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Taste testing beer at Redhook Brewery, Woodenville Washington

Taste testing beer at RedHook Brewery
RedHook Brewery

While I was driving through Washington State in December I decided to make a beer day of it. My first stop was Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. About 30 minutes away from Seattle, Woodinville is not the bustling city that Seattle is. Woodinville is more rolling hills filled with wineries such as Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Winery to name a few.

I pulled into the massive parking lot of Redhook and found my way to the gift shop where I purchased a tour ticket. Although it was disappointing to have to pay for a tour, they did give us quite a bit of beer while on the tour as well as a collectors plastic mug.

The tour started out with Redhook’s humble beginnings and continued on to the large conglomerate it has become that trades on the US stock exchange under CBA. Redhook joined forces in 2008 with Widmer Brothers and in 2010 Kona Brewing Company to form Craft Brew Alliance (CBA).

Taste testing beer at RedHook Brewery
Mash Tuns, Lauter Tuns… there all there!

Redhook’s brewery is set up like most breweries, mash tuns, fermenting rooms and the bottling room. We toured all the important areas while pausing to taste test their beer in between important pieces of history and beer production. Interestingly enough Redhook is starting to can their beer, just not at this facility.

Taste testing beer at RedHook Brewery
The can movement in Craft Brewing

There has been a recent movement in the craft beer world to switch from bottles to cans to help keep the cost of shipping down. I’m all for it if it keeps the cost of my beer down and the flavor stays the same. Complaints in general about canning beer is that it tastes different. I am a firm believer that if done correctly you shouldn’t be able to taste a difference. Most of the time the “flavor change” is in your head anyway.

Our first taste test on the tour was the Long Hammer IPA. This is one of my favorite beers from Redhook. It is a dry hopped beer with a 6.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) with a mild 44 IBU (international bittering unit). It has a good citrus flavor to it but not overbearing.

My next taste was the Audible Ale. This beer is a collaboration with Redhook and Dan Patrick. The purpose of this beer was to create the “ultimate craft beer for watching sports”. They achieved victory in my opinion. The balance between hops and flavor is excellent. This beer has a low ABV of 4.7% but done on purpose as it is the assumption that you drink a lot of beer while watching sports. They keep the ABV low so you can watch your sports all day while drinking beer without becoming a mess. The IBU is also pretty low with a 22. I consider this a gateway beer, a beer that your Budweiser and Coors Lights fans may enjoy as you gently encourage them to drink a craft beer.

Taste testing beer at RedHook Brewery
Fermenting tanks at RedHook

Because my visit coincided with a Seahawks game my next taste was fitting, the False Start, which is a beer developed for the 12th man. If you are not aware of who the Seahawks are or what the 12th man is – don’t feel bad – there’s more to life than American football, right? The Seahawks are the professional football team out of Seattle and the 12th man is considered their fans (a team is only allowed 11 players on the field from each team). The beer is classified as a session IPA with a 4.0% ABV and a 50 IBU. This is another beer developed for the all day enjoyment while at the game.

My last taste is always my go to with Redhook, the ESB, or the extra special bitter. The beer clocks in a 5.8% ABV and a 28 IBU, which is slightly ironic as the word bitter would seem to imply that it would have some bitterness to it. Regardless of lacking some bitterness, this beer is a beer I could enjoy all day. The caramel notes balanced with the spicy hops make for a delightful combination. If you have never had Redhook before I recommend starting with this beer.

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