3.6AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
UPDATED: SEP 30, 2012 I always try to give a beer the benefit of the doubt. Apparently, I’m much more of a beer n00b than I realize. Still, if a beer doesn’t do a lot for me, how can I honestly give it high praise? I think Red Hook ESB is a good example of this. Like other beers from this brewery I found it drinkable and fairly enjoyable, even if nothing about it really wowed me.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
This beer pours smoothly to a copper-color, clear complexion with only trace amount of noticeable carbonation. It forms a one-finger, off-white, foamy head which never completely dissipates and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma is fairly standard with a strong hop character to the nose, but little else.
Upon my first taste I was impressed by the strong hoppy, bitter palate. However, after continued drinking I was wondering why it seemed so mainstream for a craft brew. I didn’t taste any distinct flavors or ingredients.
Usually, I prefer some type of unique feature in a beer, but those with a strong taste of regular old “beer” can be satisfying as well. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a good example of this, and so is Red Hook ESB. Unlike Sam’s, this beer has a more dry taste, almost bordering on salty (but not quite). I can’t remember the last time I drank a niche foreign-style brew that was so strong-tasting. It’s enjoyable to be sure, but far from outstanding.
For a beer with such a noticeable bitterness to the palate, Red Hook ESB is surprisingly smooth. Its mouthfeel is perfectly medium which I think will appeal to the average beer drinker.
For a craft brew that is fairly reminiscent of mass market offers, this beer is seemingly big in body. At 5.8% ABV and 179 calories per bottle, Red Hook ESB is definitely in a higher weight class than Joe and Jane Six Pack might be used to. I think if it had a stronger and more delectable taste this could be forgiven. It’s not a difficult drink to consume and it seems much lighter than the statistics would suggest.
It’s hard for me to rate Red Hook ESB on anything other than what it is: a fairly tasty beer that isn’t too difficult to drink. And I mean that in a complimentary way, I just wish I had more good things to say about it.