Revisiting Red Hook’s ESB

Back when I first started drinking craft beers, a buddy of mine told me to be careful around the Red Hook: “They should’ve called it Right Hook,” he said, alluding to it’s strength. I never seemed to get rolled by Red Hook the way my buddy suggested  and at the time, I didn’t even know what an ESB was but it has been a staple of the NW scene for quite a while now, introducing other styles and I believe have now joined a kind of beer conglomerate with Widmer.

There’s a strong scent of sulfur, stronger than any of the other beers. Lager like, it reminds me of beers I sniffed growing up while bringing something to my Dad.

Red Hook ESBThat sulfurness hits first in the flavor, too and it’s a bit displeasing on the tongue. The malts show up quickly but not soon enough and there is a quirk at the end, as though the sulfur is pulling a Lazarus moment on me.

This beer is also the least challenging of the ones I’ve revisited and the most like a lager, something I would have gotten in the 1980’s on a whim, just to see if I should break away from the Rainier I’ve been sneaking from Old Man Kopra’s fridge…

I can’t say I’m impressed or convinced to get more Red Hook. This beer is there for someone else, perhaps someone who needs a gateway into a larger world but doesn’t want to actually take a risk.

But it is not for me.

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