Redhook Brewery

Location: Woodinville, Seattle
Reviewed: Aug 21, 2000 by Nate
Rating: 5.0 / 5.0

The Woodinville Brewery (where we should have been the whole time, apparently, see the Redhook Seattle Tour for details) was kick-ass. It was easily the best tour I've ever been on. The brewery was huge, modern, and just plain beautiful, located in a gorgeous rural area.

We arrived at about 4:30 PM, just in time for the 5:00 PM tour (thank goodness). The brewery is coupled with a restaurant and bar, where you can get all the Redhook brews on tap, including a couple you can't get in bottles. Since we were a little early, I took the opportunity to sit down and have a beer. First I tasted ESB on tap, of course. There is no amount of words that can describe the yumminess that I experienced.

Then, I tried two beers you can't get in bottles: the Chinook and the Copper Ale. The Chinook was a hearty, deep ale, somewhere in between an amber and a nut brown. It had a rich taste with a good serving of hops (like all Redhooks), and was definitely strong. Very good.

The Copper was okay, but not the best beer I've ever had. It was similar to the Blonde in that it didn't really upset me, but it didn't exactly excite me either. It was smooth, but light and lacked character.

Anyways, back to the tour. Having had a few beers, I was feeling good. The tour guide, Rain, was really nice. In fact, the thing that stood out in my mind over all other breweries I've been to was how nice and helpful the Redhook people were. In talking to them, they really feel part of a family, and really enjoy working for Redhook. That was a cool vibe to get.

So, Rain took us around. This was by far the biggest brewery I'd ever been to. It produces over 250,000 barrels of beer a year, with a maximum capacity of half a million barrels. That's a lot for a microbrewery. Because Redhook takes their craft brewery status seriously, they hired a group of German brewmasters to come over and help design the brewery from start to finish. As a craft brewery, they can only use 4 elements: water, malt, hops, and yeast (for more info on brewing, see our links).

The tour was based mostly in a small room that opened to several different platforms overlooking different parts of the brewery - it stretched for what seemed like miles, with dozens and dozens of massive brewing tanks. The impressive thing to me was thinking that inside all of these massive vats was such yummy beer. Rain told us if you were to drink 4 pints of beer a day, it would take you 34 years to get through one of the 6200 gallon tanks used in the brewery. The complete brewing process takes about 12-14 days total, which is amazingly fast.

Rain also told us about Redhook history, which was actually really interesting. The first beer Redhook ever produced was their "Redhook Ale", released in August 1982. However, it turns out they used bad hops, and the brew had a strong taste of bananas! This led to Redhook being dubbed the "Banana Brewery" for many years, a moniker they eventually shook. They proceeded to release a number of delicious beers year after year, including Blackhook in 1983, and Ballard Bitter IPA in 1984.

In 1986, Redhook released their first Winterhook, which was a big hit and later became Redhook ESB. Today, ESB accounts for over 70% of Redhook's total sales.

The tour was amazing. We didn't get a chance to stay for dinner, but I did get a chance to talk to the bartender Mike quite extensively afterwards. He hooked us up with cool free shit, including some promotional posters and stuff you couldn't find elsewhere. He and everyone else was really cool, and lots of fun. A must visit, and I personally plan on going back.

Up one level to the main tours index.

 See the pictures

   Shipping Building

   Main Entrance

   Brewery Building

   Nate and the Brewery

   Nate and an ESB

   Mike and the Bar

   Computer Brewing

   Brewing and Wort

   Fermentation Tanks

   Pipes and Vats

   Nate and the Tanks

   6200 Gal Tank

   I Love Tanks

   Cases of Yummy Beer!

   Bottling Plant

   More Bottling

   I Want Those Cases