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Thursday
Aug282014

RED HOOK ESB

 

Red Hook ESB. I'd actually had this in the fridge for about a month before tackling it. I sometimes have a bit of trepidation when I'm tackling an American brewery's take on an English classic for the first time. To see why, try one of the big, resin-rich US or Australian craft IPAs versus a British IPA and you'll notice they're barely in the same postcode, much less deserving of the same beer style name.

Yet, this isn't like that. It's a reasonable homage to a much-underrated British brewing style, and it comes from up Seattle, Washington, way and they're not two things you ever expect to combine well, but they're going in the right direction.

It has a nicely peppery nose, a strong hint of caramel on the tongue (yeah, Caramel malts, combined with Pale and Carapils malts, should propably deliver that) and some nice balance as the bitterness kicks in late. They use Alchemy, Williamette, Crystal and Centennial hops to deliver 5.8 percent ABV.

Compared to, say, a Fuller's ESB, it could use more bitterness (it's only 28 IBU, so it's not one for the hopheads) and the underlying tone is slightly sweet and delivers less of the cereal nuances you'd hope to find. It's also a little light on the gas and the mouthfeel is slightly watery, but it's utterly inoffensive and I'd go back for more than one.

That said, I'd also walk past it without a second's regret to get to the many beers that are better, even in the limited ESB aisles.

 

6/10

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