Redhook Brewery was created in Seattle more than 30 years ago by none other than a co-founder of Starbucks Coffee and an esteemed vintner. Its genesis definitely helped kick off the craft-brew craze that has taken Seattle (and the world) by storm.
Three decades later, Anheuser busch is helping handle distribution of this once-micro brewery, which is now a national concern. Locally, the Seattle brewer keeps it real with fresh beer, gourmet pub food and a flurry of activities at its gigantic brewing plant east of Seattle in Woodinville.
Patrons enjoy pints at Redhook's Forecasters Pub. — Photo courtesy of Redhook Brewery
Heading to Redhook Brewery in rural Woodinville, about 20 minutes east of Seattle, the last part of the trip is through bucolic green farmland along a two-lane highway. Turning in to the long, winding drive, signs direct visitors through extensive grounds with manicured lawns until the warehouse-sized brewing facility appears.
In this country setting, the hulking yellow building – with gabled windows pitching steeply against the black-metal Mansard roof – resembles nothing so much as a handsome wine chateau presiding over its 24-acre estate. It just happens to be a chateau where they make barrel upon barrel of delicious brew.
The brewery’s flagship product, Red Hook ESB, is a malty, lightly hopped amber with citrus notes. Crisp and bold, Long Hammer IPA is loaded with tangy hops and a hint of pine. Copperhook indeed glows with a beautiful copper hue in the glass and drinks smooth, with rich malt flavor but a light body. Made with roasted chocolate malt, Winterhook is bold and dark. Medium-dark Nut Brown Ale brings layers of malt flavor, touching the taste buds with caramel, brown sugar, even vanilla.
Yeah, Redhook brews a lot of different beers. That’s only a partial list. The ales are Pacific Northwest adaptations of European styles, and each is done supremely well, owing to experience. Redhook is one of the oldest craft breweries in the United States, having recently celebrated its 30th birthday.
A popular way to sample the suds is the brewery’s one-hour guided tour: For $1 participants learn the brewing process and Redhook history; they also receive a souvenir tasting glass and up to five samples of beer as they wander through the maze of gleaming, stainless-steel equipment.
Visitors arrive at the lodge-like entry to Redhook, which takes them to Forecasters Pub. — Photo courtesy of Redhook Brewery
Tours end near the Redhook store, where you can pick up just about anything emblazoned with the brewery logo. The store is at the entrance to Forecasters Pub, where the soaring ceiling features exposed timber beams and ductwork high above the unadorned concrete floors, giving the space a rustic-industrial feel.
The room is mammoth but cozy. A towering stone fireplace is surrounded by an open seating area. Cushioned booths occupy one side of the room, creating a divider between the bar area and dining room, which stretches the other direction toward wall-to-wall windows with wooded views.
If the tour tastings didn’t do it, a beer sampler is available before you commit to your favorite flavor. Accompany your lager or ale with a bite. Forecasters’ menu concept is pub fare with gourmet flare, from the crowd-favorite California Burger with avocado to a hearty sausage sampler to edamame.
Redhook has certainly had plenty of time to develop its food menu. Founded in May of 1981 as Independent Ale Brewery, the beer company began as a business venture between Starbucks co-founder Gordon Bowker and Paul Shipman, formerly of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. The original Redhook Ale was released in August 1982 from the brewery’s first location, a former transmission shop in Seattle’s Scandinavian neighborhood of Ballard. By 1987 growth forced a move to a bigger brew facility in nearby Fremont.
Still greater demand necessitated the huge facility in Woodinville, opened in 1994. Redhook became a national brand the same year, inking a distribution deal with beer giant Anheuser Busch. In 1996 Redhook opened a second brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, north of Boston.
The Woodinville locale has become a tourist attraction in its own right. The Sammamish River Trail passes near the property, bringing thirsty hikers and cyclists to the expansive seasonal patio with picnic tables. Also seasonal is the summer Moonlight Cinema Series: Brews in hand, moviegoers lounge outside on the lawn for films on a giant screen. Throughout the year, Redhook has beer-release parties and tasting events, and parts of the brewery can be booked for parties.
Hours: Monday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. -11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.