You a fan of ESB? How about IPA Long Hammer? If beer is your forte, you should definitely head on out to Woodinville to check out the Red Hook Brewery. Like two beer-crazed enthusiasts, Bryan and I headed down here to go on a tour of the plant and “sample” a few beers for the mere cost of one measly dollar.
When I heard that Red Hook was in Woodinville, I thought it was a bit odd as most of the places in that area specialize in wine. But, if you’re a bit worn out from too much wine, (Fellas, do I hear a yes?) this place is a great change of pace.
As we made our way to the parking lot, you’ll be put in awe by the size of the place, as it looks more like a large home rather than a plant that brews beer. The large skybridge caught my eye as I figured they use that to ship the beer over from the plant to the shipping area.
As I passed by some people on my way to the door, I could smell that distinct smell of beer. Once we got through the door, we formed up in a large line with several other people, as Red Hook runs a tour every hour until 5pm. Crunched up against people, we finally heard six wonderful words that got our tour under way.
“Who’s ready to drink some beer!”
Of course, the crowd responded with a fervent “Hell yeah!” and up the staircases we went. I thought the tour would be something more on par with a scene from the campy 80’s movie,Midnight Madness sans the absurd frat guys, Scott Baio and a really young Michael J. Fox. I hoped to get an awesome look at how they brew their special beers such as ESB and Blackhook, but unfortunately we ended up funneled into a room that had an 80’s style ceiling where we would spend most of our time in.
As we all dropped a dollar into the bucket by the bar, we were all issued a small glass cup that also was a take home souvenir. It held about 2-3oz and would be our designated taster cup. Each of the five beers, Blonde Ale, ESB, Late Harvest, IPA Long Hammer, and Blackhook, were all available to try. The tour guide slowly takes us from one beer to the next with a little bit of history and lot of jokes added in, to educate us more about each specific beer.
The Blonde Ale is a light beer, a mix between an ale and a lager. The ESB (Extra Special Bitters) is their signature beer, first served in 1987. Unique in look and taste, the ESB is mix of bitter hops and caramel malting. The IPA (India Pale Ale) Long Hammer is a very hoppy beer that is an acquired taste. The Late Harvest is their newest beer to hit the market and we were some of the first people to test it out on the tour. The Blackhook is a dark porter that has a chocolaty aroma, coffee like taste, and very smooth finish.
The plant has several large tanks that brew hundres of gallons of beer every 4 hours and are then transferred to the fermentation tanks. Each tank is extremely huge and they said that if you were to drink 3 bottles of beer a day, it would take you roughly 33 years to finish just one of those tanks.
As a tip of advice, be sure to visit the brewery on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, as those are the days the bottling center are open and running. Since we came on a Saturday, that part of the plant was not active and the doors were locked so we couldn’t even take a peak inside. The closest thing we had was a diagram layout of the room and a quick explanation of the whole process.
While it may not have been the most visual tour per se, it was quite informative. The guide does a fantastic job educating people about the history and story behind each and every beer. I would go a little more into it, but that would just spoil the tour for you. I was a little disappointed that we ended up staying mostly in the same room, but I still got about 10-12oz of beer for a dollar. Add on the fact I was drinking on an empty stomach I started to feel a little buzz by the end of the tour.
After the tour, we grabbed some seats at the restaurant on the first floor and ordered up some of the biggest nachos we’ve ever seen and a few more beers for good measure.