Friday, September 3, 2010

Redhook: Industrial craft brewing done pretty well

  Out in Woodinville, amid the pricey wineries and the so-very-green signs of urban planning (not knocking, they have a lot of farmland in active cultivation) lies Redhook, the first northwest craft brewer to go nationwide. I will go back on a rainy Wednesday someday; to stop by on a splendidly sunny Saturday afternoon in August is a real stress test. The beautifully landscaped grounds remind you of a chateau on the Loire. The road in is multipurpose asphalt; it has to serve autos, cyclists, and walkers (this is a knock, there is room for some separation here).
  At the end of the road lies their pub and restaurant, Forecasters. Were this a reference to Seattle weather predictors, the name would be better for a casino. as forecasting the weather is always a crap shoot here. Whatever the origin, the entrance is elegant.

Inside, on this perfect day, the wait time for a table is half an hour. The next brewery tour (you buy tickets for this) is sold out. But I spy an open bar stool and order a pint of their signature ESB and a chowder and caesar salad. I am surprised when my orders show up at the bar in about eight minutes! And is well-prepared. High marks for kitchen efficiency, Redhook.
  Notes on the beer menu inform that Redhook builds its brew tanks no larger than 100 barrels to "allow the brewer closer contact to each batch."  That would indeed allow this very successful business to stay in the craft brewing mode.  I have a schooner of their rit Belgian trippel before I leave, and have to tip my Red Sox cap to whichever brewer essayed this recipe.
  (Visited 8/28/10)


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