Redhook Extra Special Bitter

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Ahhh, the elusive ESB. Who is it? What is it? Who knows but more importantly who cares, because its damn tasty beer, that’s what!


Visual: Crystal clear, medium golden with some orange and very light reds. Pours out with a great head that hangs around a while and laces the glass beautifully.


Aroma: In this dance the hops are leading, but the malt is holding its own beautifully. Hoppy, citrusy, a good balance of bitter and savory. The nose promises a really good beer.


Pallet: And the nose doesn’t lie, not one bit. There are malts here, but they serve to counter the hops bitterness and accentuate that part of the drink. One partner leads the dance but it isn’t overpowering its partner and that partner isn’t being carried, either.


Mouthfeel: Super smooth, full, round. There are enough complexities here to keep you busy for a while regardless of the rest of the drinking experience.


Overall: In the past few months I’ve been bouncing between super malty stouts and whiskeys to hop-bomb IPA’s. The Redhook ESB is a great balance between the two and a reminder that not all brewing takes place at the extremes. There are still great expressions of malts and hops to be found in the middle, nearer the center. Well, maybe just a step or two toward the hoppy side of center.


Today we found out (Thanks Gil Mello!) that not only is ESB not a true classification of beer style, but its also a registered trademark of Fullers. How Redhook gets to use it I have no explanation but I’m damn glad they did. This is a very smooth, drinkable beer that everyone should be trying soon. Well, maybe not the die-hard hopheads. Those guys might consider this beer (like the do the rest of the beer spectrum) to be too mild for their tastes. Sad. But that just leaves more for the rest of us! :)