enjoy this beer more on tap than in the bottle.

 356 characters

Photo of soilguy
2.68/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

What a disappointment. It looks decent in the glass, witha copper color and fine white head, but when the serious evaluation begins, this beer just can't stand up. The hop aroma is nonexistent - in fact, this beer is devoid of almost all aroma. At first sip, there is a barely perceptable hop bitterness, and a light malt presence, but that's it! No complex fruity esters or spicy hop flavors that I normally associate with E.S.B's. This beer is completely neutral in flavor. I was barely able to finish my first bottle and luckily I was able to foist off the rest of the six-pack on my unsuspecting neighbor.

 609 characters

Photo of beerinator
3.37/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Clear golden reddish hue. Lingering white head.

Aroma: Sweet maltyness. Some sharp bitter is noted in the aroma as well.

Taste: Flavor is sharp, finishes mellow, with a bit of sweetness. Crisp beer, with a clean finish. Mouthfeel feels a bit thin for a bitter.

Notes: Thin mouthfeel. Good clean session beer. Not outstanding, not too noteworthy.

 366 characters

Photo of tavernjef
3.85/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color is a clear yellowy amber with a inch high head of off-white spongy foam that settles down slowly to leave spots of lace. Smell is faint of roasty malts kinda breadish like soft pretzels with a nice light dry hop backing. Taste is toasty malts and dry hops, balanced together well, a slight bread tone to the malts with a note of saltyness/nutty and a small bitterness lingers from the hops thats quite easy to handle and favors some herbal qualities and dryness. Feel is close to medium with a small kick just past midway. Not a bad ESB, I'd have it again if offered. So far one of the better beers I've had from Redhook.

 627 characters

Photo of oberon
3.18/5  rDev -7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep golden/amber color with a light somewhat fizzy head,aroma is lightly sweet but not much there.Taste is malty and a little nutty with some caramel tones,the best part of this beer is the taste.I have had this beer many times hoping it would be better but it never is.At one time I guess this was top-notch.

 318 characters

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

When this beer was poured into my glass, the head was small, ivory, and it contained fine-small bubbles.The body was carbonated and murky.The hue was copper and the lacing was sparse.The nose was hoppy and the flavor consisted of alcohol, hops and some bitterness.The mouthfeel was tingly on my tongue, smooth and somewhat thin.

 328 characters

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

Not terribly awe-inspiring. Pretty bland nose with some very subdued hints of citrus from the hops. A little leafiness and some malt. Flavor is plain. Starts with a little malt sweetness but finishes with a slightly grating hop bitterness -- herbal then bitter. Bitterness lingers and not in a pleasant way. A little off for the style, I think. I think they should have opted for a little more of the extra special and a little less of the bitter.

 447 characters

Photo of goz
3.32/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear medium amber, big tan head that diminishes at the speed of light, minimal lacing. Aroma is fairly well balanced by some mild-sweet maltiness, and a mild floral hop aroma. Flavor starts sweet, clean and crisp, ends with some hoppiness and a little acidity. Slightly thin body, some metallic hints showed up middle-end.

 323 characters

Photo of granger10
3.01/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This has an light red, almost amber color to it. Smells like a good mix of hops and malts. The hops and malts have a lot of interplay in this one, almost like they are each fighting to be the dominant flavor. I can't tell what is dominant in this beer though. I notice dextrin sweetness and some caramel malts. Floral hops are there and citrus fruit hops seem to be there. Finishes grainy and decent but not exceptional. An all around solid beer, but nothing great.

 465 characters

Redhook ESB from Redhook Ale Brewery
3.42 out of 5 based on 2,077 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!