Yeah, I’m finally writing a post on Redhook Brewery, the grandaddy of the Seattle craft beer scene. I visited the Forecasters Pub once when they were still in Fremont, back when I was starting to learn that beer came in more forms than just fizzy yellow water. In the ’90s, pretty much every bar I went to had Redhook ESB on tap, but then they went national with the help of Anheuser-Busch, and at some point in the 2000s it seemed like they got crowded out by all the shiny new microbreweries that were opening. The three beer bars I frequent the most these days have never served anything by Redhook, as far as I know. Some people have written them off, but they still make some good smaller batch stuff like the Double Stout with Caffe Vita coffee (I hope they make that again) and their collaboration hemp beer with Hilliard’s, and they have so much production capacity that Oregon’s Laurelwood Brewing is using their facility to expand into the Washington market, and their lavishly remodeled Forecasters Pub is very conveniently located along the Sammamish River Trail (even though it’s usually ridiculously busy). So I still think of them as a force for good in the craft beer world, even though I don’t drink much of their beer anymore.

Redhook sampler tray

Sampler tray at Redhook’s remodeled Forecasters Pub — Woodinville, WA

    Rob’s Picks

  • Cross Czech Pils – 5.3% – Light, crisp, refreshing, with a nice little herbal hop edge. Goes right down.
  • ESB – 5.8% – Some caramel malt, some herbal and floral hops – good balance. Can’t remember the last time I ordered a Redhook ESB, but it’s a decent beer.
  • Long Hammer IPA – 6.5% – Grapefruit/citrus aroma and flavors. Light maltiness. Just enough bitterness. Miss the Ballard Bitter name.
  • Blackhook Porter – 5.2% – Coffee aroma. Fairly light on the tongue. Nice coffee/dark chocolate flavors, with toasty/roasty maltiness and good lingering flavors.
  • ECS No Equal Amber Lager – 5.2% – Crisp, light banana/clove, some caramel sweetness, with a bit of bitterness on the finish. Interesting sportsball beer.
  • Big Ballard Imperial IPA – 8.6% – Similar aroma to Long Hammer, but everything’s amp’ed up. Extra hop bite, fairly intense maltiness, but very well-balanced.
  • Joint Effort – 5.6% – Collaboration with Hilliard’s Beer. Made with hemp seeds, and lots of marijuana jokes. Bit of malty, earthy aroma. Sweet but edgy start. Good malt character – caramel, slight toast. Light herbal hops with good bitterness. Underlying funky vegetal/earthy flavor from the hemp seeds.
    The Rest

  • Wise Cracker Wit – 5.3% – Slight banana/clove aroma, but more pronounced in flavor. Lightly bready, with a slight lemony twist, and that’s about it.
  • Audible Ale – 4.7% – Floral aroma. Light floral hop flavor with light toasty maltiness. Light and easy.

As you can see, I don’t hate their beer. It’s just, well, I don’t know. They’re just not as flashy or exciting as a lot of the newer breweries, although they did create some “buzz” with their Joint Effort. (See? The marijuana jokes are so easy to make.) I hope they build on that and continue to put out interesting new smaller batch beers.

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